Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Classics pt. 4: Travel tips for dating

And in honor of today’s “15 minutes or more” hold time with the airline, a travel retrospective from last summer. Check out more “classic” blog posts below and at right. They won’t be online much longer!

Originally posted July 22, 2005

Helpful insights from the Continental Airlines hold message:

Passengers may bring up to four books of matches in carry-on luggage. If you think you have more than four potential dates or soulmates, don’t bring their profiles with you when traveling. Doing so might compromise your ability to click with attractive strangers on this flight or trip. Additional implications: if your black book or Blackberry looks like a jetsetter’s oft-expanded passport, it might be advised to carry a slimmed-down version on dates. Four men’s or women’s numbers might be too few to verify social skills, but 15 or 20 might be too many for landing the LTR set.

All passengers are required to have a positive identification before boarding flights. This could be extended to e-daters as well. Friend guards the bar or restaurant door, color glossy of date’s online-profile photo in hand. “Nope! Sorry. Your profile says tall, slim gentleman, 6’1”. Why am I, 5’8” in 2” heels, looking down at you? Negative identification, sir, federal dating requirements prohibit us from allowing you to continue with this date.”

“Ma’am, it says here you should be five-foot-two, eyes of blue with, er, other dimensions as well. Are those contacts? I’ll need an explanation if you wish to proceed with this date.”

Does checking in 24 hours in advance sound convenient? It is. Because traffic happens. Key for the double-bookers. You know, we might be onto a new profession here. If executive assistants are basically successful men’s professional wives (just without the sex — most of the time), maybe there’s a niche market for dating assistants — people who do all the screening, scheduling and entertaining when prior dates run long. If nothing else I see screenplay potential here ...
Got more tips of your own? What customer service message and/or policy would you like to see enforced on your next date?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Classics pt. 3: Back to the male bag

Welcome back to my summer retrospective! (And thanks, by the way, for your patience with this departure from fresh posting. Will resume such once I finish the book, at which time I will also revisit all the lovely responses to my poll. Thanks to all those who took time to answer — especially those who shared a bit more about your lives. I really did enjoy that further perspective on my readers.)

Originally posted Aug. 12, 2004

... A few new readers have stopped by with interesting questions:
In reading some of the posts off the glossary sidebar, I’ve gotten the impression that you are a single girl in NYC who is currently unemployed, not seeing anyone, and have a pretty strong Christian background. Yet you don’t appear to let yourself be rigidly bound by what I’ll call traditional religious Christianity, which can be refreshing. As you write about some of your frustrations with The Captain, Hapless Hesitater, etc., I find myself wondering, “Is she trying to find Mr Right and get married, or is she seeking just a dating relationship? Is she a virgin and is determined to be celibate until she gets married?” And so on.

Best wishes,
A Curious Reader
Dear Curious:

According to a guy I spoke with last night, “biology is the only truth” and therefore the dominating urge/issue/purpose in life is to pass on one’s genes (funny, I always thought you could do that through the Good Will pickups...). Therefore, his answer would be that I’m really bent on having babies. Lots of ‘em.

While I did once aspire to bear 10 children ... naturally ... today I’m inclined to chalk that up to some weird childhood combination of a) strong-but-latent libido, b) ignorance about the pain in labor, and c) fascination with even numbers — if not fertility drugs.

But I guess that doesn’t really answer the Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now question. Which is really a question of pseudo-commitment or ... commitment. I seriously doubt that most people (at least, most romantic people) go into relationships actually hoping for eventual breakup and dissolution. If and when you’re getting involved with someone you really like, isn’t there some sort of unspoken hope it actually works out? Not that you necessarily want to have to make a commitment to that at some point, but you hope it magically never gets old, or you imagine there’s something better, so that at the end of your life you’re still with that person and it’s comfortable and you’re settled and happy.

We go in prepared for disappointment and pain, but I would guess most people hope for a good long run of the state somewhere between the exciting beginning and comfortable middle of a relationship. However many of us may balk at committing to something (and someone) going forward, I’m sure far fewer of would mind looking backward and discovering we committed to something good without expecting to do so. We wouldn’t so easily settle into the pseudo-commitment of most relationships unless deep down we secretly hunger for a risk-free version of the pleasures of commitment.

It’s like the conversations I often had during grad school with a good friend of mine. On a typical night, we’d meet up at the local 24-hour diner to down endless cups of coffee (mine probably decaf, and chased by 2 glasses of water). Eventually we’d call it quits, and climb into the old-school cab of a truck she called Bessie. A turn of the key, and it would rattle to life (except for the one night when it didn’t and her dad had to come and rescue us). Five minutes later we’d pull into the parking lot of my apartment building and idle over the speed bump extending from the walkway to my building. Ostensibly, this was the scene of a 30-second goodbye wherein I gathered my things from the books, papers, lotion bottles and coffee cups she always had strewn across the floor, and opened the creaky door to jump down.

But somehow by this point, despite the many hours of chit-chat already passed, the dark and spacious enclosure of the truck cab encourages an intimacy not possible under the bright lights and silent music videos of the smoky diner. Invariably we launched into a conversation that would last 10, 15, 30 minutes or more. But did we acknowledge we still had things to talk about? That we weren’t prepared to call it a night?

In short, did we park the car, shut off the engine, and maybe even take the talk upstairs?

No. Never.

The conversation had a life of its own that both of us fed on and encouraged, but its length was always uncertain. Thus we could never admit we planned or wanted to say more than perfunctory goodbyes. The idling truck provided the safe space of the temporary while sustaining the intensity of the parting. Because we didn’t know how much there was to say, killing the engine or going upstairs might be presumptuous; we might exert all the effort to do so only to discover the moment was gone and there was no speech to justify such an action.

So … we stayed, while the gas underwent its quiet chemistry, and the “unmarked” car of the security service sometimes crept past suspiciously.

It seems like a lot of relationships have that quality: people find something that’s comfortable and stimulating in the immediate, but don’t know how strong or fragile the bond is; any kind of change seems to threaten it, so you accommodate your life and expectations to stretching the moment as long as possible.

In dating, at least, I don’t want that kind of anxiety (clearly I don’t mind when it comes to conversation). After years of driving myself crazy with intensity of desire and an inability to satisfy it, I’ve decided people are basically like post-it notes or sticky-tape. We were made with a keen stickiness so that when two pieces adhere, they bond tightly. But, like tape, sometimes that bonding can be messy: the pieces aren’t aligned right, or you somehow get weird wrinkles in it. Pulling the tape apart just makes things worse, or at least reduces the stickiness. Re-stick the tape enough times, and it doesn’t stay stuck to much at all. So … because I want to bond as long and closely as possible, I keep stopping short of actually sticking to someone. Sure, my inner desire to stick to someone else makes me crazy, but I just try to remind myself that I’m waiting till the pieces are aligned right (in which I mean no allusion to some sort of fate or alignment of the stars ;)) and I can stick with full abandon.

Did that answer your question? ;) I guess I’ll save my thoughts on opportunity-cost and fear of commitment for another day …


High Fidelity
High Fidelity
What Color Is Your Parachute Workbook
What Color Is Your Parachute Workbook


Monday, August 14, 2006

Classics pt. 2b: Clumsy lovin’ in the Arizona Keys

... And now the thrilling conclusion to last week’s post.
Stranger danger
We placed our orders (Good-natured Heckler maintains his was spaghetti) and got to know the strangers across the table. They were two fraternity buddies (one of whom had a T-shirt with the name on it) and a blond friend of theirs who introduced a game of sorts. It’s been too long for me to remember how it went (and the bastardPost Office lost the journal that might’ve had more details), but basically it was some variation on those junior-high sleepover games where you reveal juicy secrets. Except that most of the secrets revealed were about the girl, and involved her sex life (maybe she’d had a back-door man?).

Finally we finished our meals, rose noisily and said goodbye, then made our way out to our vehicles. As I reached my car, however, I realized I couldn’t find my keys. Puzzled, we went back inside and searched the booth thoroughly. Nothing. Luckily Girlfriend #4 had also driven, and chauffeured Good-natured Heckler and me back to my apartment where I awoke my poor roommate, claimed a set of spare keys, and rode back to the diner for my car.

For some reason, Good-natured Heckler and I were not prepared to call it a night, so we waved tata to Girlfriend #4, climbed into my fragile rattle-trap, “the Eunuch,” and drove off for the man-made lake not far away. Tempe decided in the late ’90s to revive the river bed where once the Salt River flowed, and dam it off to form a man-made lake, along which walkways, parks, and businesses were planned in imitation of San Antonio’s riverfront. Former co-workers scorned it as the Town Swamp, but during graduate school it became one of my favorite places — for thinking, running, and dragging late-night dates (Sgt. Ex-sessories for one, but that’s another story).

It has to mean something
Good-natured Heckler and I roamed the moonlit sidewalks, talking of band-life and the strange nature of friendships along the road. Finally around 5 a.m. we called it quits and I drove him to the band’s hotel. As usual, I had the radio on. When I pulled the little red Geo to a halt, Good-natured Heckler remarked that “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was playing. “That’s funny, it played earlier tonight too,” he said. “At the bar.”

“Oh yeah, you’re right.”

He then proposed that whenever we heard the song, we should think about each other and remember this wacky evening. I nodded amiable agreement and waved goodbye as he climbed out of the car.

Fast-forward one year later. The scene is New York City, and I have been introduced to its oldest Honky-Tonk by the Captain (the same bar-pimp who would later provide my entrée to Burlesque Bar). As we’re leaving with a friend one night, I notice a poster announcing future acts … including, the Clumsy Lovers!

Anna’s trademark “Oh my God!” is yelped, and a back-story ensues. But by the time CL’s November show came around, the Captain had stopped responding to my group-social invitations (although in fairness, the city is something of a weeknight drive from West Point) and I went without him. Well into the show, by which time the peanut shells on the ground had piled like so much crunchy sawdust, the band broke into a reggae cover. And what song should they revive? “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Amused, I suddenly remembered the early-morning conversation. Would Good-natured Heckler catch my eye? I wondered. But no. Evidently he’d forgotten the remark as swiftly as I had, and we’d both gone on to lay many other layers of association onto that song.

Loose ends
The next morning I put my thinking cap on and desparately resolved to recover my keys which I was fairly sure one of the drunks had taken. Remarkably I remembered the name of the frat on the one guy’s shirt. I called up ASU’s Greek Council and explained to the guy who answered that I’d been hanging out with someone from Alpha Delta Thong the night before and thought one of them had grabbed my keys. Based on my recollection of where one of the guys thought he lived, the Greek Council said he thought he actually knew who I was talking about. He made a few phone calls, and within a few hours I’d made contact with the key-snatcher.

The Clumsy LoversUnder the Covers
After the Flood
Rolling Stones
Let It Bleed (Remastered)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Classics pt. 2a: Clumsy lovin’ in the Arizona Keys

Welcome back to part 2 of this series! We’re off to a cooler start than last time, but this week’s tip for beating the heat is to nibble or gulp cold foods. My favorites: frozen grapes and iced tea.
Originally posted Aug. 20, 2004

Sorry, ya’ll. Been slipping in the posting department this week, I know. When you have neither a man nor a job, however, it’s important to fill your life with at least some things (besides blogging). What is that Ray Charles lyric about how to “get some you gotta have some”? Surely he was talking about things...

By the way, if I’m less than coherent today, that’s the sangria talking. We spent much of last night together and it’s still got a hold on this section of my forehead, right between the eyes — a pinching hold. Not that I would say I’m hungover, mind you, I just forgot to be my usual water lush last night when downing damn-near half the generous pitcher (probably more, in fact; I swear there were times I outdrank my friend 3-2 in glass refills).

Probably this all happened because yesterday I saw a Clumsy Lovers show. That’s right — the band from the side column! They tell me ya’ll have put Sexless in the top-30 site-referrals list for their website. Sexless and clogging — so, blogging and clogging — are two of their biggest i-traffic sources. ;) And the Clumsy Lovers have been one of my biggest sources for post-show hijinx (compared to other bands for which I am an unofficial groupie).

A fan is born
It all started back when I was in grad school, and Irish Pub was my local Cheers. One Monday night in the fall semester, Girlfriend #4 and I headed to Irish Pub to work on a class assignment. Monday nights were usually quiet, so we secured a large table in the corner by the window, perfect for spreading out all our papers around the plates of fish and chips and an extra pot of curry sauce for her. At some point in the midst of our studious absorption, the evening’s entertainment arrived, arranged their gear on the small stage, and started playing to the audience of pub-goers. We continued our homework, but remarked to each other that this was probably one of the best bands we’d heard in the place.

They weren’t shy, either. One of the guys (CL is all-male, except for the kick-ass fiddle player) started heckling us good-naturedly about the papers strewn all across our big, wood table, and our evident disregard for their performance.

After the show finished, Girlfriend and I took a break from our studying, and somehow I struck up conversation with the fiddle player. She was great, and promised to send me a copy of her sister-in-law’s book. But my socializing didn’t end there. Somehow I ended up chatting to Good-natured Heckler, who was a tall, gangly Canadian with a wild mop of blondish hair (I always confuse him with a Russian economics Ph.D student an old roommate knew and want to call him Igor since they have the same hair). At one point in the conversation, the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” came on, and I expressed my delight by starting to dance around as I do (this was one of my ecstasy songs at the time).

One thing led to another, and before we knew it, 1.m. rolled around, Irish Pub was closing in accordance with Arizona’s liquor laws, and Girlfriend #4 and I were still chatting up the band — that is to say, Good-natured Heckler. We proposed continuing the night at the now-defunct diner where Girlfriend #3 and I once drank so many pots of coffee. As we were making our way out to the parking lot with Good-natured Heckler, he ended up inviting a trio of drunk strangers to join us on the diner date. We supplied directions, and a few minutes later the six of us reconvened in a window booth presided over Marilyn or Mae or one of the other celebrities adorning the wall, and whatever character was our server that night (one night the server offered her last smoke — a joint — to another random guy Girlfriend #5 and I had picked up at Irish Pub that night and dragged out to the diner; but that’s another story) ...
Come back next week to find out how “Clumsy lovin’” concludes!

Sangria: 50 Festive Recipes
Sangria: 50 Festive Recipes
Living the Questions: Making Sense of the Mess and Mystery of Life
Living the Questions

Making Sense of the Mess and Mystery of Life
Ray’s final album
Genius Loves Company

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Classics pt. 1: Not quite clothed for business

In honor of New York’s heat wave (ugh), I’m starting off this retrospective with a slightly weather themed post buried in the blog archives. Stay cool ...
Originally posted Aug. 17, 2004

Sorry for the late update, ya’ll. Somehow I seem to be sliding back to my vampire sleep skej of staying up till 3 or 4 a.m. (I promise this has nothing to do with noisy neighbor sex — although it could) and then sleeping in until noon or later. :( Today was a step of progress though; I actually rose an hour earlier than yesterday.

Hot and Bored: a fashion soap opera
Should the late-night insomnia continue, however, I think the local postman may have provided me with a new resource over the weekend. It’s a little catalog called Midnight Velvet which, I am warned, may soon cease coming to my mailbox. (Perhaps they make exceptions for the unemployed?) They don’t want to bother me with unwanted catalogs, so this could be my FINAL CATALOG unless I order TODAY to undisturbed access to future editions. That’s a shame because, after only one issue, I can tell that I’m really going to need a steady diet of the “unique gifts and home decor” and “beautiful distinctive clothing in misses and plus sizes” offered by Midnight Velvet. Based on the grapefruit-and-latte repast that was this “morning’s” breakfast, a shrinking woman such as myself is in great need of misses and even plus-size clothing.

Where else could I find the proper skirt set to help me “reflect the rich color of the season in ... vivacious patchwork”? Clearly this $89 special is an undiscovered gem waiting to join the others hanging from the charm bracelet that is my wardrobe: “Wild beauty radiates from a sultry animal print with splashes of brilliant red lilys [sic] on the languid top with front lace panel.” The lilies were apparently a last-minute design addition intended to underscore the “vivacious” nature of the ensemble, which was being dragged down by the languid (“lacking energy or vitality; weak ... listless”) nature of the top. Quite frankly, the outfit has all the drama of a midday soap opera.

I can see it now: Red Lily is a smoldering Latin man charged with the care of Languid Top, a spoiled Paris Hilton type who can’t bother to sit fully erect on the chaise longue she has occupied since her arrival. It is this tension of hot and bored that produces the “sultry” quality (“very humid and hot; torrid”) of the living room where they spar. On tomorrow’s episode: Languid Top begins to sweat and demands a bath that will not require her to leave the chaise longue.

Is it Ivory Snow or Woolite?
And all this in an $89 skirt set! Wow. Imagine the plot possibilities that await me in the remaining 124 pages of scintillating ad copy. On second thought, perhaps this might not be ideal reading for falling asleep... But it does offer tantalizing suggestions for a new Sexless feature I might add. Since some readers have been so disturbed by the lack of images in this site (more on that shortly), perhaps I should at least describe what I’m wearing on a day-to-day basis. In catalog prose, of course.

Today, for example, Anna is sporting a charming-and-versatile American wardrobe essential inspired to no small degree by Rosie the Riveter. The faux-real faded denim of her stylish Abercrombie jeans are fastened by embossed metal buttons that bring “the rivet” into the ’00s. Stain from a recent stripping project subtly highlights the distressed wrinkles produced by many an hour’s blogging for her readers.

Atop this handsome garment, Anna models a deceptively simple white tank top that adds casual elegance to this understated outfit. Dramatic splashes of red paint enliven one shoulder of the top with a drama that recalls Jackson Pollock and echoes the real-life sweat, strip and stain required to bring her antique desk to its new, scarlet life. Anna has elaborated on the Pollock theme with a subtle-yet-distinctive stain of muted yellows and greens that suggests any combination of domestic drama, from the over-use of bleach to a bleary-morning mishap with the latte mug. Rounding out the garment’s artful chic is a tasteful, serged hem that flirts up over womanly hips and then back down again. Top is 100% cotton, from the Levi Type1 Jeans label. Made in Pakistan, but probably not worn there.

Whew! Was that exciting or what? OK, I know. I’ve been dodging real man-drama for a few days now. But you see, that’s the point of being Sexless: men aren’t always around, so one has to infuse sexuality (of the sultry rather than languid variety) into all the details of everyday life.
... Or at least that’s what I thought the point was, two years ago. Check back for more vintage blogging next week!

Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II
Rosie the Riveter

Women Working on the Home Front in World War II