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.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Taking a break today

After some of the marathon blogs this week, decided to lay off a little today. Besides, it’s damn fine weather out.

But have no fear: Anna will be back to ponder the meaning of musical age, and report more dating hijinx next week. In the meantime, two links you might find amusing:
  1. Pick the virgin (if you think you’re really good at sussing out college naifs). I scored 52, but did better picking out the men. I can’t decide which impugns my credibility more: this site, or “Hot or Not” (haven’t been there, but Craigslisters responding to my PR ads have sometimes referred me to their HorN profiles) ...
  2. Sexless in India (the woes of single men in Mumbai)
And finally, a good ole introspective conundrum: to blogcrush or not? What happens when you fall for another blogger, or a blog reader falls for you?

Vapidity, folks. It’s what we know you come here for! Wouldn’t want to disappoint. ;)

Back on Monday...

Despite my aim of a 3-day weekend off from blogging, I couldn’t resist filling in a theme song for each of the lads (or geezers) from my Man-date to mate series earlier this month:
  1. Ad Weasel to Geriatric Gent
  2. Global Crossings Guy to Leather Daddy
  3. Married Man to Sgt. Ex-sessories
  4. Stalker #1 to the Winner

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The age dilemma

This morning, you may be relieved to know, I finally swapped out the Mojo CD I’ve been talking about since Saturday for something else. A visit from the Committee for Music Diversification seems to have been averted.

Relative to my CD collection, however, today’s selection is probably more mainstream — even a conservative choice on my part (then again, the RNC does come to New York next week). To be giving such heavy airplay to a blues CD was playing to the outlier in my collection: based on recent analysis, the blues account for only 3-4% of my catalog. But today, I confess, it’s back to the meat ’n potatoes, er, swing music (jazz and swing account for the largest single bloc of music, about 20%).

The last of the swingers?
Of course, there had to be some way of paying homage to yesterday’s taping of Last Call with Carson Daly, which featured Big Bad Voodoo Daddy as the house band. (Anna pauses to relish a big, toothy grin of sheer glee.)

I could only attend a half-hour taping, but the band looked great and sounded better. If you don’t feel like digging out your VHS of Swingers, the episode should air Sept. 1; BBVD is the house band all week.

I have to say, it was good to see they’re still getting around. Indigo Swing folded a while ago, and I get the feeling references to Swingers or the Gap Louis Prima commercial are what separate “my” generation from the kids who follow Avril and Jonny Lang (OK, that’s wishful thinking on my part; no kid his age probably knows who Jonny is, poor genius).

As my friend and I stood in line for the taping, she remarked upon the relative youth of the other audience members. There were older fans in the crowd when Jonatha Brooke played the show last spring ... but generally we were the “geezers” in the group yesterday.

Young at heart or old of ear?
So, in the spirit of one of my all-time favorite movies (High Fidelity), I feel inclined to ask: if you are what you listen to, does the real generation-gap hurdle present itself in chronological years, or in musical years vis-a-vis the gaps between your respective catalogs? For a gal who usually likes or dates men in the 7-8 years-older range, it’s a pressing question. Someone should really find a way to calculate musical age.

I haven’t done that yet, but the closest I can come is the recent analysis of my CD collection which generated the following top-5 genre list:
  1. jazz/swing (20.3%; 23.1% if you include crooners like Sinatra, Nat King Cole and HCJ)
  2. classic rock (17%)
  3. classical music (16.5%)
  4. soundtracks & compilations (8.3%)
  5. Christian music (7.3%)
Unfortunately I didn’t think to document original release dates for all albums included ... but at 375 CD cases and 412 individual CDs, that’s a heckuva lotta work. I’m not that bored (yet). Besides, I was interested in genre analysis:
  • Jazz songs are basically like country music, only set to much better music, and generally gifted with better lyrics. The man done her wrong, but she’ll still pine forever … He met a great girl while walking his dog, and guess what? Her dog took a liking for his. Now they’re planning the wedding. Etc. (That’s the vocal stuff; instrumental tracks often make me want to dance, or pine. One of the two.)
  • Classic rock is a little more tricky. This is love seen by the car-mechanic set, for whom a loud fuck and good beer seem to equal the good life (accompanied, of course, by bluesy guitars). But then you also have the Rip Van Winkle psychedelics of Talking Heads, who wonder how they got this wife, this car, this life. In short, it’s like a barbecue with a diverse array of side dishes and marinades, but only a few basic categories: meat, booze, and meat-accessories.
  • Classical music is basically another language, but most of what I collected during junior high and high school (the prime buying-season for this genre) was drawn from the Romantic Period: heavy on the Strauss, Rossini, Tchaikovsky. It covers the full gamut of emotion and experience, but all of it is intense and vibrantly colored. Life is passion, and drama.
  • Soundtracks-n-comps is a hard one; this covers all genres. Basically I threw out all the smarmy crap purchased during a brief spate of high school sentimentality, and now have such gems as High Fidelity, Swingers and Pulp Fiction. So, basically it’s drawn from the top-two categories, augmented by some fun, campy dance sets like The Full Monty and Grease (hey, I do have a shameless-indulgence side: Tom Jones, Ricky Martin, Lou Bega).
  • Most Christian music tends to be love songs for Jesus, but when leaving Arizona I managed to weed out the worst of it. So, it tends to be either religiously themed alt./contemp. music (Sixpence, Newsboys), or Beatle-esque introspection (PFR). I don’t listen to this much anyway. Some would consider David Wilcox a part of this group because he so frequently writes about spiritual themes, but I include him with Williams, Cash and Dylan: the folk crew.
Just for you, my dear readers, I may try to follow up on the musical age conundrum. Feel free to weigh in with more efficient ideas for calculating such a number if you think of any. Meanwhile, I’m trying to think of a more-populist song for this week’s Spooning Fork. So far I’ve covered R&B/Soul (2), disco (1), jazz (2 if you count “Do I Move You?)”, blues (2 ... if you count DIMY? here). Two I have in mind are Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and of course Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” Vote for your fave in the comments section below!

And finally ... a reader letter.
I am addicted to your blog. Is there anyone out there that can help me kick this habit? Eesh. Well I hope all is well Broadway.

-Overdosed on Sexless
Dear OD:
First off, thanks for reading my site so exhaustively. You didn’t learn of it on a bathroom wall somewhere, didja? Naw, I thought not.

If you’re concerned about weaning a voracious appetite, however, try checking out related links on the right, or buying some of the music I’ve discussed. That should lead you in new directions. An especially effective technique may be adding some of the Broadway soundtrack to your workout mix. If you don’t work out, start. I hear it’s a great way to cope with frustration (and we wonder why I jogged after Tuesday night’s date ... ;)).

Good luck! And don’t worry: if you only check the blog once a day, it’s really not a bad habit. These things take, what, 15 minutes a day to read? That’s only about 1% of the minutes in your day. Put it in perspective: how much time do you spend jacking off ... or, um, sitting on the can?



Nine Inch Nails
Downward Spiral
SwingersDVDsoundtrack I
soundtrack II (
Swingers Too!)
High FidelityDVDsoundtrack
Pulp FictionDVDsoundtrack


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

Monday, August 23, 2004

Monday a.m. mimosa leaves me mum

Sorry for the delay in today’s post, ya’ll. Somehow I found myself out yacking it up last night till nearly 4 in the morning. By the time I got home it was nearly 5, for which reason I didn’t actually rise till (gulp) 12:30 p.m. Today I’ve mostly been involved in the trés-exciting business of killing fruit flies (vinegar + sugar + dish soap + water is amazing).

Since I somehow never managed to make my usual morning latte today, ’fraid this is going to be kind of a non-post ... unless you really want to see the stats on why jazz accounts for up to 23% of my CD collection, and what that says about my sexlessness.

But to send a little love your way nonetheless, two things. First, I found out the Apple iTunes store has a very impressive collection of Garnet Mimms songs, including the one I mentioned yesterday. As Long As I Have You

Second in an homage to true print culture, I propose to initiate the Anna Broadway book club. Last night at Barnes & Noble I came across a fascinating new book:

Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously

I’m ordering my copy tonight and plan to inject the usual “sexual tension in [my] writing” with occasional comments about the work. If you want to follow the discussion more closely, buy a copy of your own and we can discuss through the comment section of this page.

Ta, all! Off to a church-related coffee function. A friend suggests that bad pick-up lines could make for good blog-fare, so we’ll see what happens. I’m trying to remember the last time I actually heard a Christian utter a pick-up line. It’s not like they’re really required in order to pseudo-date ...

Loose ends
And yes, I do eventually plan to explain about the V-day game “Is it Mein Kampf or,” why 5% Man is so-named, and the porn-career that wasn’t. Stay tuned to this site!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Where the love is

I find it fitting that as I prepared to write this post, Muddy Waters was singing from my stereo, “You need love.” Just bought the latest issue of Mojo magazine today, and the companion CD, The Roots of Led Zeppelin, kicks ass. Little Richard, Garnet Mimms (with whom I fell instantly in love), Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Santo & Johnny (great quasi-surf rock version of “Summertime,”) Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Spirit, Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Blind Willie Johnson, Davey Graham, Joan Baez, John Fahey and Owen Hand. Pretty freakin’ decent for $8.99!

In fact, Muddy’s gonna supply this week’s Spooning Fork.

You Need Love
‘You Need Love’ from His Best: 1956-1964
Talk about a sex song! This is a full-out sex-in-the-dirty-bar-bathroom music. Hell, I’m not even convinced it’s dark outside. This is shameless, mid-Saturday afternoon sex ... or at least hot ’n heavy grinding.

But strangely, I feel like this is not the illicit sex of strangers suddenly drawn together by animal chemistry. The way he sings “woman you need love” is just too damn familiar. He’s been with her long enough to know her moods, her looks, her come-ons. So this is the fun, flirty, no-gropes-barred dance of long-acquainted lovers.

Maybe she’s his wife, come by the bar to spice up a painfully dull, no-money afternoon shift where he’s slaving away out of character and necessity more than anything else. If nothing else, their torrid serenade proves some things do improve with time.

It runs in the family ...
My parents could certainly vouch for that. Yesterday they celebrated their 27th anniversary and now that all of us kids are out of the house, they feel quite free to clue us in that they’re still gettin’ frisky. A few weeks ago, Mom IMed me while I was online, but I didn’t see the message. A little later, I tried calling, but the line just rang and rang. I assumed she was merely on another call, since they have call-waiting. A while after that, I called again and finally got through. “Who were you talking to earlier?” I asked curiously.

“Your dad,” she replies impishly. “You mean ... you weren’t on the phone?” “Nope.” And then she just flat-out clarifies they were gettin’ a little busy. Considering my sex-education was provided by romance novels, it’s a little bit weird to be having these conversations. My birds-n-bees tutelage excepted, the folks evidently proved quite frank with my younger siblings. Sis recalls a now-legendary quote from my mom — “sex is a beautiful thing” — that was repeated with relish by my sister’s college roommates (one of whom even consulted our mom for sex advice). Then in the song my dad wrote for Sis’ high-school graduation there is the repeated refrain about how “from an act of love” she came forth (this was also a big hit with the roommates). If you ever wonder where the Broadway libido comes from, it ain’t just frustration talking.

Speaking of frustration, that was definitely not my frame of mind yesterday evening after two late-afternoon posts on Craigslist kicked in beyond my wildest expectations. I thought 6 p.m. EST (3 p.m. PCT) on a Friday was rather late to be advertising Sexless, but turns out that was prime time indeed. Just from those two posts, I broke the previous visitor record: a whopping 1,136 of you stopped by yesterday, generating 1,525 page views. Some seemed quite taken by what they found.
Too bad you’re in Bklyn! I just moved here (SF) from there (Bklyn Hts)....and your words (AND photo) were quite appealing ;_)

Ever get out to SF???
-Brooklyn Transplant
Dear Brooklyn Transplant:
Too bad, indeed. Still, I do have a free domestic ticket on American Airlines to be used. Maybe I’ll take a break from blogging one of these days and use it. Show enough reader love from your city and ... who knows. Maybe!!
What pity you don’t live in SF. I was going to say, “You write so well you should be on every toilet wall in every upscale hotel,” but that seemed somewhat insulting and I didn’t mean that. You DO write well, dammit.

Unemployed? Say not so.

As for celibate, that surely can’t be even remotely possible. Gosh, even I would sleep with someone who could make me laugh that much and who was so generally witty. You should have left a bit of that Sangria for the guys, and then, who knows, you might have got lucky? There is always that magic moment when all inhibitions are down and before total mutual unconsciousness. But you have to catch it quick, (I know, I know, quickLY, pedant!)

Anyway since this love affair seems to be going nowhere I’ll sign off before the grammar goes completely to pot...talking of usually works better than Sangria...see, it did disintegrate... whenever anyone starts using ... you know that the end of civilization, if not the world, is nigh. Certainly the end of this missive. (subject, verb, object? There's got to be Groucho Marx joke about objecting somewhere in there.)

Yours, admiringly and regretfully,
A San Francisco Fan
Dear San Francisco Fan:
Brilliant, dahling, brilliant! One of the best sound-bites I’ve gotten yet. I can only imagine your love bites. ;) By all means start the bathroom-wall revolution! I hadn’t even thought of that myself, but I must say it would be fitting for a girl who once snuck into men’s bathrooms just to photograph graffiti.

Your allusion to the apocalypse reminds me of a class presentation I once did, involving Jimmy Buffett’s song “Apocalypso.” More on that in an entry-to-come...

As for living in San Francisco, I did consider moving there after graduation. According to my city-desirability index, Berkeley rated 4.71, compared to New York’s 4.06. But I’d already lived in Berkeley for two months one summer, and New York not at all. Also, the East Coast made more sense for the publishing career I thought I wanted. Still, enough love from SF men like you and I might at least have to pay a visit to my West Coast readers ...


Speaking of numbers ...
I did a little analysis on the emails generated by yesterday’s posts. A total of 30 men responded via email (far more than the usual rate of reply). Eighty-three percent used the anon@ email generated by Craigslist, though a number showed evidence they’d read the blog. Nine of the 30, almost a third, included pictures. Four (13.3%) mentioned chocolate vaginas specifically, and two (6.7%) mistakenly emailed me twice, the second time with an email intended for another poster. Interestingly, neither of those men were among the eight (27%) who sent generic emails clearly recycled for responses to all personal ads. I don’t really hold it against them; it’s not like one pays much attention to the series of digits distinguishing one anon user from another!

I have to say, the most random of the generic emails was this peculiar “offer”:
Want to Buy a Strip Club in Nevada. 25 years old. I am Very Influential and Fun. UC Berkeley Student. Real Estate Owner/Home Business Owner For Past Year. Have Business Experience. Evaluate The Opportunity. Need Help With Financing Deal. Contact [First Name] For More Information
The email concludes with the URL of a website that mysteriously has “justice” in its name — as if it’s a politics- or policy-oriented site. I could almost believe this email came from a hapless non-English speaker foreignor who cobbled together a response from various spam emails he’s gotten and posts he’s read.

Well, that’s gonna do it for today! Stay tuned for more on that music-collection analysis and a story from the vaults about my other stripping experience (this one happened in a classroom). Don’t forget to cast your vote for Spooning Fork’s new name! Remember, winner gets a j-peg of Anna.


The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, the Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons
Everyday Apocalypse

The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, the Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons
Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll on the Sunset Strip
Straight Whisky

A Living History of Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll on the Sunset Strip
Led Zeppelin
Early Days & Latter Days: Vol. 1 & 2
Muddy Waters
His Best: 1956-1964 CD mp3
Jimmy Buffett: “Apocalypso”

Download iTunes


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Maybe less action’s kind of a good thing ...

Whew! Can’t say I envy this blogger! That why love-life scribes like us gotta pad the site with general stuff such as Spooning Fork, fashion soap operas and so on. In fact, just last night my roommate and were discussing (over one-year anniversary angel food cake and champagne) that this blog is probably more PG-13 than R- or NR-rated. It’s like 5% Man once said in an IM session: “Damn dirtiest clean girl I ever did meet.” At heart I’m really a clean girl ... and sometimes the dirt is inadvertant (like my puns).

One factual note about the story, before I move on: I’m pretty sure the WaPo’s academic source didn’t coin the phrase “expressive individualism.” Robert Bellah et al used it as early as 1985 in the landmark work Habits of the Heart.

But back to the blog. I will say that, despite early optimism about hiding this, er, “column” from the men it describes, the Harvard Lickwit apparently found me out anyway. Somehow he would be the unlucky sucker whose email service provider actually includes both username and email subject in the referral tag! I kid you not. And somehow the “fates” decreed I would see this referral page ('re getting blogged about.EML?Cmd=open) before it dropped out of the 10 most-recent visitors. Weird.

At least so far there’s more ink on the Lickwit business card than he’s received on this site! But I like developing the characters gradually. It’s that frustrated, lazy novelist in me, ya know? In the meantime, his b-card is tucked away inside my Bad Girl’s Scrappy Book, a cheesy impulse purchase at Charlotte Russe one day. The journal is kinda fun, though, and a good place to keep weird mementos like my Morrissey ticket from the concert to which Best Friend and I dragged Lickwit and the Captain (probably the weirdest pseudo-double date ever) ... and the bcard from some guy we think was scouting me for a porn film.

I promise to tell that story tomorrow or later today, but right now I gotta get ready for a 1:30 lunch in the city. Don’t forget to make your suggestions in the rename-Spooning-Fork contest! Winner gets a recent j-peg of Anna ... bearing in mind the ratings above. ;).

Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
Habits of the Heart

Individualism and Commitment in American Life
We've Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture
We’ve Got Blog

How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture
Bad Girl's Scrappy Book
Bad Girl's Scrappy Book

Saturday, August 14, 2004

The masochist’s refrain

Normally I try to take a kind of “Sabbath” from blogging on the weekends, but I guess because I wrote so little last week, the ideas just keep coming. So now for this week’s Spooning Fork.

‘Jim’ from Desert Island Disks: Sarah Vaughan
Although I like to think I know a little bit about jazz, lately I just keep discovering new voices that I can’t believe it took me so long to appreciate. Nina Simone. Sarah Vaughan. (And I’m sure the list will go on.)

This song initially came to me through the same Angelique Kidjo playlist for iTunes that introduced me to Stevie Wonder’s “As,” Miriam Makeba, and my first aural experience of Serge Gainsbourg. On first listen, it’s just another melancholy slow song — the kind you listen to on lonely, quiet nights when you feel like indulging dark emotions (for East Coast folk, this happens a lot in winter time).

But as the words sink in, they prove to share the non-existent logic behind the Missed Connections section on Craigslist and all the other women like me who do crushing for the long-term. To be a marathon infatuate takes hard work, you see. But it’s all part of that character-refinement required for love if you subscribe to something a girlfriend and I recently dubbed “Romantic Arminianism.” I haven’t worked out all the particulars, but I’m pretty sure that worldview accounts for Sarah’s song:
Jim doesn’t ever bring me pretty flowers,
Jim never tries to cheer my lonely hours;
Don’t why I’m so crazy for Jim.
Jim never tells me I’m his heart’s desire,
I never seem to set his heart afire.
Gone are the years I’ve wasted on him.
At least he’s not leading her on! But still, Sarah insists on throwing good love after bad:
Someday I know that Jim will up and leave me, but even if he does,
You can believe me, I’ll go on carrying the torch.
Why am I wasting these precious years? Why am I crying these bitter tears?
It’s all because of Jim, it’s all because of Jim.
Like Sarah, I don’t have a fall-back fuck buddy or a friend I can call up and marry when we’re both still single in our thirties. I have a fall-back infatuation. But this is key, you see. For the Jim-lovers in the world, the only thing worse than being single is being crush-less. And truthfully, we’re secretly somewhat fond of all this pining. It’s like one character says in The Alchemist:
I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living. … I’m afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it.

The crush is stable, the crush is safe (because, God knows, that guy is never really going to come around for you and start challenging your precious ideas of who he is). And isn’t pining like a Kegel for your heart? It helps prepare for you the love to come. And if you’re a Romantic Arminianist, clearly true love won’t arrive until you’ve earned the right to have it and proven you’re good enough at loving to be loved. (Which sounds strangely like the lyric from Dean Martin’s opener to Swingers, but I’ll save that song for another Spooning Fork.)


Sarah Vaughan with Clifford BrownSerge Gainsbourg
Couleur Café
The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream
The Alchemist

A Fable about Following Your Dream


Friday, August 13, 2004

Why all ‘threesomes’ are not equal

Ah, Friday night at home.

Soundtrack: Horace Silver’s Song for My Father.
Drink of choice: vodka & OJ — ghetto, I know, but watcha gonna do on an unemployment budget?

I suppose theoretically there could have been date #3 with the Funny Man this weekend, but he returns to school on Sunday, his week was crazy-busy, and I’m not sure what he wanted anyway. When I told a girlfriend about him last weekend, she asked, “Have you talked to your sister about him yet? I think you just want to be friends with him.”

Which is maybe what he wanted too. But somehow (more so outside Christian circles, perhaps) most men don’t seem to be interested in friendship with women unless the sexual tension has been addressed first (this, I suppose, can range from having a go at making out to having a go, full stop). Honestly, I can’t think of a single friendship with a guy that didn’t at some point involve one or the other of us flirting with at least the idea of attraction.

If the classic When Harry Met Sally dilemma weren’t enough, recently my friend the Ringleader also raised another conundrum: what do I do about dates now I’m writing the blog? Funny Man’s introduction to me basically was the blog. While he didn’t, like Covert Romantic, lead with a stated intention of “getting in my blog,” this soapbox did undoubtedly add complexity to the equation. As Curious Reader recently posed:
Does The Captain, etc., know about your blog? What about your girlfriends, sister, etc.? Just curious since people tend to act a little differently when they know they're being observed.

Hope things are going well for you,
-A Curious Reader
Generally speaking, no, the men in my blog do not know they’re being observed, other than in the sense we all take note of each other’s actions and silently size up the people we’re just getting to know romantically (or otherwise). At any rate, much of the content is still historical, some going as far back as five years ago or more!

But … still. The blog problem. Does this just turn into some bizarre e-reality writing venture? In the interest of male egos (which I hear can be quite fragile), I have so far decided to take a cautious approach toward blogging those I know, and who know of the blog. Better to a) wait a long time until probably the guy’s stopped reading the blog anyway, or b) come up with general observations or musings based on the date, rather than giving the sort of blow-by-blow I’d offer gossip-hungry girlfriends. Who says my shtick always has to be colorful narrative? Besides, in story-telling mode I tend to run long-winded. I mean, really long-winded. It’s not for nothing high-school classmates used to time my answers in class. :-o

But I digress. (It’s this sort of tangent, you see, that adds such length to my stories.) So, the Ringleader proposes that possibly guys could feel hurt if I don’t mention them in my blog. Like, “It’s a blog about her love life, but she’s not writing about me, so I guess I’m not very important to her.”

But I said, It just seems so incestuous or something to immediately write up what I think of the guy. He wouldn’t know that normally, and probably he wouldn’t like to know every thought I had about him (would I want to know every thought he’s had about me?!!). I mean, even if the assessment’s not 100% positive, it’s not like I’m going to totally reject him. So there’s really no point in trotting out the little idiosyncrasies that may make for a better story, at the expense of ego.

The Ringleader still thinks a guy might rather have the flattery of being mentioned positively or otherwise than nothing said at all. Or I could just ask, she said: “Are you a blog boy or not?”


No wonder one character in my novel-in-progress breaks up with her boyfriend after learning he’s been proto-blogging their relationship. It’s too freakin’ messed up!

Expect this blog to turn to less-specific philosophizing (and lots of spooning forks) should I ever break the few-dates dating streak and actually get something approaching a boyfriend (I mean, a Relationship). Of course, that would also require me finding a man who’s actually as serious about God as I am (gasp — sorry, but that’s the crux of this blog, when you really get down to it; that’s why I don’t get down to it, in fact ;)).

If one adopts the (probably fallacious) reasoning that what could be follows directly from what has been, clearly there’s no hope on the man-who-loves-Jesus score. But I won’t be buying cats anytime soon! There’s a reason I sold that soundtrack long ago. ;) Instead I think I’m going to brush up a line I vowed to implement next time I’m about among the madding Manhattanites:
Guy: “So, can I have your number?”
AB: “You know, I’ve enjoyed talking to you, and it would really be fun to hang out sometime, but experience teaches me it really won’t lead anywhere. So I’d just as soon leave it at this.”
Guy: “Don’t you think that’s kind of judgmental/cynical?”
AB: “Well, again, experience teaches me that generally when guys learn certain details about me, they’re not very interested in continuing the pursuit. So why waste either of our time?”
Guy: “What kinds of things? Are you wanted by the government? Do you have a kid?”
AB: “Haha, no. But you see, I’m actually one of those weirdos who loves Jesus.”
Guy: “That’s fine.”
AB:“Well ... I mean, he’s really my main man — at least, that’s what I’m aimin’ for. Most guys ... they don’t take so well to playing second fiddle; having a third ‘person’ in the relationship.”
(Guy begins to look alternately confused and concerned.)
But don’t look for this to be renamed Spinster in the City anytime soon. For one, it’s just not quite as catchy, and also hope springs cursedly anew (I guess my Indian friend the other night would call that the persistence of biology.)

Time to swap in Hank Mobley … Sorry it’s been a fork-less week, but somehow jazz-of-the-wordless-kind is harder to analyze. And it’s probably not popular enough to really influence our phi-love-sophy.

Media ♣ Song for My FatherWhen Harry Met Sally

Far from the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The sex-and-music ecstasy connection

THANKS for your patience if you’ve been checking back several days now to the same damn entry. Things are getting off to a slow start this week. While I’m working on the next vignette, here’s part of a friend’s novel-in-progress that tries to wed the themes of this blog (sex and music) into a semi-coherent musing on ecstasy. Let me know if you think this excerpt is worth leaving up even after I finish today’s piece (yes, you can say it sucks ;)) ...

from an untitled novel

Maybe Meg was just obsessed with first times.

Like the first time she heard Tom Petty’s song, “Learning to Fly.” She’d probably heard it sometime before, in a memory long forgotten, but the first time she really heard it was on a dusty afternoon on the way back from Las Vegas, driving under a cloudless desert sky. She and a friend from college had gone, taking Sammy’s caramel-gold convertible on a boredom-killing road trip. But Meg found herself unable to keep up with Sammy’s drinking binge; by weekend’s sunset, it was she who had the resources to do the driving. Not that she’d really minded. There was something sort of melancholy and romantic about driving through the desert, chasing sunset. Meg herself had always been sort of melancholy and romantic too — or wistful, at least, to be such a person — until she realized that having such desires probably made her the thing she was longing to be.

So she was driving through the desert, while Sammy slumbered clumsily in the back seat, when Tom Petty came on the radio. It was one of those perfectly ecstatic moments where a song was everything you hadn’t known you were feeling till you heard it. That was true serendipity, she thought — not finding the person you were destined for, but hearing a song that described you, at just that moment when the aptness was neither memory nor prediction, but the present: you.

She had concluded, then that sex was really nothing compared to music. Music had that magical power to overtake you, out of the blue, and lift you away from yourself into a brief, pure moment where everything was just the music and the feeling and your body, in a seamless trinity of ecstasy. Unlike sex, she’d never found a way to make that happen; it always just came upon you, magically, without warning of any kind.

Once it had been “Hey Jude” by the Beatles — but she could listen to the song a thousand times hence without ever again having the same experience like that one time — and it hadn’t even been the first time she heard the song. It was just the first time her emotions and “Hey Jude” had been resonant. For seven minutes of sightless swaying, that was musical ecstasy.

For she could never experience ecstasy with her eyes open. After all, it was all about that kind of dependence; still trying to see just got in the way. The whole of her body was only really taken away when her ears took over everything.

She’d had lots of ecstasy songs over the years — and even after that one, perfect time, there’d be many hearings later that still infused with the moment of resonance. It was like having leftovers many days in a row — only, not the kind of leftovers that progressively improve because the intimacy of the spices has increased. The kind of leftovers one brings home from a Mexican restaurant and slowly finishes from frugality. Much of the flavor’s still there, but the lettuce wilts away to slime with each reheating, and the sour cream becomes a milky, vanishing gravy.

But the memory of the moment when the plate had touched, and the food was on her palate always sent her back for more. And so she’d usually have to track the CD down, in order to satisfy her aural cravings. And yet … having the CD, the song at her command, was like trying to make a phantom lover return — by masturbation — after he’d come to you unprompted in the first place. Indeed she found there were some songs — like “Smooth,” by Rob Thomas and Santana — that were never the same from the CD player as when magically brought by the radio or the DJ or the Muzak.

That was how it was with music. She’d concluded to herself, once, there was something supernatural about it — about the radio especially. There was something about the way a sequence of Nirvana and Talking Heads and Billy Idol could all be so perfect in that nine-and-a-half-minute drive to somewhere. Maybe the drive only took eight minutes. But the set was so magical and self-affirming that you found yourself sitting in the car the last 90 seconds, just to suck every drop of marrow out of the life-bone the DJ had thrown you.

Yeah, that was ecstasy. Meg didn’t think she’d ever find a man who could give that to her regularly —unless he was maybe a DJ. But even that would be awfully a lot of pressure — expecting someone to constantly give you the soundtrack to your insides. And maybe you didn’t even want to know what was playing, always. Maybe it something horrific, like she imagined Ozzy Osbourne to be — and you’d be really appalled to discover he was actually inside you; that he’d even made music from your insides for all to hear. Even if the Righteous Brothers and “Unchained Melody” didn’t really constitute your ecstasy, and in fact clashed horrifically with the song going on inside you, sometimes it was the only way to contain all that blackness and melancholy and bile — hearing happy, cheesy love songs on the outside.

Most of the time, though, Meg was sufficiently comfortable with her doldrums to hear something between the Brothers and ole Ozzy on the radio. And she was OK with the fact that sometimes even music was just white noise to her. After all, the extraordinary thing about ecstasy was its rarity, and the fact that it only chose to possess you now and then.


Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy
Air Guitar

Essays on Art and Democracy

David Wilcox
(features the rap “Sex and Music”)

Friday, August 06, 2004

A reader heads-up

For a few days now, I’ve had a combination of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Getz/Gilberto in my stereo. With all the cinnamon rolls I’ve been baking (batch three is rising now; each batch has not two but three risings) it’s meant a lot of time to mull over lyrics. And my conclusion?

Aretha’s low-key power belt “Baby I Love You” epitomizes the age-old confusion and frustration between men and women (but especially men with women). Which brings us to … this week’s Spooning Fork.

‘Baby I Love You’ from 30 Greatest Hits (sorry, no iTunes link yet)
At first glance, she’s singin’ a man’s fantasy. I mean, here is a woman who wants to put out: “You know I’m gonna give it to you … I wanna see you with it.” But as the song continues on for two verses more you start to think she’s kind of a tease. There’s all that damn singing. He must be thinking, “You wanna give it to me? Fine, do it!” (Or rather, do me — but you get the point.) And all this talk about love. Eight times she says it — and that’s just one verse/chorus!

The real kicker is when she gets to the second verse: “If you feel you wanna kiss me, go right ahead — I don’t mind” (I just won’t stop singing so you can). Maybe she’s one of those women who wants to be kissed into silence … Oh, but wait — that’s a romance-novel trope.

When verse three comes around and she starts to talk about him leaving her, it has the sound of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean, who really wants to be with a lovey-lovey-lovey-lovey-dovey woman with promises of the action to prove it, when she spends all her time merely talking about what she’ll do? (Come to think of it, she did warn him at the beginning: “Don’t be afraid, baby — just ask me!”)

For the woman, of course, all this talk probably amounts to extended foreplay. And there are moments throughout the song where the ecstatic pitch of an “Oh!” has just that connotation. But the song fades off at the end like an unfulfilled arousal (go figure).

‘sexless NO MORE’?
In other instances of the such misunderstanding between the sexes, this week I received a very thoughtful email from one of my readers. Actually, I can’t say that he’s a reader — certain things about his email did suggest otherwise — but at least he read one of my recent ads on Craigslist. And by God, here’s a man willing to address my “predicament.” He’s a quick one, though. Very savvy to the whole e-dating thing.

He clearly gets the importance of pictures in making a stranger seem less, well, strange. So he very kindly sent me his headshot.

Both of them. (Imagine late-night stand-up drum routine here: “buh-doop-AH”).

I should have known from the shady subject line.

Standing on the corner...
The strangeness continued when, perhaps an hour later, I was walking to dinner at my friend’s apartment along Atlantic Avenue. A bare-chested, well-muscled man behind me is pushing an empty shopping cart in what surely could pass for an avant-avant garde Chippendales routine. For about a block the sound of the wheels bumping over uneven sidewalk is so loud I can practically feel him staring at me. Sure enough, at the next corner while we wait for the stoplight, he strikes up conversation.

“Are you homeless?”

I pause a beat to absorb this bizarre pickup line. Perhaps it’s the way I was hitching up my too-loose pants to keep from exposing several inches of underwear. “No — do I look like I am?” Maybe black (the color of my monochromatic attire) is the new street wear.

He responds with another question: “How come you’re so pretty?”

I chuckle. As if I can help it! But then, most men on the street seem to think I’m hot. I’m convinced it’s basically a circumstantial thing: sidewalk + woman = very sexy lady. Isn’t that the point of Bobby Darin’s classic tribute to the leer? Walking down the street turns any gal into a Very Fine Woman.

In a strange way, this man seems more transparent about the whole beauty-power dilemma I crudely tried to discuss the other day. And he seems harmless enough. How fast could he pursue with shopping cart in tow? “Because God made me that way,” I reply. I satisfy him that, yes, there’s genetic precedence for this in my mother’s fine looks, and leave the conversation at that. Sometimes lots of talking, as Aretha showed us, is a good way out of things. But other times there’s no exit better than drifting into silence.

Which is why Oversexed in the City (as friends suggested I call him) won’t be hearing back from Anna Broadway.

Aretha Franklin
30 Greatest Hits
Ray Charles
Ultimate Hits Collection
CD mp3
CD mp3


Thursday, August 05, 2004

A man-date to mate? (pt. 4)

You could probably call this one the celebrity chapter ... and yes, it’s the last of the series! (Check back to pts. 1, 2, 3, and 4 occasionally as I add additional men on an as-needed/as-remembered basis. I’m also putting a perma-link at the top of the Just the stats.)

Related to the fame theme, check back soon for a discussion of why headshots (ahem) don’t always help a man’s cause...

Stalker #1
Met through: an early internet-dating site (this was circa 1996)
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: none
First date: that is to say, meeting: his appearance at my Thursday-night show of Fiddler on the Roof
Age difference: 1 year
Profession: professional caffeine consumer — I mean, web geek-cum-student
Where the money went: Dr. Peppers, coffee, and all his internet bills!
Theme song: “Java Jive”

Stalker #2
Met through: bitter-cold-of-winter swing-dance party sponsored by my church
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: 1? I’ve tried to block those memories out …
First date: not applicable
Age difference: 18 years at least
Profession: former teacher, aspiring CIA/FBI operative
Where the money went: lunch
Theme song: “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”

Swinger #1
Met through: swing dancing at Bash on Ash
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: 0
First date: let’s say, first dance; a very-hot version of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön” from the Swing Kids soundtrack; my first clue as to why some warn that dancing leads to sex … Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You're Grand)
Age difference: 2 years?
Profession: college student
Where the money went: N/A
Theme song: “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön”

Swinger #2
Met through: my naïve fan-appreciation chit-chat after the show
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: 0
First date: make that conversation; we chat about music and such while he smokes out back; when he asks if he can kiss me I suddenly find a great segue to avidly talking about Jesus
Age difference: 15 years? His gray hair was pronounced
Profession: pianist for a fairly successful California-based swing band
Where the money went: N/A
Theme song: “Red Light”

Swinger #3
Met through: concert at the Bash on Ash, a one-time Tempe music/dance venue (very popular on the swing scene in its day)
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: 1
First date: post-concert meal at Denny’s (followed by a not-great make-out session in the back of my friend’s car)
Age difference: 15 years
Profession: lead singer for a British swing band (they covered T-Rex for the Truman Show soundtrack)
Where the money went: late-night serving of eggs? (I was too sheepish and ignorant to recognize the mooch-potential of our pseudo-date)
Theme song: “Twentieth Century Boy”

The Tim Robbins Type
Met through: a monthly cocktail event through which I was indirectly introduced by the Harvard Lickwit
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: 0
First date: make that conversation too: our walk from the bar 8 blocks up and a few over to the corner where he finally hailed a cab for me rather than walk me across town to my west-side destination (conscience dictated he should ensure a heel-clad woman got there safely)
Age difference: at least 20
Profession: works in an industry where “every conversation is grist for the mill”
Where the money went: my cab fare across town and (on account of the change) a much-needed BLT, milk and banana later
Theme song: still workin’ on that one...

The Winner
Met through: undergraduate math class — but really, we met at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting and then realized we had the class together
Number of dates and pseudo-dates: 1
First date: coffee at the local Coffee Plantation
Age difference: 5 months
Profession: (currently) an engineer
Where the money went: coffee, gas
Theme song: Sarah MacLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”

The other men: Ad Weasel to Geriatric Gent (pt. 1), Global Crossings Guy to Leather Daddy (pt. 2), Married Man to Sft. Ex-sessories (pt. 3).

Swing Kidssoundtrack
Indigo SwingAll Aboard
The Truman ShowDVDsoundtrack