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.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

You want the one who’s ‘open to persuasion’

Some of you have asked why I’m so damn analytical. To which I say, “You think that’s bad?” Check out this letter I wrote to my brother while he was at National Guard training … (Yes, I’m the only Broadway child who’s not signed up for a service. I prefer to date military men.)
What, me, obsessive?
Yesterday, I decided to run up A mountain, thinking I was in good-enough shape to handle it. That was slightly true, but by the time I got to the lookout point midway up I was panting like none other. Tried jogging up the remaining steps, but I was breathing so hard, I had to walk. Then I just sat at the top a little, catching my breath and waiting for my legs to stop shaking enough to go down again. On the way back (since I was running back to the park), I ran by the Irish Pub, that is to say, the “Authentic Guinness Concept Pub.” The O-Zone King and Bartender #2 and this other guy were standing out on the patio, and somebody (I think it was O-Zone King, although maybe that’s wishful thinking) was like, “Hey Anna!” So I ran in and asked to use their bathroom. “What are you doing?” the guys ask. “Running,” I say — but don’t stop to talk or anything on my way out; I didn’t want to lose my momentum or have the muscles tighten up.

More evidence that romance novels really fuck you up
But the whole O-Zone King thing … Maybe I’m just a complete, obsessive idiot-freak, but I think he’s been a little friendlier to me in the last week — maybe his interest has even been piqued a little again (although I’m told that a guy doesn’t necessarily stop finding you sexually attractive just because things don’t work out). A week or so ago, there was this weird exchange where he was pretty flirty, I thought. Then the following Saturday he was serving, and I chatted with him a bit in the course of getting change — but he was nice, you know? Even told me a story — which was totally putting more into the conversation than it required (the last time I’d seen him before I left for Albuquerque, he was in a bad mood and totally aloof when I said hi to him). Then Wednesday of this week, I went to the bar to study, but ended up talking to this guy Ballplayer #1 I’d met at IP before. We were sitting right by the end of the bar where O-Zone King was bartending, and when I asked him for a glass of water, he actually asked me how I was doing! With all the other people who work there, that would probably just be common social courtesy, but O-Zone King is kind of weird; it hasn’t been possible to fall into the kind of easy friendship with him that I have with Guy Friend #3, for example (although Guy Friend #3 is probably pretty unique in that sense).

So … yeah. Part of me just totally wants that male attention and interest, for some reason — especially from him. I mean, I totally know that nothing could happen, should he actually initiate something like hanging out again … (God, I’m such a freak — eh? Man….)

When it stops raining men
But I’m starting to think this man-drought has a point. I’ve been thinking more about what I seek in my relationships — how much I have tried to make myself into this person who is charming and quirky and a good friend and all — so that people will love me and want to be my friend. Not that I haven’t cared genuinely about them, and been concerned about what goes on in their lives — but that needy self-interest has been back there, you know?

Interestingly enough, another realization came in my conversation with this guy Ballplayer #1, Wednesday night. I’d only met him once before, one Saturday night when he and his friend Ballplayer #2 met me and Girlfriend #4 at Irish Pub. We’d all gone to the diner afterward, and had a perfectly nice conversation with Ballplayer #1 (Ballplayer #2 sat mostly silent though he’d been the one arrange the post-bar hook-up. When we got ready to leave, Ballplayer #2 asked for our phone number, in the most pathetic, hilarious way possible. We gave him Girlfriend #4’s number, and he apparently called her at like 2 a.m. one night, but things never really came of it. Girlfriend #4’s dating Guy Friend #3, and besides, Ballplayer #1 was really the charismatic one of the two. (They’re both in town trying out for some baseball thing.)

All this happened toward the beginning of the semester. That seemed to be the last of it until Wednesday night. Suddenly there they were in the bar, and they recognized me. Ballplayer #1 and I get into this conversation about me being in religious studies that leads inevitably to my own religious life and my relationship with God. For whatever reason, I ended up talking a lot about this whole love thing — how the way I see God making a difference in my life is by the changes He makes in my heart. I was trying to explain how that happened in terms of my relationship with Former Roommate and striving to be more than just polite to her. The diff between politeness and kindness is a huge thing, you know? I was trying to explain that this really wasn’t the kind of thing a person could just force into their heart — why I really thought God had something to do with it. And I was talking about the whole seeking-something-back-from-other-people thing, too.

Then he said something about conditions — that I was talking about trying to love without conditions — even though that’s usually how all of us operate in our relationships all the time, and generally we don’t even think about it. Even though he’s this guy without much of a religious background at all, he stuck his finger right on this concept that had been there all the time — only I’d forgotten it.

‘Open to persuasion’
Of course, the funny thing about all of it was that I think Ballplayer #1 was kind of interested in me. I was kind of getting that vibe, you know, because we were facing each other on these stools by the bar, and toward the end our knees were starting to brush a little in that way. He totally wanted to get my number — because he was expressing regret about the conversation having to end — but I just couldn’t bring myself to bail him out, even though I knew what he wanted.

He’s a nice guy. I’m realizing that there’s this thing that happens a lot with guys I meet, where I’m not out-and-out interested in them (sexually/romantically) from the beginning, but neither am I vehemently not interested in them in that way. I wouldn’t start the encounter by being flirty and so on, but if the guy should express interest, I’m not opposed to letting things go that way, and see if he might persuade my interest to become more sexually/romantically oriented rather than just “Oh, he’s a cool person.” That’s how it was with Sgt. Ex-sessories and Slobberguy, the two I went out with last semester. The O-Zone King, however, was one of those cases where I did like him right off the bat, and obviously we can see where that’s gotten me! (sigh)

Anyway — Ballplayer #1’s cool; and he’s one of those guys where I’m like “open-to-persuasion,” right? Only I just couldn’t bring myself to encourage anything somehow, even though I might come to like him more in the end, than I did either Sgt. Ex-sessories or Slobberguy (I apologize if this is starting to get a little confusing! J). I guess I’ve just felt like I shouldn’t rush into anything with a guy right now, even if it’s a casual date or two …