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, June 30, 2005

Reader marathon, pt. 2

Dahlings, you’ve commented so fast and furiously today, I can barely keep up. For simplicity, I’m replying to all of you here, rapid-fire. Using whatever handle you applied to yourself. Forgive me if that violates the usual pseudonymic protocol.
Dear ANNA,

I have a two-part question!

1) Given your beliefs, do you feel it’s beneficial/appropriate to build a public image out of the avoidance of one particular “sin”?

2) What else is happening?


Dear mcMüller:
I have a two-part answer! One way to look at abstinence is to call it the avoidance of sin. But you could also call it being really selective about the circumstances of sex (which I hold to be a good thing and not inherently sinful) ... or an obsession with anticipation. Secondly, I’m not sure what the definition of a truly “public” figure is, but I thought you had to be nominated as ambassador or something. So far that hasn’t happened so, alas, I think I’m still a fairly private figure. *sniff*

What else is happening is that a) I am currently unemployed and getting poorer by the day, and b) my birthday is 11 days from now (one week after our big holiday). If friends and fans prove generous, I may briefly get slightly less poor.

“Side hugs!”
AB, I love your blog. It’s popped onto my horizon in a timely manner, as I’ve been getting bored of the blogosphere. Love the satire and the frank, witty, judeo-christo perspective.

That RS article was... wow, words escape me. I don’t know you, so I can’t say for sure, but I have a feeling that it was at least partially skewed. Made you guys out to be slightly militant and uber right wingers. I can see now that’s not exactly the case.
Dear Almost-Bored:
Judeo-christo ... now that’s an interesting one. Maybe I could apply to be his next project. Do you think he’d wrap my blog in orange for a week? Maybe if I offered to let him wrap my laptop as well ...

As for this business about wings, I neither have them nor would restrict them to just one side. I do eat buffalo wings, sometimes. Do you like them spicy? I’ve never wondered what side of the chicken they’re from, but you’re right that that’s an interesting question. Maybe one side’s wings are more succulent? Or is that just the breast portion ...
If you spend so much time getting off on not getting off, wouldn’t that qualify as some sort of perversion (if you use Freud’s definition)?
Dear Carlos:
I guess that depends on what you mean by getting off. Clearly I get off topic in these posts very often, for instance. But I usually don’t get off my futon very much in the midst of writing ... Oh but — of course! You didn’t mean that kind of getting off (slaps knee). Silly me.

Actually, though, if blogging had a perverse quality to it, I’m surely on the path to recovery: I’ve cut my average posts from five a week down to three. Alas, they never produce, well, ecstasy. But that I think you can’t really force at all. Much like sneezing. Which some people have actually claimed should also be considered a kind of getting off. What do you think of that? Would Freud find a sneezer perverse? If so, it’s mighty strange we say, “God bless you!” when that happens ... don’t you think?



Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Get a robe!

The New York Observer this week has an article about the latest fashion phenomenon (well, I hope it’s only a New York fashion phenom): the man-crack. The illustration shows it all, depicting a swath of city the headline calls “Nude York, Nude York!” (Too bad it doesn’t have a better ring; that “D” just stops the tongue.)

I’ve seen man-crack — in fact a friend’s father’s man-crack (gulp) — and it ain’t that hot (even if the weather lately is). At least the aforementioned peepshow was strictly inadvertant. And according to the article, that’s the more-authentic, “hard core” mode of flashing. It’s the calculated flaunting that’s the slightly less respectable trend.

Apparently since we women have tried to rule the world like men and abandoned most of our trademark modes of wielding power, you’ve added turnabout to your rulebooks and started pirating our fashion. (So speculates the Observer.)

But here’s the thing: I don’t want a man like me, I want a man! That’s why computer techs are so hot — ’cause you can fix things that I can’t. Things that make me sweat and fret about the state of my precious baby, they can confidently put to rights (or so I tell myself when my monitor starts to flicker like an aging strobe light; don’t mess with the fantasy, yo!).

The thing is, attraction’s like a dance, and I don’t mean a chorus line. If you’re both facing each other and you want to find a way to move together, you have to take the opposite kind of steps (one steps forward, one steps back). Your moves are different but complementary.

I’m a sucker for dance, I am. In fact it was a very-hot dance with Swinger #1 that first gave me the fevah ... well, down below. But the thing about dancing is, the drama is often achieved in tiny increments; little flourishes injected into an otherwise fairly disciplined engagement between two bodies.

Amelie showed us something of that as well, in the intensity there when the lovers finally meet. But how do they greet? Do they suddenly tear off each other’s clothes in a scene hot enough to set local-weather records? No. They exchange a series of little kisses — on the jaw, on the temple, but never on the mouth, at least at first.

And you know, in this age of casual porn consumption, where sexual satisfaction becomes a thing we stalk like big game, I think there’s something to that. But don’t take my word for it; Dave Hickey said it best (speaking of an Andy Warhol film:
In this new flick, the camera just sat there, trained on this guy who just sat there too, sideways to the camera in a chair, like Whistler’s mother’s gay nephew, getting a haircut. That was it. The barber was out of the frame. All we saw were his hands, the scissors, and the comb, fluttering around this guy’s head. Clip-clip! Clip-clip-clip!

We couldn’t fucking believe it. This was really boring. Mesmerizing too, of course, but not mesmerizing enough to keep us from moaning, keening almost, and swaing in our chairs. Clip-clip! But we kept looking at the screen even though we knew, after the first minute, that this was going to be it: that it was just a guy getting a haircut. Still, we watched, and it just went on and on. Clip! Clip-clip-clip! In truth, it was no more than five or six minutes, but that’s a long time in a movie, approximately the length of a Siberian winter. ...

Then it happened. The guy getting a haircut reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a pack of cigarettes and casually lit one up! Major action! Applause. Tumultuous joy and release! Chanting even. And the joy may have been ironic (it almost certainly was), but the release was quite genuine. I remember every instant of Henry lighting up that cigarette and the laughter I could not suppress. Because it was fun, and amazing to realize how seriously you had been fucked with. The haircut continued at that point (clip-clip!), but we were alive now. Fifteen minutes earlier we had been dozing through Brakhage’s visual Armageddon. Now we were cheering for some guy lighting a Lucky Strike.

Clearly Mr. Warhol was onto something here. It was stupid, but it was miraculous, too. His film had totally recalibrated the perceptions of a roomful of sex-crazed adolescent revolutionaries into a field of tiny increments. It had restored the breath and texture to things and then, with the flip of a Zippo, had given us a little band in the bargain — and by accident, I have no doubt.
That, friends, is a little picture of what true ecstasy is like — not a thing you can trap in some corner by using the edgiest techniques, but a burst of laughter that explodes from within your gut at the moment when you least expect it. The ecstasy in a delightful surprise. Maybe the answer isn’t to speed things, but to slow them down and savor a little.

Wednesday blog preview

Dahlings ... you’ve been asking so many and such serious questions, poor Anna is about to go cross-eyed. I may have to up the prescription on my spectacles just from peering at all your comments! Speaking of which, if I haven’t gotten to your question yet, and you really want it answered, do send me an email. That’s a much better way for me to keep track of things to respond to, at the rate ya’ll are posting questions.

Now must get some caffeine inspiration in me (I’m sure not a latte virgin! ;)) ...

While you’re waiting, read Blogfather’s post on money. Because it’s funny, honey. And he’s funny — also much more, shall we say, “liberated” than I.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A reader-letter marathon

Dahlings, the output of your reader feedback amazes me, so I have decided to devote today’s entire post to responding to some of your more-interesting letters ...
Yes i read the ridiculous Rolling Stone Article ... however i do get rolling stone for free since i wanted you to know that i dont really support the magazine at all.

i didnt realize there was a big virginity movement.
Anna sez: You and me both! I think it’s probably been there all along, it just hasn’t gotten much press. But you know, after that election and now that Lauren Winner’s book came out, I think people are just more interested in these things.
and yeah maybe im assuming but uh. you’re a christian right? it would be hard to fathom otherwise.
I am a Jesus freak, yes. Otherwise, maintaining the standards I do would be pretty foolhardy. Heck, it probably seems rather foolhardy anyway!
I too really just want marriage and its hard getting to girls who think im the ambiguous christian guy without stating my intentions yes i would like to take you out to see if you're the kind of person that i think you are so i can decide if further down the road i would like to get married to you. that sort of thing is a little awkward as you can imagine so it doesnt happen.
I could see how that might tend to queer a lot of girls (in the old-fashioned sense of the word, that is). Your use of punctuation could also hurt you there — I mean the way you let that sentence run on, for a second I thought you meant you’d like to marry me, though I’m sure you really meant that “you” more generally. Didn’t you?
are you really on unemployment? and if so howz that working out?
Yes, really. I’ve even collected all the unemployment funds I was entitled to. (So if you happen to be feeling generous ... drop a few in the PayPal bucket, yes? ;)) At least all this time at home has helped me practice on my baking skillz. Which I’m still convinced may be the key to snaring — er, finding — a man.
thats all i have for write now and as you may have noticed my name is Still Waiting.

and im also a writer which by now you may have guessed. i just never ventured into the world of blogging and my net skills aren’t so great which may help explain my so-so looking webpage of my writings.

well i expect to hear from you with this long ass email i have put out. and so ill have something to look forward to while cutting my dad’s grass and thinking about when ill be going to new york.

(Laughs nervously) New York? Pshaw... Really, Still Waiting, I don’t think you’d find much of interest here. Just a lot of regular hussies running round and sweating buckets and buckets of sweat seeing as how it’s summer here, and unlike Arizona it mostly ain’t a dry heat.

Well now, see what you’ve gone and done? You’ve given me run-ons. Dear me. I should take another letter.
At the risk of looking like just another pervert---so you don’t masturbate or *anything*?

---Not a Pervert
Not lately, no. You see the thing is, Not a Pervert, why would I really want to masturbate anyway? To get off, I suppose. Which maybe I’d want to do because I was feeling lonely and horny (not a difficult thing to feel when it’s the summer after all!). But what does that tell you right there? Such a practice would actually be a substitutionary activity since I don’t have a real live man around to delight me (and I him). Presumably if I had the choice between masturbating and having actual sex — with its potential for surprise and the unexpected — I’d choose the latter.

But some people like to think masturbation is a good way to practice — sort of like the urban legend whereby cohabitation is a way to practice marriage (though countless studies — and not just “Christian” ones show it’s actually linked to a greater likelihood of divorce). OK, so maybe you learn a little about what makes you feel good. But that’s where I as a Jesus freak have to stop. You see, I’m not supposed to be having sex for me. I’m supposed to be having sex as a way to show my husband how much I love him; as a way to tangibly embody the self-donating love that was most vividly shown by Jesus’ life and death. At least that’s the Christian story. The way this whole approach to sex is supposed to work is that my husband is likewise focused on what best achieves my pleasure. With both of us focused on each other like, we’ll learn and grow and probably make an awful lot of mistakes and find how selfish we are ... but along the way we’ll probably have some pretty incredible moments too.

So now let’s come back to masturbation. If what I’ve just described is the sex I someday hope to have, is masturbation really going to help me prepare for that? No. In fact, it’s probably going to undermine such an approach to sex, as I’ll already be habituated into thinking chiefly about my own pleasure and body and not what makes my husband happy.

But the real trouble with masturbation, I’ve found, is not so much what you’re doing with your body as with your mind. And fantasy is the way that you grease the tracks, so to speak. Fantasy works like editorial cartoons — in big, dramatic swooshes, intense scenarios. And somehow the thing that worked last night doesn’t work so well tonight. So I’ve gotta change it a little; ramp things up. Sure I started out imagining married sex, as Sharlet’s article mentioned, but that didn’t work too long. Soon I was making up scenarios that involved things I would never want to do in real life. But maybe if I kept that up long enough, I’d start to think that was the hottest kind of sex. And suddenly that ultra-sexy sex, the promise of an even-better orgasm, has become my god, the thing at the center of my world.

And you know what? It’s precisely in that desperate, grasping place that sex is likely to fail me. Most truly ecstatic experiences, after all, come about as a kind of surprise. There is a quality of dependence to them. We can set the right conditions, but we can’t ensure the magic will really happen; it chooses to visit it us in its time, its own way. But if all that I can think about’s the orgasm, I’m going in completely the wrong direction — toward an increasingly desperate, mechanized kind of sex that is dehumanizing me at every step. Which as Read Schuchardt pointed out, is just what’s happened to Hugh Hefner.

If that’s what masturbation gets me, no thanks. But that’s a heavy note on which to end, so I’ll take one more reader letter.
I read about you and I checked out your site and I wanted to ask you to stop being so awesome...if you don’t cease and desist then I may fall in love with you.

Ok, but in all seriousness, thanks for the inspiration. And why aren’t there more girls like you around this city?

-Goofy Texan in the City
Dear Goofy:
Thanks for the fan-love, er, threats of love. If you’re a Jesus freak in the city, you might want to check out times and places where we gather. I know my church has a lot of ways for people to meet their fellow freaks.

Another thing you might consider is that you’re not responsible for your birth. Your existence ultimately rests on things beyond your control. Since you believe in God, that means you probably can accept that it’s His “problem” that you’re hear that (I assume) you’d like to marry. An interesting book you might enjoy is one I recently read: God is a Matchmaker by Derek Prince.


Friday, June 24, 2005

‘The young and the sexless’ online

Rolling Stone posted the article ... sans most of the pictures. But at least most of you cheapskates, er, web-readers can now read it from your raspberry or whatever it is you use.

Back with fresh blogging on Monday! Hopefully by early afternoon, Brooklyn time. Don’t forget your advice-related queries are always welcome — and, for the time-being, rewarded with prizes (if used for the blog).

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bothered? Kinda hot

Reader feedback sure has covered the gamut this week; I get unsigned poetry and now my first reader heckling in a long time (pats chest emotionally). I knew more than a few must consider me a full-on freak, never mind the Jesus- part ...
Total Bullshit. It doesn’t take much to see right through this obsession with sex while denying it. I understand the whole “looking for my identity” part, but finding it in the denial of something seem vacuous. Most people define themselves but what they “do,” that seems more noble, more defining. Being known as someone who “doesn’t do” something inspires less admiration. It isn’t hard not to have sex, it isn’t hard not to connect emotionally with people. You’re more of an outgrowth of the emotional disconnect that comes with our anti-social world and an Evangelical Mythical Christian belief system than anything revolutionary.

Whatever...enjoy it like Goth Kids enjoyed dressing up and acting evil before their shift at Starbucks.

It’s a club, I get it. My suggestion, get married now...before the looks fade...and then realize that sex isn’t the end all be all, it’s great, but not defining. Or hell, wait until you’re in the next lifetime to have sex, certainly afterworld sex has to be even better, right? Sex must be better in heaven, right? on clouds and shit...ha

Quit dressing up your non-knowledge psuedo-intellectual bullshit as a creedo. This is as much a perversion as rubber masks and gerbils.
Dear Huh:
I have to confess, when I first saw your comment, I was going to warn you I don’t take shit like that — your swearing, I mean — but uh, well, er ... never mind about that. In any case, dahling, I’m extremely touched by your concern for my identity, and especially how I’m known to the world. You may be reassured to know, I still generally describe myself as a writer and very rarely as, well, a gal who don’t have sex (yet).

But I do plan to, someday. Hopefully sooner than later. And hopefully with children as a result. But here, I have to tell you, I plan to persist in emphasizing what I don’t do along with what I do. If you’ve read this blog much, you know I like my beer. I figure giving that up for nine months won’t quite be the thrill other-worldly sex might (oh wait! Christians don’t believe in sex in heaven; damn. That’s a Mormon thing ... right?!!) — but I’d rather be known as that pregnant gal who’s not doing many things so her baby is born quite healthy than the selfish woman who keeps on doing what she enjoys, come hell or birth defects.

If you find this vacuous too, well I’m clearly a weaker soul than you. I wish I had your emotional and sexual fortitude, but somehow I got stuck with this damn libido that makes my self-control hella tough sometimes. Not so much with the men who like to admire me from the street, o’ course ... but when it comes to that certain gent who really gives me fevah ... Damnation! Why, if he ever came after me serious-like, it’d be a fine mess, me keepin’ my hands off him. Come to think of it, might be a good thing we’re not too close ...

But that’s the blasted thing. Take all these Ryan Adams songs I been listening to lately. “Firecracker”; “Gonna Make You Love Me.” I hear his confidence and I wanna think, “Yeah! If I sang that, all fine and sultry, I’d get me the lover-boy (er, husband) that I want!”
Faith can keep you warm, but I’ll teach you how to shake
And I’ll come to you like a little girl
It’s only gonna make you love me more
But maybe he’s just skeert of commitment, that lad-who-makes-me-sweat, and that’s where I need to set his mind at rest.
Broken bluesy whisper sing to me tonight
Well, everybody wants to go forever
I just wanna burn up hard and bright
I just wanna be your firecracker
See, honey? That’s all. I just wanna be your spark. Well ...
And maybe be your baby tonight
Maybe be your baby tonight
Gee, that might not sound so noncommittal after all. Men have a feeling ’bout these things, I think — that women don’t “just” have sex. Of course, I don’t either ...

But here’s my real beef with all these songs. They all suggest that if I just serenade a guy properly, I can make one who doesn’t like me fall for me.

Only, I’ve never seen that happen. And generally, if a woman can turn a man’s heart toward her, I think it has more to do with the promise of sex than, say, her mad baking skillz (though Poster Boy did once insinuate the way to a man’s heart really was through his stomach — but he musta meant his stomach, literally).

So here’s what I think. Either Ryan’s singing the songs he wishes would have that power (but is really too chicken to sing to his lady-fair) ... or he’s singin’ them to a girl who already likes him (hence her resistance is mostly a sham maintained to make him feel accomplished) ...

Or, dang, maybe it only works like that for men, and women just can’t get away with singin’ songs like that. Unless they’re Nina Simone, perhaps, but I ain’t got her confidence or her moxie. Or her ability to field-test the candidates. You see, lest you forget, dearest Huh, the other caveat of my approach to sex is I don’t get to test for compatibility. Which I imagine is, to your way of thinking, something near a sin. I might never even have good sex if I don’t know what kind of lover I’m getting, right?

So really, dahling, if you mean to insult me properly, it might not do to accuse me of obsession or perversion. If I understand you perspective rightly, you’d probably do just fine calling me a masochist.


Reader query

As you might guess, writing this blog doesn’t exactly pull in the loot. But for those who think I deserve to make some money doing this, what’s the most reader-friendly way that can happen? The purist in me would like to leave these pages untainted ... but unless each reader starts donating a dollar or something, that ain’t likely to remain practical for an unemployed writer such as I.

That leaves site-corrupting Google ads, which I can hear can be a fairly reliable source of income, modest though it may be. Thoughts on this quandary, dahlings?

Back with a “real” post after my coffee ... ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I heart nerds indeed

I knew there was a reason I bought that t-shirt ... “Nasacar.” Dang, if this kid weren’t so young — and so fictional — I’d be all over ’im. He’s almost as bad as me claiming I’d “become adept at the vernacular”! Ah, the recovering nerd. We never really come ’round — and maybe it’s better that way. ;)

When love’s an inky business

As you might imagine, being suddenly in print — bedroom photo and all — has started to make life interesting. Whether or not and what to share with parents, for instance, has prompted great debate. At first I thought I could simply run off color copies of my photo and leave it at that. But as a recent conversation with Coffee Pal makes clear ...

[Reading aloud] “ of a number of intensely intelligent women making the case for celibacy.” At this point I could happily share the caption with my folks and grandparentals, right? Nice little flattery for them, the progenitors ... Oh but wait.

[Still reading] “Oh, it says here you have ‘an unusually high—’” Slug. I punched him in the arm and whirled in search of a water refill before being subjected to the embarrassment of hearing him read that damn caption aloud.

Unusually high sex drive. Never, my friends, never confide in a reporter. And should you intend to make remarks about how, based on former Sexless BOTtoM author Steven Rhoads’ research you probably have high testoterone — a condition that results in strong spacial awareness, analytical acuity, strong sex drive, etc. — be prepared for captions like these.

Oh, but my favorite part of the article almost no relatives will ever, ever read is that we were dubbed a “virgin army.” We may be an army of four, but we’re an army, damnit. Abstinence is just so militant, you know? All those chastity belts and masturbands ... why, it’s a wonder they even let us onto airplanes! I might turn you on, and then swallow the key to my belt!

Dangerously disciplined people, we are. I mean, look at the Shakers! They made all that furniture! You never know what a virgin army is capable of ... Although, with our path’s appeal, we surely make the U.S. military’s recruitment problems look like a labor surplus.

And, really, where exactly is our “battlefield”?!! Bars, perhaps, and apparently the street (at least for guys). I imagine portions of Times Sq. are major high-security zones. But it’s not like we go around making citizen’s arrests for arousing our lust with that too-tight lycra or cleavage-baring tanks. We don’t even eat crap rations! I, for one, bake a pretty good loaf of bread.

So, frankly, I am very confused about where this “army” business came from. Readers? Any thoughts on this? Any extensions to the metaphor that might enlighten me?

The more things change ...

A stat-obsessive like me knows something is up when, by my mid-morning wakeup, already 100 page views have been recorded! Thanks so much to the many of you stopping by to check out this here blog. Not only didja push me over 50,000 page views yesterday, my uniques-to-page view stat even dropped from 69 to 68 percent (it’d been stuck there for months, producing occasional smirks).

Since I blogged not at all last week, and actually posted on Saturday, I’ve got another post in the offing today. Once I finish my coffee of course. ;) “Fame” — I mean, new readers — hasn’t changed my addiction, which even received a coveted paper plate award on the international choir trip I recently returned from guiding.

A word to the newcomers, though: I’m thrilled so many of you have been commenting and posting questions. Don’t be shy about emailing your queries, though. Anything I can use to generate a Sexless advice piece (the direction I’d like to take this blog, since I am still not dating) gets a prize from the Sexless prize box. While supplies last.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Makeout avoidance 101

A strange thing happened that night in the bar in Canada. After the guest-room speedblog about my French-Canadian flirting, I made my way back to the building where French-Can. Divorcé was running his late-night show. It was not impressive. Compared to the Guinness-glass guitar-work of 40-Something Cover Artist, his half-karaoke, half-cover show was nearly pathetic. It was such an act where you instinctively understand that if the performer let his energy slip for even a break between measures he’d be letting not just you but himself recognize how faintly tragic it all is, a man of his age jumping around before a half-filled room, playing guitar along with a karaoke track and begging the brunette from Brooklyn to come sing Tracy Chapman with him. Which I did.

I am an occasional sucker for these things, after all. Or maybe it was simply that traveling with a children’s choir for days on end softened me up despite my better judgment.

You see, the strange thing that happened that night was that as I slouched in my nondescript corner seat, covertly tapping my foot along from time to time, a voice echoed in my head. Just don’t make out with him. Words not mine, but Poster Boy’s. Who’d not been even advising me on this flirtation, but another possible date with a man from church (which, considering that I’ve sworn off dating, produced a fair dilemma — hence my consultation).

In retrospect, it was more than a little cheeky, him thinking to tell me what to do. Cheeky in that way that makes a girl want to put out her tongue and snap back all cocky-like, “Well, why do you care? What business of yours is it whom I kiss?”

Except that he merely voiced the sentiments of my own heart. A heart grown rather weary after too many ill-advised dates and barely successful escapes from embrace. Those of you who’ve read my interview in Rolling Stone know about my date with Ad Weasel. I don’t know which is worse — that things actually got that far, or that his mediocre technique (which, as a frank-spoken Broadway, I had gently tried to critique — hence his offer of other, er, implements) helped me finally call a halt.

The Coffee Pal whose uncertain invitation provoked my conversation with Poster Boy said an interesting thing during our eventual afternoon chat. He criticized my no-dating policy on the grounds that people today take light things too seriously — like dating — and serious things too lightly — like our hearts.

But I find that dating has meant just that — taking my heart too lightly.

I used to have this notion, you see, that “physicality” should be commensurate with the other levels of intimacy in a relationship. You hug a good friend unselfconsciously because of your affection. Likewise slugging a guy friend in the arm, or reaching out to touch someone’s shoulder mid-conversation. Conversely, think of how hard one tries to avoid touching the other’s body when squeezing past a heavy person on a crowded bus. Physicality at its most natural instinctively communicates what’s in the heart.

Thus, when I first started dating toward the end of grad school, I naively hoped for a first date with little more than hand-holding, followed by a gradual progression to kissing (this, Sgt. Ex-sessories informed me, amounted to “high-school dating,” alas). Thus, when I agreed to my first kiss, midway through my first semester of college, I was expecting not the sloppy French kiss I got but a simple peck. Why would you be more intimate with a near-stranger?

Clearly I had not read my Harlequins closely enough. Indeed, for me there have been literally no dates without physicality. And because such premature intimacies have always come at the expense of a heart put into hiding, there has been nothing sufficiently serious to such dates.

Nor, in truth, did I want to take such dates seriously. Make no mistake, I wanted to test my libido some — find out if certain “oh-so-explosive” things would really excite me that much. But the only men who gave me any time of day at all were clearly the farthest thing from men I’d like to marry. Because I wanted not a string of casual romances, but the deep, all-encompassing love of marriage, dating them left out my heart entirely. Pursuing my short-term desires meant denying how badly I wanted some things in the long term.

Oh, I’d had standards once — rigid laws established in my view of my long-term dream of marriage. But sometime in the middle of junior high I decided telling a guy who asked me out that I wouldn’t let him hold hands with me might slightly cramp my romantic success. After all, the heroines in my romance novels never said no. Why should I throw roadblocks up so early? There’d be time enough to say the big “no” to sex.

The problem with this mentality was, it denied the fluid, communicative nature of the intimate. Either sex is divided into Dobson’s Code Yellow, Code Red zones, or “the act” itself is treated as some gate where you can say “no” although you’ve blithely traveled the whole road there.

The thing that Poster Boy’s joking, slightly provocative advice reminded me was that if you don’t want to wind up at the gate, you better not get on the road at all. In fact, 5% Man’s all-or-nothing approach starts to make an awful lot of sense. When I went out with Francophile Filmmaker last summer, I hoped for a casual dinner and drinks, free of kissing and all that other stuff. He knew I wouldn’t sleep with him, so why would he push for foreplay?

Only he did. And because I merely hoped we would not make out but had no plan for truly avoiding that, I wound up lip-to-lip with him (for the record, kissing has never produced great fireworks – maybe that’s a mercy). Such has been my fate with most men who’ve pursued me much.

Except for scattered Jesus Freaks — well I hope they’ve been pursuing me; with them it’s hard to tell. And except with French-Can. Divorcé. For with PB’s words ringing in my head, Just don’t make out with him, I knew I had to be more guarded in my responses to his flirtation. I couldn’t dance as avidly, be too eager to chat him up. Sometimes I have carelessly done such things because I simply like others’ company and disregard how they’re likely to read my openness. But plenty of times I’ve just played along because I wanted male attention.

Well, I tell you what I’m finally figuring out. The attention of someone who cares enough to seek your best interest and remind you of the things you really stand for — when you’re clearly weak and prone to compromise — matters far more than the cheap, two-bit attention of a guy who hopes to get to know your thighs more than the woman they belong to. The former might actually help you grow as a person; the latter just leaves you emptier when it’s gone than before you got it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

It’s coming ...

To a magazine rack near you. Yes, that’s right; this here blog just got some rather splashy press (also slightly blush-inducing, gulp; as I told Poster Boy, I think I’ve recovered my sense of shame).

I’ll leave you to guess which cover-story it is, but tell you the article starts on 103. Flip a few pages further to see me and then to finally read my interview. While I may have been the most provocatively photographed of the four sources, at least I don’t take the prize for most-embarrassing disclosure. Phew!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Flirting, French-Canadian style

You’d think on a trip with 30-odd Midwesterners (have of them juvenile), there wouldn’t be much love-life excitement. And until tonight you’d be right.

My days are full of giving directions, dealing wih hotels and restaurants, and chatting up the 62-years-old bus driver. All of which leaves little time for getting my morning latte fix, much less thinking about my love life.

That is, until tonight. Just less than 40 minutes ago, the Broadway mojo kicked in for what may prove to be an interesting Friday night. We’r on our own the rest of the evening, and even starting late tomorrow (breakfasts normally have been eaten at 8 a.m.). Translation: Anna can have a drink and maybe even a little flirt.

Not that I went looking for such entertainments. Oh, no. But as I leaving the terrace overlooking a mountain lake (where our party had eaten dinner), I was accosted by a man who spoke in French. Struggling to remember all five of my stock phrases in the languge (none of which is, “I don’t speak French,” it turns), I hesitated.

“Ah! You don’t speak French.”

“Oui, monsieur.” Well, that’s what I should have said. But there was little need to hold up my end of the conversation at the rate he was chatting me up. Within minutes I’ learned his ex-wife remarried to a cop, he has three children living in London, and he once spent three years living in Paris (perhaps one for each child).

A bit of a player, no doubt, but what could I do? He is the resort-bar musician, after all (and you know how I am with blonds when they get creative that way). I think he’s even got a Guinness on ice for me.

Which means I should go drink instead of blog! Ta for now, dahlings. Will report on the North American banter later on.

Expect many “Ooh-la-las,” judging from our previous conversation. He might even make me sing ...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sexless goes over the border

Dahlings, Anna’s actually on her first business trip this week!! Will try to squeeze in a post later this week if my schedule allows.


7:12 a.m., Indiana time

Monday, June 06, 2005

Help from the parentals

Boy, if my fam ain’t sendin’ books, they’ve got something you should listen to. This weekend’s suggestion: “I kissed dating goodbye and marriage hello.” That’s right, it’s a 3-part talk-show series with Josh Harris ... and his wife Shannon.

I’m curious to hear how the timing of writing his book fit into his marriage. I mean, he wrote a book on dating ... and eventually got married. Lauren Winner wrote a book on sex ... and got married before its release. A friend recently got a book deal for a project on late-30s dating, and claims to have recently met the man she’ll marry.

Gee, maybe if I write a book on sex or dating .... Hm.

Naw, God probably wouldn’t fall for that. Damn.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The steamy side of character

A few weeks ago I spent a rare night out on the town, nibbling Adkins-be-damned bar snacks with a posse of near-strangers better known to Girlfriend #6 and her hubby. An hour or two into this mellow soiree, one of the guys remembered meeting me several months before.

“You have that website, don’t you?” (Men rarely recall the particulars of conversations with me, just that I made for lively chat.)

“You mean the blog?”

About this time another guy chimed in, and it was not long before Sexless became the topic of lively debate. For once it took almost no work on my part, with three animated men holding forth on the peculiarities of my “predicament.”

One was convinced my chastity had become like the long hair of Sampson, except it had no particular power or beauty — it had just become the thing for which I was known. Hence, despite the dubious merits of this state, I hang on because it’s my shtick.

Others were convinced the lack of a suitable man was my problem. In fact, they decided I would make perfect fodder for the next reality show. Only this one wouldn’t start with contestants to be rejected but with the search for contestants. The only male virgin I’d find, they were convinced, was a short, unattractive man with no balls and uncertain education.

“He doesn’t have to be a virgin,” I protested. Besides, I know a few likely male virgins who are actually pretty hot...

There was a chorus of glee. “Then we’re all back in!”

This was not the time, I decided, to tell them how much higher were my spiritual than sexual standards. Instead, spying a lull in their talk, I announced I needed to go to the bathroom.

“We all do,” quipped one clever lad.

Once on my own, there was a moment to confer with God. “This is it, then, eh? They think I’m crazy for following You in this.” Lord knows, I’ve shared their suspicions many times myself. Witness all the shenanigans previously chronicled on this blog as evidence of my impatience and doubt.

But enter a man of chastity, who’s also very eligible, and everything starts to change. Suddenly there’s hope God may have smitten more than me with this kind of madness. That realization is like a ray of sun cutting through the fog induced by drinking hard water all the time. A ray of sun that suddenly transforms the contents of the glass in your hand into something very sweet and actually drinkable. “I forgot water could taste like this.”

Things start to come into better focus again. Your step suddenly finds the rhythm of the bus and the stoplights and the traffic all around. Or rather — since chastity is a bit like the tricky rhythm of playing two-against-three — you finally figure out how to play your two in even time against the rest of the world’s merry three.

Having found the water you’re really thirsty for, there’s no more sating your tongue with Sprite just for the mini-luxury of getting a not-free drink along with your lunch. “I’ll just have water, thanks,” you say with the relish of secret indulgence. You and your tongue know the difference.

One man’s denial, after all — one man’s hardship — is another man’s restraint and self-control. And however attractive power or passion may be, there’s nothing hotter than that power reigned in — capable of being full unleashed at any time, but presently held in firm check. Self-control hints at mysteries and depths unknown, while flaccid abandon let’s it all out too soon.

When a guest in town recently told me what a friend looks like when almost mad — that his shoulders shake but he doesn’t explode — I privately had a little swoon. That’s kinda hot ...

So I’m stickin’ with God’s plan a little while longer. Something tells me this ride has just gotten started — and they ain’t playin’ your standard carousel tunes.

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.