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 29, 2004

A reader takes Hump Day

Sorry for the late post today, ya’ll. For some reason unraveling a sweater till — 3? 4? — a.m. meant sleeping late. Very late. When I finally tried to squint at my alarm clock, I couldn’t quite believe it was back in single digits again and showing a two. Yeah.

Luckily I’d brushed my teeth by the time the client called, minutes later, and I hadn’t missed any important emails.

It must be old-home week
There have been many attempts to reach me, however, by a surprisingly consistent demographic — men written up in this blog.
  • Yesterday morning, Geezer #2 left a phone message for me (though when I returned his call today, via cell phone, he seemed confused and insisted I had called the wrong number).
  • Also yesterday, or the day before, Harvard Lickwit emailed out of the blue — twice — weighing in on my allegedly too-high salary/job expectations. I’ve missed talking to you too.
  • Errands through the old work ’hood yesterday took at long-last to the old Starbucks I used to frequent. Stopping in to kill time and do a little knitting for my other client, I ran into Leather Daddy (who has ... duh-duh-DUNHH ... the same new phone I do). Not long after, we were joined by my friend The Big Guy, whom I met more than a year ago through my friendship with Homeless Girl Friend (she’s now somewhat stabilized, he reports, although her housing situation involves occasional sex with her benefactor; this duty is apparently eased by his age — 60something — which makes the intimaces fairly infrequent. I just remember her saying she didn’t want to have to do that at all).
  • Finally, this afternoon, after the two-minute Client #1 conference call (was that really necessary? I think they just like using the vaguely Trekkie control device) ... my phone rang again. Nine-one-oh? I don’t know that area code ... Oh, but I did. I just forgot I did. Four weeks and a new phone later, who remembers what a NoCala area code looks like? Oh yes, folks: it was the Politician checking in. He wanted to make sure I’d gotten his emails (bangs head against laptop).
Meanwhile, readers to my blogs also seem to be unusually attentive. Both feature strong reader-to-page stats (an unheard-of 25% on the other blog), and a way-sub-average 50% on this one (usually means a handful of readers have readed or clicked through multiple pages of the blog). Best of all, some of you are even leaving comments (Anna beams a beautific smile presumably like those The Big Guy kept on raving about when he declared it his mission to make me blush).

One reader, in fact, has not only entered this month’s contest (less than two days left! Don't forget to enter!), but weighed in on breakup albums and the skull-scratching matter of office flashes. He’s twice now begged for clarification. So I suppose, for today, we can let reader Frasier slightly dictate the conversation.

Definitional flip-flops
First off, the flashes. And I don’t mean hot ones (sorry, bad femme joke, eh? ;)). Sometime last week, during a more garrulous moment at the office, colleagues discussed a disturbing moment with a works-long-distance coworker. Because of a staff retreat of some sort, she evidently made an appearance ... as did her underwear (scant though I hear it was). The post-flash recap focused primarily on the details of said garment and whether chemical explanations were possible. The historicity of the flash was vehemently defended based on an uncontested but spur-of-the-moment decision that flashes in an office contact need not be full-dermal* to qualify, although in less-professional settings the presence of undies — thong or otherwise — would disqualify the showing. I have yet to determine what a sub-flash flash would be described as, however, other than “the office flash, off hours.”

Soundtrack of your heart(break)
Whew! That important matter cleared up, let’s turn to Frasier’s other commentary: the love-gone-wrong album. He writes:
Hi Anna

Having spent half an hour writing a screed to you, I was thwarted from sending it by a message stating that, in the absence of an upgraded account, I had to limit my message to 1000 characters.

So being unwilling to edit my message but fearing you will henceforth refer to me as “The Cheapskate”, I have attempted to get the full message to you by cutting and pasting it to this hotmail message and sending it to this danzfooll address. Will this work? As a techno neophyte, I have no idea. But let me point out that whoever was responsible for the 1000 characters message gave no info on upgrading my account -- so they’re marketing neophytes! (I just might have splurged on upgrading and dodged that putative cheapskate epithet.)

Anyway, here’s the message. Hope it gets through --

My tried ’n true disappointment/breakup/heartbreak albums?

Well, there are a few. (Quite a few when you’ve had the sort of checkered love life I’ve had!) But my offeering for today is one I’m really surprised that you have not mentioned, given the music tastes you profess.

It’s the Rod Stewart album “It had to be you ... the great American Song Book”.

These foolish things” has had tears of self pity rolling down my cheeks. “They can’t take that away from me” and “Every time we say goodbye” have plunged me deep into post break-up angst. While “For all we know” has had me wallowing in melancholia.

And what makes the album so bittersweet is that previoously, while relationships have been on a high, I will have exulted in so many of the songs -- like “The way you look tonight”, “It had to be you” and “Moonglow”. Having brought such joy in times past they become double-edged swords plunging through my heart. (By the time the album is played out I’m so achingly sorry for myself I’m almost enjoying it!)

Enough. More album contributions at a later date.

Yours in melancholia


PS: Sorry to read about your Bleak Monday. We’ve all been through them. We all bounce back and good to read you’ve done so today.
Awwww. Reader love makes me so happy. :D But back to business, the break-up business. I do have further thoughts on possibly music choices for such times of hurt and longing, but I’m curious what others of you think. Be inspired by Frasier! Weigh in with commentary!

Or just read the Blogfather’s take on wedding dreams and haircuts. It’s pretty funny.

*As in, full-epidermis. Or was that part obvious?

Sexless BOTtoM

Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
High Fidelity
High Fidelity

see also DVD
hear also soundtrack
And the might-be, might-not-be great break-up album

Garden State
Soundtrack to the movie

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Addicted to love?

Happy Anna’s back from critter-vanquishing, but off to another visit at the client’s office. Expect the follow up to the Bleak Monday entry below sometime this afternoon or evening.

Contest reminder
If you already read that entry, bone up on the August archives and enter the Sexless contest! Four entries so far, one of which is finally a contender. Don’t forget now, people, we’ve got several prizes on the line: a gmail invite or homemade cinnamon roll for first place (both parts right), and RNC shlock or a jpeg of Anna for second place (one part right). Feel free to revise, explain or improve on previous efforts if you’ve already entered.

And for your morning web-surf, I’ve been meaning to mention an interesting post on one blogger’s rejection of S.exaholics Anonymous because he couldn’t accept their philosophy (which I quote from his entry):

The Twelve Steps of S.exaholics Anonymous
  1. We admitted that we were powerless over l.ust -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to S.exaholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Thoughts on this? I’m curious what ya’ll think. His primary objection had to do with the issue of control, I believe.

Further pleas for reader input
Finally, while you’ve got your noggins in action, don’t forget to recommend:
  • your tried-’n-true disappointment/break-up/heartache albums or songs.
  • books I should use (and read) for the Sexless BOTtoM I’ve got the aforementioned Solitary Sex and Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, but both of those seem a bit heavy. Alain de Botton? Nick Horby? Lady Chatterley’s Lover?
As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for responding! :)

September BOTtoM
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation
Solitary Sex
History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1
History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1

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

Download iTunes

Reader poll 2

More Sexless coming soon (after my morning coffee — what else?), but meanwhile I’m curious to hear from you all about favorite break-up albums — or your use of music generally in relational recovery. I’ve always held (well, at least since the year the movie came out) that Love’s “Always See Your Face” from the High Fidelity soundtrack is one of the most amazing break-up songs ever. But listening to Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” makes me think he’s got a few in his stash too. Clearly there are different phases of recovery, and different songs are albums for those phases. So what’re yours?

Consider this your chance to sound off.

Don’t forget to vote!
And speaking of which, since the close of the month draweth night (four days left!), don’t forget to submit your entry for this month’s contest. I’ve only had two entrants so far, neither of whom have taken me up on my offer to improve their answers, so the field is wide open. A gmail address could be yours! Or a homemade cinnamon roll! Also other prizes, just for the effort.

Finally, if you have any suggestions for October’s BOTtoM, let me know. I know you’ve enjoyed hearing about the insights of Steven Rhoads, but alas, this chapter too must end. In addition to assessing Old School through Rhoads’ lens, I hope to do a final wrap-up of his overall argument. We’ll see.

Back soon! Now start thinking about your music ...

Another blog-link! How exciting. I love that this reader adds the “Adult Content” label to the link. Must the chocolate vaginas or the stripping episode ... although I have in large part reformed, no? At any rate, if you too have added a permalink to my blog, but aren’t noted among my blogpals at right, set me straight and I’ll fix the mistake in a jiffy.

Sexless BOTtoM
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously

Get U2’s new single “Vertigo” from the new album due out Nov. 23

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Duck sauce or dunk sauce

What’s duck sauce, you say? Well, here’s a picture of a box, snapped on the prowl for dinner near Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Not truly recommended as the cheapskate’s lubricant of course ... but an entertaining thought nonetheless.

And speaking of entertainmnet, this week the Sexless BOTtoM takes on pop culture! In the form of that classic guys-life paean, Old School. Check back soon for Anna’s take on Old School v. Rhoads.

Sexless BOTtoM
Taking Sex Differences Seriously
Taking Sex Differences Seriously

Friday, September 24, 2004

Speaking of romance...

I would be greatly remiss if I did not note the Sexless Blogfather’s excellent subway research on this genre’s expansion.

In other developments of the morning, an informal office roundtable has concluded that co-worker flash” is judged by different standards than a normal* flash: undies can be worn (apparently the Sharon Stone flash is in a separate category of its own, however).

*These health-care types are really into nuance, I’m learning.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A wined-and-wearied woman

Blogging in the morning before work didn’t go too well today, so I’m going to try “scribbling” a few notes and see how dreadful they sound. Sorry for the disruption in my usual story-telling mode, ya’ll; still adjusting to this crazy work thing!

An hourly rate has now been determined, and possible future projects mentioned. I was even advised of a full-time position for which they’re hiring, but I think I’m too experienced and too prone to boredom to take on what is essentially an admin job plus a little research. We’ll see what happens.

The name game
But onto the real drama of the night: my monthly cocktail hour (not, as I once suggested to a friend, an hour devoted to cock in search of tail ... although the man-to-woman ratio is rather estrogen-light). Wow, in the wee hours of the night, clearly I don’t give a fig what men think of my language.

Of course there really weren’t any love-life prospects ... for me ... at tonight’s event. Just a lot of people I’m coming to call friends — especially men. The Harvard Lickwit was not in attendance, but Covert Romantic was (as expected). Poor chap had his work cut out for him, though, what with the crowd of men surrounding me at times: Tim Robbins Type, the Sexless Blogfather, and even Fontinator! Oh, but I should note: in exchange for certain items (including dinner and a much-coveted bottle of ketchup), Fontinator has requested both a gmail invite and an upgrade in his name.

So, readers, the man formerly known as Fontinator will now be known as “Mr. Fontastic.” Man, I’m a pushover for good eats and better stories ... But I will concede that the new name is a) “less robotic” and b) more conducive to eyebrow-wraggling than the old name. What can I say? Sometimes even I, the allegedly “Articulate International Woman of Internet Porn” need a little help in the wordsmith department.

Which is why, as you may recall, I’ve requested help renaming Spooning Fork (yes, another one is coming soon). Sadly, that’s an even less-appealing project, it appears, than entering this month’s contest. Come on now, people! I’ve added gmail to the prize pool! Besides, I have just one, yes, one, entry to date — and that reader did not exactly try to answer the question. But faced with a choice between honoring a solitary-but-incomplete entry ... or calling the contest a draw ... I, um, call for further entries so the results don’t end up looking like they’re fixed. (Anna arches the famously scolding Broadway eyebrow.)

Help wanted?
Mr. Fontastic had all sorts of ribald ideas about how I might flesh out this blog entry — and explain my relative Thursday-morning silence — but I’m trying to be a good girl, I am! But, if you insist, a few requisite tidbits I can’t neglect to share (again, the late-night disregard for appearances of propriety).

Among certain highlights of the evening, I enjoyed an drawn-out lesson in patience while waiting for late-evening dinner at a well-kept-secret restaurant on the borders of Soho and the Lower East Side called Freeman’s Alley. Definitely worth checking out, if you live in the city. Features include a limited but excellent menu (Mr. Fontastic ensured I was amply stuffed with trout, bones notwithstanding), and the diverse collection of stuffed heads mounted on the walls.

A question of position
Animal heads, of course — I’ve just forgotten the proper word for them. There was a very-small but live animal — actually a kind of caterpillar — that briefly made an appearance, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with the condition of the facilities. I was mostly too busy sucking on olives from the bar to notice anyway. And trying not to pay too close attention to a certain rather interesting exchange between Mr. Fontastic and, um, the third party in our group. They were busy comparing biceps and buzzes, and deciding whose coat should be on top.

Of course hers went on the bottom ... because, being white, it was more vulnerable to staining should someone slosh an incautious wine glass (say that outloud without saying “glass” as “glash”! ;)) Like I said, I was sucking away on my olives, trying not to learn why Catherine was so Great to some of her, um, possessions, and why Prince Albert got his piercing (something to aid in horse-riding, claims the white-coated woman in our party).

It’s hard to tell ...
But the one urban legend put to rest without a doubt was Anna’s ignorance of how to tell between a normal male package and the other kind. Mr. Fontastic very kindly demonstrated the difference by pressing his knuckles against my shoulder. So now I know the difference between knuckles at rest and knuckles at half-mast. Isn’t that great? I’m sure that’ll come in really handy the next time I’m not sure if a guy is randy, or just bumping my arm to ask if he could have some more brandy ... from the bottle Andy brought with the Christmas candy.

When I should quit
And yeah. Truly horrible “poetry” is the sign Anna’s clearly reached the end of her midnight blogging. Thanks for checking in, ya’ll! I promise this column should get better once I find my feet in this working thing.

Tata ...
-your nearly delirious, intrepid (not tepid) New Yorker.

Note: By-the-Buy to come in the morning. Maybe. Or poke around the blog archives! And coming soon, wedding-guest blues and the story on how I promised a goodbye grope to 5% Man.

New York morning

And now for some shameless city-indulgence (not to mention, on-the-job hooky). I can’t helping stopping to revel at my morning. Sometimes you just gotta stop and appreciate the city, no? Certainly the SaTC girls took time to do that.

So in homage to my inspiration, I must note that within minutes this morning I had:
  • knit one-and-a-half more stripes on my first scarves of the season (while leaning against a train-car pole in the crowded car)
  • patronized the green market at Union Square in lieu of breakfast
  • snapped a pic of my walk to work, and uploaded it to flickr via my cameraphone
  • read a text message from Best Friend and added a work number to her contact file in my phone
  • watched two men kiss each other in greeting ... New York-style, on the cheek. Still, we are in east Chelsea, after all. ;)
All-in-all, it was practically like my own T-Mobile commercial! But I’ll stop foisting upon you content better used on my other blog. ;) Why would you want to know it’s getting lots of web-surfers looking for “Katie Couric nude”?

Back to impressing the client with my mad Excel skillz ...

    Farewell to the summer of unemployment

    So you checked back after yesterday’s loooooong entry?!! Impressive. If you’re more the short-entry type, you’ll find your hopes in Anna justified today.

    Yesterday’s 10:30 a.m. appointment (for which I was, of course, late — stupid trains) turned into work in an airy, east-Chelsea office until nearly 6 o’clock. Yes, Anna actually did a day of legitimate work! Consequently, while I kept taking short little boredom breaks to check my web stats, there was no time to write more. And today, well ... you know what a morning person I am.

    But just for you, dear readers, just for you, I am attempting to squeeze a brief blog entry into this morning’s pre-work routine. With so little time to reflect, however, today’s entry will mostly be a roundup of the best I’ve found on the Web.

    Anna’s romance roundup
    First off, I feel for some reason compelled to mention that according to USA Today headlines on my Netzero login screen “Pioneer adult filmmaker Russ Meyer dies at 82.” A few gems from that story:
    In a 1996 interview with The Associated Press, Meyer described his films as “passion plays ... Beauty against something that’s totally evil.”
    Which could evidently describe the dramatic arc of his lovelife. If child-bearing is the stomach-sullying evil women want to avoid, his three wives sure succeeded in beating the Beast: no survivors, the story reports. Ah, such a loss for the gene pool.

    And continuing on the topic of fun-for-grown-ups, an alert reader draws my attention to a fascinating New York Times article about the rising popularity of Christian romance novels — what you might call Jesus-y chick lit. Damn, maybe I blew my shot with Harlequin. I coulda reformed the company (set to expand its sex-free inspirational line). I must say this produces a quandary, though, if Harlequin were to expand its Christian offerings to multiple lines akin to the pre-existent secular series (Harlequin Romance, Harlequin Intrigue, Harlequin Blaze), what would the religious equivalents be? Here’s some thoughts — and I want all the credit if these lines take off!
    • Steeple Hill Café the regular, only-wears-full-coverage-undies line (you think I jest? Read the article: one “heroine’s thong underwear ... apparently shocked some Christian Book Association book buyers.” Man, this is why passion parties are so big in the South...)
    • Steeple Hill Café Intrigue the heroine meets her man while trying to solve an eschatological mystery at her local Christian bookstore
    • Steeple Hill Café Blaze the heroine is torn between a Christian man and a Buddhist, and experiments with swimming in a bikini.
    And for some real-life fantasy...
    Lastly, this post would be remiss if it did not include Dead Serious’ very funny piece, “What's That You Say? Pirates?” — a “testimonial” to his character, furnished for a reluctant date. To plagiarize my comment, it reminds me of a little press release the Harvard Lickwit emailed me, early in our, erm, ill-fated “courtship.” Some two or three pages long, the circa-2000 piece (very comically written) detailed upcoming improvements to his less-than-hip Harlem apartment. A brilliant anticipation of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I must say ... if the Lickwit actually deserves such praise. Hmmmm.

    Perhaps I can ask him what he thinks tonight. Along with Tim Robbins Type, quite probably Covert Romantic, and perhaps even the Geriatric Gent, I will be seeing Harvard Lickwit tonight. As in, seeing across the room. I make it my policy to withold my conversational hotness from him so he's forced to make the first move.

    And, now ... egads! I must get going! Off to work. Be good today! If you wanna show your love to Anna, make your Barnes & Noble purchases through this site, or overcome your reticence in commenting. Back soon ... with stories of the shoes infatuation bought.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Stalkers and tawkers

    Sorry for the late posting, ya’ll; somehow the day got away from me (it doesn’t help when one’s crawl-from-bed time is 11:30 a.m.). Next thing I knew, it was after 6 p.m., and I was suddenly engrossed in the unsexy business of sorting out my bills for the next month. And then, in the midst of such concentration, I was interrupted with a work-related call! I now have a 10:30 a.m. meeting tomorrow that may conclude in a conference call (!!), so don’t expect another posting till late tomorrow. In the lull, you might want to read the comments posted by a Catholic friar (whoops! father) responding to “Sweat test postscript.”

    But while the weekend is still a not-too-distant memory, I should update you on my lunch “date” with Geezer #2, the Work Daddy (last week), and this week’s “random” encounter with Bill Murky (about which I have my doubts, as you’ll soon see).

    ‘Headaches’ for the ’90s ...
    But first, Work Daddy. After his random email last week, I was dreading the prospect of lunch and a movie. Like the responsible sort that I am, I translated this dread into great procrastination. So successfully that, last Friday, Work Daddy called to leave a slightly irritable phone message about the invitation he had left for me and the need for my response so he could make plans. When I called him back, I used the recent upgrade of my phone as convenient excuse for my silence. He was instantly solicitous again, explaining that he’d been concerned something had happened “in my apartment.” Because I didn’t call or email back within one day?!!

    We made plans for just a lunch the following day, which he later called to cancel on account of a last-minute Sept. 11 speaking gig. Whew! We rescheduled for lunch Sunday after church, which was eaten at a little French place a few blocks south on Lexington Ave. Other than inquiries about a possible boyfriend, this meal actually went quite well:
    • work was discussed
    • Geezer #2 spread no food across his chin and didn’t dribble his coffee
    • my relative status was downgraded from “daughter” to “granddaughter”
    The late-breaking “boyfriend” conversation was tiresome, though. Sometimes I just wish I could give the people what they want and say (smiling brightly), “Yes, I do have a boyfriend! He’s great.” When I reveal the lack thereof, however, people express surprise and generally the view that I should or could have one. Gee, thanks. That’s very helpful. And so I wonder: is it possible to form an alliance with a friend whereby he becomes, not the fall-back fuck buddy (FBFB), not the noncommittal make-out partner (NCMO), but the name-only boyfriend (NOB)? Wow, that sounds so romantic, doesn’t it: “Wanna be my nob?” (big grin) “You’d be great in pinches! No wedding attendance required ... unless you want.”

    Seriously, though, sometimes when random strangers accost you on the subway ... it’d be awful nice to have a fictious man ready to beat the crap out of ’em if they look at you the wrong way. Saying “I have brothers in Tucson and Florida ... and my dad lives in Vancouver!” just doesn’t have the same effect on New York gawkers.

    Sidewalk Tawk
    Speaking of which, I’ve decided to initiate a new feature on Sexless: the weekly Sidewalk Tawk. This week’s entry comes to us from a Friday-afternoon saunter up Brooklyn’s scenic 15th Street to 7th Avenue, in search of a Starbucks latte.

    Guy on the street as I pass: “Hold your head up. You look too pretty to hold your head down.”

    ... And this week’s bonus (just to launch the feature proper-like, you understand) comes from a Brooklyn garbage-truck driver a few weeks before: “Can I take you home with me?”

    Ah, New York men. Earl shoulda written a song about them, too...

    Stalker #3?
    Yes, I fear it may have come to this.

    Fast-forward from Sunday, Sept. 12 to Sunday, Sept. 19. The day is cool, and I have awakened late. Gobbling down a one-banana breakfast, I splurge on a paper-cup latte from the coffee shop en route to my train station, where I read more of September’s BOTtoM and sip from the water bottle in my purse. By the time service finishes some two-or-more hours later, my bladder is full. But it’s all I can do to drag friends across the street for muffin hour and a much-needed bathroom break.

    I’m so focused on said relief that I pay little attention to my surroundings, other than getting to the toilet as fast as I can. Able to relax once more, I emerge from the bathroom and find myself suddenly involved in the parallel, surreal reality that is conversation with Bill Murky. Isn’t that a rather-strange turn of events? you ask. Well, yes. But I swear, the man materialized by my side as if he’d been beamed there by Scotty himself — and jumped right into conversation about my other blog and travels to New Zealand as if we were just rejoining after dance-floor separation at the Pataki party.

    Um, yeah. The Pataki party. As in, the event where I met him. Some two weeks before. After which Murky made not one, not two, but four attempts to contact me through cyberspace — all of which I ignored.

    And yet here he is, by my side, jabbering away about how he likes to think of himself as “an adventurer” and clearly needs to take up dancing so he can deal with his extra weight. We both glance down at his undeniably pudgy form, and I am unable to demur. “Well, there are lots of ongoing dance classes through the church,” I say gamely, and whip out my bulletin. Never mind that we have yet to converse about how it is he is there at the muffin hour after my service. Never mind that we have yet to voice such essential clichés as, “Wow, imagine running into you at Redeemer!”

    No, he operates as if all is normal and we’re just old friends. I oblige by assuming he should know about the church’s social resources. (Does he?!! For once I’m actually grateful to be poor. Living on unemployment means I can’t afford the class fees for the latest series on ballroom, so I am totally safe in advising him to take it.)

    He, however, is certain that I dance on a regular basis. “Look at you—” he gestures at my visibly slender torso.* “Not an ounce of fat on you.” I regretfully glance down at my hot-red-pants clad form and search for words of denial that would do anything, anything to break up the cloud of sexual intrigue hanging around me like such a harbinger of hurricanes.

    Around this time, my friends materialize on the horizon, bent on attending Sunday school, and I suddenly find myself an eager participant who must, oh-so-unfortunately, bid him goodbye.

    He has not emailed yet, but promised to do so because he’s so impressed by the volume of content on my (other) blog and somehow has the idea this medium is perfect for fund-raising for his club. In our two conversations so far, he’s very full of talk about this club. It’s some sort of Republican political thing and, I fear, may be a haven for other freaks like him.

    What about Bill?
    It was actually not till much later Sunday afternoon that I began to consider the unusual timing of his appearance. I’m starting to think he stationed himself there, outside the bathroom door. There’s just something too weird about the way he started conversation — that can’t be merely explained by the presence of a brain tumor in his past (I promise, I’m not making this up). I think the reason he started conversation so seamlessly is that he’d somehow seen me enter the bathroom, and waited there, thinking about the remarks that he would make. Boyfriend, where are you?!!

    Just kidding. I’m a strong, capable woman. And my sister — the Marine — certifiably knows how to kill. Besides — I’ve already survived not one, but two stalkers. One of whom I even met at church. :-o

    The thing about Bill Murky is, I’m not sure whether he really attends my church or not. Help me decide: which is more creepy? The possibility he does attend and recognized me during service ... or the possibility he doesn’t but came to a service because I’d mentioned it on my blog?

    Maybe I’ll have to learn a little lying after all. You know, I don’t mean to be rude, Bill, but I actually have a boyfriend. A very, very jealous one. But Poster Boy, help me out: will constructing little safety-securing lies reduce my shot at finding a solid, Christian husband? Or is that just as bad as swearing?

    View from the BOTtoM
    No, I haven’t forgotten him. For a wrap-up on today’s topic, Steven Rhoads:
    The theme of female vulnerability recurs throughout this book. Because women tend to bond with those they sleep with, men’s more cavalier attitude about sex can leave women bitter and emotionally devastated (254).

    ... [S]tarting in 1970 women have been more depressed and unhappy than they used to be. Women feel rage toward men, but men don’t feel rage toward women. The sexual revolution gave men, not women, what they wanted. Writer Danielle Crittendon notes that all women are now equal in their relative powerlessness to get the committed men they want:
    The woman who holds back from sex, waiting for the right man to come along, will find that no right man does — because he can get what he wants elsewhere — just as the woman who gives herself freely discovers that she hold no firmer grip over him, either. The sexual revolution, from a male point of view, could be summed up as, “You mean I get to do whatever I want — and then leave? Great!” (Rhoads p. 129-130, quoting Crittenden, What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us, p. 35, 43.)
    Readers – thoughts on this rather-provocative assessment? You haven’t been shy about commenting lately, so don't restrain yourselves in this case. ;)

    *Best Friend in recent IM sesh: “You’re looking rather scull-y lately ... not that it looks bad.” Other friends also keep comparing me to a “rail,” but as someone wisely pointed out, it depends on the size of the rail in question. In any case, I’m sure my morning latte has nothing to do with all this talk...

    Sexless BOTtoM

    Taking Sex Differences Seriously
    Taking Sex Differences Seriously
    What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman
    What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us

    Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman
    Not quite a sight unseen:

    What About Bob?

    The T&A project

    A sketchy plastic surgery outfit? (Think: that other doc from The Simpsons.) More like the construction company working on the lot next door.

    Thanks for the bugs, guys. All our lives, we’ve really aspired to house a roach farm.

    No dice
    But back to the stuff you really care about: how to while away your morning coffee break. Have no fear, a brand-new Sexless entry is in the works ... just as soon as I make my coffee. ;) Looks I’ll be playing personal barista a while longer too. While Friday afternoon my cute white t-shirt may have persuaded the Starbucks guy to upgrade from tall to grande — my latte, that is — inducements of gmail accounts have resulted in, um, nothing. I just don’t get it. How could gmailswap ads like this fail to interest?
    good yarn*, or access to a paper-cup latte
    So, I’m kinda unemployed. Have been since May. And I’m getting by all right (doing lots of blogging) ... I just don’t have much money for paper-cup lattes.

    Sure, I make a perfectly decent one with my little counter-top, not-pump-driven espresso maker ... but sometimes I wanna go out and drink among the big dogs. Mingle with the mensch in my Brooklyn ’hood. Savor the privileged luxury of reading other people’s newspapers while lesbians and mommies quietly gossip around me.

    And what the heck ... I happen to have 6 gmail invitations, smokin’ away in a certain inbox! Feel like unloading some prepaid Starbucks cards? Wanna buy a book through my blog, (Sexless in the City)? Hey, I’m open to suggestions here.

    *I will also accept yarn, if you’re a knitter trying to unload some of your stash. If paper-cup lattes are an extravagence I can rarely afford, new yarn to knit with is even more so. And the season has almost begun! (gulp)
    On the bright side, I have gotten lots of interesting comments. And in fact, my gmail-ad post has even broken the Sexless comment record (previously set by — what — two? Three?). Check ’em out below, if you’re curious.

    Blog love
    And finally, if Poster Boy’s mention weren’t enough, the Blogfather also weighed in on “Flirting my way to spinsterhood.” Read new comments to that post from readers he sent my way — or just read his post.

    Coming soon...
    Bill Murky shows up at church, and alleged male models respond to a Sexless advert in LA. So far no headshots.


    Friday, September 17, 2004

    The Sexless give*-a-way

    All right, people. I’ve got six, count ’em, six invitations for a gmail account smokin’ away in a certain email account of mine. If you’ve been lusting after this allegedly “exclusive” address, here’s your chance.

    But in abiding by the classic economic aphorism TNSTAAFL (“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”), ya gotta make it worth my while. I am, after all, unemployed and rather destitute here.

    Sexual favors will not be accepted ... but get creative! You could send me a modestly funded Starbucks coffee card, purchase a book through the site, buy me the new Ray Charles CD ... and so on. Non-monetary options also available. Bottom line: a gmail account could be yours!

    And announcing ...
    The advent of flickr on this site. Who knew it didn’t take a download or extra software?

    Should you even care about gmail? Read the comments for more on this pressing issue.

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    The teaser

    While you’re waiting for me to finish today’s blog entry (hey, these things take time to write, you know), I’ve culled a list of today’s blogging-from-the-male-perspective. (Well, this is what I’ve read anyway. I just liked the thought of using a word like “cull” even if in slightly inappropriate fashion. Besides, evidently I need to be expanding my vocab beyond good-ole-fashioned cuss words if I want to find a Christian husband ... goldurnit.)
    Back in a bit! Don’t forget to enter this month’s contest. I’ve had one entry so far, people. One. And it was sorta half-assed, too (although I will give opportunities to second-guess and revise your answers, if need be).

    *We’re still sorting out the terms of his title.

    Poster Boy got so much reader-love from this entry he decided to return the favor. (And don’t miss his comment, below.)

    High Fidelity
    High Fidelity

    see also DVD
    hear also soundtrack
    And the might-be, might-not-be great break-up album

    Garden State
    Soundtrack to the movie

    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]

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    ‘Sweat test’ postscript

    Boy, once I’m in the mood, I’m really in the mood ... to blog, that is. ;)

    After posting today’s late entry, I finally got around to personally responding to a few more readers and commenters. My email to Chuck seemed pertinent for inclusion here:
    Thanks for the comment love! You certainly had some interesting things to say. Wish you and David (the other commenter) had succeeded in generating more of a dialogue with readers; guess most people are still too shy to do that.

    Hope the blog continues to entertain and stimulate ... your thinking, of course. ;)


    PS: By the way, what do you think about the rather legalistic way so many religious people (and I don’t just mean Mormons) interpret the concept of saving sex till marriage? All things considered, I’m not sure how faithful it is to the real spirit of the practice. Likewise, I don’t think maintaining the Catholic prohibition on marriage for priests is either in the best interests of the church, or consistent with the original motivation for doing so. As far as I know, it was intended primarily to keep priests from passing church land and other holdings onto heirs such a marriage might produce. Certainly that doesn’t seem to be a real issue today ...
    And so you see why I used to tell people who asked about my strange choice of graduate program that I planned to become “a therapist for sexually priests.”


    The Unhealed Wound: The Church, the Priesthood, and the Question of Sexuality
    The Unhealed Wound
    A Love That Dares to Question: A Bishop Challenges His Church
    A Love That Dares to Question

    ... And for the neighbors who might’ve recently heard rather orgiastic shouting from my bedroom that was not Anna testing out some recently acquired, um, object ... but successfully implementing a table in my blog.

    The sweat test: it ain’t all the pits

    Sorry for the long delay in posting today! Such nice weather out, and so many reasons to post on my other blog. Now that the caffeine in my bloodstream seems to be reaching a suitable level, I’m prepared to refocus on my love life and, of course, those all-important people: my readers.

    In fact, I think it’s time I delve into the mailbag once again and look at what some of you are writing.

    Denial with the fairer (sex)?
    One dynamic individual I’m calling “TNT” seems to be testing a timing scheme with emails — whether late-night or mid-afternoon responses are most successful. At 2 a.m. on Thursday he writes:
    I saw your ad on Craigslist and thought I should say hi. I am 29, easy going, cool and nice to be with and a great sense of humor. I am interested in pursuing friendship with you. Should you want to trade pics, please let me know.
    I am medium built, gainfully employed and a nice guy to be with.
    Thirteen hours and two minutes later, he sends the same email, but with initials reversed in the sender info, and from a slightly modified email address at the same domain. Hmmmmm.

    By far my favorite reply, however, was a clever reader who sent wry poetry along the same lines of San Francisco Fan’s rueful acknowledgment we’re not likely to hook up:
    This one shows a little class ..
    A girl offered her honor.
    The boy honored her offer.
    And so it went,
    Through the night,
    honor, offer, honor, offer ....
    but obviously neither was a slut ... there was no number.
    Brilliant, dahling, Brilliant. Since, judging from the Craigslist address you wrote to, you live in California, I can offer this consolation. Between the facts that a) my sleep schedule seems more reflective of PCT biorhythms than a desire to emulate vampires, and b) I have relatives and numerous friends in the Bay Area ... an Anna Broadway visit to that other great City on the Coast is more than likely. Perhaps with sufficient incentive I could even arrange a meet-’n-greet Anna sesh at a local bar. Perhaps the estimable Henry’s at which my 21st birthday drinks were had? Or would ya’ll be put off at the prospect of such an inherently competitive scene...

    Convention epilog
    In other correspondence, I got email from the Politician today, responding to a thank-you card I’d sent (it seemed only right, considering he did secure me access to three sessions in a row — including the sought-after Thursday night appearance of our Prez).
    But what a great week! The four/five-some we pulled together for those nights added to the uniqueness of the occasion.

    Now back to the real world, business, politics, family...
    Ah, yes, family.

    In other news, he reports troubles with the memory chip in his digi-cam, so pictures of the hands that Travis Tritt touched will not be in the offing. He did, however, kindly attach pics of him with Bob Dole and the gubernatorial candidate from his state. Between that and his admonishment to “stay in touch” it’s practically a yearbook entry from the senior class trip. Who knew conventions were so much like high school?

    A long-suffering fan
    Finally, remember my earlier post on spam emails? Well, one of the British gents from that entry decided to contact me again ... nearly two months after the first email (July 20). I’m not actually sure which Craigslist ad he saw, however, as this (nearly-identical) email mentions travel to Canada “including going coast to coast by train.” Focus-testing with readers must indicate that this suggests adventure. “Honest caring geuine guy,” however seems to play less well, as it has been moved from selling point #2 to selling point #5. At any rate he seems to have been getting responses. Disclosure of his phone number now advises respondents to contact him “outside of office hours.”

    As a tie-in to my book-of-the-month (BOTM — should I just call it BOTtoM for short? ;)), I thought it would be interesting to compare the self-promotional strategies of readers 1 and 4, to Steven Rhoads’ assertions about what women seek in men.

    Reader #1 selling points (in order of appearance):
    1. age (youth/maturity, depending on one’s perspective)
    2. personality
    3. low expectations of sex — at least upfront
    4. personal fitness/health
    5. employment
    6. personality
    Reader #4 selling points:
    1. employment/prestige (works in a bank)
    2. hobbies (ethnic food)
    3. adventurous nature (travel to Canada, Ukraine)
    4. personality
    (Yes, I can already hear Bleeding Eyes lamenting how we women are so damn analytical about things. But when one is unemployed...)

    View from the BOTtoM
    One thing Rhoads mentions over and over is the importance (for woman) of finding a man who could provide for her and their possible children. This manifests itself in things like physical stature/strength, prestige of position (since it is less common for men in this era to prove themselves by fighting) ... and body smell:
    Research indicates that the birth control pill may interfere with a deep, unconscious mechanism involving the sense of smell by which women have ensured that the partners they choose can help them produce healthy offspring. Studies that ask women to smell t-shirts worn by men find that women disagree about which smell best. The tested women, however, do regularly prefer the smell of men whose immune system is unlike theirs in terms of key proteins that detect and attack invaders. This is significant because in all animal species, immune systems of offspring are stronger when the female mates with a male who has an immune system makeup unlike hers. In humans, some couples who endure repeated miscarriages have been found to share immune system genes to an unusual degree. [Rhoads cites Dianne Hales, Just Like a Woman (p. 32).] Moreover, a woman’s sense of smell is most keen around the time that she ovulates and is most fertile.

    The birth control pill changes all this. Women on the Pill do not have a heightened sense of smell at any part of their cycle. And as science writer Deborah Blum explains in Sex on the Brain, when on the Pill, woman have smell preferences that are “reversed ... almost completely.” Women taking oral contraceptives prefer the smell of men with immune systems similar to theirs. [Rhoads p. 109; citing Blum pp. 235-239, Hales, pp. 31-32.]
    I guess Sounds of Silence might have more to worry about than we thought. And as for the original comparison I set out to do, the men might do better to focus less on personality and more on how their personality is indicative of health or Rhoads’ all-crucial attract-a-woman trifecta: “resources, power and status” (p. 61). It’s brutal ... but it’s science. Hey, we have to worry about gaining a man largely on our looks and therefore our youth, you know. That ain’t easy (or cheap) for us.

    Want me to vet your ad or reply? Give a holler. (And buy a book or somethin’ if you want to support this site.)

    Sexless BOTtoM
    Taking Sex Differences Seriously
    Taking Sex Differences Seriously
    Just like a Woman: How Gender Science Is Redefining What Makes Us Female
    Just like a Woman
    Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women
    Sex on the Brain