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.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More sexonomics

Well, dahlings, apparently Wednesday’s post put you in quite a tizzy! “How dare I put a price on love!” and so on. Others suggested I should be a bit more Machiavellian about it all.

To clarify: my aim was not endorse such a commodified view of love/sex/dating, but to point out the problems a slow-to-get-it-on gal will face in a dating “market” such as ours. It used to be, a woman could reasonably withold sex for a while, requiring a certain degree of commitment and seriousness of intent from her partner before sharing such intimacies with him (an arrangement I termed “costlier” sex, in that the opportunities both parties must forego for such sex are greater than they typically are now). Now, however, the opportunity cost (what he gives up by waiting around for her) of staying with a woman who wants love or marriage as foreplay is much greater than before. A man probably misses out on lots of casual sex, if not a few very short-term relationships and whatever benefits he attaches to singleness. The cost of abstinence for a man is rather high, in other words, unless he considers relationship with the woman extremely valuable and worth those sacrifices.

There are men who think that way, but they are fewer in number than they used to be — particularly among secular men. That’s because the dating “market” as a whole has change. The conditions of “intimacy” required to have sex these days are almost nonexistent in these days; the barriers are very low. Had I wanted a casual fuck the other night, it would not have taken too long before I found a willing man. At most it would have cost a few drinks in a local bar — and maybe not even the price of the drinks at that.

I don’t mean to sound cynical in saying that, but my sense of the New York dating scene is that this “economic” view of sex, brutal or not, is fairly realistic. Sexless dating is a hard sell to most men here, even if they find you witty, attractive and charming. Which is ultimately why I opted out of dating altogether — I realized I’m not up for the rigamarole of dating. Making short-term sacrifices for the sake of a long-term goal is hard, especially in this live-for-the-live-feed world of ours.

If one steers away from the sex-on-demand approach to relationships, and finds people equally committed to that ethos, sex and relationships can be many of the things reader VJ talked about. The payoff can be great; it’s the opportunity cost (what we have to give up in the short term) that’s the hard part.

That opportunity cost may not be the same for every city. Indeed, some of my readers have suggested I’m not living in or eyeing the right part of the country... (email excerpted for brevity)
2.) You are geographically poorly located for one of the tasks you desire to undertake. Searching for other committed Christians who understand your faith and are otherwise suitable for marriage in your ‘Venn’ sort of way may be about as likely in NYC as it is in Japan. (This is to say not very likely). Now this was not always the case, but if you spoke some decent Spanish you’d certainly up your odds, perhaps dramatically. But the culture you swim in does not support your needs in this respect. It’s not anything your doing or not doing, the likely candidates are just very thin on the ground there.
I knew I should’ve tried harder with Jose No Dinero ... The key is Spanish you say, eh? Too bad I studied German. I can’t imagine why my fumblings at a language so similar to the sounds of throat-clearing haven’t been more inspirational to potential suitors ...
3.) I know plenty of women who sound an awfully lot like you (they of course don’t write as well or in blogs), who live all over the south.
Yes! More women like me! Surely competition for men would be a good thing, yes? After all, if all the restaurant-supply stores congregate on Bowery, maybe my problem is I’m not near enough to desperate women seeking their own single Jesus freak.
8.) I enjoy your writing, but put me down for thinking that ‘The Captain’ is a pipe dream. Despite all he has going for him, he just does not sound all that likely a prospect. He would have made his move long ago. I guess this is why he’s teaching English and not strategy or tactics.
Actually, he smokes cigarettes, not pipes, and dahling, I fear you misunderstand! Anna doesn’t really want a man she could actually marry. That might destroy the fantasy! I’m a good-old fashioned masochist, I am.
9.) NYC is tough enough dating grounds for wild and woolly women willing to do almost anything to interest guys. I’m constantly and honestly amazed that you retain a serious sense of humor about your quest. This says plenty about your tremendous spirit and ‘pluck’ (an old fashioned word once popular in NYC), but again I’ve really got to wonder about the prospects there.
All the more better to write a blog from. I mean, really, as savvy readers have pointed out, how could I entertain you all if some man I liked should fall for me too? Whither my shtick should I finally have a happy relationship? No, no, it’s really too much of a sacrifice. I think I’ll stick with fantasies for a while. Besides, don’t they hurt less, the men who aren’t what you think they are? I’m sure I read a Harlequin about that once ...
10). Which comes to my last point by way of a mild suggestion; you need to make some regular and serious hunting parties down south. Really. We’ve got families that think the way you do, and sons and daughters who hew (more or less) to the same moral code. So if you can’t move down here, please plan to do some poaching soon. I know you won’t regret it. Some of these critters might even be amenable to travel and migration if needed. It’s something to think about at least.

Cheers & Good Luck!
Southern Counselor
I confess, it sounds like another Stuffy House set to me ... but I’ll keep it in mind. Don’t forget I’m happy to handle questions about your love life dilemmas once in a while!


For what it’s worth, a New York Post article this week griped about Forbes’ new “Best Cities for Singles” ranking, which put New York at #8 below LA, DC, San Francisco, Boston and ... gasp ... Denver. Could they have factored in single-nerd-to-woman ratios? I hear the Silicon Valley tops ’em all. Move options, move options. Maybe if my book sells, when I’m done writing it I’ll try to be sexless elsewhere once again.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The truth about boy-girl intimacy

Proof that guys never let a girl in unless they think she is a dude? See also: Shakespeare’s comedies, the plot of All Shook Up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Batty on a hot twin bed

It wouldn’t be arrogance these days if I told you I was hot. Thanks to a nicely humid heat wave we’ve been enduring, this city has turned into a place I like to call Sweatsville. Center of which may just be my not-air-conditioned pad in Brooklyn. We do have ceiling fans in each bedroom, but last night that wasn’t much comfort. So what to do, as I lay there, trying to fall asleep in the tepid excuse for a wind tunnel created by my ceiling fan and open windows?

With a mind like mine, it’s not hard to conjure up a vivid “fake world” nicely suited for such escapism. But last night I realized something. That fake world no longer consisted in steamy tableaux of intimate congress. Once it did for sure, don’t get me wrong. What easier way to cope with boredom?

But I’ve not sought that “solace” for more than seven months now. And I find my head is finally clearing. (Which may be why innuendo is less and less a feature of this blog.) If I’m honest with myself, I want more than sex. Sex is only an escape and in its best moments, a unitive, creative dialogue. But not even at its best does it have the power to mend all that’s broken in the world. And that is the ultimate stuff of dreams (dare I say, hopes) — not a temporary escape from pain, but its end. After all, on a day like today, which do I really want more — the temporary reprieve of eight hours in an air-conditioned office (after which I get to go back home and melt again), or a milder mercury as the outside condition? Do we want a comedy that lets us forget about war for two hours, or a sudden and real peace?

As all these non-satiric “deep thoughts” suggest, I’ve had some changes in my reasons for staying sexless. Sure, I can say that it’s a God-thing — but I’ll be honest; if the O-zone King had pursued me, I was considering a fold … in the blankets so as to accommodate not one but two; isn’t that what a twin bed’s made for after all?

The real reason that, for much of my life, I didn’t take T-Rex up on his offer to “bang a gong” had more to do with my romantic than my spiritual ideals. There simply wasn’t a guy I liked or trusted enough that such intimacies were conceivable. Sure, I knew God said sex was an essentially marital act, but I probably would have fudged those conditions had I met a man I felt I could marry.

Such thinking is not unlike the rationale a non-religious person might have for practicing abstinence, which one reader asks about:
I have not had sex, but I’m not totally convinced that I will wait until I am married. I think I believe in waiting until marriage right now because I have never been in the position where it has come up. […] I’m not a prude and I desperately want to meet a guy who I become close with, but sadly that has not happened yet. Anyway, part of me thinks I believed in waiting until marriage because I have never been torn between rather or not to take part in sexual activity.

[… A]re there people who are waiting who are doing it for non religious reasons? My beliefs do not have anything to do religion, but instead I want to be able to wait so that it will be really special.
-Uncertain Virgin
Dear Uncertain: There are lots of reasons one might be cautious in having sex. Frankly speaking, self-control is the most body-friendly birth control a woman can practice: no messing with your hormones or bad reactions to a pill, no difficult surgeries, no rubber interference with your quality of sex. I doubt regrets over the sex one didn’t have are as common as those for sex had.

The downside is, having that standard — whether you’re a marriage-only hold-out or an I-must-love-you romantic — clears the potential-boyfriend field pretty fast. In economic terms the secular demand for sexless dating is almost nil. The “cost” of sex has come down so far — with the majority of women — that you’re at a distinct disadvantage looking for a relationship where the price of sex is love, a ring, or a license. I at least had the option of switching “markets” from the secular pool of eligibles (as a sociology teacher used to term one’s options for dating) to the Jesus freak pool of eligibles, where the market conditions are quite different. I’m not saying sexless dating is impossible, but until a sufficient bloc of women become choosy enough again to drive the “price” upward, you’ll find your reticence a tough sell with most men. Slightly better odds might exist with sites like eHarmony or Soulmatch, but you may not find a man who lives nearby you.

Whenever and however you do have sex, don’t forget the constraints we as women have to face. No matter what birth control you use, sex and procreation are particularly interconnected for us. Having sex in view of that will always exert a toll on our bodies, whether it is lessened pleasure or something else. We’re also subject to a risk eight times higher than for men of contracting an STD (see Steven Rhoads, Taking Sex Differences Seriously for more on this), so don’t rely on a pill and the trustworthiness of your partner’s face as sole protection.

Note to all readers: Dahlings, though I’m happy to answer your questions about me, this is really the sort of question I’d love to be fielding. Don’t be shy now!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Shameless friend promotion

Sometimes ya gotta return the blog love ... so here’s my endorsement to vote for Blogfather in the Cosmo Media Man search. He is pretty hot, after all. What’ve you got to lose? Besides, how many times will you get to say “Anna Broadway showed me how to do it”? ;)

Lyric therapy

Dahlings, as it’s been such a while since I subjected you to my attempts at rhyme, I’ve decided we might as well break that dry spell. Besides, I’m broody this Monday, and what better way to recover than a cathartic attempt at bad song-writing? Feel free to volunteer your melody suggestions ...
He’s a punk with a silver-studded belt,
Gotta knack for making women swiftly melt —
El Bandito, the thief of hearts.

His eyes flash with laughter
At an unspoken joke;
That’s the way he does the pulses
Of the ladies provoke:
El Bandito, the thief of hearts.

He will passively confront
With an animal grunt
If his time you try to waste
In bad musical taste.
El Bandito, the thief of hearts.

He drinks coffee like it’s water.
Played at Halo, leaves a slaughter.
You could say he is aggressive,
But that’s not why he’s impressive,
El Bandito, the thief of hearts.

He’s a reader
And a leader
And a speeder.

He’s a flirt,
Sometimes curt —
Maybe hurt?

To this man you’ve gotta hand it —
He’s an inadvertent bandit.
Who will help him turn from robbing
To a mutual heart-throbbing?
El Bandito, the thief of hearts.

He’s a punk with a silver-studded belt,
Still unsure love’s in the hand that he’s been dealt.
El Bandito, the thief of hearts.

You can’t plan the future’s thunder;
Guess we’ll simply have to wonder
If Bandito gets that miracle,
The cynical turned lyrical.
Coming later this week: Anna fields more reader questions, dumps her love-life council for a new advisor ...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A flirty-girl decoder guide

As promised, today’s post goes inside the neurons behind all that “female complication” male readers complained about yesterday. However, as my own signs of interest can be a little inconsistent (making eye contact, avoiding eye contact, answering emails promptly, delaying reply to emails, IMing, not IMing ...), I decided outside consultation might be useful.

Best Friend claims women sometimes show their interest by not wearing underwear, but according to the weather lady on the radio that may just be a logical response to the heat we’ve had of late (though going commando in this city may say more about the lady’s hygiene than anything significantly romantic).

Canvassing a co-worker here at Ad Co. expanded the list to include:
  • looking nice
  • voice going up in tone
  • playing with hair excessively
Many of these behaviors might be called “preening”; I prefer to classify them under the category of “simpering.” Others forms of flirting and expressions of interest include the following.

fashion: may include flaunting cleavage, wearing well-fitting or otherwise flattering clothes, going bare-legged in cold weather for the sake of wearing a great dress, strutting around in painful but asset-enhancing stilettos or other shoes (see Wedding Planner for examples of the perils we risk by so doing), wearing makeup to group volleyball sessions or other outdoor activities (despite the prospect of sweating), use of push-up sports bras at the gym (I swear these things exist) ... and strategic application of lip gloss (my personal favorite).

Personal example: My freshman year of college, I had a crush on this saxophone player — one of the earliest instances of my weakness for guys who make music. One semester we even had a class together, two times a week. You can be sure I wore my sexiest clothes every Tuesday and Thursday, maintaining a complex rotation of the tight-fitting tops in my wardrobe while avoiding undue repetition. You’d think we would need calendars to keep this stuff straight, but maybe that’s why my memory’s almost photographic ...

socializing: finds excuses to invite you along to gatherings with her friends, jumps up or otherwise materializes at your side and/or on the fringes of your posse every time you come around (this was evidently Hint #1 to his friends that I liked Poster Boy, in that summer of ’99), works her way into your social circle after meeting you, starts using the women’s bathroom on your end of the floor, visits your employer during the shifts you work, starts attending your church service, relocates to the section of the classroom/sanctuary/office meeting room/train near where you usually sit, becomes a huge fan of your favorite hang-outs, switches into your section of class or choice of Sunday school ... Phew, that’s quite a list! Well, you get the gist. Basically, the woman creates as many opportunities for you to casually or “accidentally” bump into each other.

Personal example: I first met the Captain at the church service we were both then attending. At the time it was simply the most convenient for me, but even after I moved to Brooklyn (from which the commute became progressively worse, exacerbating my tardy tendencies) I kept going. How could I give up the only consistent chance I had to see him? Needless to say, switching services to the one I now attend happened after the crush ended.

body language: struts past your cube regularly, sashays past as if she doesn’t see you (though her posture may be more confident than when you pass her unexpectedly on the street on day), plays with hair, applies lip gloss deliberately, licks eating implements slowly during meals, dramatically sweeps lashes when opening eyes to look at you, stretches arms so as to emphasize curves, faces toward you when speaking in group settings, blushes when she sees you, falls down stairs or otherwise manifests extreme klutziness in your presence, catches your eyes across the room, finds excuses to touch you (compares size of hands or wrists, slugs you in the arm, swats you on the butt, offers or seeks back rubs, collides with you on volleyball court), doesn’t fold arms or block your access to viewing her curves ... etc.

Personal example: With my fair skin, I was once the queen of blushing. Nowadays it may not occur so much in my face as it does the whole neck/shoulder region. Strangely this also occurs during public speaking, on which basis friends once advised me to wear turtlenecks when talking. Something I’ll have to bear in mind next Friday during a recently added brief speaking engagement (I’ll probably read something from the blog).

And those are all the decoder tips I’ve got for now! Feel free to share your own observations in the comments.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The does-he/she-like-me lowdown

I must be doing something right with my “reform campaign” these last few months. After years of attracting, well, oversexed bar-mongers, Craigslisters and occasional intellectuals ... I’m finally drawing the Jesus freaks. (Pauses for a moment with self.) Well, at least among my readers, that is. And sometimes even at church, of all places — shocking, I know.

I just wish these new men came with a manual. Before the signs were so clear! Man likes you, within 20 minutes of opening conversation he’ll grab your hand (if he’s the Harvard Lickwit). Man reads your blog obsessively, a dinner invite is probably forthcoming and after you decline a second date, his ISP will suddenly vanish from the stats meter. Male “friend” buys you lunch, adoring praise of your low-cut blouse is to be expected (this from the chap who told me why the New York Public Library lions roar).

But with Jesus freaks, the signs are reduced to mush. Man reads your blog obsessively ... he could just be really bored at work. Male “friend” buys you dinner, he might just be taking pity on your poverty — or demonstrating that nearly vanished chivalry (though subway ads for Mitchum claim its customers still prize this). Man chats you up at church, he may just be applying the pastor’s injunction to greet another parishioner.

I’d like to think my confusion is unnecessary. But deprived of the freaked-by-Jesus physical cues, I find myself all at sea. What’s the line between friendly and flirty? What does it mean when a man becomes less attentive but doesn’t totally cut you off — has he lost interest or gone on vacation, or has he been abducted by internet hackers who replicate his web-viewing habits (albeit on a vastly reduced basis) as part of the ruse?

Part of this mystery, I’m convinced, owes to a process I’ll call romantic hermeneutics. Regular hermeneutics (for those of you who survived the ultra nerd-dom that is linguistic theory) is basically the process by which we interpret cues to arrive at meaning. For instance: people frantically dart past on the sidewalk outside your house, wilted papers and plastic bags held over their heads. You hear a strange percussion like the sizzle of grease in a pan. Assemble the clues, it’s probably raining.

But the hermeneutic spiral is such that you go back and forth between the clues or signs and the overall meaning assumed. Get enough signs that don’t quite jive with your hypothesis, and you have to change the operating assumption to match the signs. Take the crazy landlady from the sublet my roommate and I used to share. Her operating assumptions were evidently, a) Park Slope is a quiet neighborhood, and b) those girls upstairs are noisy. Thus one night when she heard a long and continuous noise coming from above her building — a noise like a very large fan or some sort of engine — she assumed it was our washing machine on the fritz.

Alas, her assumptions were inexact (and her hearing a little bad). The sound was a low-flying helicopter several neighbors even went outside to inspect. But that didn’t stop her calling upstairs to passively hassle us.

And so it is with relationships. Romantic hermeneutics is how you decide if someone likes you or thinks you like him. I first met the Harvard Lickwit at late-winter birthday hurrah for a friend. He plucked me out of the crowd as I floated past trying to look like I knew people there, and drew me into conversation. Twenty minutes later we were holding hands, and twenty minutes after that, he claimed to be overcome by the strength of my wit (specifically, my talk on “the cult of the orgasm”). I interpreted these signs to mean he was really interested in me, found my intelligence quite attractive, and was a more promising suitor than those one usually meets in bars.

However, I overlooked the fact I had ... yes, met him in a bar. And that I was talking rather freely about sex. But you see, because I assumed he was a “nice” guy (by dint of his face, education and vocabulary), I overlooked his eagerness to get to know my body. And because I fancied myself a rather fetching catch, it seemed only logical for such a smart man to be smitten right on the spot. Only later, with further evidence of a general predilection for women — ideally a new one ever few weeks or so — would I begin to revise my initially rose-hued interpretation. Here again there would be a challenge — to throw out all parts of the first assessment in favor of a much-more damning one based on hurtful things he did. But that’s not quite right either. All manner of facts exist; the trick is finding a theory that accounts for all of them.

So that’s why I need a Jesus freak dating manual — or at least a field guide to the flirtation of Christian men. Before the main dilemma was, is he a good guy or a bad guy? Does he want more than sex, or sex as basic relational minimum? Will he last one date or five before he hits the road? Now it’s a whole different set of hermeneutic challenges: is he a Mr. Flirty Pants, or deliberately flirting with me? Does he collect female friends like DVD buyer, or is he on a Netflix rotation where such friends are constantly swapped to meet his need for temporary attention?

As I realize this is all mostly one-sided, I’ll try to follow up next time with a field guide to women’s clues of interest — for both the freaked-by-Jesus and Jesus freak set.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday mental-health day

Dahlings, I don’t know if it’s this wave of muggy heat we’ve had in the city ... or an equally sweat-inducing man I talked to yesterday ... but my brain’s a little overcome today. Rather than subject you to crap blogging, I’m gonna postpone today’s post.

Meanwhile, feel free to suggest other topics or questions you think I might explore. You’ve been submitting many queries lately, but often these have to do with me. And really, hasn’t that topic gotten old after a year of excessive pinkness? What other quandaries or frustrations do you have?

Friday, July 15, 2005

That mysterious man who poo-poohed you

Wednesday’s post so overheated me, I neglected to answer a probing reader query! You see, the aforementioned swoon notwithstanding, I’ve actually tried to get sterner in my dealings with men. Indeed, many first-time male-reader respondents to this blog have been greeted with a rather starchy email:
Dear Reader-with-Testosterone:

Thank you for your email. I have been advised by my love-life counsel to exercise caution in responding to emails from my male fan-base, so this will be brief. [1-2 sentence personalized response follows]

Cheers, <--- note substitution for once-standard “xoxo”
But when the ever-inquisitive Still Waiting received this missive, it raised some questions for him.
When I got your email that said your love council has advised you against your male fanbase or something like that it got me wondering. And sometimes I wonder, dont get me wrong, does your blog have very few male readers? Because thats what I got from your email, otherwise it would have seemed strange to single me out in an email like that.
Oh no, dahling! Au contraire! At least as far as emailing readers go, the men vastly outnumber the women. I imagine it makes for a rather safe form of e-flirting. ;) But you see, it is precisely on the basis of such a likely motivation that my love-life counsel advised against too-prompt, too-lengthy or otherwise too-encouraging replies. Or so I assume. What other reason could he have for discouraging me from rapport with male readers?
And I was pleased as punch to be at the top of your blog for one day, don’t get me wrong.

and who is this mysterious love council anyway?
Just some advisor, really. I’d say a panel, but it is only a panel of one at this point. Not that this makes the advice any less valuable or any more biased ... But it’s my love-life counsel, dahling, love-life. Surely you can’t think a piner such as I should need advice on loving! Oh no. Don’t you mistake my, er, uh ... selective experience in some of its manifestations as an ignorance of love in general. I’ve done my romantic Kegels; I’m quite sure my heart is well-trained in the matters of love. :)

But seeing as how a love-life implies interaction — and I’m not sure how expert and experienced in the pine may be my potential correspondents — I found it advisable to consult my, well, counsel. Who by dint of certain experiences seemed able to sketch a likely profile of readers such as yourself. Or at least to suggest shrewd responses on my part.

By the way, can I mention how use of the word “correspondent” is making me giggle these days? Monday night being my birthday, and my bank-account balance being low, friends and I chose to convene in an inexpensive fashion. Happily enough, the city provides many freebies for cheapskates such as myself. Freebies like the movie showings at Bryant Park (scene of my infamous interview, but I digress). Which Monday night consisted of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers classic The Gay Divorcee.

Lest you be confused, the word is used in the antiquated sense of the word, though from the canoodling male threesome who sat in front of us, you’d be hard-pressed to make this distinction (say, if you’d been drinking much wine in your picnic on the grass). Anyhow, the script is retains its cleverness, revolving as it does around a woman’s attempts to escape her unhappy marriage. In those days, it seems, spousal unfaithfulness was the most-accepted premise for divorce. Hence women would hire men known as “co-respondents” (emphasis on the first syllable) who’d conveniently be caught with them in compromising embrace. Really a rather racy film for its time of release, but still funny as I said. Although what I said wasn’t originally on the topic of old movies, was it ... Oh yes! Your query. But of course. I must still be feeling the effects of that mid-week coffee-shop swoon.
and what else do they vote on?
- still waiting.
Vote on, vote on. Well let me see ... There’s not so much a vote as there is a pronouncement — seeing as how my counsel will always be in agreement with himself ... I assume. But he has pronounced upon my questionable use of “mysogyny,” for one thing, and whether or not my no-dating policy means I can still have coffee with a mostly unknown Jesus freak. So far that is about the extent of his advice, but really as an independent woman I may need move beyond such a counselee/counsel relationship. Ah, but who knows? The week may present a new love-life conundrum ... or even an addition to the counsel!

Thanks as ever for your inquiry ...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dream of the crop

Yesterday I returned to temping at Ad Co. with an assignment of unknown length, so I’m readjusting to an early morning wake-up (hence the delay in today’s post). Today it was so bad there wasn’t even time for a morning latte. At least that I made myself. This had to be remedied ...

One of my occasional indulgencies is the paper cup latte from a locally owned shop off an uninspiringly cluttered avenue I otherwise avoid whenever possible. Darting into the gracious sidestreet where this shop is tucked being one such escape. The coffee shop is small but cozy; my glasses have routinely fogged up on entrance. They sell hard-boiled eggs for 50 cents and make one of the finest, creamiest espressos I have found in my ’hood. Undoubtedly this owes to the fastidiousness of the owner, who is either British or Australian. I really should know the difference, but I don’t.

I tend to think British because his wit and banter are so dry. Besides (take no offense, Frasier dahling), it’s somehow more romantic to imagine those big, sleepy, almost middle-aged eyes belonging to a descendant of our distant forebears. I can only afford the occasional splurge there, but it’s always worth the cashola. And despite my infrequent pop-ins, the owner’s beginning to know me. One day last fall I mentioned that I was trying to move to San Francisco, so for a while that was the topic he’d follow up on. When that fell through, I had to give him a new nugget, so I told him about the book. “I think I might be getting an agent,” I said, the morning mine agreed to represent me.

A few weeks ago I paid another visit. I was disclosing the tidbit stingily, but he seemed worthy of a confidence. “I got that agent,” I began. He was nonplussed. There are more than a few creative types in our neighborhood; no doubt he is used to moderate success or teases thereof. At least I’ve never tried to buy my coffee bill with hopeful IOUs! Then noticing the overflowing magazine rack, I made casual inquiry. “Do you ever get Rolling Stone?” One of the employees sometimes brought it in sometimes, he said. “I’m in the current one,” I said as if practicing for a Deep Throat audition.

Tatty-to-hipsters mag though it may be, this got a reaction. “My! You are going places.” I laughed.

“Next week Charlie Rose?” he inquired.

“More like paying the rent.” After all, while this has led to some possibly promising contacts, the publicity is basically like the superficial glam of a Chelsea bar filled with hot men ... most of whom are undoubtedly gay or straight but still freaked by Jesus. I mean, consider the wow: readers leave obscene comments and my bank account still looks like a candidate for low-balance closure!

But I digress. My real point was that our little exchange of intimacies may have fueled the fleeting pleasure that was this morning’s caffeine hit. When I stepped into the steamy shop with my high-risk-fasten plaid pants and impractical wool suit jacket, Coffee Shop Man’s greeting was fulsome. “Good morning, madam.” And when the espresso boy accidentally made my latte on ice, Coffee Shop Man leaned over the counter for a confidence of his own. “You might as well take it,” he murmured as the assistant began the hot latte I had ordered (fans self).

Sometimes there’s something soooo hot about a restrained, almost middle-aged man with an accent. I’ve even seen him running at the park. Twice. He doesn’t wear more layers in winter.


Monday, July 11, 2005

A mantra contra Aretha

Originally I meant Spooning Fork to be a weekly feature, but with the last one sometime in late June I’m clearly not doing so well on that. And though I have recently met an interesting and increasing crop of new men, my policy is to never blog about them ... at least the first two to three weeks. ;)

Let Me In Your Life
‘Let Me In Your Life’ from Let Me In Your Life
The genius of this song is that, for a piece with only ten short lines of lyric, Aretha & Co. manage to stretch it out to a scorching three-and-a-half minutes only a man of fortitude could survive. The secret? a) Repeating the entire song, and b) breaking for significant riffs between each line — this no doubt provided so as to give the lady ample groove time in-between, should her hips prove more persuasive than her words. While you imagine Aretha dancing, I’ll intersperse commentary.

I need someone — hey, baby let me love you
Let’s just pretend I didn’t say the first part, shall we? In any case, vulnerability’s a good thing, right? Relational glue and all that. I mean, it’s not as if I’m desperate or anything! I said, baby, let me love you — this is all about you!
Please ... don’t push me away
How can you resist my love?
Let me in your life
Who doesn’t want a good woman, who can sing and dance like me? I’m offering looooove. All you have to say is, “Yes!”
I wasn’t there when she hurt you
But Lord knows, I understand how a woman-done-you-wrong could make you skeert o’ women for good.
So why should I have to pay?
That is, why should you have to pay? By resisting my love, you let her continue to control your life, baby. Let me in!
Baby, let me in your life
Let my love heal you!
I wanna share your tomorrows
And how could that be a bad thing? I’m just a simple woman, offering simple love ... all for you!
So I must pay ______ for the day
[Line hard to discern as Aretha wails to herself]
And if she’s the cause of your sorrows
OK, so maybe I don’t know you well enough to say for sure why you’re so resistant to my love...
Be glad that she’s gone away
But if my speculatin’ is right, you could take me home with you tonight. Let me in! Let me give you love!
... And so on. Now I said this post would actually be contra Aretha’s mantra (“Let me in your life!”), so let me ’splain. While we have seen many variations on this theme — from Macy Gray’s gun-waving to Etta James’ promises of better bread — I am becoming convinced it’s a bad-news business. Ain’t no man likes a woman chasin’ after him thatta way. You gotta encourage him to chase.

For instance, instead of “Yeah, I’m feeling kinda bummed tonight; wanna grab a drink after work and commiserate?” a clever woman trails strategic hints. “Yeah, I’m feeling kinda bummed tonight. I think I might have to brave the after-work mob at a [location of office] bar tonight. Which is risky business, a single woman wading into a bar and all, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta.” (Note strategic avoidance of implying you desperately need a drink ASAP, hence might be verging on lushdom.) With any luck, an observant fellow will ask if you want a drinking partner after work. And don’t get me starting on using a blog to hint .... Ah, but I could write a book on passive flirting. Maybe I will.

Bottom line, letting the man more or less lead within the framework you’ve encouraged him to consider produces more thrills for everyone. My mantra? Don’t let ’im in your life too easy. And if that sounds old-fashioned, it’s ’cause I’m a retrosexual, damnit!


Friday, July 08, 2005

Happy birthday, baby!

Almost forgot to mention this, but Sexless turns one year old today! Thanks to the nearly 40,000 of you who’ve stopped by, talked it up, entered the contests, asked your questions and generally made this pink thing what it is today (success or silliness, you decide).

Paypal and Amazon gift-cert. love always welcome (’specially since I’m still unemployed and my real birthday is Monday) ... or you can just help me swap my $25 BestBuy gift card for something better.

Geezer greetings

Wednesday I returned to the glamorous world of temping, so if the writing today’s a bit thin, you’ll know it’s Anna gearing up for another day at the office where the men get mad and the women pump their breast milk, twice a day, on schedule. Would I kid about a thing like that? One even belongs to a club known as “Le Leche Society.”

But as I recall, I promised you not harrowing tales from admin life, but ...

Return of the Geezer Patrol
As some of you know, this blog is on its way to print form, if all goes well. Last Friday I had to get 20 collated sets of all proposal stuff to my agent. On my scrimp-n-hope budget, this presented a challenge. Post-college copy rates run 10 cents page (I swear we used to have coupons for one or two cents a page; maybe I’m getting old or else the paper in A-Z is cheaper). Unwilling to pay the nearly $130 running off 1200+ pages would run me, I found a friend with a laser printer and a generous heart (I supplied the paper and the repartee).

This friend, it so happens, is well acquainted with that fairly Groovey Geezer, Geriatric Gent. I figured after his little growling event he’d long since torn me out of his fat black book (or wherever he writes all the young ladies’s digits). But no, in conversation with my friend, she assured me he’d just been busy.

“We’ll call him up,” she proposed. He was presently in London, but this presented little trouble to my cosmopolitan friend. Minutes later he was on the line, and a phone was in my hand.

Where does a girl begin for droll conversation but reports of her recent “fame”? I told him about the article, mentioning the picture.

“I hope you’re naked.” The banter sounded half-weary — an aging Hugh Hefner still hooked on sex but aware of all the work that getting off now takes? Well, perhaps on scant sleep my brain gets a little dramatic.

“No, not naked. But I’m the most-naked,” I offered helpfully. “And Jessica Alba’s nearly naked.”

He made some bored or distracted reply and promised he’d be back soon. Perhaps he’ll join the Harvard Lickwit in the line I hear is now forming to administer birthday spankings — and I hadn’t even planned on those as part of Monday’s attractions!

But well-worn banter with G.G. is not the extent of my geezer-greeting. Oh no. Perhaps they share biorhythms, these two. For the other day, who should email me, but Geezer #2, the Work Daddy?!! I hadn’t heard from him in months. Apparently with good reason (not often one has cause to worry if a suitor’s dropped dead ...):
I’d send him flowers, but those aren’t in the budget.

Reader questions
Before I sign off, a few of you are worried about my parents. One even went so far as to email me at my real address, suggesting I clue them in on my randy fame. Well, dahling, I appreciate your concern (if not your lack of introduction or explanation for this semi-stalking). And let me assure you, Rolling Stone got the facts a little wrong. My parents know of the blog, my mother even googled her way here. Once. (Don’t ask me how!) But luckily we have the sort of relationship where I can respectfully ask her not to read too often. I know she disagrees with some of the language, but I’m not writing for her, am I? And while I did consult her on the photo-shoot dilemma, not all that she disapproves may be wrong for me or displeasing to God. Bottom line? Broadway parentals not in the dark.

OK, last question before I dash off. Some others of you have lately pointed out the futility of dating the freaked-by-Jesus. Well, dahlings, I agree. In fact, if you read deep enough, you’ll see I started to reach that conclusion sometime last September. But you’re new here; I understand you haven’t followed my trajectory very closely. Besides, who’d want to read that much of Anna?

Oh, some of you would? Well, if the book sells, much of the “plot” revolves around this dilemma, and how I solved it. Stay tuned ...