Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Return of the Nerd

In the pre-IM days of last summer one of my favorite ways to check out on the job was writing letters to my sister (then suffering through some kind of Marine boot camp) about my love life. She needed an escape, right?

Last summer, you see, I was restless. Thanks to a new job I was making more cash and indulging myself. I kept buying cute clothes and lamenting that no one was there to admire them. (Perhaps I should instead have bought Narcissism for Dummies.) So, I browsed Craigslist — even posting a recurring ad in search of intellectual grease monkeys (hey, I missed my car, “the Eunuch,” ’K?)

By the way, if it seems harsh to dub my friend “The Nerd,” consider I am one myself and own an “I (heart) nerds” t-shirt (thank you, Charlotte Russe!). Don’t forget: as that ever-wise sex game revealed, Anna is all about looks (in fact, a closet looksist). Cute nerds only need apply! Well, cute intellectual grease monkeys. Doesn’t the heroine always get the hot man? I mean … um … the hot pants?

Summary from a summer letter to Sis…

personal ads
So, out of boredom, I was browsing the personal (i.e., men-for-women) ads on Craigslist, a local Internet message board. Dumb idea, I know, but sometimes I just don’t know what to do with myself. Most of the ads are really lame — guys describing the sexual acts they’re willing to perform, describing themselves in arrogant terms, or generally demonstrating a lack of intelligence. A few creative types often throw in random poems with no reference to themselves, but I’m never sure how to respond to those either; it’s a little weird. The key to a good personal ad, in my book, is giving people a “hook” they can use for conversational purposes in that initial email (I’ve enclosed a copy of my recent personal ad as example ;)).

Anyway, maybe 1 out of 100 ads is semi-decent. If a guy actually demonstrates some creativity or wit (e.g., “Fat, bald and ugly” for his “headline”), I feel he deserves at least a brief congratulatory email lauding him for the effort. One of the ads recently — maybe 100 or 200 in — was titled, “Looking for a nerd.” The guy also ranted about hipsters in his post, which gave me something to respond to. I send him a brief email, and it turns out he’s this guy I used to email back in high school! Nerd was one of my first e-pen-pals, back in the dark ages of the Internet. Hadn’t had contact with him in at least 6 years. We exchanged a couple emails, and then he left a message for me Saturday night.

phone voices
I have this theory about phone voices that’s probably very prejudicial, but generally hasn’t failed me yet. Nerdy phone voices generally tend to go with less-well socially adapted people. Good phone voices often go with reasonably attractive people. Middle-aged man phone voices often go with old-beyond-their-years men — and so on. Last fall, I responded to an ad posted by this guy just looking for a very casual, almost-platonic dinner-and-movie thing. Talked on the phone, and he just sounded flaky; stupid conversation and strained humor (he probably writes a blog now!). Against my better judgment, I agreed to see him anyway. Got all the way down there, and he completely stood me up — but not, mind you, because he chickened out. He just didn’t allow for likely delays (considering a major event in the area was likely to slow train access) and didn’t wait around long, though I was only 15 minutes late! That’s the short version, but the whole thing was just totally absurd.

Likewise, my “friend” the Ad Weasel, with whom I went out once. We transitioned to phone conversations pretty early in the friendship. Ad Weasel was cool and had an OK phone voice, but it was a tad on the old end for a 31-year-old (considering The Captain is also 31 and seems remarkably youthful). Sure enough, in person Ad Weasel was prematurely middle-aged in manner, and starting to lose his hair (though that didn’t stop him from getting serious grope-age later in the evening).

Then there’s Non-profit Superhero — the one who apparently got away (sigh). Wrote back to the first version of my personal ad — a completely goofy, offbeat response. “Well this is reasonably clever,” I thought. Again, we fortunately transitioned to phone contact pretty quickly — and he had a good voice. Not super-deep and sexy or anything, but he just seemed like a cool person; I felt a decent vibe. Non-profit Superhero worked for the UN, but never said much about his job (then again, I probably never stopped to let him talk; whoops!). Mostly we made jokes about him being a super-hero, saving the world, and all the challenges this entailed. Sure enough, when I met Non-profit Superhero in person, he was very cool and reasonably attractive — in a blond, bespectacled way. I still pout at the apparent demise of that friendship/relationship — though I never even got to the point of saying “No sex” with him. He was completely not pushy, physically, on our two dates — so honestly I wasn’t even sure if he was thinking friends or more. But that’s neither here nor there…

Anyway, my phone-voice theory has tended to hold water — going even as far back as my first internet-suitor, Stalker #1 (the guy who showed up at my Fiddler on the Roof performance with a wilted rose). When I heard Nerd’s voice on the phone yesterday, I felt my heart sink a little. Not a completely bad voice, but definitely on the nerdy/socially isolated side of things (though his picture — if somewhat indistinct — hadn’t looked bad). When we met up later, he was more like The One Who Came Out — my ill-fated high-school Homecoming date — than the picture suggested. The party he’d invited me to was really cool, though — this amazing rooftop sangria competition organized by the residents of his building, a sprawling former-warehouse space converted into large loft-like living quarters. Amazingly, it’s the same building where my friend Hippie the Groper lives. In fact, the party was largely hosted by Hippie the Groper’s roommate Flamenco Man (whom I’d previously met while visiting Hippie the Groper), and Nerd has hung out with “Mr. Hippie the Groper” in the past! Totally crazy coincidences, or what?

hipster central
The thing that totally cracked me up about the party was the way everyone was dressed — very distinctive, edgy outfits on the most part — tons of vintage stuff and, well, hipster duds. It was so ironic given Nerd’s post. I mean, these people were further along the hipster end of the spectrum than those I normally hang with! They were cool, though. As Nerd commented, it totally seemed like my scene. In fact, I partied longer and harder (in a figurative sense) then Nerd. He tended to stand around a lot, whereas I floated from group to group, making friends and conversation. Nerd even went back downstairs to his apartment for a while — “to rest” — leaving me guilty that I had almost ditched him for the party-crowd in general. But he seemed OK with it… It’s not like I should have to baby-sit the person whose guest I am anyway — right? (Sigh) Such complicated social situations… Am I entertaining you yet? ;)
Music ♣ Dusty Springfield: Ultimate Collection

Sangria: 50 Festive Recipes
Sangria: 50 Festive Recipes

The Hipster Handbook
The Hipster Handbook