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, September 15, 2004

Likes cars, hopes to talk

Ah, the joys of a Wednesday morning at home: fresh soy latte on hand (since soy milk costs less than organic at Target), remains of cherry-cobbler breakfast in bowl ... and Mingus on the stereo. Cranked.

Music for the pre-noon stupor
Between my little brother’s 7:51 a.m. call this morning, and my need to leave the house at noon for an in-the-city lunch, it’s been an earlier-than usual morning. For such occasions, when the body is particularly weary, I find the double-whammy of caffeine and perky music especially effective. Back in the day — back in the school days, that is — I used to combine loudly played Big Bad Voodoo Daddy albums and hot showers in pursuit of the required wakefulness. Oh, those 7:40 classes... Still, there was something nice about the bleary-eyed trips to the on-campus Coffee Plantation stand for coffee. While I could then afford (or pretended to) the paper-cup luxury of portable caffeine, I was not yet addicted to the premium beverage I now crave: the paper-cup latte.

One would think having access to my own not-pump-driven espresso maker should satisfy all such longings, but what is the basic lesson of economics 101? Desire is never satisfied. And thus, some institutions are predicated on the insistence that desire can sometimes be a false guide. Institutions such as my financial solvency, for instance. Or marriage. (Insert summary of Anna’s stock High Fidelity speech here.)

Off the road again
Not that desire is entirely wrong. It’s just that desire for novelty can sometimes lead us astray. Case in point: one time a macho guy friend was driving me home in his Jeep. We were less than half a mile down the road from my apartment when he decided that continuing down the same old winding strip of concrete was far too bland for his taste. He needed something to conquer! Something worthy of the power and agility he was driving.

Conveniently enough, there was a random collection of undeveloped plots between the street and my parking lot that were sufficiently connected to each to constitute impromptu “off-roading” terrain (to the degree such can be found in the middle of Tempe, Arizona, that is). Since said terrain was mostly just a field of dirt, Guy Friend #2 of course headed straight for the nearest thing resembling a hill.

Except that this “hill” was so small he promptly got the Jeep high-centered on it. And of course since he had removed the doors earlier that day to create a more “rugged” and visceral in-cabin passenger experience, all the dirt thrown up by the spinning tires had direct access to the Jeep interior.

Delighted at the prospect of man-versus-mound, Guy Friend #2 clambered out of the Jeep to free the vehicle so we could drive the remaining few hundred yards past a ramshackle bar to the back parking lot of my apartment.

Free at last, he pulled up behind the building and remarked, “You got awful quiet back there.”

I made a thoughtful face. “Well, there wasn’t really much to say,” I pointed out. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Play the oblivious girl who carries on with some story about her manicure woes? Play the helpless female who is either terrified at our predicament or agush at all the brawny masculinity on display? Play the tomboy who gets out and tries to shoulder him aside? (Alas, this was before my days of changing tires, oil and my brake pads, so there was little I could’ve done to help anyway.)

The short but not-quite angry man
Ah, Guy Friend #2. I wish I could properly recreate for you the faintly piratical “Arrrrrr” for which he was known among our friends. Perhaps the best way to evoke his personality is by quoting from an email he sent recently, regarding a series of emails I’d sent out about my spiritual pilgrimage ... and of course my reluctant celibacy:
Remember when I used to bug you with the story that I wanted to have the surgery that will increase my height a few inches? That was utter stupidity. I’m short and that’s not gonna change. I could spend my life trying to become tall or I could live with it and appreciate my height. Either way, it doesn’t reflect on my as a person and I have no control over it. It goes the same for you. You’re not married and you have no control of over it. You like to think you do, but don’t lie to yourself. The only person who really has control over your life is the Lord, and he has the best intentions in mind for you whether you believe it or not. For you, your marital status may be only temporary, but if it’s permanent, you would do yourself well to appreciate it. Like I appreciate my height. (I just met a hot hispanic girl that just moved to Phoenix and is going to [our old church] who’s short too. I think she likes my height. I’m gonna play the game for a while.) Anyway, unlike my height issue, you can’t perform surgery and get a husband - at least not one that you won’t want to kill. Also, guys are not that great to live with. After the honeymoon period lapses, you are stuck with the quirks of guys for life. hope this helps. I’m going to bed
What was my point again? I think it was supposed to be some unsubtle treatise about the virtues of self-control ... but the unwitting macro-point is clearly that I miss my guy friends. Sigh. And The Eunuch.

I swear, sometimes there was nothing better than a late-fall Saturday or Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, using Guy Friend #3’s tools and driveway to work on my car while we listened to the classic rock station. Perhaps I instinctively recognized, too, that getting together to do something was one of the best ways to spend time with him. Likewise, when I was friends with the Married Man, our conversations typically occurred in his darkroom while he was working on a set of color prints for something.

In general it worked out all right: he got to work on something, I got to talk. And with Guy Friend #3 I also got the satisfaction of learning to fix my own car.

Not forgetting our BOTtoM...
Steven Rhoads claims that “male connectedness depends on activity and often competitive activity.”
Until some recent back problems, I had played tennis and squash all my life. I know that for me and for most of those I competed with, it doesn’t get much better than having the opportunity to test ourselves against great competitors who are also fine sportsmen. I bonded with those sportsmen over many years, but now I never see them. Women in similar circumstances would still get together and talk; for me and my chums, when the activity ended, so did the conversation. As important as our friendship was, talking would not bring it back. (184)
So ... um ... if you’re an intellectual-ish grease monkey or need help on a carpentry project — and you live in the Brooklyn vicinity, give a holler. Otherwise I might have to post a new Craigslist ad:
Sexless in the City
Will change oil/assist with carpentry, in trade for conversation. Can supply own mitre box and level.
Sexless BOTtoM
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
High Fidelity
High Fidelity

see also DVD
hear also soundtrack
An album that deserves to be heard on vinyl

Mingus Ah Um
[Bonus Tracks]