May 13, 2013

Dispatches from My Soft, Naked Core

Maybe I've grown old.

Maybe I've grown up.

Maybe I've lived alone for too long, I've forgotten my former liberal sexual politics.

Maybe California has changed me.

Maybe I've finally developed some long-sought sense of self respect.

But now the casual, soulless world of dating just makes me sad. Like, really sad.

It used to be that being alone made me sad. Being rejected made me sad.

Now being pursued makes me sad. And knowing the ins and outs of those pursuits, which are most certainly used on others, perhaps more unsuspecting than me, has burst my bubble so badly, I've given up nearly all hope of romance in this world.

I have a high school friend I haven't seen in years who has used Facebook to compliment me, at first out of admiration, then out of some long distance sexual pursuit. I am a lonely woman, so I admit that I encouraged him at first, despite his marital status, assuming he was lonely too, in a loveless marriage, and was trying to connect with something familiar and safe. When he admitted that he and his wife did love each other, and were continuing the marital act of lovemaking (despite not always actually sleeping in the same bed), I turned cold. It didn't matter how smart or talented or interesting he thought I was. I no longer felt complimented by his lecherous comments on my photos.

I have an LA friend I don't know very well, who has pursued me on and off since we met in October, usually in between dating some other girl. We've gone out a couple of times, so it seemed OK to accept an offer for a sexless sleepover. (After all, I am more often turned down for sex than pursued for it in LA, so it would probably be safe enough.) Upon peeling back my layers of clothing and revealing my soft, naked core, he delighted in everything I saw as physical flaws, and exuberantly pointed them out. When I complained, wanting to bury myself in a winter coat and never come out again, he protested, "No, I like it!" But someone telling you how much they like your love handles or your unshaven legs or your big nose or your ears that stick out - and, for my own protection, those were not the things that he pointed out - only makes you more self-conscious about those areas. I guess we women don't want guys to even notice that we haven't waxed our eyebrows in over two years, not for them to exclaim, "No I love how messy they are!"

Besides, why was this guy so hyper-focused on my body parts anyway? Why are all guys across the board obsessed with nipples and do everything in their power to catch a glimpse of one?

Both those situations made me feel horrible. And those were guys who know me, who profess to like me.

In New York, I never knew it back then, but I now marvel at strangers' ability to pretend, quite convincingly, for the span of time that they're with you, that they are so into you. You are soulmates. You are the most gorgeous woman they've ever met. You are hilarious. They can't spend the night without you. (And then, of course, you never hear from them again, and if you do see them again, they don't remember you, or pretend not to.) In LA, a harsh reality sets in before anyone is even naked, when guys say things like, "I don't know if I like you. I don't know you." And for some reason, you still take your clothes off.

I'm not sure if it matters if they like me or not, because even when they do like me (see above), it doesn't feel so good.

I don't know what I expect - what I ever expected - but it's not that. It's not this.

It's not meeting a bartender who's also new in town, bonding over moving from New York, and then getting booty-called by him at the end of his shift, punctuated by a text message that reads, "Wanna bang?" the next morning.

It's not him telling me, after I've gracefully declined his kind offer, that he wishes I wasn't all "cracked out", or he'd give me his big you-know-what, and do you-know-what to me.

That doesn't make me laugh. At this point in my life, that feels like a threat. I don't know where in the world that behavior is considered acceptable, but not in mine. I don't know what girl would have gone for an approach like that, but not this girl.

I went on a blind date fix-up the other night, and when I finally arrived to the bar late, the guy sitting next to my date got up to leave. Clearly he was lit, and apparently had been drinking for hours already. He bowed out of the conversation, gave up his barstool, and declared, "Don't worry, I'm clearly not driving home. I'm going to go hit up my Top 5."

I was stunned. "I knew that happened," I told my date, "but I've never heard it actually said out loud by a real person."

My date wasn't sure what I was talking about, so I clarified, "He's going to go try the top five girls he can booty call."

"Oh," my date said. "I had no idea."

And then I wondered why I knew that and he didn't.

And what that said about me as a dater.

And whose Top 5 I had been in.

And for whom I'd only been #5. (Somehow that feels worse than being off the list altogether.)

I am a competitive person. I don't like to play games I can't win. When I won a game show, I didn't answer a question unless I was absolutely sure I would get the answer right.

I kind of don't want to do this anymore unless I can be #1. And not just on the booty call list. I don't want to be #1 Nipples or #1 Ass or #1 Orgasm.

I just want to be important. And valued. And the only one. At least for a while.

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