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, September 27, 2004

Anna v. Heart*

There was a time several years ago when, during my college days of reading books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I pledged to “not date” for about six months. This was, of course, practically pointless since no one was asking me out anyway. But such a supposedly self-imposed fast gave the illusion of control over my dating life.

Determined not to date
Unsurprisingly, the dating ban did not operate like reverse psychology and somehow compel legions of previously uninterested men to line up at my door.

Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
Listening to Nina Simone sing “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” just now, I’m reminded of that Ray Charles song about how to get some you gotta have some. Interpret Nina’s song using Ray’s and suddenly it applies to not just financial wealth but relational wealth.

Or, shall we say, relational capital. Basically, I tend to think, women are for some reason most attractive when other men are interested in them. Maybe it’s the whiff of competition, I don’t know (the converse that attempting to provoke male jealousy can snare your mark doesn’t always apply, however). In any case, seeing as how my present relational capital amounts to about zero, I’m thinking I should call it quits and just acknowledge that “being on the market” doesn’t really mean anything just now anyway. Kinda like trying to sell gmail invites on eBay these days.

A hard-hearted woman
Maybe if I tell myself, firmly, nothing’s going to happen it’ll be easier on my heart, see? The trouble with women is, we’re damn good at living on the faintest of hopes. As I said, pining is like kegels for your heart. Only, we don’t even have to know enough to pine; we just have to have enough wind to tease the flame of hope to keep struggling for life: “Maybe ... something could happen ...” (This is where patience, if you’ve got it, can really be a curse.)

I mean, the message we’re taught is clear:
  • Serendipity: write your number on money, and just at the right time it’ll come back to the one you want to love you (hell, the love gods almost seemed to be speaking through that One Dramatic Moment with the Winner ... but alas, it’s come to naught).
  • the movie also demonstrated that sometime, somewhere, someone very dear to you could be touching the wad of gum you once chewed and then hid on the back of a bench.
And I won’t even start with the romance novels ... So clearly my problem is that a) I haven’t improperly disposed of enough of gum, and b) I haven’t taken to writing my number/email/“Earl” on enough paper money. Also, c) when good men come along I’ve overplayed my hand, sworn up a storm, manifested my father’s legendary frankness (“You’re reasonably attractive; I’m sure some man would be willing to marry you”**) ... etc. And finally, it’s even possible that d) I’m living in entirely the wrong city (if the median marriage age is scored like golf, this town ain’t doin’ so well).

Hence, the spinsterhood. Which is better than stripping anyway. I mean, listening to Nina more closely, I’m a bit concerned by how much the end of her song sounds like she’s doing bad burlesque in some seedy bordello where half the corn-fed, poorly washed patrons don’t even bother to watch her. Nina, sweetie, the poverty shouldn’t come to this — and I don’t care if it’s monetary or relational. You bake a little bread, you knit some scarves, and you dance with yourself — I mean by yourself — at home. And you learn mantras like, “I’m on the shelf, it’s good for my helf!” or “I’ll be a spinster, won’t need a min’ster, ain’t that good for me!”

Wagon? What wagon?
After all, isn’t sealing off the heart a damn good way to prepare for an uncertain future? I’m sure I read that in a romance novel once ...

Oh, but yes: I’m swearing again. Sigh. I guess I never really bothered to quit (except in this blog). Besides, “damn” isn’t really a cuss word, is it? It’s in the Bible after all. And really, as the Blogfather recently suggested, while it’s nice that I’ve got all this newfound clarify about what I want, basically I’m hoping for something I can’t have because it doesn’t exist.*** If I want to stop the torment, I should just kill the hope!

Anna catches herself
Hmmmm. Something tells me this darkly comic business neither quite suits me nor my readers. Sorry, ya’ll. It’s just that there’s no (decent) chocolate in the house to be eaten, I generally try to avoid eating to cope with sad feelings, and um ... sometimes the lack of male attention (platonic or otherwise) makes a girl go a little batty.*** I know that’s decidedly unfeminist ... but there it is. Don’t worry though: I’ll swap Nina out of the stereo soon enough, and I’m sure by tomorrow morning I’ll be back in fighting form and able to laugh at Anna’s Bleak Monday.

But on this note, keep suggesting your love-gone-wrong songs and albums. I think we can broaden the category a little beyond “breakup albums” to “broken-heart” or “disappointment” albums. Because there’s always Bob:
I hurt easy, I just don’t show it
You can hurt someone and not even know it
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
I’m in love with a woman who don’t even appeal to me

Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake
I’m not that eager to make a mistake

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed
*For Barb, who will probably never read this, but on whose behalf I grieve.
**Not that I quote this to impugn my father; we generally have a very good relationship ... but sometimes he can still be brutally honest.
***Not of course that one should aim for virtue only because of what it gets you — where's the character in that? But virtue doesn't get invited to the pity-party, after all. Too damn altruistic for this set.
****In fact, fact subject us to a few days of silence, and we’ll be convinced friendship, even like, has turned to hate. Demanding, precarious things we ladies be, ain’t we now?

Sexless BOTtoM
selections from iTunes
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
I Kissed Dating Goodbye
I Kissed Dating Goodbye
Nina Simone
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Bob Dylan
Things Have Changed

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