Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sluts: A General Theory

I had a date with K. on Friday night. He's Indian, as I thought but couldn't tell for sure from his photo, and a doctor. Do you know, I don't know anyone my age who's a doctor? Everyone's a computer programmer or a writer or a lawyer. Anyway, we met at a nice, but nondescript Irish pub in the East 20s (itself a nice, but nondescript neighborhood) and talked, mostly about eating healthfully and Jewish and Hindu food issues. Interesting, but not romantic. Also, he's my height. So: no. Another disappointing evening.

Then on Saturday, while I was in Brooklyn on my freelance copywriting assignment, my cell rang. I looked at the screen and thought I recognized the number...

"Hello, this is Lily," I said in my chilliest, most professional tone.

"'Allo? 'Allo?" (Uh huh, he said that)

"Yes?" I said.

"Allo, this is Laurent,"

"Yes, this is Lily. You called me?"


I sighed. "I think you have the wrong number," I said.

"Ah, sorry!" he rang off.

I glared at my phone: had it somehow sent a signal to Laurent to call me? Cause the way the conversation went, it was as if he thought I was calling him. Which was not the case. Or was he trying to both call and wrong-foot me in the hopes of making me think I was contacting him or something? That explanation makes no sense whatsoever. I suppose he saw a message on his phone and didn't realize it was it was old? Anyway, it was weird.

That was about the extent of my exciting weekend. I've been working on this freelance project nonstop, and I'm still recovering.

I think I'll take another break from dating for a bit. Last time around (the Spring) I had no problem getting strange men into bed. This time I can't give it away (literally). Not one of the men I have dated recently has attracted me in any way, shape or form. I think I'd be in a better place if I just had a regular, not too demanding sex life. I would certainly feel cooler (how shallow!) I've been thinking about contacting Alejandro, whom I slept with a few times last spring. The sex wasn't all that, but it was consistent, and he was cute, at least. Only, I'm sort of embarrassed to contact him! I'll have to ask my therapist, the source of all wisdom, what she thinks.

I realized the source of my extreme crankiness and general malaise: it's the pill. Duh. But I don't want to jeopardize my (somewhat) improved skin by going off it. I value my looks above my mental health, apparently. But then, I knew that already. I mean, one's mental health can improve. Improving one's looks is, I think, much harder. After all, cognitive therapy can't do a thing about the shape of one's nose.

The past few nights I've had all these dreams about my ex boyfriends. And boys I wish had been my boyfriends. On Saturday I dreamt about John, whom I dated in college until I found out that he had never broke up with his old girlfriend. To add insult to injury, she looked just like me. Or rather, I looked just like her. I had had a massive crush on John -- he was a bit older, very handsome, smart, etc., and when he told me he was interested in me, I think I kind of punched him on the arm and said, "No! Really?!" and could not stop grinning for the rest of the night. So anyway I dreamt about him. I also dreamt about Patrick, with whom I went to high school, but never dated. He was short, spotty, and moody, but by the end of senior year I thought he was fantastic. We weren't really friendly until then. Anyway, in this dream, he was with Andrew McCarthy, whom I would have liked to have been my boyfriend circa 1985-1991. Wow, I fancied Andrew McCarthy. I think Patrick was distantly related to him, in fact, if I remember freshman year correctly. I think I might also have dreamt about Michael.

Michael was, was course, my waterloo. We broke up in 2002. He broke up with me over the phone, and really, I can't think of any way to better express what a jerk he was. You don't do that to someone you've been dating for a year and a half! Sigh. He was the worst boyfriend ever, and I don't think I've ever felt more strongly about anyone. He was moody, distant and, with hindsight it's obvious he didn't like me very much, but oh! I loved him. He was indie hipster-ness personified: tall and skinny with thriftstore clothes that were so ugly and out of fashion they were cool. Dark hair, black framed glasses (my personal downfall in men, apparently), suitably indie tastes in music, shy and soft-spoken, etc. Even after a year and a half I still wanted him all the time. Quite possibly because he was so distant. Nonetheless. Truth be told, I think about him a lot. Not about how I want to get back together with him, but about how much of an idiot I was, not seeing that he wasn't that into me, and also, more pathetically, about how I'd like him to run into him so he can see me all successful and happy, preferably with a huge, fuck-off rock on my ring finger. Of course, this fantasy would require me actually becoming successful and happy.

Anyway. I feel like I haven't been Living Somewhat Dangerously at all. In the spring, it was much easier! This time, my failures have only reinforced my fear that I'm hideously unattractive. A fear that is confirmed, strangely, by the lack of response I get to my witty and winning profiles and posts. My roommate Jenny wants me and Anna (our other roommate) to try speed dating. I haven't got anything to lose, I expect.

Talk about living dangerously: Jenny is insane. She slept with three men over the course of three days. Or, as she put it:

"Well, I tried to sleep with the EMT, but he couldn't get it up, so that doesn't really count. Then I had sex with George, and he doesn't really count, either."

"Because he's your husband?" I asked. Jenny is 25, and getting a divorce from her husband of two years. He occasionally comes round the apartment -- a tall, burly fellow with a beard. George is crunchy, and seems nice.

"Right. Then I had sex with Tony ... I'm wondering if I should give him another chance."

"I thought you said he was a jerk."

"He is a jerk. But I'm a slut, so maybe we'd be a good match."

"You're not a slut," I said, my feminist hackles automatically rising. "Sluts are people who have sex when they don't want to, in order to be popular," I explained. "Didn't you go to high school?"

At least, that's how I've generally come to understand the idea: sluts apparently don't deserve respect because they don't actually want to have sex, they're doing it for approval. And you can't approve of someone who has sex for such reasons. Of course, in common parlance I'd say the term was applied to any woman who has sex without sufficient agonizing.

SIDEBAR When I went out with Jessie and her friend Lara a few weeks ago Lara told me that her friend Marianne had slept with her (Lara's) boyfriend's friend the night she met him, and had thereafter been deemed a slut in their minds. Lara said she was surprised and sort of offended to hear her boyfriend then call Marianne a slut. (Oh, wait: he wasn't actually Lara's boyfriend. He was "the guy I'm dating," because, although they'd been together for six months, he had yet to call Lara his girlfriend. Well, I said, "Why don't you just call him your boyfriend?" Or you know, have a DTR talk? No, she said. She was waiting for him to do it. This girl was tall, thin, and extraordinarily pretty in that Eastern European way-- high cheekbones, long straight nose, fine hair, etc.)

I thought about it for a while and it seems to me that her boyf-- I mean, the guy she's dating -- and his best friend felt entitled to call Lara's friend a slut because they assumed that she couldn't have really wanted to sleep with him, and was doing it because she was emotionally needy. I mean, I can't actually think that men condemn women as sluts just because they want to take their kit off within a few hours of meeting (like ... men). I can't help thinking that men think women can't enjoy sex without emotional negotiation and therefore any woman who has sex without a committment is clearly too needy to be anything but a slut. That's my theory, anyway. SIDEBAR ENDS.

Obviously, I can't compete with Jenny's exploits! And she really is living dangerously because she never uses a condom! She doesn't like to. She doesn't use any birth control at all, and, as a result, has had two abortions to date. I can't imagine being as cavalier as she is. I've had sex without a condom about once in my entire life, and that was after I made both Lee (my nicest ex boyfriend) and myself both get tested for HIV. Needless to say, we were two of the most low risk people in the tri-state area, I'd bet. Jenny should be writing this blog, not me.

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