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, October 31, 2005

Settling or seeking

Well. Your reactions to Friday’s post were a bit like the closing scene of Seinfeld where Jerry’s attempting some prison standup and the inmates won’t have any of it. I have to confess, with as much on my plate as I have, it’s getting harder and harder to carve out two-plus hours every Mon/Weds/Fri for these things. Sure, there’s a reader query been waiting for my response several weeks now, but it’s easier to just dash off something lighthearted and only mildly worthwhile. Thoughtful advice takes more time.

But, since my goal this year was to move away from such Anna-centric writing ... and since my other projects deserve the time allotted for them ... Sexless in the City will become, as of November, a weekly blog. Look for new entries posted Monday or Wednesday; I haven’t figured out the day yet. Since this is a transitional week, I’ll blog twice: today and sometime later this week. And one final business item. Last day to get your contest entries in! Submissions accepted through midnight PCT.

It’s Anna. I’d like my lips back.
In The Music Man, some character sings about how it’s “the sadder but wiser girl for me.” These days perhaps I should be looking for a man who’s looking for a girl like me — I mean, like that. Maybe not sadder, but surely wiser. And (last Thursday notwithstanding), a good bit mellower.

One way I’ve wised up is smokers. I know — sounds strange, right? Well, Saturday night while working at the local junk joint, I got talking to a fellow worker. He was grading papers, I writing curriculum. We found a good enough rapport that he started reading quotes to me now and then from his students’ papers. At one point he said he’d been teaching seven years. “Wow, you must be older than you look!” He was 35. That reminded me, somehow, of the O-zone King (whom he resembled just a tad). Funny thing about never seeing a man in daylight: sometimes you don’t see all the marks of age which, with the O-zone King, included copious lines from hours spent out in the sun while rock-climbing (not to mention, smoking).

But as soon as I’d mentioned “this bartender I used to like,” I realized this talk, too, could possibly lead in that direction. Not to a crush, perhaps, but at least an exchange of numbers. And suddenly I knew I didn’t want that. The thing is, Brent, giving out a number becomes — inexorably — this sliding journey down a hill until some point when the bruises and bumps are sufficient and I holler, “Stop!” A number usually leads to a date (if he calls). And considering I’m lousy at the kiss dodge, a first date usually leads to a kiss.

Sure, I’ve now got Poster Boy’s words ringing in my head — “Just don’t make out with him” — but frankly sometimes I’d like to ask him for my lips back. Not that his words might protect them anyhow. Like I said, I’m bad at dodging kisses — even from smokers. Guess I’m like the romance-novel heroine who owned a shirt that said, “Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray.” She promptly fell for the swaggering, smoking lead in the book. I fell for (and kissed) the O-zone King, fell for (but didn’t kiss) the Captain ... and flirted with falling for Pink Floyd Man. Who was working the junk joint Saturday.

He’s still as cute as ever — we even sparred over whether my mocha was really a mocha since it was decaf — and he still smokes. There was a time when I let little things like that slide, but no more. Dodging what it is my heart really longs for won’t make things better. Either I own up to what I really want — however hard it may seem to find — or I settle for a life of eating (so to speak) but never having what it is my body’s truly hungry for; of being clothed, but never by garments that really fit as they should.

In search of a higher bar
I remember this Ally McBeal episode once where a heavy guy engaged to an equally portly woman fell for Ally. So Ally, trying to avert disaster, attempted to persuade him that sometimes “settling” is just the practical thing to do. I’m not sure she won anyone over beside him. Nick Hornby makes a better case for prudence in High Fidelity. There it’s a matter of seeing the difference between “standards” that are an unattainable fantasy, and good things you’re overlooking.

The movies are full of cautionary epics about the people who choose to settle and then must cheat when at last their “true love” comes along in a whirl of passion and poignant theme song. Perhaps because we’re both so convinced that a) getting our deepest desires is essential to our well-being, and b) we can determine with great accuracy what we do most want, I can think of fewer tales about the woes of aiming too high and missing the full life that awaits. But I am well aware of that other folly.

There was a time when love and marriage were my gods; they were the things without which life would be unbearably bleak. In that state of mind a terrible tension grips you. Holding out for the “real” satisfaction is paramount. But so too is not holding out so long that you miss the window of time in which those dreams could be fulfilled (if children is part of that dream, for instance). I’m still young enough that the latter is not an issue yet, but I see other women who face that, and I grieve for them.

Strangely, however, I don’t think I will grieve for myself if I never find love and marriage in this life. Deep down I doubt I will truly die a spinster, but the lies that used to bind me in fear of that fate are losing their power. I think the idols to which I have been so long enslaved began to die last week — or at least I finally began to feel free of their yoke.

There are greater things and more ultimate joys than simply marriage and family. Not to say love and marriage aren’t due their status as very good things, but they aren’t ultimate. My heart longs for ultimate things, and I think it’s finally starting to find an ultimate goal worthy such devotion. Which leaves me free to enjoy life equally with or without marriage — and, most importantly, to enjoy love/marriage/family for what they are without choking them in my need that they be the ultimate thing they can’t.

For that change in perspective I owe in part a thanks to you. Yes, really. For without readers, there would have been no blog. And without this blog I’m not sure I would have had all the character growth the last 16 months have seen.

Friday, October 28, 2005

2 shots, 1 shirt and a dance

I’m starting to remember why I quit going out so much — and also why it was once so addictive. The thing is, I have weird bar mojo. Every time Girlfriend #4 and I went out together — be it to Irish Pub or elsewhere — we’ve have adventures. One night one of the drunks from a trio some band guy we’d met had invited along to our after-last call brunch picked up my keys thinking they were his. It took a day and some clever sleuthing before their return. And then for a time my camouflage tank from Urban seemed to be the secret to men sending drinks to our table ... anonymously. Only two times I’ve ever had that happen, and I was wearing that shirt both times.

Apparently my new mojo garment du jour is the swank “Chaste party girl” T my friend made. Monday night I wore it in hopes of snagging a Mediabistro pic like this one — to the latest all-media party. Met some folks, had good conversations, but got away unsnapped. Well, I’ve had a good run with their photogs, I figured — and thought I was done for the night.

But when I got home, I had email. Not so odd: I’d passed out a few of my cards. People rarely fall through on their promised emails, though, and certainly not this promptly. Such attentiveness smacked of a male writer. Sure enough: Nice to meet me tonight ... funky shirt ... Would I like to have drinks? Signed, Mr. Persistent II. I scratched my head. Mr. Persistent II? I didn’t recall anyone by that name. Who on earth could it have been? I didn’t have that much to drink, despite the bartender’s promise to get me rather drunk.

Then I remembered. The guy whom I talked to first! The one I barely spent five minutes with. No way! But it had to be. Well, no sense stringing him along. I waited a suitable number of hours, then sent him my reply:
Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself the other night. Without presuming too much about the intentions behind your offer, I think you should know that I'm not really dating right now — and the last real date I had was chaperoned by my parents (this summer I asked them to field all inquiries from suitors). While I'm flattered by your offer, I don't think drinks would be a good idea.

Thanks for understanding,
That should settle his hash — er, cool his jets, right? Oh, he’d picked a crazy one! Chalk it up as narrow escape, move on to the funky pink-shirted girl.

Or maybe not. Sixteen minutes later, a reply hits my inbox. Wasn’t drinks a fairly minor commitment? I could check out his online dating profile ... and so on. Well then. He’d lived up to his name! This called for action. So last night I asked Mom if I could give him Dad’s email address since he was so bent on having drinks. Surely there was no chance he’d follow through!

Mom was not so sure. “Is he a Christian?” I doubted that very much. Well then why not respect poor Dad’s time and just send the serious ones their way? “But you see,” I explained, “If I just tell him about the involvement of my parents it would be less judgmental than bringing in the whole God thing” — in which case explanations tend to get sticky. And then I have to say things like, “I’d really like a man with whom I could talk to strangers ’bout Jesus” — and really, are such drastic tactics called for? Though it may be true, telling him about the parents is not only truthful, it’s what I’d say to even a man whose babies I’d happily bear! I.e., less scary. Or at least: scary less because I mean it to be and more because he just wanted drinks with a party girl. (I guess he missed the “chaste” part.)

When I told Blogyenta* the saga tonight, she thought I should really make a man who asked me out go door-to-door beforehand. Yeah ... maybe not. She had dragged me out to Tribeca — the CD release party for some woman best described as a post-80s Jersey Italian. Picture cleavage, no tattoos and an all-male band we’re betting she’s “bonded” with some members of. For the record, our money was on Barefoot Boy, the curly-haired, shoeless guitarist with tight cords who could’ve played backup for Bruce twenty years ago (except that he’s too young for that). Oy.

Between this strange scene and my t-shirt mojo (though hidden beneath long sleeves most the night), we were due for a little commotion. Which we got shortly after relocating to the even-classier Patriot Bar nearby. Within minutes, our equally bosom-confident waitress brought out two shots for Blogyenta and I (though we had her male relative in tow; guess he didn’t look up for pounding the house cough syrup). I’d just been talking about how I learned to drink tequila — “Well, mention shots, and they will come,” I declared.

Or dance on the bar and get shots — that was rule #2 for the night. We couldn’t help it, really. The bar just kept playing decent music. And when the umpteenth CCR song began, I urged her up to dance (just by our table) in practice for next week’s planned karaoke. Just standing to dance got us grabbed by some girl, who dragged us toward the bar (we had been eyeing it all night; perhaps the real rule was, “Mention bar dancing, and it will come”). And once we were on the bar, a second round of shots appeared in our hands.

Too soon CCR was finished, leaving us a painfully lengthy silence before Johnny Cash started in straight and somber: “Man in Black.” But as the two less-than-libertines we are (she’s married, I’m practically a spinster), it was reassuringly far from the sort of music we’d really shake our booties to. Instead we gamely marched about on the bar, while the patrons watched us gleefully (some long-haired guy was snapping picts on his phone). We even linked arms for an orderly turn before my boot bumped a wayward shot glass and the barkeeps called it quits on our pas de deux.

Ah, well. Two (free) shots, cheap PBR, a brief bar dance, and I’m blogging before 3 a.m. — with a fully clear head. I might have to leave my party shirt at home this weekend ... I think I’ve had enough for a week.

Don’t forget to enter the contest! Three days left. And September winners, don’t forget this is your chance to advance in the series!

*Girlfriend #6 renamed, because she set me up with my editor.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The pain that lingers so sweetly

Memoir-writing’s an interesting way to rediscover those stories you quit telling five years ago. One thing I’d forgotten was just how much Etta James informed my letter-writing to Musical Man. In fact, I’m convinced she basically taught me how to pine. No one in those romance novels I read had to do it; their loves all worked out in the end. But when I listen to her album again all old emotions are gone. The songs don’t transport me back to high school; they just surprise me with how powerfully the lyrics must have shaped a suggestible mind.

It isn’t always like that with music I’ve played oft enough to earn some rhino love. Sometime in mid-college, I used Jars of Clay to help me recover from a boy — this another musician, my crush on whom went through me like food poisoning. I barely remember what it was I liked about him, or how the pining went, I just recall recovery. “I will never,” I vowed at the time, “like someone like that again.” Today I could probably play that Jars album, and no feeling would resurface. But one day in college I gave it a spin and was shocked how all those old feelings, so wedded to tune, came back to haunt me. One play, and suddenly I was transported back to that broken emotional state.

I vaguely remember the songs that got me through the Married Man. There was Barenaked Ladies’ “Baby Seat,” and much Fiona Apple. But neither that song nor her albums have much trace feeling when I play them now. And I don’t think it’s just the time that’s passed, or having pressed other emotions into those tracks (which sometimes reclaims the music like time does). Somehow all that pain has passed right through me.

The night after my return from California, Guy Friend #1 and I braved the rain driving down at 45 degrees to take in a Johnnie Walker whiskey tasting not far from the Holland Tunnel entrance — right about the same neighborhood where the Captain’s car was robbed one night we all tried to take in a swank art party. During the tasting, our brainwasher — erm, tasting guide — instructed us to splash some whiskey on our hands, rub them quickly together, then smell the scent that remained, now the alcohol had vaporized.

In a way, that scent-free-of-alcohol is much like how I remember those 18 months when I had such misery over the Married Man. It’s actually almost a struggle now, reminding myself how intensely I felt and how dark that season was. At the time I remember it tasted just like the sharp, bitter tang of an alcohol almost like bile. But now there is just the warm, oaky scent on my hands of the lessons I learned because of that pain; the good seeds that sprang up precisely because they were sown in a massive pile of shit. With that first crush the suffering hardened me — and haunted, through the music I’d infected with that pain. But with Married Man, I just let the pain pass through me until that storm of suffering (emotionally) was over.

My pastor often says this about forgiveness — when pain is inflicted and wrong is done, someone must pay the debt. Either you make the wrongdoer pay (through revenge), or you make others like that one pay (through prejudice toward that class of person), or you pay the debt yourself (which is forgiveness). In the first two cases, the poison that hurt you infects you and tends to harden, embitter and stop up the flow of life. The reason forgiveness hurts so much is you’re taking the poison into yourself so your body can break it apart and dismantle the death.

That season of liking the Married Man was 18 months of agony, and sometimes I really saw why one might escape it all in suicide. At one time, perhaps, it might seem I could only recall such pain with the lubricant of much alcohol. But now I am almost glad to retell that story — not because I’m a masochist, but because of the growth that sprang up in the soil of such agony. I can’t separate the sweet scent on my hands from the alcohol it started with. The growth is so intertwined with the pain that I can’t wish that suffering never happened. Without it I would have never had this sweet smell on my hands and in my life — and the fruit that resulted is more precious to me than a life lived with fewer wounds.

That’s how love has been revenge in my life: Oh whiskey, where is your alcohol? Oh pain, you have scarred but not marred.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Falling not a-tall?

Don’t forget about your contest entries!

iBaby 2.0 is a welcome warmth in my lap this morning, here in central Sexless bloggerdom. Gettin’ cold in this damn town! Methinks the landlords may soon need a gentle reminder they have a work-from-home writer-in-residence on the premises. At least there were the moderate attentions of a boy to warm things up last night ...

Oh yes, dahlings. Oh yes. Slower than snail’s pace, perhaps, but the drama continues with that church-goer, Tall Drink o’ Water.

Since more people come to church in fall than summer, we haven’t wound up sitting in such proximate seats as before, he and I. Which means any contact we do have takes place during the post-sermon cookie hour when people squeeze through the one narrow door to a biggish carpeted room with odd portraits of long-forgotten church patrons or others hanging on the walls. (Our church is young by most standards, so these aren’t even “our” patrons but those of the church whose building we use.)

Last night in the cookie hour I chatted up Guy Friend #1 (still reveling in his pin from the Johnnie Walker taste-testing we attended a couple weeks ago) and his girlfriend. I proposed we should take bets on whether or not Tall Drink came over to say hello — especially since he had not sent his promised email. Normally I at least walk across his sight line if not also giving him eye contact without seeming to make a point of it. But last night I told them I wasn’t even going to make sure he saw me, just see what happened (old-fashioned, passive female shenanigans, I know).

Apparently, he’s better acquainted than I thought with the shape of the back of my head. Next thing I knew, a dark head inserted itself in the space to the left of me with apologies for an email that never appeared. Apology led to face-to-face chat (on my book and the 6 lb. brisket fragrantly bubbling in a vat of fat atop my counter) led to rather odd dinner with a group of assorted characters from church (we sat at opposite ends) ... led to walking to the train together, along with detour to Starbucks.

I really think there’s something to this waiting-and-playing-low-key thing, I do. Indeed, the less effort I put into things, the more it seems to draw Tall Drink to me (too bad I never mastered this with the men I really sweated!). We finally parted inside the horrific 42nd St. subway station, lingering to talk about my exchange with a subway begger who suffered from AIDS. When I turned to go my way at last, he objected.

“What, no hug?” He’s not a shy one, that boy.

And somehow with him, I’m always on my toes (not just in ill-fated bid to make eye contact). The banter always snaps in the way it does when I chat with near-strangers — extended first-encounter good luck whereby mojo and wit are in top form.

This is the stuff breathless crushes once were made of. Once I thrived on the very excitement whose blood is the deep pool of things we don’t yet and may never know about each other. It lives in the thrill of holding out almost endless surprise for the other, not yet prepared for quirks of his I’ve picked up on enough to tease him about, or weird foibles of my own.

When I used to swing dance, some nights I’d meet a man like this. The challenge of learning to follow an unfamiliar lead brought out my skillz and kept me on edge to successful end — much like the decent fake-job I muster when sight-reading music. It’s all about strong, sharp, vivid impressions which by default could not be maintained in the long term nor would prove to have much substance on close inspection.

I love sight-reading, and nights of dancing with men like that were always quite a blast — but maybe now I’m getting older, I’d rather have the sort of partner with whom you don’t always need to mind about the footwork. Too much has passed between you to bother with bullshit but in the absence of flash and pretense there is an ease of the sort I think that marriage is built on. Not that you begin to know each other fully, but you’ve drilled down to something real in the other and that makes all the difference. What ties you together is not about the outcome of this moment or the next, so you can make unremarkable chitchat about his day or even say nothing.

Sometimes of course such partners may whip out the fancy steps just for fun, but when the conversational fun I have with Tall Drink is all there is to your interaction, you can’t go deeper. I used to fall for the flirting and hope that more could be built on that. Now I fall for someone I could trust. That’s the truly expandable base — someone you could not just share the last dance with but eat unspectacular post-dance eggs at Denny’s with and finally go home to the kids and babysitter.

Seven days left ... but really, how hard is rewriting cheesy love songs or rhyming badly?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Patience and my new ‘husband’

So maybe the flash action ain’t all it could be ... but here, for your viewing pleasure, proof Anna has persisted in burning down those candles. With moderate success in the one case. And meanwhile, since she’s worried I may be losing my mind, Roommate decided to make me a husband. Sure he may be a little orange of face, but since my NoCali errand to Trader Joe’s I’ve scarfed so many dried apricots it’s a wonder my skin hasn’t turned that color too — and sprouted fine hairs beside.

James Blunt is neither orange of face nor fine-haired (except in that pleasing, soulful indie Brit rocker way). And his taste in shirts, based on what I saw this July nips him barely out of Josh Groban territory. But we’re begging you, James, don’t ever cotton to who does his hair. And don’t let go that “I was a soldier” toughness. We think it’s a hit with the ladies. Well, in saying “we,” I may be presuming a bit for my erstwhile photo chum. But we both found James winning — just with his unamplified guitar and a little booze in our empty bellies. For this was still in my Ad Co. days, you see, and he played a small acoustic set there. Verra swank.

And on the strength of that three-song set, I’ve been waiting to introduce you to James — how else? — in a Spooning Fork. Yes, the music feature returns (now let that inspire you for this month’s contest!).

‘You’re Beautiful’ from Back to Bedlam
It’s not hard to see why Blunt has been such a hit with the Brits (and now with us as well). Not only is this lilting, driving single the perfect rainy-day subway-ride music, it’s also an anthem for all those lonely, fate-obsessed Craigslisters who keep Missed Connections in booming business.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don’t know what to do,
’Cause I’ll never be with you.

Yeah, she caught my eye,
As we walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,
Fucking high,
And I don’t think I’ll see her again,
But we shared a moment that will last till the end.
Now James, honey, maybe I misunderstand ... But this “high” business. Are we talking “high” on love and her rare beauty, or something else? Cause I’m thinkin’, feet right flat on the ground might be a better way to approach a lady.

I’m not sayin’ I don’t sympathize, oh no. Not that I’ve had such moments with men I didn’t even talk to, but I know our penchant for latching onto moments divorced from all the surrounding, depressing reality. Give me a meaningful hand-to-the-head here, a brief unspoken understanding there and wrap it up with a couple jaw-to-temple contacts and my God, I’ve stitched together one helluva doomed relationship!

For really, in this age of Web-increased options and decreased permanence, sometimes we romantics do better to pine about the haunting, dead-end moments here and there than endure the confusing not-quite-relationships that so often are.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face,
When she thought up that I should be with you.
But it’s time to face the truth,
I will never be with you.
Oh we’d like to believe in romantic fate all right. The question is, was James’ angel smiling at an idea she was powerless to produce, or because she’d thought of a great joke she could play on him?

A dark ending yet again, I fear. Sorry, ya’ll. That’s just the writing this fall compels me to. But hey, if you need some help rewriting song lyrics for this month’s contest, find a way to make James’ story less sad — or at least more cheesy. That’s my tip for today. Now get to work making love songs worse! Ten days left in this month’s contest ...


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

When to keep the flame alive

One of my lesser-known obsessions is candle-burning. I know: sounds boring, right? Sure signs of imminent spinsterhood and all that. But actually, there’s something of a challenge to it. God forbid such a cheapskate as I should actually buy full-price candles. Oh no. So the ones I get are sometimes a little odd. The latest bargain: two large round candles housed in variously broken coconut shells. Not that anything beside this superficial damage had to do with why Urban marked them down $8 to $2.50 ... but let’s just say they’ve been a candle-burner’s challenge.

Some weeks ago, we had a guest who told me about “candle hugging.” It makes your candles look less pretty and much more man-handled, but if you don’t mind the copious fingerprints in wax, pushing down the still-soft wax around the edges is sposed to make the candle burn longer and more efficiently. (Ah, the implications for love ... Hugging slows the ardor down but makes it burn a whole lot longer ... and so on.)

Like I burn my candles for what other folks will think of them! So I dove right into candle-hugging. But despite my efforts, it turns out these candles probably needed another wick or two apiece. They burned down through middle fast enough, leaving thick walls of wax around the outside.

But I have my ways. And so, each day I’ve been carefully nursing piles of matches where the wicks used to be into functioning flames that slowly melt the candles down from the base (I’ll you decide the analogy here in relationships). I may coming to even the end of that ruse, though. My fires are burning more slowly and finally the coconut shell itself started burning today. No good. (Firefighters, don’t worry; I move them to the stove top when things start to crackle or burn too big).

Since the main goal is to use up all the wax, I have a few options. For some years now, I’ve taken to melting down half-burned candles like these and pouring them into new candles I burn myself or give as Christmas gifts (the waxed cans from frozen juice concentrate work well as new-candle forms).

Thus my current dilemma: do I keep on nursing my matchstick flames, day after day, or fish out the matches and melt down the candles to start all over? There’s surely one small candle apiece in each of the burning projects I’m stoking. Then again, the orange one just got excited again and lit two or three more matches so that the wax started melting much faster and nearly bubbling near the flames (prompt relocation to the stove at that). When you give ’em some help, candles seem to have a way of maintaining their lives (high flames briefly generate more fuel, which smothers the flame a bit, returning it to a healtheir equilibrium).

Surely love is not so different. One girlfriend of mine dated and dumped her poor man some five times before the last time, when she finally said yes to the latest proposal. They now have a young daughter. But you never know the wisdom of that until later. At one point it may have seemed he was wasting a lot of energy, not fully moving on from her. It might have looked like the best was to call it quits on that candle, remelt his love and pursue another girl.

And then you have inveterate crushers like I. Let’s just say that, recently, I did something to the candle-burning circumstances that either will cause the flames to burn differently, or this candle to cease burning altogether. Which will happen, I’m not sure. It’s tempting to cut my losses, rule out any chance of future life in this candle and remelt it into something else — or give up candles altogether.

“Keep on movin’ on a fast train — goin’ nowhere fast,” sings Solomon Burke from my stereo speakers. “How long can it last?” I wish I knew, Solomon. Aren’t you the one supposed to have so much wisdom?

Was a time, I thought a crush ended one of three ways: the liked-one got married, found serious love, or a better person came along. But all those things depend on externalities. Maybe just as with my candles I’m tempted to blow them out for good, a crush too can be cut off from its life supply. Only this time I’m not sure I want to melt down the wax and try again; might be easier to just pour it out a window somewhere.

Though there may be a final resort. The other day I came across this website — none other than “the world’s largest matrimonial site.” The front page shows an Indian man, so they must be catering to women (unlike the cleavage-flaunting True, which clearly works with randy men). You may have onto something, VJ, when you suggested I was leaning toward arranged marriage ... They even work with Christians!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sites and singlehood stats

If you’ve thought this blog has lately been a little light on substance, your mind is not deceiving you. It has. But really, when a girl stops dating men without a chaperone, and shies away from almost all male friendships, what sort of content do you expect? Besides, with advance in hand, I’m finally underway on writing the book. To which end I’ve also finally purchased domain names (!!!!). Alas, some twerp in the Cayman Islands snatched up this last June. Punk. But Yahoo small business had some rather “helpful” suggestions for an alternate .com:
Additional Suggestions
  1. sexlesslove
  2. sexlessclub
  3. sexlessdates
  4. sexlesssatisfaction
  5. esexless
  6. neversexless
  7. thesexlessmarriage
  8. sexlessinseattle
  9. analsexlessone
  10. sexless7517drug
  11. mysexlessinthecity
  12. sexlessinthecitycentral
  13. thesexlessinthecity
  14. sexlessinthecityweb
  15. intersexlessinthecity
  16. sexlessinthecityland
  17. techsexlessinthecity
  18. esexlessinthecity
  19. sexlessinthecitynet
  20. isexlessinthecity
... All available as .net, .org and .biz. While a few of these with .org status might work for that counseling-for-sexually-frustrated-priests gig I used to joke I was in training for ... I think I’ll stick with Content coming once I figure out a site-design budget. And in case that t-shirt business is a hit, I also took out a two-year claim on Man, this could be addictive.

In other news, Tall Drink o’ Water interrupted my post-church chat with Guy Friend #1 and Girlfriend last night. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“I was out in California.”

“Oh yeah? What did you do?”

“Oh, you know ... Research. Saw some family.* Finally heard my friend’s band ...”

“Wait a minute. You mean ... Poster Boy?”

Because, my dears, if ever a conversation starts to falter, what does Anna do but whip out a proven saga (insert silent reel of Anna telling story with large hand gestures, over-the-top facial expressions)? And, well, at the time there may have been a few colorful details that seemed a likely conversation kindling. The trouble is, I’ve never figured out whether such mentions of other men put out a gentleman’s ardor or merely fuel his competititive instincts.

But Tall Drink o’ Water promised to send an email this week, so maybe my long absence, combined with a lingering sense of duty as one-time love-life counsel, prompted this unprecedented commitment. Only time will tell. After all, Geriatric Gent implied he’d call me after return from London and that was months ago. Although as Geezer #2 demonstrates, such silences are sometimes due to health woes.

Men. Such a confusing business, really. Sometimes I wonder where my mothering-age mentors find the hope to suggest that all too soon I’ll be married and laughing off all this late-20s silliness. They must be assuming I’ll find a husband before I’m 30. After all, I am told by Poster Boy that once you’re 30 there’s a “58 percent chance” of life-long singleness. And if those are the odds for men, they’re surely much worse for me.

At least I’ll always have iBaby ... (strokes case lovingly).

*In fact, saw more than I really needed to, but that’s another story ... Let’s just say, thank God I don’t see too well without my glasses.

While you’re waiting ...

Who’s up for an OK Go show? Sorry, this offer is only extended to New York fans, and to the subset of that fan base willing to catch a 9 p.m. Wednesday show ... Oct. 26! Let me know if you’re up for it. I’m hoping to snag tickets soon. $15 apiece (not bad, compared to the Halloween show in DC with Rufus Wainwright; that one goes for $35).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Best gift ever

You know, just when you start to get a little down in the mouth about how your guy friends keep falling by the wayside, and how much that sucks ... a gal pal does something to remind you that GIRLFRIENDS ARE THE BEST EVER!!!!!!

Seriously. In this case, I almost cannot muster superlatives that are worthy of the gift my fab friend from the Clumsy Lovers just sent. I mean, really. What could possibly top a hand-made shirt like this?!! This is even better than that “Trust me I’m a virgin” T I was eyeing at Urban Outfitters ... I may be a reforming hussy, but I never quite resist playing provocateur with my clothing. We may even have a serious lead on extra-book marketing items once Sexless in the City hits bookstores.

Like her sense of humor? Then probably you’ll like the band as well. Check ’em out on MySpace, at their website (or, for New York fans) at their upcoming show Nov. 1!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Competitive celibacy?

I guess that goes with being a militant virgin. According to a reporter for the U.K. Telegraph, anyway. He interviewed writer Dawn Eden (whose forthcoming work, The Thrill of the Chaste was about being newly chaste, last I heard) and she kindly mentioned my book/blog as well.

I can only imagine the conversation. “Another celibate blogger?!!” (No one gets that celibates shun sex for life, it seems.) Maybe he thought it was female competition gone too far. You know, like, “Well, so what if she’s better in bed than me; I can be better not in bed than she.”

Which clearly could lead to a Chastity Olympics or something. In fact, since my chastity has been so damn competitive, I’ve actually had many thoughts on ways I could outdo (that is to say, not do) the competition. Here’s a few categories in which we might compete:
  1. Pill pinching. For those whose chastity depends on keeping a little aspirin tightly clenched between her knees. Awards to be given for endurance (the sit-and-squeeze) and sticky knees (keeping them clenched in various positions/activities).
  2. The kiss dodge. I once saw a woman on Blind Date who could have taught classes for this event. Her head was like the bobbing chickens we were supposed to emulate in Music Man. Impressive! Wish I’d learned to dodge farewell embraces that well ...
  3. Chastity belt design. For innovation in, erm, artistry and durability.
  4. Unicorn racing. Some legend has it we’re connected to these mythical creatures somehow. Besides, I’m sure the randier television viewers (for of course such a “sport” should be televised, no?) would like to see us ride at least something).
  5. Excuse-making. Best ways to get out of sleeping with a man who doesn’t share your values (for those who like to walk on the wild side).
  6. The Seinfeld. A recreation of the famous contest. One contest that could possibly be mixed-gender. I’m not sure what the male-specific events would be. Some of these are certainly female-centric. To whit ...
  7. Make-off. For those who specialize in nearly asexual makeup. How well can a woman minimize her beauty without actually looking ugly?
  8. Fashion hide. A competition to hide or disguise the most of one’s figure. Traditional religious costumes disqualified or re-imagined (depending on the judges’ whimsy). Possible restrictions on how many extra inches of fabric women can swath themselves in (no more than 5” ease around the chest, for instance).
  9. Use of spare time. As inspired by The 40-year-old Virgin: most creative ways to use all that time you’re not having sex.
  10. Side-hugging. For refined technique in avoiding torso-to-torso contact. This might also include a new hug Poster Boy introduced me to during my trip. Particularly sneaky because it appears more intimate than a side hug, his embrace involved facing each other but only touching shoulders.
Wow, that’s just enough for a chastity decathalon. Readers, other possible events?

Monday, October 10, 2005

What have I been neglecting you for?

It’s as bad as you thought: swanning around a spacious NoCali patio, drinking some wine, and squatting on the neighbor’s wifi. It’s not like I don’t pay for internet at home, after all ...

Further aspects of local color have included dodging contact highs and sleeping beneath the watchful gaze of my rellies’ notorious living room art (so famous that, six years later, it’s still how Girlfriend #1 and her hubby know which aunt I’m talking about).

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sexless breaks for the holiday

Yes, it’s true. No blog today, and probably no new posts until next Wednesday. But with the book advance finally hitting my bank account yesterday (interrupts self to dance around, screaming wildly) I’ve got to actually start writing the dang thing. And there are certain business meetings to transact ... etc. But lest I leave you totally without entertainment, allow me to mention these two fine (and very funny) sites my current hosts just introduced me to. Presenting ...
Enjoy the weekend, dahlings ... Back with more Sexless once I’m back in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Restraining the pain a gain?

Departing scenic Monterey this morning, but before I head off, a reader query requires my reply.
Dear Ms Broadway

I am entangled in a rather frustrating situation. … The concept of commitment sends shivers down my spine and at the same time I cannot allow myself to indulge in any kind of casual relationship (e.g the notorious “friends with benefits” system) for many moral/religious/health-related reasons. At the same time however I need to be “involved” with girls in some way and the method which I use in order to compromise the aforementioned contradictory tendencies is the following: I always “target” the girls which because of their external appearance are most likely to be in a relationship. This way I always get turned down and I can subsequently claim that I “tried but was unlucky”. So far this method has been 100% effective yet for the first time there seems to be an unforeseen glitch: The latest of the “targeted” girls seems to be quite attracted to me and also gives indications of being single. Therefore I find myself in the rather awkward position of hoping she will NOT be single so that I will not “fall in love” with her. … Are these tendencies of mine unhealthy? Do you think I should stop “being involved” with girls until a later point n my life in which I will be mature and ready for a relationship? Perhaps I should channel my energy into work and forget about these things altogether?

Safer Alone

P.S I can only reconcile myself with the concept of commitment within the realm of marriage. Alas I don’t think I will be mature enough to marry for the next 6-7 years.
Dear Safer:

My, my dahling. If you weren’t so good at targeting involved women, I daresay you’d be a class-A Mr. Flirty Pants. Whatever the case, I think we all share the same ailment: fear of intimacy. Oh yes, I’ve got it too. Mine just manifests itself differently. Over the years, I’ve refined a lazer-sharp sensor for those aloof, emotionally distant men most unlikely to let me in. Bad breakups, even broken engagements reoccur in my crushes’ pasts with unsettling consistency. How is it I’ve had dates then, you ask? Quite simple: I only date the men I can safely hold at arm’s length. Sure, I may be some kind of emotional masochist, but at least I can control the amount of damage and pain involved. Which is really what you, too, are hoping to do, no?

Well, I too experienced a glitch in the proceedings. A man I thought would prove to be safe for me to like seemed to like me back for a spell. So much that he inadvertently drew out my affections further than I would usually extend them toward a run-of-the-mill crush (even masochists have our limits, after all). And then, just when I was beginning to trust him: Bam!. Flirtation gone, confusion ensues, Anna starts a bewildered damage control.

What’s the solution here: do I recoil even further, resist “friendship” and flirtation with men all the more? Seal off my heart with stronger duck tape this time? Do you remove yourself from all contact with women whatsoever, never talking to them without some sort of chaperone?

If the problem is getting hurt, then yes, that’s probably not a bad idea. But the problem with not hurting is that you don’t feel much that feels good either. And if my choice is between being human and feeling pain or avoiding pain but barely living life, I’ll take the former. In that case, it’s not our fear of pain that’s the problem, it’s our fear of intimacy.

Why do we fear it? Probably because we’ve let people in and had that trust betrayed. In my situation, it’s easy to think my friend did just that to me. But there’s a difference here. Much as I’d like to brand him some heartless cad who should swiftly be booted into “that asshole jerkwad” status, there’s enough good in him to outweigh the pain he’s caused that I know that’s really not fair. Ditching that friendship won’t help either of us; in this case I’ve gotta figure out how to forgive — which is far better practice for future intimacy than is avoiding the pain and running away.

If you keep avoiding involvement with women, all it’ll set you up for is a distant, lonely marriage someday — if you ever find a woman. If you ever hope to be married someday, you’ve gotta get more comfortable with intimacy and trust. Not that I’m suggesting you run out and expose yourself to just any woman. Guarding your heart is certainly reasonable. But there’s a difference between heartguard that breathes and heartguard stronger than the toughest bullet-proof iBook case. As I’ve blogged about before, maintaining reciprocity’s an important key to building healthy relationships.

But so is humility and forgiveness. Sometimes the pain that enters us is like a needle. Some people deal with the pain of that by cutting off all blood flow to that area. Others let the needle works it’s way into and then out of them enough that it gets added to their arsenal of weapons with which they go around wounding and stabbing others. But when you forgive, you take the needle into yourself so it doesn’t have the capacity to harm others and allow it to stay in you sort of like the blows that tenderize meat. My experience with the Married Man was sort of like that.

I’d rather learn from my pain and grow in loving others better than becoming more an more a weapon because of all my unforgiveness and unhealed wounds, or a day-by-day colder and less-feeling person. That’s where humility comes in. Because the more I forgive, the more I have to deal with my anger at another for how he or she has hurt me. And the more I face that anger determined not to let it poison me, the more I have to think about ways that I’ve hurt others. What about pain I’ve caused, and not felt that bad about? Are the wounds I’ve caused really less bad than those I’m capable of getting so angry about?

Running from this relationship is not the key. And having encouraged this woman to think you might like her, you’ll be defrauding her if you run away in fear. Which is not to say you have to marry her. But have another conversation. Consider letting her know that you like her, a little, but you’re scared about getting close to someone. Take it slow. Instead of guarding against the pain you fear she’ll do you (which response will likely cause her pain), think about how you can help each other grow as people in relating to the opposite sex. How can you be a blessing instead of a curse in each other’s lives?

Monday, October 03, 2005


It’s Anna Broadway on location this week, dahlings ... Second stop: Monterey, Calif. Had the obligatory clam chowder for dinner last night, revisited the scene of previous baking crimes, and even got to play a little piano. Other adventures include spying this sign, attached to an evidently unsafe-when-earth-shakes building.

iPods the new, uh, soft spot?
And best quote of the weekend goes to my Blog Consultant, heard Saturday night: “You kicked me in my iPod!”

AB: (laughs, remarks on comment)

Blog Consultant: You thought I meant something else!

AB: No, I knew what you meant. That’s what made it so funny. It’s like it’s a part of your body or something.

Then again, iBaby 2.0 might as well be a part of my body, and internet its food. Hardly knew what to do until I found a stable internet connection. So far the folks at Plumes get top marks for free and functioning WiFi. Wireless cards are so beautiful ... (strokes iBaby lovingly).

Contest results
In other developments, September’s contest has finally concluded, albeit with a few bumps. Evidently my trivia question proved harder than expected. None of the five entrants initially guessed the correct answer (never initiated a DTR — “destroy the relationship” talk, as one winner put it) ... but three of the five got it right on the second try. Surprising numbers of deemed me pierce-conservative, while at least one other believed I’d have no part in burlesque (gulp). As for the musical make-out buddy several also guessed I’d never had ... let’s just say his swing band was featured on a prominent movie soundtrack. Congrats to this month’s winners: Rob, VJ and Charissa.

Since blog trivia proved a little hard on ya’ll, this month’s contest will pick up the theme of last October’s, bad poetry. And here for a little inspiration, the cocktail-party winning rhymes I cooked up to plug Blogfather in his run for Cosmo media man of the year:
It’s not unusual to be loved by some Brendan
It’s not unusual to have fun with any Frank
but when I see you casting those votes for other guys
It’s not unusual to see me cry,
That Ken, he’s the guy!

It’s not unusual it happens every day no matter what you say
you find it happens all the time
love will never do what you want it to
why can’t Ken Wheaton simply win!

It’s not unusual, to be mad with some Brendan
It’s not unusual, to be sad with any Frank
but if I ever find that you've changed to vote for Ken
it’s not unusual to find out that I'm in love with you
You can never go wrong with Tom Jones, right?