Monday, July 26, 2010

The Cougrr

We’re sitting at the Root Down restaurant in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver, a converted auto shop filled with art deco kitsch. There’s an entire wall hung with hard plastic desk phones from a bygone era in various bright colors. I meet my date for the first time. She’s elegantly dressed in frilly black pants and a sleeveless black top sipping a strawberry rhubarb Caprihina. We embrace like old friends.

Since me and DanceCougrr (her Match handle) started instant messaging on Match a few days before, we realized we were mental soul mates and as she wrote, MOTs (Members of the Tribe) This elegant, zaftig Jewess, a former sub-prime loan maven, has re-invented herself in a couple of new start-up ventures. She pole dances and is fluent in several dance forms. She’d emailed me photos of her on a pole with a bodybuilder/fireman for her 50th birthday. Her sybaritic personality was that of a self-actualized woman unafraid to grasp life by the balls and fully enjoy every moment in all of its absurd glory.

The endless patois of witticisms endowed with occasional yiddish or rap phrases turns both of our minds on. If my brain had a clitoris it was being stroked every second – before our date, she left a voicemail telling me how stimulated she was by our conversations. We acknowledge that even if we never “feel the animal” for one another, we will always be BFFs.

I order another drink, a tequila infused with poblano that tickles my throat. By the time we head to the table I feel my cranium being grasped by the alcohol and tell the Cougs that my brain function is impaired, but I continue rattling off puns and spontaneous mutations on our conversation. She’s bringing out a part of me that is unique to my NYC jewish roots. My dad and I bonded by spending endless hours one-upping each other with wit. My date is across from me, her kind brown eyes lucid and receptive. She’s a profoundly good listener. She tells me about her foiled date with a guy she calls the “Avatard,” a man who communicates with extra-terrestrials who needed a ride from DIA since his car was “in the shop.” They never met but he emailed her a pornographic photo of the Avatar’s leading couple in a compromising position.

Bathroom humor and serious inquisitions into personal histories intertwine as we wax poetically about the Gnocchi and Falafel. One wouldn’t think these two would mix well, but the food is so exquisitely prepared it’s melt-in-your mouth ecstasy. I don’t remember the last time I had a meal where I wanted to eat as slowly as possible. We bid farewell to our waitress and circumnavigate the Highlands neighborhood. The buildings are a mish-mash of cold post-modern condos mixed with cute Victorian bungalows and hideous 40s era shacks with aluminum siding. She can talk architecture. We can discuss anything under the sun. It’s kind of like a middle-aged Jewish version of Before Sunrise – an entire night of magic free of sex. We end up on a park bench across from a Spanish influenced mission. She jokes that we could go over there and assume the missionary position. We chat on the bench about my trips to India, her cruises around the world, her time in Istanbul. She’s curious and asks more questions than I can answer. Intellectually, we have a rapport established in a mere few days that’s exciting, stimulating, profound and raunchy. At midnight she appears illuminated and vibrant. I’m fading. My new single life with its 2 a.m. weekend bedtimes has caught up to me. I assure her I’m not yawning because her company is boring. Au Contraire. We trace our way back to the restaurant and in front of another post-modern rectilinear apartment building we notice the brilliant full moon. I turn my back and drop trou, momentarily exposing my cheeks, mooning the moon. The Cougs, not one to approach anything in life half-assed, turns politely, and bares all to the white orb in the sky, outdoing me for commitment to the moment.

Monday, July 19, 2010 Redux

A 29 year old woman, “Devka007” from Manhattan, sends me a “wink” on Her profile reads, " I’m inventor, so my relationships with the person who is going to be my future husband will never die. I will always keep in reserve some wood to hold the fire of our love.” She’ll never have my wood, because I don’t have the cash she’s looking for. By her syntax and profile picture she could easily be Tatiana in the Bond film "From Russia With Love."

In 1996 I joined Match during its formative years when I lived in the loveless suburbs of NYC; if you were unmarried it was akin to having leprosy. So I electronically ventured out of the the NY ‘burbs and met a woman in Florida who claimed she was 44 years old. We shared a passion for astrology and developed a steady email relationship. It turns out that she was 64, had MS and was wheelchair bound. Yes, I did spent a weekend with her in a B&B in quaint Nantucket just for the adventure. I promise, it was strictly platonic and we had a wonderful time together.

Fast forward nearly 15 years and I’m back on the market. Match seems to engender the same zeitgeist as it did in the 90s – people always seeking, but rarely finding. After perusing hundreds of women’s profiles, which reminded me of browsing real estate comps in the South Boulder neighborhood where I just bought my house, I found one woman to be unique and compelling (to continue the analogy, every boring brick ranch in South Boulder under 600K is neither unique nor compelling). She emailed back to tell me how much she enjoyed my profile but that she’d already met a potential special someone. I'm hoping there's another woman out there who shares my twisted sense of humor and is wickedly playful and smart. But most are “honest, loyal, compassionate, caring” and want “long walks on the beach, kissing beneath the stars or candlelight dinners.” It seems as if each woman loves her family and friends, and is happy with herself if only the right man appeared to help them complete their lives. Some are even “baggage free.”

My profile is just as hypocritical as those of the women I’m writing about: show your game face to the world - emphasize the positives. Don’t expose your fatal flaws or wounds. I think everyone should have their ex-lover/husband/wife or therapist write an honest letter of recommendation that told you how their partner really was in relationship. Then you’d save months, maybe years of wondering what inner demons lurked inside that person and save all that heartbreak in the end. If only it were so easy.

Then there’s my non-carniverous diet; one of my close female friends informed me that she’d never date a vegetarian.Since I only know less than a handful of vegetarians including myself, the social liability is huge. One solution is to never cook at home, but order out every meal. That works in Manhattan quite well, where most refrigerators have a bottle of wine, a box of Arm and Hammer baking soda and some 3 day old Chinese food in a half opened cardboard box sitting on the middle shelf.

One woman writes a list of her negative traits: she needs 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I think she's my perfect match: I only sleep 5-6 hrs. a night and if she was dreaming peacefully in my bed I could have 3 or 4 hours of guilt-free downtime knowing my soulmate was just snoozing away. She posts that her liking hip-hop is a negative and I’d have to agree. She’d have to walk around the house with an I-pod and earbuds or I’d have to start a crash diet of Ice T and Kanye West.

And the 43 year old dog lover who “loves to get all gussied up for a night on the town as much as I love a t-shirt and jeans at a hole in the wall.” No one born after 1945 from any major metropolitan area says the word “gussied up” without sounding like someone’s great aunt from Wichita.

A 54 year old woman from Denver sends me a message inquiring about dancing at the St. Julien. Her photos reveal a classy woman - fit, confident, cosmopolitan and unselfconscious. Women over 50 often possess a magnetic beauty born of wisdom. Sadly, older women are often relegated to the post-menopausal cougar set, an unfortunate part of our culture in which wisdom and life experience is devalued for artifice and youth. However, at this late stage in the game, I'm thinking about kids, and I've already been with several women older than me.

Every woman on Match in the Denver/Boulder area is “spiritual but not religious," except for the 31 year old from Colorado Springs who loves God (like most people in the Springs). She had the appearance of a Russian mail order bride whose wardrobe needs would bankrupt me on the first shopping trip. I guess I could borrow my friend’s black Beemer and with a good slathering of Gendarme cologne, and pretend I'm rich for one date. It’s just we’d have to hook-up at her house because once she saw the futon couch in my living room it would be all over.

But then, an email from a woman in Denver, a transplanted 44 year old Jewess whose path through life mirrors my own. She wrote, empathizing with the fact that I’d just left a very long term relationship, “I've been there, and learned that it was a gift as when you are completely comfortable being single, then you are ready to meet someone.” By that metric, I'm not ready. I hate being single. When I was virtually married I was intrigued by the freedom that my single friends possessed. Now, my empty bed and all too quiet house are unnerving.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Shangri-La to the South

There's a place south of here where men act like men and women will grind you all night long. It's a place not far away, a kind of sexual Shangri-La, a place called Denver.
This is what G tells me. She's a young, half-latina model who's rubbing her leg against mine at midnight after a party. Her open marriage permits such flirtations and I don't know how far it can go since I'm getting cockblocked by an acquaintance who always seems to hover over every woman I talk to - friend or potential date. She proclaims that Boulder men are pussies and don't know how to approach a woman. My cockblocking friend then imitates the typical Boulder dude who is too busy meditating, going to men's groups, being all sensitive and conscious to act like a real man. Then it strikes me that he and I ARE that guy that he's mocking. Maybe I need lessons from my latino friends who have machismo dialed in. My amigo R seems to take at least 3 women home every week. It helps that he's got his salsa moves down. Another latino friend has a game that doesn't work so well ; he tells women that he's got a piece of fresh Chilean sea bass at home that must be cooked that night. I assume the sea bass is a metaphor for the fresh catch between his legs. He must have a lot of rotting fish at home, because none of the women I know will bite, so to speak. But he does have a point - he says women in Boulder won't allow a man to be assertive.
G is not the first woman to tell me that Boulder guys are wimps, are too superficial or too afraid to be masculine. Maybe I need to change my game from being a sensitive, compassionate quasi-New Age guy and just start grabbing women and pinning them up against the walls at dance venues. Perhaps there's another option: this place called Denver south of here where I’ve heard tales of all night parties where men get mauled by women at first sight. This Denver place sounds like descriptions I've heard of Brazil, where gorgeous women jump into your car as you drive by to make love with you. Maybe we overthink things in our little Boulder bubble: we all have therapists and long lists of what we seek in a partner. Maybe we just need to go to that Shangri-la to the south where people are more spontaneous and tear one another’s clothes off without thinking about it twice.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Almost All-Female Mountain Bike Adventure

I’m camping with 5 women and one guy in a densely wooded grove of conifers looking out into a meadow of blooming columbine in Crested Butte, Colorado – mecca for mountain biking, skiing and general escapism from urban life. In this town where the ratio of men to women is 7:1, the ratio of my trip is 2:5. These women are serious riders – most of them race for sponsored teams and they’re ready to put the hurt on me on long ascents through 12” wide singletrack that undulates through the forests and open slopes densely blanketed with wildflowers. The snow had just melted from the higher alpine trails at 11000 ft. and we are there for primetime.

I love biking. In many parts of America, hiking purists don’t want people on mechanized objects ruining their placid trails, but in CB bikes rule. I have two legs full of scars and scabs to attest to the many crashes I’ve taken this year piloting my steel horse through rock gardens and narrow trails.
My mostly female camping companions beat me up on the trails and kept up with my scatological and sexual humor by the campfire. Something about crapping in the woods and being covered in dirt, sweat and campfire smoke is a great equalizer between the genders. One evening we reached a concensus on the most appropriate female pubic shaving pattern: a complete laser job was out – it evokes pre-pubescent girls (and for me the first time I played doctor with two neighborhood girls at age 11, amazed at my first gaze into the pink conch shell depths). In "Get Him To the Greek," the outrageous send-up of rock star excess and narcissism, Jonah Hill's character finds himself in front of a girl in Vegas with her pubes shaved in the shape of a microphone. She invites him to sing "hairyoke." Classic. But as a guy, you just don’t want to go down there and get slammed in the face with a 1960s hippie jungle or have to become a licensed Alaskan bush pilot to find your way around. I did not address my recent manscaping adventures in which I attempted to create separation between my nether regions and the Jewish rug that I hide beneath my polyester bike jersey.
The conversations inevitably turned to relationships, and at one point one of my female friends noted that all of us around the campfire were single - we all looked at one another with knowing smiles and proceeded to share our war stories with each other. The topic of “what was your worst date ever” rendered one tale in which a guy showed up without his wallet and forced my friend to pay for the entire $100 meal. Apparently this was his modus operandi with all women. You’d think that would catch up with him someday. Although he promised to repay her, and even apologized to her when they ran into one another post-date, he never ponied up for his half of the meal. One woman complained that you can’t get a guy in Boulder to buy you a drink at a bar – that’s because they already spent every last dime on climbing or biking gear and their low rent crash pad. She’s just dating the wrong dudes.
As for me, it’s been since the Pleistocene era since I’ve dated, but back then in the mid-90s my worst date was with the beautiful coffee shop girl who initiated some above the waist intimacy with me - then at 4 a.m. suddenly announced that she “didn’t want to hurt me” and went home. I wanted the kind of hurting that could have followed, but apparently her self-image was of some kind of succubus who would drain my soul of all life force and leave me spiritually dead. The next week she went on to seduce one of my co-workers who descended into the depths of hell with her – I suppose I was spared. The topic of coffee shop girls arose in another conversation. Seducing a captive audience behind a bar or a cafĂ© counter is uncool. Attractive young women slaving for tiny wages are easy targets for lonely guys who happen to be regular patrons at your local coffee joint.
My weekend with this posse of women ended in forging some new friendships and bonding more with an old friend on the gorgeous 5 hour drive to and from this mountain mecca. If I could get a sex change I’d probably join the Tough Girls (not these Tough Girls) racing team and qualify to race in the expert class, but as my current gender I would be low on the totem pole among male racers. Before we left town, we shared beers with a local couple who were planning their autumn wedding. The bride-to-be mentioned that in Argentina when you raise a glass to toast someone and you don’t look them in the eye, you will be relegated to having 7 years of bad sex. I was already scolded for my lack of toasting etiquette the last time I failed to meet someone’s gaze – god forbid I suffer the Argentine curse.