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, February 02, 2005

Regifting and recrushing

It pays to keep wits about you, I find, and Sunday after church one such wit was very sharp indeed. The Captain had come over to say his “howdy”-and-then-some as promised, and we wound up bantering over muffins with a friend who actually calls him “Captain.”

Now that we are buds, I’m free to grouse about my love life without him feeling he’s the solution. In fact, he’s very full of advice. Discussing my growing restlessness in the city, I confessed: a lack of dating prospects probably was at fault. “Where else would you be more likely to meet interesting Christians?!” he demanded.

But it’s not just interesting that’s the key, I explained. I want a man who “likes his booze and is passionate about talking to people ’bout Jesus.” “Well, I’m passionate about my booze and I like talking to people ’bout Jesus,” he quipped.

“Yeah, but you’re not interested.”

Once bitten, twice inclined?
Once there was a time when I would have hoped all this talk about singleness (a state T.C. claims to now receive contentedly) might be happily resolved: “Well you can’t find a Christian who’s up to snuff ... and I can’t find a Christian who’s up to snuff ... we’ve both dated freaked-by-Jesus types. Hmmmmm. You think there’s a chance ...”

But no. That logic has never followed, in my experience. My church guy friends just kept doing the bar and Craigslist thing, and mostly I did too. You see, of course, while we were probably restless with Christians for the same reason, we had also set our standards so high that we’d never settle for someone as inconsistent as ourselves.

Except that now both the Captain and I are actually trying to walk the walk we’d expect a potential spouse to walk. And we’re friendly. Sometimes friends even end up dating — so I hear.

But that would require ... recrushing.

Crushing the distance
Which I’ve been thinking about in light of all the regifting that has been this monthly prize mailing. Well, in the case of non-edible prizes anyway. Take the purity massager — now on its way to Palo Alto. Classic instance of regifting. My aunt insists I help her clean out the house, I accept the least-breakable item in the bag, and voila! — instant Blog Reader World Series prize.

But recrushing ... that’s like when you’ve been regifted with the sweater you gave your sister for her birthday, only she forgot she got it from you, stuck it in a drawer somewhere, and then turned to it in last-minute gift desperation.

On the face of it, it’s not so strange, the concept of recrushing. People break up and re-connect all the time! I have a friend, in fact (now married and with child), who must have dated and dumped her man at least five or six times. And, well, most breakups (from what I’ve seen) aren’t like the workplace blow-out where you have a shout with the boss, collect your things, and leave for good. It’s a back-and-forth shuffle getting unstuck from someone — like peeling open an envelope after it’s been sealed more than 60 seconds.

As to date, so it is to like?
So are crushes the same way? Is one even predisposed to recrush? Not necessarily. After all, most crushes are the classic case of mushy-eyed crusher and crushee, who sees the former about as fondly as a piece of gum in his hair. With any luck, the crush (as in, the feelings of the crusher for crushee) will die a timely death and leave the couple be. A hotter prospect comes along, one person moves away or leaves the job, or the object of obsession goes offline to the world of relationships (assuming he/she was single to begin with).

In any case, crushes are all about hope. Hope fed through repeated contact, through replayed memories of contact, and through retellings of contact to avidly attentive girlfriends (in the female case). But as the hope goes, so goes the crush. Your crush gets engaged ... in cases of high sanity levels, the crush goes away. In cases of low sanity levels, the crusher crashes the wedding and makes a drunken scene in trashy dress — or so I hear.

But the other way a crush dies is disillusionment. Usually the nature of the affection is liking someone from a relative distance. Hence it is really not the man or woman that friends and roommates and parents see — who leaves the door open while peeing, points out others’s grammatical gaffes, and showers biweekly — but the imagined Crushee of fantasy. You know, like that big balloon the wizard had, to fool all the folks in Oz. That’s what you’re usually stuck on.

When something comes along to pull down the wind machine and screen and you’re left with someone on the toilet, smelly and fragile, the hope in a beauty or love that will somehow fix you swiftly dies. The crushee of imagination withers, and you move on swiftly to reality, post-crush.

Yeah, I guess that doesn’t leave much room for recrushing. Unless the person you once liked gets better, or you more tolerant of his reality. Sometimes certain eyes never lose that fuse connection to your insides. And there’s always hope you could finally find the plug to spark him back. It is after all the nature of hope to thrive upon the stingiest of soils.

Related reading
  • The masochist’s refrain” from the Sexless archive. Why pining is like kegels for your heart!
  • The Nondating Life as described by our own BRWS judge, the Blogfather.