I set up interviews with
four men suggested by my friends and co-workers. I figured the
more people I talked to with knowledge of the city, the sooner I
would formulate my plan.
Chapter Five - Hiding in Plain
My talk with Jerry, a
stockbroker who works with Debbie, was discouraging.
“Houston is a
terrible, terrible city for single people.
I’ve just come back from New York. There is a kind of
fluidity of social life there. The infrastructure makes
it much easier to operate as a single person. Houston
lacks a street life. We don’t have a downtown with a
ground floor, with delightful messy shops perfect for
bumping into people.
We are cocooned in our homes, our
cars, our workplaces. You want to find single men? The
skyscrapers of downtown Houston are teeming with them.
But that will never do you any good because we don’t rub
shoulders with anyone. Sure, there are bars everywhere,
but try to get past the defenses of a stranger in that
stressful situation. The only way to have a good
conversation in a bar is to invite someone you already
know to meet you there.”
Another man named
Jake, a filmmaker said something similar.
the heat shapes our lives. People in Houston
spend their entire days behind walls
and doors hiding from the sun.
I pass a thousand people every day in the underground
tunnels downtown, but that's
no place to meet people. They always have their guard up.
They are always in a hurry and always have something
pressing on their mind. The opportunity for a
chance meeting or a conversation is just so remote I
don't even bother looking. Downtown is just so
cold, so business-like. I believe if I were to
pass those same people over at Rice University on the
jogging trail or walking around campus under the oak
trees, I would get twice as many smiles. In my
opinion, concrete, glass and steel don't work the same
magic as grass and trees."
Martin is in
the Administration at the University of Houston. In addition he
is a Volunteer for the Arts which is how we met. Martin
was the first person to have something
positive to say.
me the easiest way to meet people is through your
interests. That's why I suggest
arts in your article. I believe
people who like art have a bond of sorts.
The arts provide an especially
attractive environment for single people in Houston.
There is a real innovative spirit here which brings
together the enthusiasm of your urban
professionals with the success of established art
circles. Perhaps the most rewarding involvement a
single person can have in the arts is as a volunteer.
There are all sorts of activities going on at the
Museum of Fine Arts.
However there is no reason
they have to limit themselves just to art programs.
I have a friend who volunteers at Theater Under the
Stars. He says he meets an extraordinary group
of people. In his opinion, theater people are
the most interesting people in the world. I'm
sure that includes all the actresses he gets to
vice-president at an accounting firm and a sailing
instructor. He sees a
connection between Houston’s business climate and personal
in the economy destabilizes relationships,”
“People my age have to make so many changes just to survive
that a relationships becomes too restricting.
People go where the jobs are and that
often means switching cities. I had the start of
a great relationship with a woman who suddenly had to
move to San Antonio.
People who pursue their career
sometimes forget to make themselves available for
Vast numbers of
single men and women came to Houston for rapid, even
meteoric, career growth. Heavily invested in our careers,
we find our jobs compelling; we’re driven
to succeed which means we go home from
work exhausted. Half the time we
are too worn out to even begin to think about
In other words, we are all too well
insulated. We hide in our offices, we go straight to
our cars, we head home, and there we hide till it is time to
go to work tomorrow.
Six - The Personal Ad
From what I
gather, all the traditional ways to meet people – through
friends, parties, school, church, work, hobbies, and
activities – still work quite well in Houston. Without
question, you are most likely to meet friends and lovers by
following your own interests. But for every traditional way
to meet, a parallel has spring up as part of the booming
Houston “singles biz”.
There are now a
great many singles groups, social clubs, dating services and
personal ads. I figured I would investigate each angle. I
started with personal ads.
As I stared at a
personal ad titled “New York City Diaper Boy looking for
same”, I asked myself if I could ever force myself to do
this. I shrugged my shoulders. I was a practical girl and
I had an article to write. I had written papers in college
that I detested working on. If I could that, I could do
this. So I concocted a personal ad. As I anticipated, it
SWF seeks SWM….
Oh my gosh, this is disgusting. I
have never felt so demeaned. Was I really doing this? Here
I am, a professional writer, but it took me two whole days
to write my personal ad. That’s because I didn’t want to do
it. I agonized and rationalized and kept making more
coffee. I endured a serious identity crisis. Who am I?
Finally I came up
with something I could live with.
“SWF, gentle, very bright, writer and
arts administrator, slender, 25 and blooming, very serious
but likes to be silly. Love reading, music, good talk,
dancing, running, outdoors. Looking for good, kind, highly
intelligent man, healthy nonsmoker, deeply interested in his
own work, for honest friendship and let’s see what happens.”
I had no idea
what to expect. I had visions of serial killers, stalkers,
rapists, con artists, and thieves replying in droves. To my
surprise, although the responses varied wildly, all of them
were fairly harmless.
Some answers were
touching, some were formal. One man sent me his
qualifications carefully printed on lined paper properly
indented. Yawn. Another sent a letter in eye-catching
calligraphy with the salutation “My Dearest” and the closing
“Love”. I couldn’t help but smile. He would definitely get
a phone call. After all, ‘creativity’ was my main
Several men just
sent their business cards. How original. I could just fill
my jar and pick out the lucky winner. One man sent a photo
of themselves slouched down shirtless in their phallic
sports cars. I was aroused to near sexual frenzy. Or maybe
One sent a photo of himself sitting at his mother’s kitchen
table in his three-piece suit and tie. Obviously Mom took
the picture. I idly wondered if the two of them were a
package deal. No thanks.
Another sent a
picture as he barbecued oceans of meat in his backyard.
Thank God he had his shirt on. In fact he had a funny apron
on. I wasn’t sure what I thought about him. Finally I
decided he was a solid, steaks and potatoes kind of guy. I
was about to eliminate him when the voice of Debbie echoed
in my head, “I think too many women think they know in the
first 15 minutes who is right for them and how isn’t.”
This guy probably wouldn’t be interested in an artsy fartsy
girl like me, but he had replied to me.
So out of courtesy I vowed I would call him back if
for no other reason to see if my first instinct was right or
wrong. Life is for learning, right?
Seven - Dating Services and Shy Boys
responses to my personal ad were beginning to pour in, I was
ready to check out dating services. Would this venue reveal
where the men of Houston were hiding?
Now that I was on
this assignment, I viewed everything I did through a new
lens. As I made the rounds in my usual circles, I watched
the throngs of women hanging around art openings, dances,
and cocktail parties with a growing sense of alarm. If I
didn’t know better, I would assume the Earth had become a
planet of women only. Where are the men?
The art openings
were the worst. Theoretically half the babies born are boy
or girl, but you would never guess it by going to an art
opening. I thought it was deeply ironic that almost all the
great painters are men, but only women seem interested in
I gasped as I did
the math. The ratio of stunning women to stunning men at
this art exhibit was ten to one. This was ridiculous.
Question to all
boys - Are you lonely? If so, take Aunt Cynthia’s advice.
Accept the next invitation to an art opening. Just by
standing there, some desperate woman is bound to hit on
you. Second hint – study the facts about the exhibit ahead
of time so you can seem knowledgeable. If you do this, you
will literally be surrounded by women all night long hanging
on your every word.
Third hint – take
an adult education course in Art History, pay attention,
learn something and you will be never be lonely again as
long as you live. I guarantee you will have your pick of
the most highly desirable women you could ever imagine.
Disgusted by my
visit to the art exhibit, the next day I visited the office
of a Dating Service.
I made a
startling discovery. It turns out that men are glutting the
dating services – five men for each woman according to my
source, a lady named Sarah. With those odds, I quickly
begin to grasp the meaning of the deluge of responses to my
personal ad as well.
It turns out
there really are single men in Houston, but many of them are
shy. They are not too good at pursuing women, but they are
dying to come out and play if the woman makes the first
move. Is this just an aberration or have I uncovered the
dating pattern of the Houston man?
In my opinion,
the attraction of the dating services is something similar
to an old Sears mail-order bride catalogue. Assuming that
some men possess fewer social skills than women, the thought
of Court and Spark (I love you, Joni!) terrifies them.
Consequently the thought of using a catalogue to find women
as opposed to guts and imagination is appealing to them.
Many Houston men apply for romance with the same methodic
discipline they once applied for jobs.
Deep down, I am
worried that men would actually prefer to buy their mate.
Will the car lots of the future have a showroom for women as
well? Will we sit there with our books and our knitting
waiting to be purchased as hood ornaments?
To my relief, I
soon discovered there was nothing particularly wrong with
these Dating Service guys. By and large they are just
normal guys and they are actively looking for relationships.
They are all just a little shy and frequently a bit
awkward. I have always wondered why back in high school a
few guys seemed to keep all the girls occupied
singlehandedly. Now that we are adults, nothing has
changed. The same guys who were tentative around women in
high school remain in a state of arrested development.
Anyone who could promise to teach these guys the ropes and
actually deliver would make a mint.
My first try was
“Match King”. Billed as “old-fashioned matchmaking at
old-fashioned prices”, this place felt like having Dear Abby
as your dating executive. Except now her name is Sarah.
You call Sarah and tell her about yourself for five minutes,
then you hang up and wait a bit for her to give it some
thought and call you back.
Ring Ring Ring.
I pick up the receiver.
Sarah. I’ve made up my mind. Steve is perfect for you.
He’s a 36 year old engineer from Montana. He is 6’ 2”,
blond, blue-eyes, plays the piano, jogs, lifts weights and
has a dog.”
good, so I sent Sarah $5, got Steve’s phone number, and rang
him up. I suggested Saturday. “Not Saturday,” Steve said.
“I’ll be playing the piano, jogging, lifting weights, giving
my dog a bath, and sitting in the sun while he dries off.”
I frowned. “All
at the same time?” Click. Guess he didn’t like my
answer. Good grief. This man eliminated me without asking
a single question. Why did this guy even bother submitting
his name? Or was my voice too husky?
They say you
have to learn not to take this stuff too personally. It’s a
good thing I like myself. A string of rejections for no
apparent reason like this one could quickly have me doubting
myself. As it was, every insecurity about boys and my own
attractiveness came bubbling to the surface thanks to this
strange, unexplained rejection. How could it be my looks?
It was a phone call, for crying out loud. Irrational as it
was, I was suddenly afraid to make the next phone call.
Feeling strangely vulnerable, I skipped the next phone
number I had purchased.
That was it for
Match King and Cindy. One strike out was more than I could
handle. I spent the rest of the night chewing myself out
for being such a coward. This was a dark night for me. I
hated bitterly making the first move! Making the first move
should be the boy’s job, not mine! Hell, someday I will
have to give painful agonizing birth to a baby. I will
suffer horribly. And now I have to make the first move as
well? This is bullshit.
angry, I switched to a computer dating service. I was
curious to see if a computer was a better matchmaker than
Cindy and that jerk Steve. I selected Quality Match because
I liked the questions on their questionnaire.
I also liked the
way they carefully explained how it all worked. Elaine, the
woman I spoke to, gave me some great advice. If you use a
service, it’s a good idea to proceed cautiously – first
names only and start with a lengthy phone conversation. If
the phone chat seems promising, next comes a mutual meeting
in a public place. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured
into an actual date by the dating service or by your
contact. This all made sense to me.
Too bad Quality
Match went out of business. It certainly wasn’t Elaine’s
fault. Fortunately, right before it folded, I got one very
good lead. Or at least I thought it was a good lead. Over
the phone I met Richard. I was immediately impressed that
he recognized Tchaikovsky playing in the background over the
phone. Hmm, this guy might have some potential.
Then the initial
promise began to fade away. It started when Richard asked
me what time I go to bed at night. Huh? I rolled my eyes
and said it varies. Next Richard explained how he installed
body heat sensors to trigger floodlights around his house in
River Oaks. I honestly wondered if he was putting me on,
but he wasn’t. Good grief. One big point for Tchaikovsky,
two minuses for bedtime and floodlights. I didn’t feel
right about this. However, I was just getting started and
didn’t have much on my plate. So I decided to chance it.
We only went out
once. Richard could have cared less that I have three
advanced degrees. Richard turned out to be a fortune
hunter. After several highly invasive questions about the
size of my estate, he could barely disguise his
I wanted to
defend my meager bank account by explaining I had spent most
of my life in graduate school. What did he expect? Then I
reminded myself that this game involved an endless string of
rejections. At least I knew the reason with this guy. I
I learned my
lesson. I should have trusted my instincts on the phone
contact. I felt oddly betrayed. This man had wasted my
entire evening. If he was so interested in money, why
hadn’t he brought the subject up on the phone?
found myself wishing I had gotten his address so I could
walk by sometime and trigger his body heat sensors just for
the fun of it.
Back on the phone
using a different service, I talked with Eric, a paralegal
from Texas City. Eric does karate while listening to
“Hamlet” records. I idly wondered what “Hamlet” records
are. “To be or not to be” on constant loop?
wanted to meet me as soon as possible. He actually
said, “Let’s get together soon so you can get a look
at me, an eleven on a scale of one to ten!” Oh
please. I quietly thanked Richard for teaching me
a lesson. If they are a drip on the phone, it will
only get worse in person. I’m a fast learner.
was Burt, a native Houstonian, who answered his
phone out of breath from doing sit-ups. A
transportation law and tariff expert, Burt is also
an amateur actor who once played opposite Farrah
Fawcett. Was he name-dropping or on the level? I
liked the acting part, but Burt didn’t set off my
chimes. So I called the next guy on my list.
was head of the economics department at a local
college. George said he liked to go to Oiler
football games, shopping malls, and bowling alleys.
I wasn’t connecting to George, but decided to give
it one last try. I asked him what his favorite mall
was. “Oh, that’s easy. Westwood Mall. I like it
because it is close to my condo!”
I groaned. Every
girl knows the old saw about kissing frogs to find a prince,
but this phone blather was giving me a headache. None of
these guys had a clue how to talk to women. All they ever
did was share their idiosyncrasies with me, but not one man
had the sense to ask me any questions about myself more
intelligent than what time I went to bed. I had to giggle
at the absurdity of it all. Surely there had to be a better
way to meet a guy than these waste of time phone leads that
Just when I was
ready to give up and head back to the next 10 girls to one
boy art gallery exhibit, I experienced love at first sight.
I got my first
look at Taylor through my apartment peephole. Taylor had
sounded like a nerd on the phone and now through my narrow
aperture I could see he looked like a nerd too. Not a
problem. I love nerds. Don’t tell anyone, but I am
secretly a nerd too. I hide it with makeup.
“Would you show
your identification, please?” This was a security move
suggested by Elaine.
dutifully slid his driver’s license under the door.
I checked out his name against the computer printout
I had been sent. My computer printout said Taylor
was 5’ 11”, bearded, brown eyes. I looked back
through the slit in the door. Yup, six feet tall,
beard, and my goodness he’s cute.
and I braved the heat outside and got in his Saab.
We headed to the Museum of Fine Arts to see
Bergman’s Autumn Sonata. After the
movie we stood outside on the sidewalk and talked
about Bergman for a half-hour with various
intellectuals and geniuses. I sipped my Cabernet
and exchanged witticism. Taylor noticed I was
holding my own and smiled. It was all so Woody
Allen. I was giddy with excitement. If my first
child was a girl child, her name would be Delores.
suggested we go have a drink. “Would you like to go
to Trader Vic’s for an exotic drink and an
eggroll?” I smiled. Only an egghead would suggest
an eggroll. I love eggheads too.
were seated, I stared into
Taylor’s big brown eyes and said, “Tell me
was obliging. He told me about all his computer
dates before me. I felt vaguely jealous. Surely
they were all sluts. To my delight, they were!
“I’ve been forced to meet big mamas at
Birraporretti’s. A fundamentalist made me take her
to Tony’s. But the worst was taking a computer date
to a rock concert where the music was so loud I
stuck napkins in my ears.” Taylor demonstrated by
dunking a couple napkins in water, then stuffing
them in his ears.
As I had
a giggling fit, instantly our waitress appeared with
an alarmed expression. “Is something wrong, sir?”
Chapter Eight -
So Many Men, So Little
I concluded the
real usefulness of dating services lies in the flurry of
dating. You can meet a large number of men from all over
the city in a relatively short period of time. Mostly the
many phone conversations and the occasional dates that
developed helped me to figure out what and who I was NOT
For one thing,
I’m not interested in men who don’t understand the give and
take of getting to know someone else. Some men were so busy
presenting themselves to me that they didn’t seem to want to
know anything about who I am or what I think about. Had no
one ever explained the power of the innocent question to
I thought back to
my favorite Warren Beatty movie Shampoo.
Beatty is a lowly hair dresser with no money, not
particularly smart, no discernible personal substance and
certainly not much of a future. Nevertheless every single
woman who meets him has to have him. Of course it helped
that the hairdresser looked like Warren Beatty, but it
turned out he had a ploy as well.
One day the
Beatty character is confronted by a mega-rich tycoon who has
discovered Beatty has somehow bedded his wife, seduced his
teenage daughter, and stolen his mistress. With a goon
standing behind him to make sure Beatty complies, the tycoon
wants some answers.
The tycoon barks,
“How do you do it? How does a lowly scum like you get all
these women? What’s your secret?”
He says, “It’s not that hard. All I do is listen to them.
Every woman has some man in her life that has treated her
badly. She has all this resentment bottled up. All I do is
listen to their sad stories and feel sorry for them. The
next thing I know, they think I’m cool.”
another hint from Aunt Cynthia… if you want a higher batting
average, find ways to get women to talk about themselves.
Chapter Nine - The
Up till now, I had relied on my female
friends and acquaintances to advise me. Now I
wanted to know what Houston men thought about Houston
women. Maybe I could learn
something valuable. I told my girlfriends any secrets
I learned would quickly be passed on to them. This strategy was
akin to interviewing Napoleon
how he conquered Europe, then warn Austria Hungary
how to prepare for the next invasion.
I asked every
lady friend I knew to
bring me a heterosexual single Houston man
willing to be interviewed for my story. I added one caveat
– he needed to be someone who expressed himself well.
This worked like
a charm. Instead of using myself as bait with the personal
ads and dating services, now I could be myself – a writer
for a magazine with an article to write.
development I noticed was the world of difference in social skills.
The men I interviewed next were hardly in need of personal
ads or dating services. They were
charming, clever, and surprisingly candid with their views.
I had to laugh.
Men occasionally point to pictures of super-models and ask
me, “Do women like that really exist? I have never seen
a woman who looked like that in
the real world.”
These guys were
the answer to a similar complaint my friend Veronica voices
all the time. “I love Cary Grant. Handsome, witty,
charming, fun, mannerly, and suave. Do men like Cary Grant
Yes, Veronica, I
can now answer your question. They do exist.
Over the next month I
seven of the most amazing men I
have ever met in my life.
How can I say this gracefully? Some men think they need a
little help in the cold cruel Dating
jungle. These are
the shy boys who write personal ads and use Dating
services. Don’t forget there are gems to be found… witness
Taylor, my precious Trader Vic buddy. However, by and
large, the social skills of the men who
personal ads and
dating services clearly lacked
polish. I speculate many of them
have struck out with women using traditional
methods. They aren’t getting anywhere. So now they turn to
other devices not because they want to, but
because they may not
have any choice.
The series of
I was about to meet for interviews had no need whatsoever
for Dating Services. All they had to do was smile. They
were a talented group of men
indeed. I called them
It took a month
for Gary, a high-powered commercial real estate broker, to find a hole in
his schedule. He was working on a multi-million dollar deal
that had him so hyper he couldn’t sit still to talk to me.
Finally his deal went through and he calmed down.
When we finally
did meet, I was flabbergasted to discover that we had been
working out side-by-side three times a week on the Nautilus
machines at the downtown Y.
“You’re Gary?” I
exclaimed. Now he recognized me too. We both laughed.
Thanks to this odd rapport, Gary opened up quickly. Gary
started by saying he had a
girlfriend in Dallas.
perfect,” Gary said. “Every
couple of weeks she picks me up at the airport. It’s a
36-hour deal – we spend the entire time in bed. I had a
relationship in Houston but it took too much time away
from my work. If you’re one of the studs in town and
you want to get laid a lot, it’s also very expensive.
You may even have to keep her in cocaine. I don’t do
cocaine myself – that crowd is mostly people in their
twenties, lower middle management.”
I raised an
eyebrow. This was news to me. Obviously I have been
traveling in different circles. I
asked Gary what he thought about relationships.
“I think the whole thing is
terribly difficult. I have
missed out on women I was fascinated with simply because
our timing was off. The timing is has to be
precise. Talented people become available for a
nanosecond, then they are besieged by new suitors. If
you are in a relationship yourself, you see this person
you have had a crush on forever come available.
Do I run to her immediately or do I weigh the odds?
I am filled with uncertainty that this person will feel the
same way about me or that a new relationship
will ever work out once we know each
other better. Do I risk tossing what
aside for this other person?
The stakes are even higher if
someone is married
and has scruples.
My sense of loyalty has cost me
several fine opportunities.
I can't even remember ever being free
at the same time a woman I have dreamed about also
becomes free. It is almost a miracle to find this woman available at
the same time I am available.
More often than
not, someone is going to have to
gamble and leave the one they are with. Jump ship
so to speak. If so, someone is going to get their feelings hurt – me,
her, the person I am leaving, the person she is
leaving. Who knows who is going to get hurt? But
inevitably someone is going to experience heartache when
you switch partners.
Risk. It all
boils down to risk. Do we make a move or not?
Most of the time we see attractive
people and have a failure of nerve. No one likes
taking chances. I pass by women I am attracted to
on a daily basis, but never say a thing because the
probability of embarrassment is so high.
and me. We exchanged smiles for weeks at the Downtown
Y, but neither of us ever initiated a conversation. I
assumed you were in a relationship and you certainly
never made a move to indicate availability. People
move around downtown Houston inside
their turtle shells and rarely
come out to make a move.
I think there
are a lot of lonely people out there. Everybody is
trying to make that romance connection. All of us deep
down want to make that jump, but the odds of it working
are so precarious that we hold back. The reason
people are lonely is that they are not making themselves
available. They show up at all the best parties, but
even then they may not be making themselves emotionally
available. They are waiting for
a sure thing. They hesitate for fear they might
get shot down.
I have a
different attitude. I say good women are worth
competing for. Every attractive woman I have ever met
had one, two,
even three guys falling all over her. You see
a movie, magically some woman shows up to fall in love
with the hero. Turns out she's all alone and there’s no
one to protect her. That’s the movies. In real life,
women who look that have all sorts of men chasing after
her. Not only that, even while she’s smiling at me, I
know she still has feelings for some of these
There is no such thing as an unattached woman. A woman
might say she is free, but I always assume that she
might change her mind and go back to
one of them. It is all
part of the game. I know that at any time the
previous guy might make a big play for her and get her
back. It happens. That’s part of risk.
I agree it is better to try and lose than never make a
Even if I end of winning, I know it
will be rough at first. At the very
least I assume I may have to share her for a
while. I know full well she’s having sex with other
guys. I don’t like it, but it’s a nasty part of the
game I have to accept. If I go acting possessive and
needy, boom, I’m dead. The
woman always goes for the cool guy, so my trick is to stand tall and
never complain. Let the other guy go boo-hoo-hoo, I
can’t bear to lose you. 8 times out of 10, I get the
girl. Women always seem to prefer the guy who seems
nonchalant. Don’t ask me to explain it, but it works.
And even when
it doesn’t work, I’m okay with it. I keep a close watch
on my heart. I don’t open my heart up to any woman
unless she makes a similar move. It’s like getting
undressed. No way I am getting naked if the woman is
keeping her clothes on. I take
my clothes at the same rate or not at all. I'm not
getting attached if she isn't also getting attached.
In the end, if she goes back to
the other guy, so be it. Hey, love is always a gamble. In the
meantime, I have spent time with a terrific woman. It
builds my confidence to know I can chase women of that
caliber. This kind of high stakes experience has made
me brave enough to tackle the next beauty who comes
along. That's my philosophy.”
Just then Gary
looked at his watch. I nodded. Time to go. Interesting
is an electrical engineer. He is one of those people
who came to Houston in the early Eighties
in search of meteoric career
growth. For a while, he wasn’t sure it was worth it.
Jeffrey was forced to make a tough choice.
an offer to stay at his school and pursue an advanced degree or come
to Houston and begin a high-paying job. There was only one
catch - if he took the job, Janet, his college sweetheart, refused
to come with him unless they got married. Janet had
deep family roots in her college town and didn’t want to follow him
Jeffrey told Janet he wasn't ready to get married. Couldn't
they just live together for a while to be sure? Janet stuck to
her guns. Jeffrey came to Houston alone.
As I got to know
Jeffrey better, I learned this decision
defined his life. This fateful move was two years in
the rearview mirror, but it was
still bothering him. He
was full of regret for not marrying his college
sweetheart. Janet was the
one who got away.
“The first year I was in Houston I was constantly
depressed. I moved from a college town where I had
my girlfriend and the
most fantastic group of friends imaginable. I just couldn’t stop
talking about how much I missed Janet
and my buddies. Those guys were
practically my brothers.
One day a woman
at work told me, ‘Listening to you being depressed all
the time is getting really boring.’
That really hurt.
She had no idea how painful her offhand remark was, but that barb hit home. I burned for days. After
thinking about that
slap for a few days, I decided she was right. It was
time to stop feeling sorry for myself.
I started my comeback by finding things to do that I
enjoyed whether I met someone or not. I
discovered there are pockets of people who have
particular interests and through them I could meet other
people. It works by geometric progression. The
difficulty is finding the right Starting Point.
If you are
new in Houston, what you need to do is meet some people
who are already plugged into a social network. Once this
happens, I get to participate in Group Dating. Maybe 8
of us – 4 men, 4 women - will go somewhere fun and hang
out. This has the advantages of an actual date without
the pressure of telling someone you aren’t interested in
I say meeting
people is a skill. It takes self-confidence to get
started, but also practice. It involves risk. You have
to be willing to put yourself on the line and make
invitations. Learn how to accept rejection and learn
how to reject others gracefully when you are on the
receiving end of invitations.”
decided to get on with things, he discovered Houston isn’t
so bad after all. Jeffrey says he
sees women friends four to five times a week. Sometimes
it’s drinks after work at the Houston Center Club. Other
times it’s dinner at Tony’s or maybe popcorn and TV at home.
I asked Jeffrey to reevaluate his
fateful decision knowing what he knows now.
“It took me a
full year to get over my breakup.
Let me qualify that. I am still
not really over Janet, but she has moved on so there's
no going back. She is always in the back of my
I just wasn't ready. I had this
tough job waiting for me. I knew I would be
traveling a lot and forced to spend tons of time working
late. I heard what my boss told me when they were
He said I would be married to my
job until the Canadian project I was hired to help with
was finished. He could not predict how long it
would take. He said at least a year, maybe longer.
How would I make a marriage work when I was gone all the
I knew Janet would miss her family
terribly. Janet is the original small town girl.
Her whole life revolved around her family, friends and her
church. Her father is a professor at my school. I
could not bear to take her away from that for a risky move
to Houston. I knew she would be miserable alone in
this city with me gone all the time.
I loved her so much. It's
terrible to make such a cold choice, but it was the one that
made the most sense to me.
Besides, I was still more 'boy' than
'man'. I was hardly ready to start having kids, much
less be a full-time husband. It was just too much at
once for me. I don’t think men start
growing up until they are about 27.
Now that I am older, I guess it would be nice to
have someone in my life full-time
but it becomes self-defeating to
make that a goal. It detracts from anything else that
Most women seem to want a commitment.
They seem to feel an urgency, maybe because that biological
clock is ticking away. Their urgency exacerbates
my fear of losing my house and my privacy. I’m not
ready yet to settle down. I’ve had women throw
paperback books at me in frustration, but I am not going to
let them dictate to me about making a commitment. It
needs to be my idea, not theirs.
haven’t had any luck sustaining a relationship.
The women I date tire of waiting for me to show commitment
and move on. My reluctance
to commit may
be because of fear. I never want to feel again the pain
I felt when I broke it off with my college girlfriend.
I have spent so much time trying to become emotionally
healthy again, learning to live alone, and to think
about how I want my life to be.
I'm young. I am getting established
here at the firm. I am sure when the right girl comes
along, I will try again. But right now it is easier
for me to keep things superficial. I never seem to
have trouble finding dates, so what's the rush?”
Malcolm is also an attorney. Malcolm, 36, has never been
married. I found him to be smart and funny and maybe a
little dangerous in a very nice way. Malcolm, a man of
Scottish heritage, likes to play rugby and thinks a fun idea
of a first date is to go to Water World. In Malcolm’s
opinion, any first date where a woman willingly takes off
most of her clothes off has great potential. I was taken
aback till I saw the sparkle in his eye. He smiled.
Gotcha. Did I mention he is funny?
I parked next to
Malcolm’s Alfa Romeo at Kenneally’s where he goes on
Wednesday evenings to hear Irish music. Once inside,
Malcolm waved to a group of friends and schmoozed for a
moment before returning to me. Like Jeffrey, Malcolm is a
firm believer in socializing with a group of friends.
Malcolm said he
prefers to get to know women as friends first before taking
it further. With that goal in
mind, Malcolm has become a
polished organizer of group dates.
example, as we talked in a corner before the music
started, Malcolm’s friend Rex came over.
proudly wearing a “Second Annual Invitational
Malcolm Golf Classic” tee-shirt complete with a
loveable caricature of Malcolm’s frown after missing
his putt wide right.
casually asked Malcolm if that was an accurate
caricature. “Oh no, I play golf well. But I
don’t see any value in boasting about it. I am
more interested in putting my friends at ease
than I am competing with them. Besides, this
isn’t the golf you think it is.”
asked Rex how Malcolm’s Golf Classic went. Rex went
wide-eyed with excitement. “The legs on those women
were astounding. Malcolm asked all the ladies to
wear short skirts. I have never seen so many
beautiful legs in my entire life! I have dreams
took his departure, I was a little confused. Very
few women I know play golf. Where was Malcolm able
to round up all these women?
may be fooled by the title. Actually it was
Putt-Putt Golf. I have no trouble lining up
women for these events. Once I explain that my
parties are composed of Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s,
exquisite T-shirts, and trophies plus lots of
single men showing off their putters, the ladies
are quite willing to cooperate. The humor can
be a bit sophomoric… ‘hole in one’, ‘check the
shaft on that guy’… but the people really get
smiled. This guy was sharp. He made me laugh.
Then I realized I felt a little giddy. Uh oh. I
remembered what had happened the last time I got
that feeling. Was it the ale or was it Malcolm? I
needed to cut back on the Guinness Ale and stay on
my toes during this interview or we might be
crossing professional boundaries.
was just warming up. He told me he has sauerbraten
or lasagna dinner parties where he does the
cooking. He cooks while lots of people do wine
tasting. He lets a trusted buddy run the wine
show. Malcolm explained that he is a terrible host
at these events because he spends most of his time
on the phone with his mother for step by step
just invite his mother over?
“And let her
curb my style? I did it once and she spent the whole
evening interviewing the women to pick out her official
daughter-in-law-to-be. Worst night of my life.”
I grinned again.
Just then a waiter asked if I wanted my glass filled. “Oh
no, I’m fine, thank you.” Then I breathed deeply in an
attempt to clear my head.
Trying to buy
time to regain some self-control, I asked Malcolm what he
looks for in women. “A sense of humor, honesty, 98.6 body
temperature, intelligence, common sense, putting ability.”
that he doesn’t get into a relationship unless there’s
some potential for it to be long-term, but that before
he gets married he wants to “go up the Nile, down the
Amazon, and river-raft in Tibet. Or is it down the Nile
and up the Amazon? Everyone wants to fix you up when
you’re in your twenties and thirties. Everyone asks me
what type I am looking for and I say short blonde just
to get them off my back. You meet some women and as
soon as they know you’re a lawyer, you feel like you
have a target on your back. Life is more complex than
going to college, getting married, and getting the back
forty from your Dad. I prefer to have a number of women
friends I can call and ask to do something.”
advice to men: “Don’t come on to women. Avoid stupid
pickup lines. Just talk to them! Find something you
have in common and expand on it just like you would blow
on an burning coal to start a fire. Once you get them
talking, then come on to them.” He winked at me. “Just
kidding. No, seriously, men need to learn to talk to
women. The simplest way to get a conversation going is
to find out what they are interested in and ask them
simple questions that allow them to keep talking. I
have found the more a woman enjoys talking to me, she
will start to get to curious about me. That’s when I
begin talking. Most guys don’t get that. They dominate
the conversation and get nowhere.”
I was impressed.
Good answer. So I asked another question. What was
Malcolm’s advice to women?
problem with first meetings and first dates is women who
play ‘chameleon’ with me. If they think I am a
Republican, then so are they. If they think I am
Jewish, they bring up that some Jewish girl was their
best friend in college. If I say I like rugby, they say
that’s their favorite sport. Sometimes women try too
hard to be someone they think I might prefer instead of
just being who they are. They figure they will keep up
the charade long enough for me to get attached to their
face, then they will take off the mask. That act
doesn’t work very well in the long run. Now I have to
get attached to a new face and I might just walk thanks
to their lack of confidence at the start.”
My next interview
was with Miguel, 34. I found him fascinating not just
because he said he was a womanizer, but that he was quite
candid about it. I didn’t expect any man to give me an
actual recipe for seduction, but that’s exactly what I got
here. If I were to guess why, I think he’s proud of
Miguel has a
built-in happy hunting ground. He owns a Mexican
restaurant. A good one.
debonair, Miguel spends most of every evening table-hopping
at his restaurant. Miguel said he was awkward at first. He
was frightened of rejection and afraid of negativity for
inserting himself into his customer’s evenings. But that
passed quickly. He soon learned the majority of the people
were flattered by his visits.
considerable practice at talking to his customers, at this
point, Miguel said he had his style honed to perfection. He
uses two simple themes - How is the food and where are you
Miguel told me a
big career hurdle was getting used to the finicky eaters.
The danger of asking people how the food tastes is that
sometimes you get answers you don’t want to hear. Miguel
admitted in the early days it was difficult to get used to
all the criticism.
One day Miguel
complained about it to
his father, a former Mexican
His father smiled, asked his son to pour them both a glass
of wine and then invited his son to sit down. Miguel smiled
“And then my
father gave me the best piece of advice I have ever
received. My father said that I should learn to treat
every complaint that was within reason as a golden
opportunity to develop a loyal customer. My father said
that it would be a lot of work at first, but I should
try to accommodate every request. Sometimes this meant
comping the meal or ordering something redone.
Sometimes I should offer a complimentary drink on the
house as a ‘please forgive us’ gesture even if we had
done nothing wrong.
loudly, but my father asked me to calm down and listen.
Now my father shared the rationale behind that
approach. My father said often that complaints were a
request for attention. If I honored their request for
attention in a positive way, I made them feel special.
Yes, I might end up even losing money on the meal, but
many of these people would come back time and time
I told my
father I didn’t believe him. Although I was deeply
skeptical, I promised my father I would try. It grated
my nerves no end to bend over backwards to satisfy these
picky, often obnoxious customers, but to my shock, my
father’s plan worked. Not always, mind you, but often
enough that I realized my father knew what he was
talking about. I know this because sometimes people
would pull me over and remind me how nicely I had
treated them on their previous visit. Sometimes I
didn’t have any idea what they were talking about, but I
had the sense to smile and pretend they were my mucho
grande amigo in the world.
That’s how I
learned the deeper meaning of the phrase “the customer
is always right”. No, the customer isn’t always right,
but if I can be cynical enough to keep smiling through
the negativity, many of these people go on to become
real fans of my restaurant.”
smiled at me. “You will of course refrain from printing my
restaurant’s name in your story, yes?”
I nodded. “Yes,
Miguel, you have my word.”
I asked Miguel,
“You said you had two themes. One was to ask about the
food. Tell me about the other one.”
“Ah, yes, I
ask them where they are from. When talking with
strangers, it is imperative that we establish some sort
of commonality as a starting point for conversation. I
give myself one job every evening – be the host. That
is my goal. A host must make people feel comfortable.
That involves the fine art of conversation. Once I
discover where they are from, I either share something I
know about that place or ask them a question about their
home. If they give me something to work with, I follow
their lead. If they give me nothing, I assume they
prefer to be left alone, so I say ‘enjoy your meal’ and
move to the next table.”
“What if they are
laughed. “Obviously that is the answer I get most of
the time. That is not a problem. ‘What part of Houston
are you from?’ ‘How long have you lived in Houston?’
‘What do you think of a sports team, a current event, or
whatever? Like I said, if they help a little, I can
light a bonfire from an ember. I just follow each
answer with a natural progression of small followup
questions. Once you practice a bit, it isn’t that
difficult. The one piece of advice I can give is not to
try hard. If they don’t help, I simply thank them for
their patronage and slide past them.”
I asked Miguel
about Houston women. That was, after all, the point of our
enjoy the company of women. Occasionally
someone I have connected with during my
conversations will slip me her phone number on
the way out. I don’t really have the time to go
out with as many girls as I have offers. There
are two or three I take out more than once, but
I space them out. If they like you after the
first date, they want something from you. They
want to see you more frequently, they want a
relationship, they want a commitment.
course there is a part of me that would like to
settle down, but I have reservations. I had one
woman, Estella, a real beauty, who I considered
important. Estella was a former beauty queen
from Venezuela. By chance, she had pursued me
here at the restaurant. Imagine that, a beauty
queen chasing me! How many men can say that?
However, be careful what you wish for. Now that
Estella had me, she was convinced other women
would try to pry me away from her. She came to
the restaurant every night and spent her time
watching me like a hawk. We would have
arguments later if she perceived me as ‘too
friendly’ at one table full of pretty women.
Estella made me miserable. She kept me from
doing my job. Believe it or not, my sales
actually began to slip. I blamed myself and I
blamed Estella. I forced myself to break it
off. It was the hardest thing I have ever done
in my life. Probably never again will I get
that close to possessing the Latin Helen of
Troy. But like the real Helen of Troy, Estella
brought destruction to me. She was beautiful,
but she made me miserable.”
story. We had talked a long time and I assumed that
was the end of it. To my surprise, Miguel showed no
signs of stopping. So I asked him how his life had
gone since Estella.
don’t want a relationship. Perhaps someday.
After what I went through with Estella, I don’t
want to wake up five months from now with a
woman screaming at me and throwing ashtrays
again. I’m happy the way things are right now.
I choose sensitive, sweet, emotional women. I
get lonely now and then, but I think it’s
sometimes good to be lonely, to be able to think
I am not
ready for marriage. I am married to my restaurant. I
do not lack for company. In my unusual position with so
much visibility, it is easier to make a woman than an
And that was the
end of it. Miguel got up, kissed my hand and then went to
work. Before I left, I stopped in the shadows to watch as
he moved from table to table. He was all smiles, a natural
greeter, always with his hand out to shake hands with the
men. For the women he gave kisses on the cheeks of the
single women and a deft fingertip handshake for the married
ones. Judging by the enthusiastic smiles of his guests, I
could tell he was a master at the top of his game. But was
I pondered that
question. With a harem larger than that of your average
Arab Sultan, he definitely seemed happy enough
for the moment.
I spent a Sunday
afternoon at Butera’s sidewalk café talking with Jacob, 28,
a serious, handsome internal medicine resident at Baylor.
For some reason,
Miguel’s story still had a spell on me. I felt rankled and
decided to break the ice by sharing the story with Jacob. I
suppose I was curious what he thought.
I wasn’t exactly
tickled by his response. “I knew I should have opened a
restaurant!” Jacob laughed after hearing about Miguel’s
escapades with women. The wrong reason, but then I realized
he was teasing me. He obviously sensed that I had energy on
Like a lot of
doctors I meet, Jacob possessed that moody demeanor that
makes you fall in love with them at the same time you
despair of ever attracting their attention.
have told me of “beeper romances” with doctors. The only
way to talk them is to beep them.
Sure enough, at
this exact moment, Jacob’s beeper went off, except that it
obviously wasn’t a girlfriend. I listened respectfully as
he gave careful instructions on a change in dosage for a
Then he turned back to me. I asked
him how he meets women. Jacob shrugged his shoulders.
“I meet women just plodding along at work or through
friends. I like some of the ones I meet, but I
deliberately keep them at arm’s length because my career
is just now taking direction and it may be some time
before I get involved in a relationship. So much of my
time outside the hospital is filled with things related
to the hospital – seminars, professional reading, and
conferences with visiting lecturers. Just because I
have finished medical school doesn’t mean I wish to stop
learning. The right attitude is to keep exploring and
learning about the latest advances. There is so much
information out there that I would not be doing my job
if I didn’t include keeping up.”
I asked if all
doctors his age shared the same attitude about postponing
relationships. After all, aren’t these also the best years
to start a family?
question. I think I am in the minority here. A lot of
people in medicine are traditional. We spend so much
time in school. Most of us, when we finally leave
school at 28 or 29, we are so damn lonely this feels
like the right time to get married. Your basal needs
determined your basal level of activity. I think my
basal needs related to women are set pretty low right
now. I’m not interested in a wife singly as a
cheerleader for my career. That said, I do want to meet
someone who’s well-read, capable of stimulating
conversation, and committed to her own intellectual
I have heard that
doctors are the modern day equivalent of handsome princes
and I am here to confirm that legend is true. When Jacob
finished describing his vision of the right woman for him, I
impulsively raised my hand and waved it wildly. My heart
thumped and my mind raced. “Pick me. Here I am!! I’m the
girl you are looking for!”
Just then Jacob’s
beeper went off. Jacob took one look, jumped up and offered
a quick “nice to meet you!”
Then he turned
his back and raced back to the hospital. I wonder if he
noticed my hand in the air.
As should be
obvious by now, what had started as simple assignment for my
magazine to educate Houston women on where to find Houston
men had unexpectedly gotten under my skin. Fresh out of
graduate school, I assumed there were eligible bachelors
everywhere here in Houston. In a city this big, bachelors
probably grew on trees.
Finding the right
guy was surely no more difficult than selecting the right
batch of bananas at a grocery store. Now, however, I found
myself in the grips of a serious depression. If a smart
girl like me could comb the entire city and come up
empty-handed, what did that say for all my sisters? My
girlfriends had warned me at the start that finding the
Right Guy would be harder than I ever imagined. Holy
smokes, no kidding!
Yes, I had found
a hundred men through personal ads and dating services, but
only three or four had distinguished themselves. Lately I
had just met 5 hand-picked bachelors who were dream guys for
almost any single girl, but women came so easily to them
they weren’t even remotely interested in settling down!
Were there any
solid guys somewhere in the middle? If so, where does a
girl find them?
Now I was mad. I
was determined to find ONE MAN who was not only wonderful
but also looking for a relationship. Surely these creatures
had to exist or the human race was in big trouble. I was
still wrestling with the disparity of leaving a college
campus teeming with hordes of intelligent available men and
hitting a big city with population of a million, but
seemingly bereft of attainable bachelors.
As my quest took
me to my next interview, I discovered Peter. Peter was a
tenured professor with a superb education, exquisite taste
in art, friend and confidante not only to River Oaks
hostesses but to the Southampton movers and shakers as
well. Peter was well-traveled, physically fit, and
energetic in his mid-forties. He carried himself with great
dignity, yet I couldn’t help but detect an immediate
I met at his penthouse aerie high over the city
where he lives aloft with his teenage daughter
Elizabeth and teenage son Nathan.
called to arrange our meeting
beforehand, his teenage daughter Elizabeth
had answered the phone. Elizabeth collapsed into
derisive laughter at the
very thought that I wanted to interview her father
about women. She scornfully
said, “My father doesn’t know the first thing about
obviously sometime between our
conversation and my appearance, her father
had set her straight, because I was met at the door
by a sophisticated, poised, and
rather cold young lady.
greeted me with an put-on
show of politeness at the door. From there she
ushered me to her father with all the grace of the
River Oaks matron she was being groomed to be. Now
Elizabeth began mixing screwdrivers and arranging
the crudités. I could tell it was all an act, but
it was done with same skill one would expect from a
trained dignitary. This was a formidable young
had undergone quite a transformation since her
frivolous reaction to my phone call. I got the
strange feeling that Elizabeth had energy on me. I
couldn’t help but wonder if Elizabeth had sassed her
father in some way about my visit. If so, she might
have touched a nerve. Had Daddy lost his temper?
I could only assume that only the threat of losing a
car, college tuition, or family inheritance could
create such a dramatic change in demeanor.
Elizabeth lingering in the background obviously
listening in, Peter set forth.
the next year or so, I intend
to find some kind of permanent
relationship. I want the continuity, the length
of time, the memories, precisely what on the
flip side makes it boring. This week, two women
I admire called to ask me out, and a colleague
asked to introduce me to a third. My search to
find the right woman has begun.”
It dawned on me
that I had just heard a rehearsed statement meant more for
Elizabeth than me. Playing it straight, I asked Peter what
sort of woman interested him.
“Somebody who knows her stuff, whatever it is. When I
think of the women I’ve really loved, I realize I’m
fascinated by artistes, women who have edges, ambitions,
who may be smarter than I am, who won’t’ let me play
games. I want a woman who will show me new things,
won’t give up on me when I resist, and who have the
ability to share. I need a woman who is social. I need
a woman who will help with the social activities that
are part and parcel of my role as a college professor.”
“Considering the circles you move in, I wouldn’t think you
would have trouble finding a talented woman to assume this
the same thing, but I was wrong. I had a very bitter
divorce from Elizabeth and Nathan’s mother. In the
years since my divorce I’ve found it difficult to work
out a relationship with a woman because I’m the
custodial parent of children with a living… and
interfering… mother. My ex-wife is determined that if
she can’t have me, no other woman will either. The
moment she finds I am dating someone, my ex makes sure
her friends begin the whispering campaign. Yes, I made
mistakes, but how long does my radioactive past have to
follow me around?
any new women in my life looks at the two precocious
children who guard me like Cerberus at the Gates of
Hades and hear one-sided versions of my toxic marriage,
they stop in their tracks. Given my children and my
track record, they are not sure how to proceed. Am I
too big a risk because I made mistakes before?”
I frowned to
myself. This man obviously carried considerable baggage.
Like an ex-con who pleads for someone to take a chance on
him and give him a job, this professor had an aura of
trouble about him that anyone could sense. And yet three
women were ready to give him another try. To me, this was
yet another indication that it must be a Man’s World after
all. Put a woman with a past in the same situation and see
how far she gets.
My thoughts were
interrupted as Peter continued.
“I admit I’ve
played the parental role for all it was worth, to
compensate for my own emotional loss. My priorities are
the kids first, my work second, and relationships
third. How is a single woman going to relate to ‘us’ as
a family and the way ‘we’ do things? There are three of
us and one of her. What woman has the willpower to
stand up to three strong personalities and somehow carve
out a niche of her own? That might work in the Sound
of Music, but it is an uphill struggle at best.”
I had to admit
Peter had a point. Just then I caught a glance of Elizabeth
sizing me up. Was I really just a mere writer or was I a
potential threat to her domain? Was her father interested
in me? Elizabeth was the woman of the household and
determined to stay that way. I shuddered at the thought of
going head to head with this strong-minded young lady. Not
that I was interested, but if I were, I would surely wait
till she left for college and then make my move.
I didn’t need a
degree in psychology to see this stunning palace in the sky
was haunted with overwhelming Oedipal problems. Peter
seemed to blame all his problems on his ex-wife, but I
wondered if he realized the real problem was standing right
behind him. Elizabeth stared at me and I stared right back.
Peter didn’t seem
to notice the frosty eye contact between me and his
daughter. He kept talking.
“I do have
women friends who are also single parents. We get
together for mutual activities with our children, but
who has the psychic energy to make room for a whole new
relationship? It’s hard enough just to negotiate the
mine field of human frailties between a man and a woman,
but when you factor in the dynamics of merging the
strong personalities of two households, the problems
conversation, Peter was forced to negotiate minor uproars
between the kids. He found the time to admire his
daughter’s new high heels, give his son an advance on his
allowance, resolved a curfew question, and asked his
formidable daughter to check on a Bartok recording while she
was at the record store.
“Bye bye, Dad, I
love you.” Then with one final dart-like warning stare at
me, she was off. Elizabeth need not have worried. I had
the creeps. Moments later I excused myself. It was a long,
solitary ride down.
conversation had been interrupted no less than six times in
thirty minutes by his children, I could not help but wonder
what message they were sending. This was my guess. “Leave
our father alone, Cynthia, or we will make your life here a
Got it. Message
received loud and clear.
On the long elevator ride back to
Earth, I decided
Shakespeare could have a field day with this family. Then I
had a better idea. I
thought of Carrie and had an evil laugh.
family was definitely more suited to Stephen King.
As I continued my
Alice in Wonderland foray through Houston’s most eligible
bachelors, I had met lawyers and doctors, but no oil men.
Now came Walter. He was both an oil man and a doctor.
conversation to set up the meeting, Walter said he was a
graduate of Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. At the
moment, at age 40 he split his time between an Emergency
Clinic at night and with his father’s oil company by day.
The doorman at
Walter’s condo in the Montrose area accompanied me on the
elevator to meet Walter up on the pool deck. Together we
took a ride on a glass elevator. This ride seemed to never
end. I wondered if we were headed to Valhalla when finally
the motion came to a stop. There to greet me was Walter.
statement was “I thought you might like to see the view from
I gasped. My
God, we were on top of the world! Maybe this was Valhalla
after all. I was treated to an unobstructed circular view
of Houston’s skyscrapers and tree-laden surroundings. I
have often thought that Houston grows trees as fast as
weeds. I saw nothing up here in the clouds to dispel that
thought. Once Houston learns to line its concrete mess of
freeways with forests, we might actually have a very pretty
Now my eyes moved
to Walter himself. Wow! Walter was handsome in his running
shorts, polo shorts and tanned, well-toned body. My hit
parade of accomplished men was in no danger of being
interrupted by this guy.
Walter was easily the most attractive guy so far.
He had movie star good looks. He even resembled a
young Cary Grant. Veronica would have died if she met him.
add I sensed something deep about Walter.
He had looks, money,
accomplishment, and intelligence. Walter was probably
the most talented man I had ever met at this point in my
life. And yet Walter was so nice to
me that I didn’t feel intimidated. However when I thought
about his medical training, his wealth, his business success
and his confident demeanor, I was in awe. In fact, Walter
was so many light years out of my league, I didn’t even
bother getting a crush on him. Just do the interview, shake
his hand, and be grateful for the experience.
I thought of what Gary had said...
the chance to be with a talented person even for just a
brief time is always worth it.
We got down to
business. No drinks. Now that was different. Maybe it
was too early. As we split a piece of Butera’s chocolate
pie, Walter warmed up to the subject of relationships.
generation has been engaged in undoing the Leave it to
Beaver or Father Knows Best definition of the
normal family. The turmoil of the Sixties which
carried over into the Seventies made our vision of
things like love, marriage, motherhood, and fatherhood
seem like distant clichés. So many things we once
thought were essential to putting together a meaningful
relationship were rejected in a violent disavowal of the
While we were busy tearing down our
parent’s values of materialism and conformity, many of us
were seduced by the lure of free love and the ‘live for
today, not tomorrow’ philosophies. As people indulged
in higher and higher levels of kink, the sexual axis of
many generations was abused. No one knew what the rules
were, what the limits were. A lot of people my age got
lost in the Seventies. Too much sex and too many
drugs. We had no clue what a meaningful relationship
was. Men in particular suffered more than women. Men
have less experience in dealing with emotions and
unstructured love relationships. As men wandered from
woman to woman, they watched
in shock as women
suddenly did the same thing. Men had no experience
coping with women who wandered from man to
man. Unprepared for the consequences, feelings of possessiveness ripped men apart.
Jealousy drove them insane. It was
okay for them to have any woman they wanted, but how
dare the women play by the same rules.”
could not believe Walter was talking so
candidly about sex! I got so
flustered by Walter’s theories that I ended up getting
chocolate all over my notes. He made me feel like a
schoolgirl sitting at the professor’s knees. Thank goodness
Walter was far too much a gentleman to inquire why I was so
bothered. Instead he tried to help me clean my notes off,
but I begged him to continue. I didn’t want to break his
to his train of thought.
time, men had never really questioned their own
tendencies towards wanting to have every attractive
woman they came into contact with. But when women began
to behave the same way, men weren’t prepared for that.
They began to wonder how special could they really be if
their favorite woman could disengage from them so
easily. How could she really love him if she was having
so much fun with the guy down the street? Men were not
even remotely prepared to deal with the deeper
consequences of free love.
wonder if the outbreak of herpes wasn’t a blessing in
disguise. Herpes slowed down the sexual revolution long
enough for people to realize that taking multiple sex
partners wasn’t really in their long-term best
interests. I think the pendulum has begun to swing
back in the correct direction. People are beginning to
realize that sex is just a vehicle to get to know
another person rather than the glorified end in
Although I wish I hadn’t
covered my notes, my fingers, my dress and parts of my face
with chocolate pie like some catastrophe straight out of “I
Love Lucy”, I really liked what Walter had to say. Thanks
to Walter’s opinion that the Sexual Revolution had pretty
much come to a grinding halt, I felt much better about the
chances for men and women to click again as humans, not just
I was in a good mood.
I caught myself licking
some chocolate off my
fingers on the way down. It made me
think of Walter again.
I didn't even know men like Walter existed.