Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Movies in My Head

On Sunday, I’m enjoying a solo walk around the reservoir near my new house, followed by some casual yoga in one of the only shaded areas of the park.  I’m listening to Dan Savage’s Lovecast and enjoying just hanging with myself.  Sweaty, no makeup, I’m not trying to pick anyone up.  Naturally, a dude approaches.  Sits down right next to me, with a book.  But he’s not reading.  He’s watching me do yoga.  I glance over and smile.  He’s smiling a lot.  I’m kind of like ‘who is this creep and why is he watching me do yoga?’  But at the same time I find myself moving into more challenging poses, twisting myself into a pretzel as if to say ‘yeah that’s right, I’m flexible – you know what that means.’  I decide to move into plow, and not just because it gets my butt in the air – it also stretches the neck, and my neck is fucked from camping the week before.  For this pose, I take my earbuds out. He swoops in.
“What are you listening to?”
The Savage Lovecast.”
“Oh, I’ve heard that guy on This American Life a couple times.”
I’m impressed he’s heard of Dan Savage.  I’m also impressed that he’s currently reading Wolf Hall.  And that he went to Sqirl for breakfast, a trendy Silverlake restaurant I’ve been dying to try.  He’s training for a marathon, which to me means he’s good in bed.  He also just got back from Burning Man, which explains all the intense eye contact.
“Ever since I got back, I’ve been totally into talking to strangers.”
He casually mentions going to movie premieres in the part of town where I work, so I ask what he does.
“Studio Exec.”
This impresses me more.  I associate Studio Execs with attachment to cell phones and not reading books.  He also looks young to have such a big job.
“I’m probably older than you think I am.”
“Probably. Everyone’s older than I think they are,” I laugh, remembering Comedian Guy.
“I’m 37.”

We talk for a while more and it’s nice and natural and we have lots to talk about.  He’s very smart and, although I find his job a little intimidating, I’m happy to be interacting with a man who’s not an actor.  At some point, I say, “I should probably go do something.”
He wants my number but he doesn’t have his phone on him, which I find amazing, considering his job. 
“If I give you my number, will you call?” he looks expectant, and perhaps a touch worried.
I smile and promise to text him.
I do, and many hours later, at around 5pm, I receive a text back.
“Perhaps a drink this week?”
A couple days later he texts me a time and location.  This is definitely a step up from Comedian Guy’s “let’s just meet at the mall.”  He chooses a cool little wine bar I haven’t been to.  I start to fantasize that maybe this is it, maybe this is the man I’ve been looking for — a grown up with a good job and a nice income, someone smart who challenges me and reads books.  Someone who likes me sweaty with no makeup, and has the balls to approach a stranger in the park, and leaves his phone off on the weekends.  It feels too good to be true – a Studio Exec who goes to Burning Man?!

Thursday rolls around and I find myself nervous.  I leave work early because we’re meeting at 7:30 and I want time to get ready and look amazing.  I ask my ex-boyfriend if he thinks I should wear something “boob-y” or if I should not be so obvious.  He encourages me to rock the cleavage.  I choose a little black dress that I think is sexy but not trying too hard.  I spend more time on my hair and makeup than usual.  I find myself very flushed and unable to get the red out of my face.  Why am I so damn nervous?  This is not normal.  I’m about to leave the house when I decide to change into another little black dress — one that’s slightly less boob-y.  I’m not trying to look like a hooker — somehow I think this guy wouldn’t be down with that look.

I arrive at the bar and find a parking spot on the street.  I could have valeted but I find the goodnight kiss to be awkward when waiting for the valet.  I’m planning ahead.

He is already there, and looks nice — more professional without the bandana and basketball shorts he was wearing in the park.  I drink Sauvignon Blanc and he drinks a beer.  He mentions going to a tailor and I say, “That’s very adult.”  He looks at me funny, as if to say ‘I am an adult.’  In these moments, our age difference is apparent.  I tell him one of my best friends just had a baby, my first close friend to do this.  He says a lot of his friends have kids.  He also tells me his mom recently suggested he freeze his sperm, and that she’s encouraging him to find an egg donor and have a child on his own.  He looks at me funny and, for a moment, my imagination spins out of control and I think wouldn’t it make a great story if this guy offered me $100,000 to be his surrogate?

I ask him if he’s ever been married.  For some reason, he thinks this is a great question, says no one’s ever asked him that before.  I tell him when people ask if I have kids, it blows my mind that that’s even a possibility in their minds, that they think I would even be able to have kids.
“You mean physically,” he says with a wink and a smile.

At some point in the evening, I can see him starting to stifle his yawns.  I appreciate that he’s stifling them, but it’s still blatantly obvious he’s getting tired/bored.  He woke up at 5am to run 10 miles and he’s usually in bed at 9.  He’s also started looking around the bar as if to see who else is here.  And there’s a woman sitting behind me whom he glances at several times.  I’m tempted to offer to go to the bathroom so he can chat with her.  I can feel the relaxed energy of Burning Man wearing off even as we sit there. 
“I feel like you’re ramping up for something,” I say.
“This is the most relaxed I’ve ever been,” he responds.
This worries me slightly.  He says he rarely reads novels anymore, mostly longform pieces.  He says it’s because of his “bandwidth,” he literally doesn’t have the time/energy — I’m starting to think it’s actually because he can’t focus on one thing for long enough to get through a whole novel.  I mention one of my favorite books of recent years — Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story.  He says he “read a couple chapters” and got bored.  He’s also a self-proclaimed “know it all” who has two friends who have actually won Jeopardy.  

When his yawning becomes un-ignorable, I tell him we can leave.  He walks me to my car and we proceed to have an incredibly steamy public makeout session.  He grabs my ass and even goes for some vagina squeezes.  He feels on my breasts and sticks his thumb inside my bra to rub on my nipple.  I lean my knee into his groin, and I can feel he’s very hard in his pants. 
“It’s too bad you’re so tired,” I groan.
“Next time,” he says.
I think I have an instant thought that I don’t know if there will be a next time.
He bites my neck and I tell him he’s a tease.
“I’m a tease? How about you with that knee?”
“It was nice to meet you,” I laugh with his tongue still in my mouth.

We finally part, a bit unceremoniously, with him sort of pushing off of me and saying, “Okay, you’re leaving.”
“Yeah, I’m leaving,” I add lamely and redundantly.  I’m not tired and I want to have sex, so I feel a little abandoned.
I drive home. 
I text him “That was fun.”
“It was.”

I don’t hear from him the next day.  At 9am on Saturday, I text him some follow up to a trivia question we were debating.  He texts me back at 8pm that night.  I am preparing for a house warming party I’m throwing with my new roommates.  Who texts back 11 hours later?  I decide not to respond.

That's the last I hear from him.  And it’s not like I’m particularly disappointed – I also didn’t feel some big amazing connection.  But I’m noticing a theme with myself, which is difficulty securing the second date.  Getting a man initially interested is easy, nailing down that first date/sex is rarely a challenge.  But that elusive second date?  I can count on one hand the number of those I’ve had.

I feel like I’m a really cool chick.  I’m smart and funny, I’ve got shit going on, I’m good in bed.  So, why?

Is it because I have sex on the first date — is that still a thing where guys don’t really respect you or take you seriously if you’re just as easy and horny as they are?  Is that seriously still a thing?  God I hope not, because if it is, I’m fucked.

Looking for answers, I decide to listen to a podcast my best friend Sadie has been telling me about for weeks.  Why oh Why? with Andrea Silenzi – Movies in Your Head with Audio Smut.  A radio play, it’s all about the stories we make up in our heads whenever we meet a new person.  One guy expressed that whenever a new prospective partner would mention where her parents lived, he would picture Christmas there.  It’s all about the fantasies we play out, trying to fit this new person into the future we see for ourselves.

Obviously, there’s a movie I constantly play out in my head with whatever man of the moment I’m currently fixated on, but I’m suddenly curious about the movies these guys might have in their heads about me.  Studio Exec Guy, for example.  He’s 37, Jewish, from New York, his mom is encouraging him to freeze his sperm, he’s going home for Yom Kippur, he speaks with his parents on the phone often — they’re still together.  Clearly very family-oriented, wants children and maybe not too far in the future, has money, a good career.  So, what’s next?  A wholesome family like the one he grew up in.  And maybe when he saw me in the park — no makeup, exercising, perhaps a fellow runner, listening to a podcast, enjoying being alone — maybe he saw this person fitting into that story of his life.  Maybe he could picture getting this woman pregnant and introducing her to mom.  Maybe he pictured running together in the park, or me staying home and raising his child while he works his insanely demanding job.  So when I said having kids felt very distant, that I’m focused on my career, when he realized my age, maybe he realized I didn’t fit so well as he’d originally thought.  Maybe when I wore a dress with too much cleavage, or said “fuck” too many times, or let him grab my vagina on the street, he could no longer picture introducing me to his mother.

I understand all of this, and I also understand not wanting to waste time with someone you know is not “the one.”  But I feel like maybe one of the things we’ve lost in this world of reductive dating where you can sum up a stranger in two sentences from an online profile and write them off before you even meet, is that old thing of taking time to get to know a person.  I think we’re all expecting that we’ll be able to find that Perfect Match who fulfills all the boxes we have checked off on our list of requirements for a partner.  So maybe Studio Exec Guy’s need to look around the bar after an hour spent with me was because he’s a busy entertainment professional, or maybe the problem runs deeper than that.  Maybe we’re so ADD in this culture where everything we want is constantly available to us that we simply can’t sit with one single person for over an hour without checking our phone or checking to see who’s next.  I know, for example, that Studio Exec Guy does not fit into the story I see for my life and future relationship.  I know we’re not going to get married and have babies.  But I know that about most people I meet, and that doesn’t mean I don’t want to experience being with that person for a little while, even if it is just for one night.  When I’m on a date with a new person, it would be nice to just be in the present for once rather than constantly jumping ahead into the future. 

When I met Studio Exec Guy on Sunday, he was fresh from Burning Man.  I could see it in his eyes – he was open and interested, he wanted to connect.  A week away from LA, from cell phones and meetings and the bar scene, he was truly present.  And it was unnerving almost, when he sat down right next to me and smiled into my eyes, because usually when strange men do this, it’s because they’re crazy and I tend to walk away.
When he told me that, since Burning Man, he had been enjoying talking to strangers, I responded,
“Don’t lose that. We need more of that in this town.”
He nodded, agreeing.  But by the time Thursday rolled around, I could see it was already gone.  All of his intense interest in me, the reason I had come on this date in the first place, had all but dissipated.  He hardly asked about me, he didn’t seem that interested.  And maybe it’s because he had already decided I wasn’t the one for him and he didn’t want to waste his time and energy getting invested in my life.  But whatever happened to talking to strangers?

A week after our date, I’m bored at work and decide to do a little experiment.  I decide to be very blunt and see what happens.
“Sex?” I text.
I stare at the phone, stare at this single little word that carries so much weight.  I fool myself that there is deniability in sending a one word text.  I could always say, “Whoopsies autocorrect,” and even though we would both know it was a lie, he would probably accept it and we could move on with our lives.  While I’m waiting for a response, I consult with several friends, admitting what I’ve done.  The responses range from “Oh boy” to “That’s funny” to “Awesome!”  I’m not sure what I want from them, probably validation that what I’ve done doesn’t read desperation.

Two hours later, Studio Exec writes back: “I’d like to. I really would. But I can’t.”
Me: “I’m intrigued. Why?”
Him: “It fits a pattern of behavior I’d like to stop.”
Of course I have to be the one to pick them right when they’re getting ready to reform.
Me: “That’s a damn shame.”
I go to visit my Best Guy Friend.  I show him the texts.
“Can you believe this?!” I pout.
“Yeah. I get it. He just doesn’t want to keep having sex with women even though he knows it’s not going anywhere.”
I guess this makes sense but I still don’t like it.
Then he says, “You should text back ‘if you’re ever having a weak moment, call me.’”
I do, and I can feel Studio Exec Guy struggling with himself as he responds, “That’s a tough one.”
I ask my Best Guy Friend if it’s okay to write back “Sorry to make it hard for you.”
He says that’s too much, I should leave it at that.  I know it’s too much, it’s always too much, I’m too much.  I guess what I’m looking for is a guy who can handle it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Man Child

The second I arrive at his house, I know I don’t want to be there. He looks flustered as he opens the door – wearing a ratty old T-shirt and a disturbed expression, he explains that there is a giant green beetle in his bathroom.
“I showered but I couldn’t put on hair gel for you because the bug was in there making a terrible noise.”
I calmly kiss him and go to investigate. As I look around the bathroom, he plays it off like he thought I would be scared and that’s why he freaked out over this thing, which turns out isn’t that big. 

I have been fucking this guy on the semi-regular for two weeks. I met him at a comedy club where he was MCing and my brilliant comedian friend Lucy was performing. I found him funny and cute, and had asked Lucy about him after the show. She warned me to stay away – she didn’t really have a specific reason, but Lucy is very intuitive and she seemed to be getting a vibe that he was not someone I should mess around with. I believe she used the expression “He likes to fuck 19 year olds from the Inland Empire.”  However, when he asked her for my number, she said she didn’t wish to stand in the way of “young love.”

He texted and said he wanted to take me out to dinner, which I thought was classy – a lot of guys these days seem to feel buying a girl dinner is a little too much effort to get in her pants. He asked what I like to eat. I said anything. He asked what I was in the mood for. I said anything, pick a place, I’ll meet you there. He then suggested we meet at the Sherman Oaks Galleria mall so we’d have options and he wouldn’t have to “drag [me] somewhere [I] won’t like.” Now, this put me off. I’m not in high school and I don’t want to eat dinner at the mall. I was feeling a scratch in my throat anyway, so I cancelled the date. Thinking that was it, I’d probably never see him again.

The next night, after spending all day in bed, I decided I could use some soup… and some company. I texted to see if he wanted to meet me for a very “mellow date.” He agreed, and I appreciated that he was willing to come out for a date that would inevitably lead nowhere. I liked him more than I thought I would. We talked and laughed and made plans to see each other again.

Our next date was at a hole in the wall sushi restaurant. While he ate his rolls without soy sauce, I drank sake and did oyster shooters. I asked how old he was. He made me guess. I guessed 32. “Close,” he said, but wouldn’t tell me more. We decided to go buy two pints of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, get stoned, and watch the Amy Schumer Special.

I found his life pretty together for the 32 year old I believed him to be. He made enough money that he wouldn’t bat an eye at taking me out to dinner to a nice Japanese restaurant. And he lived alone in a one bedroom house that, although he seemed embarrassed about how messy it was, really wasn’t that bad. He didn’t have roommates, but lived with an insanely cute Siamese cat with a face that appeared upside down. And his couch reclined at the push of a button.

That night, we had sex, and it was pretty great. He ate me up with gusto, enjoying every inch of my body, which I loved. I found him a little paunchy, but in the dark it was no big deal. I enjoyed kissing him. The sex was awesome. And, especially, he was amazing at eating pussy. The only issue was one I come across often with dudes – he was resistant to using condoms. Eventually, I stopped enforcing them so we stopped using them. After we had sex, he asked if I was on birth control. I joked that it was proven less effective when asked after the fact. When he asked if I had herpes, I said “not yet,” which apparently didn’t amuse him.

Then he got a little pissy and complained that I was trying to have sex again too soon after the first go round, that he wasn’t really ready, and wouldn’t have been able to stay hard had we tried to use a condom.

I felt like he was blaming me for the lack of condom use even though I had tried to enforce them, albeit lamely. I told him so, while getting dressed in a hurry.
“Why didn’t you tell me if you didn’t want to have sex again,” I asked.
“I didn’t want to appear unmanly,” he said.
He grabbed my arm.
“By the way, I’m 43.”
I Ubered home.

Later, in my own bed, I felt remorseful. I liked fucking this guy and hated the idea that I was incapable of having successful casual sex. I decided to parlay the situation into a purely sex thing. Skip dinner, get right to fucking. The less talk, the better.

Our next couple encounters were great. We’d get stoned, eat ice cream, and fuck. He was amazing at eating pussy and he made me come hard. I didn’t love his personality – I found him slightly whiny and could foresee the age difference becoming an issue – but I was able to look past these details in order to have some really great sex.

Until this one particular night. The night of the bug in his bathroom. I had been on the fence about coming over, but he kept sending me sexy texts and my best guy friend encouraged me to “go get laid.”

When I arrive, it’s already 11:30 on a work night so I figure we’ll get right to the fucking. I immediately find myself not that interested in kissing him, which is never a good sign, but as he grabs my ass and nibbles my neck, I give in to the sensations.  He starts eating me out from behind which turns me on a lot so I tell him to “fuck me.” Instead, he scoots me around so I can suck on him. I manage to get him fairly hard and he crawls on top of me – we start having sex. I can feel him gradually losing his erection with each thrust. Eventually, he stops and tries to pull me up.
“What do you want me to do?” I ask.
“Touch me,” he says.
So I do, but he’s so soft I begin to lose faith.
“Are you okay?”
He stops and lies down next to me,
“I just feel like we’re not connecting like we usually do. I feel like you’re not even looking at me.”
I laugh, uncomfortable.
“I feel like you’re blaming me for the fact that you’re not hard,” I say.
“Well…” he says.
He’s right of course. I wasn’t looking at him, wasn’t really kissing him, was actually discovering in that moment that I wasn’t that into him. But I thought guys could look past these details when it came to sex.
I explained that sex doesn’t always have to be super intimate, looking into each other’s eyes and all that. That sometimes it’s just about physicality and enjoying the sensations. He said he felt like I was “the dude” and he was “the girl” in the situation.

He complained that this time there hadn’t been much foreplay. That he had eaten me out from behind and immediately I had told him to “fuck me.”  This was confusing because I was simply taking his lead – in one of my favorite sexy texts from earlier, he had said he wanted to “eat [my] pussy from behind, then fuck [me].”

“Every time you leave I feel like I’m never gonna see you again,” he says.
I decide to get real.
“Maybe this thing has just run its course.”
He looks surprised by this. I explain that I loved the sex with him, that it was some of the best I’d ever had, but that if the sexual connection was lost between us, I didn’t see what remained. He says he feels like I turned this into a “sex thing” when he actually really liked me, felt we had a good connection. Really? I want to ask.

Then he starts telling me about this crazy girl he used to date who had to go to love addiction therapy, whom he hasn’t seen in eight months, and whom he feels he’s still in love with. Huh? Then he tells me about this 24 year old he’s talking to on OK Cupid, but assures me he would never date a 24 year old unless she was “really mature.”

At which point, I ask the question that’s been bugging me ever since he told me he was 43 years old.
“Why is your age range preference on OKCupid 25-39? Why aren’t you interested in dating women your own age?”
He tells me, with a straight face, that if he married a 40 year old woman, she would be 50 in 10 years and he wants a wife that’s “hot for at least a decade.” I inform him that he too will be 50 in 10 years – in fact, he’ll be over 50.
To this he replies, “I’m just being honest. Men care more about appearance.” I don’t know what disturbs me more, the fact that he wants the woman he’s with to be 10 years younger than him, or that he thinks women over 50 aren’t hot. 

I’m actually pretty sure I know why Comedian Guy dates younger women, and it’s not just because he’s a shallow asshole. It’s also because there’s no way a woman in her 40s is going to date a 43 year old Man Child who works part time in a real estate office, does stand up on the weekends, and lives in the valley with his cat.  I mean, I’m barely putting up with this situation and I’m not even 30.

So, what kept me coming back? Honestly, the pussy-eating.  And I have a theory about this. If a man is over 40 and he hasn’t been married yet, he’s getting fucking desperate. He’s not going to get a woman with his moobs or his lack of a substantial career. He’s going to win her over with his ability to eat pussy. Because guys in their 20s, you might as well not even let them go down there. And guys in their 30s are still way too selfish to put in the work that’s required. It takes the patience and desperation of a man in his 40s to really nail it, so to speak.

As a form of goodbye, I tell him I feel we’re at different stages in our lives.  When I thought he was in his 30s, his shit seemed pretty together. At 43, there are some expectations for where one will be in their life. I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends in their late 20s are finding themselves at a crossroads where they’re having to choose to commit to one aspect of their life over another. It’s like up to this point, we’ve all planted a bunch of seeds that have been gestating and have finally started to grow. And maybe one plant is doing better than another, and we literally don’t have enough energy to keep more than one plant alive. So the time comes to commit to one and really grow the shit out of it.  I see this a lot with my female friends. I had a friend recently give up her dream of becoming an artist and now she’s engaged to her boyfriend– with her dream career out of the picture, she has chosen to really commit to her relationship. Certain friends are getting married and even starting to have babies, and then there are the single friends who are choosing to commit to themselves and their careers, and finding they’re finally having some success.

So, I guess I feel like, if you’re 43, at least one aspect of your life should be pretty awesome. If you’ve been tending a relationship, or a career, or anything, for a decade, shouldn’t you have something to show for it? Pussy-eating abilities aside, I guess I expect more from a guy who’s 43 – I expect he’ll have his shit together more than the 27 year old he’s fucking.