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, August 22, 2005

Thwarting courting

Despite my recent silence, ya’ll have kept me nicely stocked with questions to answer. My thanks. However, as one reader recently advised me not to let go my trademark wackiness, I think it best to start this week with a look inside the recent Broadway family visit ...

Yesterday I rang up Grandma Broadway (the flirty, single one — she of facelift fame), lately retired at last from years of full-time work. Having days ago departed from Chez Broadway (Brooklyn), the parentals are now ensconced in Chez Broadway (Michigan), where Saturday they celebrated their 28th anniversary. As any dutiful oldest daughter would, I rang them up for day-late congratulations.

They were still lunching with a sister of Grandpa Broadway, whose dramatic storytelling I must take after (it’s hard for me to remember, but I hear he was quite expressive). Instead I caught up with Grandma, who was perplexed when I mentioned needing parental consult on my love life. As details were disclosed, this sounded dangerously close to marital arrangements.

“You can’t expect your father to find you a man!”

“Oh, no, Grandma ...” I went on to explain how, in fact, Rolling Stone had found me a man — indeed a few of them. But as the bulk of these seemed guaranteed to sneak around my well-honed blocks to intimacy (all professing love for Jesus, even some fondness for their alcohol), I needed back-up.

Not that men are the enemy, of course, but once the crop of suitors reached a critical mass ... of two ... it became clear I needed a stronger line of defense. How could I possibly be expected to relate like a sober-minded woman in the presence of a church-going man not deeply wounded and emotionally damaged? I do quite well with that sort, really. It’s been a most-effective strategy for aligning myself with hot men while avoiding any threat of actual intimacy.

When men who were neither freaked by Jesus nor evidently possessed of freakish hearts came on the scene, I knew I had a problem. Could my deepest dream by on the verge of realization?!! How terrible! Whatever would I dream about then?

A crisis of this magnitude called for dramatic intervention. Clearly I could not be trusted to sufficiently discourage these men since I had, after all, suggested that advances such as theirs, expressed in a bold manner ... such as theirs ... would be welcomely received. What better way to finesse these delicate social politics than by bringing in a man known for speaking his mind come hell or fly-swatter? That’s right: the father from whom I got my trademark frankness, maybe even my tongue (he was, after all, a sailor once).

As I told Grandma, Dad would be guaranteed to have a protective interest in my case. Where self-protection fails, bring in dad-protection! And whereas it might be awkward for me to ask the difficult questions (“How do you feel about missions — of the non-Mormon, extra-bedroom sort?”), Dad could reasonably be expected to grill my pursuers. There once was a time when Sis Broadway could have done the job, but seeing as how she spends her days “out in the field” giving “ass-chewings” to her in-subordinates and toting men more than her weight through the mud ... Sis cannot be relied on for these last-minute, not always long-distance matters. Sniff.

Dad, I hoped, would channel her scowls and deep suspicions toward any man sounding Pittish in my proximity (which behaviors could include: a) demonstrations of sexual interest, b) announcing readiness to have children, never mind the wife required to do so, and c) inquiring as to my compatibility with his hopes to marry).

While Grandma began to come around once I had put things thusly, Dad did not muster the fierceness I think my sister would have. Instead he and Mom proposed to initiate meeting the nearest suitor. Cue: Anna Broadway’s first-ever double (blind) date. In which the Broadway parentals lapse into a mostly chaperone role.

Since their visit presented such a rare opportunity to meet men, I made sure to introduce them to the whole panoply in my life, including might-be suitors, one-time suitors and lookalikes (just to confuse the matter). Sunday night after church they met Tall Drink O’ Water, who invited us to join a sushi party and was promptly shut down (Pops doesn’t care for fish, much less the raw kind). Then Tuesday I conveniently had a run-in with Jose No Dinero (observed by Mom, introduction to whom seem slightly heavy-handed; she settled for noting the rendesvous in her journal).

And for the real bang-up conclusion to Broadway’s Tour of Men (I mean, New York), I dragged them to a regular, secular cocktail hour replete with men who’ve dated or tried to drool on me. (Well, OK, maybe the last part’s me practicing that book-promo art of spin. So convincing, no?) Harvard Lickwit gave the folks full wattage of his charm — with shockingly long duration (perhaps his stamina’s improved since dating me?), while Blogfather and Tim Robbins Type said hellos.

Toward the end of the night, Pops started to finally find his protective-father rhythm. On our way out of the bar, a whipster friend embraced me with enthusiastic congrats on recent good news.

“Who’s this man hugging my daughter?!” Dad demanded.

We’re getting there, I think. Slowly, perhaps, but off the blocks nonetheless. Maybe by the time I get over my fear of relationships, Dad will have figured out how to vet the men who come calling.