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.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Pop sexology redux

Last night, as mentioned, I went to a church-related coffee function. The site was D.T.U.T., a notorious UES caffeinating mecca popular with the blind-dating set. Sure enough, there were couples clustered all around when I walked inside. They must spike the drinks with Love Potion #9.

After wandering past the horde of unattached Mac users (apparently having some sort of Wi-Fi laptop orgy I could’ve joined since my iBook was actually in tow), I finally found the “Redeemerites” seated near the back. They were a cheerful if uninspiring group led by a Valley Girl transplant who works in law (maybe she’s the Lisa Kudrow lookalike Communists for Kerry are touting in an online photo album).

For once I was actually on good behavior; didn’t even mean Sexless once! I did, however, lead the group in a round of Pop Sexology which actually went over quite well. Since you already know my answers and the gist of the game, I’ll just list the highlights.

Favorite answers:
  • a part-Latin guy with unfortunately greasy hair who thinks of himself (i.e., the color blue) as attractive, comfortable and matching his doormat. Which is not to say his woman, but he did specify favorable female attributes as “tasty, nutritious and inexpensive” (his favorite animal = ideal mate was cow).
  • the short guy from MIT chooses a rottweiler for his favorite animal and evidently wants a woman who’s “aggressive, big and intimidating.” (Maybe that’s how he’d like to think of himself.)
  • an Asian guy evidently sees himself as strong, light and pure, but seeks a woman who’s quiet, dumb and sleek (he picked fish for his animal). This, he hopes, will lead to sex that’s mysterious, romantic and rare (he likes lagoons).
  • an Asian doctor described himself as versatile, dark and stable (his fave color was black), seeks a tigress of a woman who’s strong, noble and stealthy (though this he later claimed was how he’d like to be perceived) and seeks sex that’s warm, cleansing and chlorinated — like a swimming pool.
  • Valley Girl wants a man who’s yellow, sleek and possessed of a long neck (she picked a giraffe). Even more puzzling was her ideal sexual experience — I mean, favorite body of water: unexpected, cold and beautiful ... “and if it wasn’t that water snake I totally would’ve stayed around forever.” Hmmmm.
The Mein Kampf V-day game
It’s answers like this that made “Is it Mein Kampf or” work so well. The premise was very simple: comedian Jamie Greenberg had a list of quotes he’d taken from both sources, and asked the audience to identify which they came from. Everyone stood up to begin with, but sat down once they misidentified a quote. If guessing Mein Kampf you had to raise your arm in the Hitler youth salute; if, wave your hand in the tentative greeting of the e-dater meeting offline for the first time.

The first couple quotes weren’t that hard to guess, and I worried on Jamie’s behalf that the game might not work too well. But then came a truly classic quote about the importance of a woman with good birthing hips. This one, actually found on (as I guessed), took out most of the room (clearly indicating the extent of most readers’ knowledge of Mein Kampf). Probably the original context was slightly ironic — or so one hopes — but it was a brilliant choice on Jamie’s part. The rest of the quotes weren’t that hard, but then, I was one of the handful of winners who got passes to Caroline’s. Passes I actually used on one of my weirder pseudo-dates — but that was because the guy wasn’t a Christian. I kept questioning the quasi-date vibe I was getting. Can this be? Am I really on a pseudo-date? I thought they were a Christian romantic specialty ... How can a guy presumably pro-sex-now be so tentative?

Naked comedy
At least we generally laughed in all the same places. As I discovered on a recent movie date, there’s nothing more naked than sitting next to someone who’s laughing uproariously at jokes you find passingly funny at best. Not that I felt bad on the guy’s behalf; I’ve totally been that person — in other movies. But I was unprepared for how much of him and his sense of humor the movie exposed. It just felt like a weird intimacy for some reason. And I felt badly for failing to match his level of enjoyment. He didn’t seem to notice or mind or think I lacked a decent sense of humor. Only I knew how much more I’m capable of laughing when given the opportunity (I once laughed at a documentary on rats in India). But still ... a weird feeling.

Musical monogamy
As for things that do move me profoundly, I can’t stop listening to that new Mojo CD — particularly the Garnet Mimms song. I’m just waiting the neighbors to form a Committee for Music Diversification. One of these days, soon, I’m convinced they’ll come knocking on my door. “Excuse me, ma’am? We need to put fresh CDs in your changer. You’re violating a building code ...”

“But why?! I thought my music was hip enough! I mean, I knew straight off when the girl next door was playing Chris Isaak one night!”

“That’s not the problem ma’am. It’s your musical monogamy that concerns us. In order to continue residing in this building you need to be a little more promiscuous, is that understood?”

“Um ... I’ve got some Nirvana. Will that do?”

“Yes. The Beastie Boys would be better ... but yes. Now see that this doesn’t happen again. No more than five straight repeats of the same CD, and you must swap it out at least every two days.”

Reader’s club selectionOther Books
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored

Serial Monogamy: Soap Opera, Lifespan, and the Gendered Politics of Fantasy