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, June 01, 2005

Spring fever

It started with Pink Floyd yesterday, when I stopped in at the coffee shop for a drink. I think it was the song from the one album that I have of theirs. Surprisingly it proved perfect for the mood of a warm but weary late-spring afternoon. One of the guys behind the bar seemed to think so too. He kept remarking to his co-worker on how great this album was, how long since he had heard it.

The other guy seemed a little bit too fashion-savvy to be my first choice of service person. Luckily after greeting me, he got pulled away with a customer, and Pink Floyd Man turned to me.

He didn’t have blue eyes, but he was blond, and he wasn’t too young, and he was attentive. Confused about the details of my half-caf large iced latte — but confused as if he found me somewhat distracting. (Apparently modest weight gain has done good things for my figure. Who knew — turns out cheek bones are more sexy when your face is not so “skully.”)

So I met his gaze better than usual, made remarks of my own on the music, and otherwise encouraged him in this not-quite-flirtation.

And then we had our little moment (puts hand to chest, takes a minute to collect self). “Do you have sugar syrup so I don’t have to stir it in?” I asked. The summertime granule blues are a major pet peeve about iced coffee drinks. He’d already dumped the espresso in over the ice.

“No. However ...” He grabbed their smallest paper cup. “How much sugar do you want?”

“Two spoonfuls.” He measured it out, and took the cup to the hot-water spigot, adding just a little which he swirled around until it dissolved. Clever comment about his resourcefulness, which I rewarded with a smile.

We moved to transaction-conclusion mode, and he asked if I was going to the park to take advantage of the weather.

“Naw, I have to take her to the airport tonight,” I said, gesturing to a friend who was in town for the weekend. “But maybe tomorrow...” Was this a thickly coded possible opportunity for a date?

Then I walked away without my drink, remembering only as I neared the door. “My latte!” The friend’s badly packed suitcase promptly spilled over and I had to pick it up before trotting back to retrieve my icy drink. “All my hard work ...” he teased.

Shy habits resumed their hold on me and I forgot to meet his eye for a final look.

Once outside, the girlfriend and I launched into a spirited debrief over just how cute the coffee guy’d been, and how he clearly had been digging me just a little. I was for a moment wistful as I relished the unsolicited attention. It has been weird lately, surrounded by so many hand-holding or out-and-out necking couples. I’m not one of them this season, nor is that likely to change any time soon.

The pragmatist wins out
And as we headed on to our train that stark reality swiftly imposed itself. While once I would have stalked the coffee shop, looking for future chances to casually chat up Pink Floyd Man, now I will not. While once I would have toyed with the hope-slash-dream of having a date or two with him or seeing what might be, now I will not. The odds he shares my passion for Jesus are far too slim. And practically speaking, what is a man of his age doing working in a coffee shop? Sure he might be a talented writer or film guy, working the job so he has time to pursue his real dream, but probably he’s not in a stable place right now. He might have a girlfriend or lover but he’s probably well-attached to his singleness and just looking for some noncommittal fun this summer.

It was, in a sense, my High Fidelity moment. It might not be in the movie, but it’s in the book. The place where Rob has just met the cute music-writer chick, and started to make her a mix tape. And then it dawns on him: “When am I going to stop jumping from rock to rock?” He sees she’s 9/10 parts a fantasy — and he’s already watched the relationship, from weak-kneed start to improbable finish, roll by on the reel in his head. What’s really to left for him to enjoy? And more importantly, what would he lose if he were to once again jump from his current rock after the fantasy onto the next rock which would be no better than this one right here?

Sometimes a moment is all you get and it’s probably better that way.