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.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Beer drinkers in a-chord

Saturday night I ran out to purchase oat bran so I could make granola, after a mostly failed return of that spoiled milk. Man, I miss the no-questions-asked response of grocery chains like Safeway! Here in Brooklyn, try to take back milk that spoiled two days before the sell-by date, and the owner spends five minutes chewing you out for buying a whole gallon, not drinking it within three days of opening, etc.! Apparently I was the first customer with the balls to return milk of this sort.

Then because they said I’d drunk “too much” of the milk, they were only willing to give me a half-gallon in exchange — never mind that I don’t want their crummy milk anyway. Sometimes fighting these little “injustices” ain’t worth the energy, I guess.

Stoned into nostalgia
Fuming some after the show-down at Met Food (I did at least leave them to cope with the milk in question), I worked my way through the quiet residential streets back to my old ’hood a half-mile away, where I knew the oat bran would be cheaper. Brooklyn’s warmed up a bit lately, so the night chill was fairly comfortable — even cheering (it helps to clear the sniffles, you see). My disgruntlement eased further as the cheery strains of “19th Nervous Breakdown” wafted out of someone’s window. I’ve been stuck in a musical rut lately: lots of female empowerment, Motown-style, and Nina Simone’s broody jazz. Hearing the Stones took me back to that happy final year of grad school.

In those days I spent a shocking number of nights each week at Irish Pub, slugging decaf coffee, pitchers of water and occasionally a Guinness as I graded papers and worked on the master’s thesis (the pub was open later than Starbucks, you see, and sold their coffee cheaper; hell, sometimes they gave it to me free!).

I can’t remember which was my real hook to the bar: hitting it off with the O-zone King around my birthday, or hearing 40-something Cover Artist play on a Friday night. I haven’t blogged about him yet, I know, but hearing the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” yesterday took me back to all those times I used to hear him play.

You might say I was a regular groupie, but he was plenty fond of me too. In fact, 40-something Cover Artist is possibly the only man in my past who has shown any real longevity-of-interest where I’m concerned. There was one night we sorta hung out a little, but basically both of us seemed to realize the fun, flirty rapport we maintained for nearly a year would never lead to anything more. And it was fine that way.

I was probably his most loyal fan, coming even on the weeknight gigs or when the bar was slow. And as he liked to feature guest singers, I frequently joined him on stage to sing a little back-up harmony here and there. Our real standby, though, came to be “Stray Cat Strut” — for which I tried to pull out my best Gwen Stefani growl (my voice ain’t made for lead vocals unless it’s, well, Broadway stuff). And then there was that Madonna song he always liked to cover with a kind of private wink to me in the joke that only friends who knew why I was also sexless in Phoenix would actually get.

Ah, 40-something.

Good wit or good rhythm?
You see, though it might not be apparent from all the New Yorkers in my sidebar, I’ve long been a sucker for guitarists — which is bad news, I know. Who’s more apt to be a player (of more than just his instrument)?! Who’s more likely to be chased by hoards of women? And 40-something certainly drew his crowds and flirted madly.

He had the looks and voice to do it, too — very raspy and husky when he spoke, but a nice baritone when he sang. And when he played ... man. I mean, even though I hated the guitar when I had to learn it (something ’bout those damn uneven fingernails all classical guitarists have to have), I sure do like to hear it. Probably has something to do with falling asleep as a child to the sounds of Dad getting in a little practice.

Dad focused on the classical stuff, plus 70s/80s praise songs and occasional bits of world music (in his CD collection). But as I’ve come into grown-up guitar music taste, I tend toward the classic-rock and blues-guitar end of the spectrum, with little bits of folk thrown in. 40-something didn’t do much folk (though we would sometimes sing some Simon & Garfunkel), but boy could he do the Stones and other classic-rock acts. Sometimes it was almost better hearing his covers. He could do all the solos the way they did, but he was live. And sometimes he’d use a half-empty Guinness glass as a slide.

Whoops, is that my inner pessimist sneaking in?!! But really, I don’t think “half-empty” qualifies as a pessimistic assessment in the case of beer consumption. After all, it implies the other half of the beer is in your belly — which is really a very happy event. To call the beer glass “half-full” however implies the drinker is reluctant, even disinclined to respect a good Guinness.

And that, folks — though far from a “non-negotiable” item on my Who a man should be list — has never been a favorable reflection on any gentleman who might hope to ask me out.

I’m Anna Broadway, and I like ending these bits like a TV show sometimes. If this one seemed to have no conclusion, that’s because neither does my cold, which seems to need an awful lot of brain cells to survive ... Ta for Monday!