As we bid the old year goodbye, I've been thinking about the Tiger Woods scandal and reflecting on why, hearing about Tiger and his various mistresses, I've had the uncanny feeling I know the guy.
Woman on the Verge: At first I couldn't figure out what about the scandal was unpleasantly familiar. It's not like I go after married men. In fact, for a thirty-something, attractive, single woman in a major metropolitan area, I'm pretty conservative.
Nor am I a cocktail waitress, or a millionaire champion golfer.
Then it hit me. Tiger's texts to his mistresses were a lot like those I've received from some of the men I've dated over the past year.
Here's a sample:
Tiger: Do you have a boyfriend.
Jaimee: I don't even have someone I am dating ... no ... U can be my boyfriend ;)
Tiger: Then I am.
Jaimee: I wish.
Tiger: When was the last time you got laid.
It's not just the words themselves, but the pattern. Sweet and flirtatious, then ... gross.
Tiger is a married man, so his "sexting" -- or suggestive texting -- is problematic for reasons beyond its immaturity. But reliance on texting and sexting -- as opposed to real conversation or proper courtship -- are becoming increasingly the norm for single men, too.
The other night I fell for this. I know, as a single woman in her 30s who wants kids soon, I should really have known better than to act like a 20-year-old party girl.
But there was the text, winking seductively: "Hey Beautiful."
I was wearing sweatpants, feeling fat, and in the process of calculating how unlikely it is, given that I've been dating for over 20 years, that I will ever find the right man.
"Hey," I texted back.
"How's the cutest girl at the party?" he texted.
Let me take a minute to describe our previous night's meeting at "Taste the Forbidden Fruit," a party to promote literacy held at one of the city's "hottest" clubs (I am not exactly sure what that means, except it typically includes the letters VIP, a velvet rope, and couches).
It had been a rough night for me. The 29-year-old investment banker whom I'd lusted over for two years, and with whom I'd discussed the possibility of having a baby (I know, who do I think I am, Demi Moore?), had just introduced me to his fashionista "girlfriend." This occurred after I had insisted on dancing with him, unaware he had even brought a date, much less a girlfriend, to the affair.
I was attempting a dignified retreat, her angry 25-year-old eyes boring holes into me, when he appeared: a 6'2" Christian Slater lookalike with broad shoulders and slicked-back hair (did I mention the investment banker is only 5'7"?).
"How ees the lovely lady?" he said suavely, swooping me up in his arms.
As I gazed into his hazel eyes, I thought surely some Higher Power had sent this Latin lover.
We danced a while, then sat down on one of the banquettes, talked, and wound up kissing a bit (not something I would normally do with a stranger, but it felt right).
Upon returning to my apartment, I noticed he had already texted, asking if I was home safely.
That auspicious beginning was probably the reason, despite my sinking disappointment to receive another text rather than a phone call, that I continued with the "conversation" the next day.
"Going to a film screening," I texted back.
My friend Gianni, a director, was screening his latest that evening, at an office building in Manhattan.
"Interesting," he replied. "Want company?"
When I was in my early twenties, I believed in "The Rules." A best-selling dating manual with a retro twist, it was the 90s version of "He's Just Not That Into You." Following "The Rules" was supposed to ensure a life of happiness with a man who "got" you, loved you, and cherished you. The way to achieve that was to always be busy, and let the man pursue you.
One of the Rules was to never, under any circumstances, accept a date from a man asking less than four days in advance.
But what would the authors of "The Rules" make of today's big-city dating culture, I wondered, in which you were lucky if a man actually asked for a date one full day in advance?
I considered writing back that I could only get one ticket or had previous plans. Then I thought about how he had rescued me from the banker's b*tchy girlfriend's glare, the laughs we'd had, and the security of his arms.
In truth, I wasn't sure I could swing another ticket (Gianni had not invited me to bring anyone else), but I didn't want to miss the opportunity, or to be inflexible. I was a modern woman, after all.
"Do you want to come?" I wrote.
"Sure," he wrote. "Let's talk."
"Okay," I wrote. "You have my number. The show is at 8."
"Okay," he wrote.
"Okay," I wrote. "Bye"
Realizing that it was 7:14, I raced into my bedroom, sweating as I calculated: I'd need to leave by 7:40 to get there on time, which left me 26 minutes to do something with my hair, coordinate a new outfit, transfer my stuff to a cuter purse, and put on makeup.
I called Gianni, got his voicemail, and left a message asking if he could possibly put my date on the list for the show.
While applying mascara, I realized he hadn't called. I just kept working -- eyeshadow, liner -- my cell phone alongside me, sure I'd hear from him at any minute.
Hadn't he said he'd call? Tossing my credit cards, cash, and lipstick into a clutch, I went over the correspondence in my head. Was there any way I had said I'd call him? It went against my instincts to call so soon after accepting a last-minute date, but I didn't want to be unreasonable. I had his number from the texts he'd sent.
Grabbing my phone, I thought, "All right, I'll just call. In a way it's more liberated to show I'm not insecure about taking the lead." "Yeah, right," I thought, picturing "The Rules" ladies gagging on their mimosas.
"Alo?" he answered.
"Hey, I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you at work."
"Never worry!" he said. It sounded like, 'NAverwoooory!"
"So, do you need the address?" I asked.
"Sure," he said. "Let me know where."
I gave him the coordinates and we said goodbye.
On the subway, I thought back over our meeting the night before, how he'd emerged like a prince. How had things degenerated from that fairy tale into this? I couldn't dissect out what I'd done wrong. Anyway, maybe I was overreacting.
When I arrived at the building, the security guard had both our names. (Thanks Gianni, I thought.) It was a couple of minutes past eight, and I wondered whether to leave word for him to meet me upstairs. I didn't want to walk in late.
8:05. What to do? I texted, "Are you on your way?"
"Yes, one minute," he texted back.
After another five minutes, he strode toward me, tall and dashing in a taupe raincoat. He was smiling, and I felt the corners of my mouth tug upwards.
"How ees my beautiful girl?" he said, enveloping me. We kissed, and I felt the stress, self-doubt, and generic lobby all melt away. It was all right.
"So, what eese thees movie?" he asked as we rode up in the elevator.
"Oh, I'm not entirely sure," I said. "It might be pretty artsy."
"And how long it ees?" he said, pulling me to him.
"Not long, I don't think," I said, stiffening.
The doors opened and I saw Gianni, his girlfriend Bree, and a bunch of hipsters milling around. Bottles of wine sat alongside covered platters of sliced fruit, cheese, and crackers for the reception.
"Hey writer!" Gianni said warmly. "Thanks for coming!"
"Thanks writer," I said, returning the nickname we used for each other.
I introduced them, and Gianni ushered everyone into the screening room.
Sitting beside him, I smelled a hint of cologne.
"Maybe afterwarz, you come to my place, sit by the fire," he whispered. "I have beautiful fireplace, good wine, view of the park ..."
Feeling disappointed he would suggest coming to his apartment so quickly, I didn't answer, and tried to focus on the film. The action took place on a bus at night, and it ended with an eerie "Twilight Zone" twist (a boy who had engaged in conversation with a man while everyone else slept was revealed to be a severe autistic who had never spoken before that night).
It lasted about 10 minutes.
When the lights came up, I asked him what he thought.
"Good," he said.
Gianni walked up front to answer questions. I noticed my date fidgeting and glancing at his BlackBerry. The question-and-answer session lasted about five minutes. As everyone stood, I smiled and said, "Wow, I didn't realize how quick that would be. I think there's a reception now ..."
"I must go," he said, pulling on his taupe raincoat in one motion.
"Really?" I asked, not sure I had heard clearly. "Go? Are you feeling OK?"
"Lots of work," he said. "Thas what you have, dating a banker." Giving me a quick nod, he added, "I'm sorry. I call you."
In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
Feeling blindsided, I wandered into the reception.
"Hey writer!" Gianni boomed. "What'd ya think?"
"It was really intriguing," I said sincerely, thinking it was not the only intriguing thing I'd just experienced.
"Where's your date?" Gianni said.
"He left," I said.
"Yeah," I chuckled.
Looking into Gianni's warm brown eyes, I suddenly felt desperate to understand why.
"I don't know what I did, Gianni. He really liked your film. Do I, like, have spinach in my teeth or B.O. or something?
"No, no, ya look great!" he said. "Ya smell fine!"
Bree had wandered over.
"Who leaves a date after 10 minutes?" I said. "Maybe I look older or less attractive than I did when I met him."
"Stop," Bree said, with an eye roll. "How'd you meet this guy?"
"At a benefit," I said. "He texted today --"
"Some of these guys expect to hook up right away," Bree said, "and when they get the idea you aren't into that ..."
Looking at Bree and Gianni, I reminded myself that lovely people do meet lovely people, still.
But when you know there are tons of other attractive women -- including those that are younger and hotter than you are -- who answer "sexts," accept dates without notice, and enthusiastically participate in hookup culture, can you be a holdout? When, for instance, requiring that a man ask you on a proper date in person or on the phone more than two days in advance drastically reduces your dating opportunities, can you afford to maintain such standards?
Sad to say, it seems to me it's pretty simple. In the age of sexting and Internet-facilitated hookups, an ever-increasing number of immature, emotionally stunted men -- and even some nice guys who are just plain spoiled -- get to have it easy. Any time they want it.
Maybe Tiger Woods just wanted to participate in the Age of Sexting.
After all, what man wouldn't?
|Woman on the Verge of Having Kids: She's single, in her 30s, and on a mission to outrun her biological clock.|