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.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Voodoo love

I used to think there were three main ways you get over someone (other than “getting under someone else,” as the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies once advised): 1) the illusion you’re attracted to is destroyed, 2) the other person moves on with someone else (the more seriously the better), 3) someone better than that person comes along.

In the case of an inveterate piner, the enfevered one works with crushes or relationships like ingredients in a recipe for love — providing, of course, most or all the energy needed for “success” (akin to beating whipping cream till it becomes butter or over-kneading a pie crust so it gets quite tough). Abandoning the cooking project thus happens when either a) it turns out the ingredient you thought would work isn’t really what you needed at all — say, salt instead of sugar; b) someone else lays claim to that ingredient before you get to use it (when your roommate drinks all the beer, for instance), or c) you learn from a cooking show that your oil of choice is all wrong for the recipe you’ve been trying to make.

But what if none of those three things happen? Your ingredients are appropriate (compatibility’s just as good you as thought), your supply is untouched (the person stays single) and no cooking show disputes your fat of choice in this recipe (no better prospect comes along). What then? Is the inveterate piner doomed to a life of failure in the kitchen — at least where making love’s concerned?

Perhaps, if our piner is a committed masochist. But I’m starting to think our piner/cook may have a fourth way out. Which involves not a change in status, supply, or value of the “ingredients,” but one’s entire approach to cooking … where love’s concerned.

After all, does not the perspective I’ve so far described sound a bit like voodoo? Such a person surely stops just short of whipping up potions. But real relationships, real love aren’t so much akin to a science experiment (though there’s hopefully chemistry); they’re more like family potlucks. Which sometimes come together in a great marriage of food and wine but sometimes result in a surfeit of chocolates or potato dishes (ask me about Christmas eats this week!). Either way, it’s a joint effort. And that way, whether cook or host or both, all parties involved ideally have plenty of time to enjoy the party and the other guests.

But try making love all on your own and it’s exhausting business. When you finally emerge from the kitchen, throwing in the towel on this one, it feels a bit like throwing off the chains of a self-imposed sabbatical in slavery. Or as David Wilcox puts it:
Love, true love
I can feel it when I’m high above
but I fall, that’s all
I’m your human cannonball

Always dreamed of flyin’
and now the dream comes true
I’m not afraid of dyin’
so I will fall for you, all for you, baby
This is your big top, baby
Yeah you’ve got all your clowns
around it’s true
Why are you just smilin’ at me fallin’
Oh maybe this is keeping you amused


The sound comes ’round
now I wake up
with my ear to the ground
I rise surprised
so this is how a fool gets wise, oh

I’m gonna leave
your three-ring-circus
I was a fool to fall
I’m gonna leave
your three-ring-circus
your human cannonball
Not everyone has to be a cook in life, and when it comes to love you can’t make a relationship on your own. The only thing you can control is what you bring to the potluck or (if you’re hosting), the condition that your home is in. You can invite the guests, but you can’t control who pencils you in. Sure, this kind of love is much more uncertain and can’t be had on demand, but it’s also much more human and less exhausting than the voodoo cooking approach.

Happy new year …