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, September 07, 2004

Promises, promises

Yes, I’m finally back in the New York groove — I mean, back to blogging. Sorry for the prolonged delay, but I figured most of youse were probably takin’ holidays yourselves, and if you weren’t ... surely developing a little long-suffering patience among my readers is a good thing, right?

Um ... yeah. So, as you can see, Anna is loopy as ever! (You can thank the powerful cocktail of unemployment and regular caffeine overdoses for that.) But you know, when a visiting out-of-town friend asks if you’re dating ... in your age range ... these days, and you can reply with a straight face, “Well I did have lunch with a World War II vet yesterday,” something is wrong.

It’s an old, old story
But I’m not sure what’s worse: the delivery of the answer or the fact, ahem, it was actually an honest answer. Enter Geezer #2, the Work Daddy. I call him that because, ever since I met him during the shake-hands-with-a-neighbor pause in church last winter, he’s been trying to help me find employment. But considering the last potential job he had in mind involved me signing up the city’s firemen for continuing-education classes, I’m not sure he should start a career of guidance counseling youths.

I will confess to briefly considering the job on at least the 1- to 2-day trial basis Work Daddy suggested, but not even I was prepared to so shamelessly mix business with pleasure. I may talk about sex more than a decent young lady ought (more on that later), and I may trumpet a blog called Sexless in the City, but I’m not prepared to seek employment strictly based on the job’s likelihood to generate new dates.

Dating new generations, however ... (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.)

Not quite a question of stamina
Actually, I think it’s safe to say that Work Daddy won’t make a pass at me, considering he said on Sunday that he sees me as a daughter. On second thought, I’m really more of a granddaughter than a daughter, so maybe I should be worried. Perhaps if I ape his eating style and start spreading more of my meal over my chin while I chew, and strategically dribbling coffee now and then ... Would that be as alarming to him as it is to me? Even my grandpa isn’t quite that bad, but then again he’s also not still trying to fly Cessnas, delivering lectures on collective bargaining at foreign universities, or representing labor unions. Maybe sometimes Work Daddy’s body can’t resist a jab or two to remind him of his age.

Whether he’s 70-something or 80-something, though, he sure is active. Or talks a mighty good game as such. The first time we had lunch, he told me about his involvement with Democratic politics, and how his friendship with Hilary Clinton goes back to her Library-of-Congress clerk days when Bill was just some guy she was dating. He also owns some building on 51st Street that he and a crony supposedly won in some lawsuit back in the day, and which he rents to people from one of the northern-European members of the U.N. And then there’s the Intrepid, which he evidently helped to get established as a museum after World War II (he flew planes with the Navy but — he told me Sunday — was part of a group of men opposed to using the A-bomb).

I tried googling him to verify all this, with not much luck. Maybe men of his generation can’t be googled that well. Might-be-into-me Mentor on the other hand ...

Cross his heart ... (don’t hope too high)
He’s the other guy making me promises, you see. Men seem to be so eager to make them — especially when travel or possible work is involved. I’ve had two different men offer to take me for visits to Senegal, for example — one of them an employee of the Hot ’n Crusty shop at Penn Station, where I used to buy my lunch (I just like saying the name because it sounds dirty). And then there are the promises men make on initial dates: that you’ll meet their friends at some point, see more of their work, get to borrow a favorite CD ... etc.

Best Friend and I once had a conversation about her hurt over a guy who had said similar things to her in that passing, casual way that men are capable of ... but who then proceeded to respond to her emails in sluggish fashion. Although most of the time it is I who plays “little cricket” in such conversations, this time I was the one speaking sagely. “Sometimes guys just say that stuff,” I explained. My personal theory is that, in that moment, the guy is having a great time with you and doesn’t want to think things will end or come undone as they most of the time do. In lieu of saying what a great time he’s having, and how much he’s enjoying your company, he starts speaking as if some happy continuum exists between this moment and the future in which you join him with his beer buddies, swap records, or see the obscure poster he bought in Berlin one summer. I don’t think guys mean to be dishonest or arouse our hopes in such moments, but neither do I expect much to come of such promises. I just smile and nod and wait to see what actually happens.

Which is what I’ve done with Might-be-into-me Mentor through the various iterations of possible work for me he’s run through. First he had the idea that I could take a new headshot for him, to replace the avuncular, turtle-necked ’80s number that runs with his newspaper columns. Then he decided that since my SAT scores were so amazing (“Um, you’re the one with the Ph.D,” I wanted to say. “Who cares that your sat-scores were lower?”), I should tutor his son for the upcoming exam.

Oh, didn’t I mention that? Yes, Might-be-into-me Mentor has a son, but no wedding ring. I’m guessing he’s a mid- to late-40s divorcee. Which certainly doesn’t make him too old to be hot for me. You see, the second time he mentioned the SAT gig (which could also include a neighbor’s “child” if he ever has that conversation), he kindly offered the use of a spare bedroom should the trip from New York to New Jersey and back again be too much to complete in one day (Anna buries face in hands).

To sleep? Perchance you mean ...
Um, yeah. So if that job ever pans out, I’ll be scheduling the study session as early as possible to ensure I don’t have to miss the comforts of my own, very-inviting twin bed. And if Might-be-into-me Mentor ever takes me out for that it’s-so-terrible-you’re-unemployed dinner to ensure I’m eating well ... it will surely be in Manhattan, avoiding the Jersey problem altogether.

Should Might-be-into-me Mentor ever be invited to a dinner at the White House, however, and I accompany him as his guest (which he also offered that I could do), that might be another problem. But I’m not losing too much sleep over that possibility ... I mean, really: who has dinner at the White House? Sure, I did recently show remarkable luck in getting to hear the President live, and attend copious amounts of a certain political convention, but I harbor no delusions that this a harbinger of more-exciting political meetings to come.

I’d settle for getting some work. Supposedly Might-be-into-me Mentor also has some grant from a pharmaceutical that might be used to fund me writing a paper on broken promises made by generic drug companies … Broken promises. Hah.

The road less trammelled
I just wish in the midst of all these dealings I wasn’t also having to navigate the delicate business of whether or not these men are secretly hot for me! I’ve been reading Taking Sex Differences Seriously this week, and while it offers many interesting insights (according to his description, I probably have higher testosterone than most women), it hasn’t yet explained why sex still complicates male-female business dealings. Sigh.

As for the male-female dealings I do wish to be complicated by sex, lately I’ve been getting some interesting advice. Last week I sent several friends a three-part series on my journey as a spiritual “pilgrim.” The thoughtful responses included a lot of rather interesting advice on how a madcap, sex-crazed Jesus Freak such as myself might balance patience, personality and propriety while trying to make the best of a reluctant singleness. One friend, married a year, writes:
From reading your e-mails, it sounds like you know what you want in a husband. I want to encourage you to keep your standards high. There are not many men that are deserving of your love, Anna. While I believe that a marriage can WORK with a lot of different people, especially by God’s grace, I really, really believe that there is a BEST. I don’t think you want something that just works...I think you want the best and I think you deserve the best.
Meanwhile, another (recently married) friend advises:
You are the type of person that practically NEEDS to get married. Now, maybe God does have in mind singleness for you, obviously He is the only one who knows the future. But I think there’s a pretty darn high probability you will get married. [And] you’ve got a lot going for you - smart, cute, etc. Plus, you love sex, and all men will appreciate that!

[However,] you have got to shape up around men! No more insane sexual teasing and goading right away, and then informing them that you are in fact rather morally upright. ... Therefore, if you are only dating Christians, you shouldn’t be throwing so many sexual comments at them the first time you meet them! And, no, I’m not saying to be a prude, but it’s good to show a bit of decorum until you know someone better and more intimately. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to follow the unwritten proscribed rules of society. :)

[Finally,] who cares if the Christians you meet seem kind of square ... or if [a guy’s] Christianity seems wooden to you. You may not “respect” aspects of his Christianity if they seem unreflective to you, but he may not respect the fact that you frequent the Burlesque Bar! If he’s a true believer, you and he will grow from challenging and strengthening each other. He will undoubtedly have many strengths that you lack, and you can help each other in that way. I have come to the opinion lately that for the vast majority of us who don’t want to spend our lives alone, it is MUCH better to find someone that has, say, about 80% of what we are looking for, and to keep an open mind and learn to love them, than it is to spend life alone.
So, um, needless to say I’m a little confused these days. Evidently I shouldn’t tell Jesus-lovers I meet about this blog, or else, um, I should use it to channel all my teasing inclinations elsewhere so I can maintain non-provocative conversation in person (wow, that sounds so healthy, doesn’t it?!!) Or maybe I’ll try to sort out that testosterone thing first ...

Readers, feel free to weigh in! This blog can serve as a forum, you know. ;)

Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others
Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others
My Life
My Life