Men's seduction techniques have broken out of the wine/sexy scents/whispering-sweet-nothings realm.
Woman on the Verge of Having Kids: Earlier this month over sushi, my friend Amelia told me about a man she's been seeing. He's in his late 30s and lives in Miami, but he comes to New York frequently -- and when he does, they get together.
"God, he is so beautiful," Amelia said. She sipped her plum wine and gazed at the restaurant's small bamboo waterfall with a dreamy, mischievous expression.
I know that look -- and it's usually a harbinger of bad things. It's what I call the longing-for-the-male-tease look, and it's characterized by a high degree of giggling, silliness and anxiety -- as opposed to the secure, happy, grounded way my now-married girlfriends looked when first dating the men they married.
The longing-for-the-male-tease thing is similar to longing for the Bad Boy, but it's fueled by a different energy: part lust, part recklessness ... with just a touch of masochism. Instead of desiring a thrill (or a husband), women with this type of longing want sex, love ... and a baby. And the men who know how to exploit it make out like bandits.
I know something about this kind of longing, because I have it (bad!) for a 27-year-old investment banker I'll call Lance. We've been friends for three years and have made numerous attempts to date. But each time, one or the other of us has pulled the plug, concerned about our 12-year age difference. That doesn't stop him from calling me at midnight, though.
"You're so lucky to be a writer," he'll say. "To have time to read in your big soft bed. I envy you." (I don't tell him that in reality, I should probably be doing more writing, less reading. Nor do I tell him that my laundry needs doing. Let him cultivate the image of me languidly stretched out on silken sheets, reading the Great Works.)
"God," he'll say then. "I miss you. The women my age are little girls."
Once, after he'd made this kind of declaration, I raised the idea of us having a baby together. It was an offer he said he would like to move ahead with, "as an act of friendship." But that plan came to a crashing halt after he got a 25-year-old girlfriend. (I'd thought I could deal with it, but it made me too jealous.)
When Amelia told me about Miami Guy, I tried to keep an open mind. I was happy to see her so happy. But I didn't want her to get hurt.
I asked her to tell me more about him. He's a "religious Jew," she said, although he's "exploring whether that still works for him." He's divorced -- with five children. And he's gorgeous: salt-and-pepper hair, blue-gray eyes and a perpetual tan. Uh oh, I thought. Sounds like trouble. (What worried me in particular was the part about his religious "exploration." In my experience, self-described "religious men" who are experimenting with the secular life can be the worst players. They can give you the impression that they're serious about having a relationship with you -- and may even believe it themselves. But they're usually just sampling some non-kosher snacks before returning to their kosher meal.)
"Just take it slow, hon," I advised Amelia. "You don't know what this guy wants."
On Valentine's Day, Miami Guy flew to New York and asked Amelia out. She called me, breathless, asking what she should wear. (I was on the West Coast, spending the day with Patrick, the divorced divorce lawyer I'm currently seeing.) I told her to wear something sexy but comfortable, and above all to not stress. I was tentatively happy for her, but the whole thing smacked of last-minute.
"I didn't even know he was coming to town," I said.
"Neither did I!" she cried. "He just came in. I'm not sure he even knows it's Valentine's Day. Then again, he must know, right? He wants to go dancing."
"I guess," I answered cautiously. I was hoping that maybe Mr. Miami had just realized Amelia was The One, and was planning to sweep her off her feet for V-Day. (The alternative -- that he was playing with the emotions of a single woman on this most vulnerable of days -- was too awful to contemplate.)
When I got back to New York, Amelia was brimming with excitement: They had had a wonderful evening, during which he had told her, over candlelight, that they would make a beautiful baby together. He had literally told Amelia, "Can you imagine a baby girl with your beautiful eyes? Oh, how I would love to have a baby girl with you."
"Oh," I said, melting. "That's beautiful." I knew that Amelia longed to be a mother, and I was excited for her.
In the weeks that followed, I heard a lot more about this man. He told Amelia that if she wanted to marry him, she would need to become an Orthodox Jew. ("I can do it," she said breathlessly.) He told her she would need to go into the Jewish ritual bath (or "mikveh") -- a custom for brides. When she balked at this, he joked that she could just move to Miami and he would dunk her in the Atlantic Ocean instead (presumably to prepare her for their marriage).
Yesterday I got a call from Amelia. Her voice was ragged. It was noon, and she sounded like she'd either just woken up, or hadn't slept. Turns out, Mr. Miami had come to New York for the weekend. After making love one night, he had turned to her and said, "You know, you're getting older. You should really think about getting married. Maybe to a guy your age, or someone older. It's just a good idea for you to be thinking about your future, is all I'm saying."
Amelia was flabbergasted.
"I didn't know what to say," she told me over the phone, sobbing. "I mean, if he wasn't considering me in that way, why would he have said those things, like about the mikveh and the baby girl?"
"I don't know," I told her. But I suspected that he may have known -- consciously or unconsciously -- that holding out the dream of a beautiful baby girl would entice Amelia into continuing to sleep with him, no-strings-attached.
I detest the stereotype of the desperate, baby-obsessed single woman; I know far too many single women who -- whether or not they want kids -- have extremely full and fulfilling lives. And yet, those of us who wish for kids but remain childless are vulnerable to men like Mr. Miami (especially if we're approaching the age at which pregnancy becomes more elusive). What a detestable, evil jerk to take advantage of such vulnerability.
"What a horrible a$$^%#," I told Amelia. "Look at it this way: At least you won't pass along his Satanically selfish genes."
"Yes," she said. "Sometimes he smelled a little funky, too."
"Oh, Amelia," I said. "Was there a movie you wished he'd taken you to see?"
"'Precious,'" she cried.
"Let's go," I said. And we did.
Although both Amelia and I hope to find the men who will be our future partners (and the fathers of our future kids), we know that it's so much better to be single and out with a good girlfriend than out with a jerk. As they say in South America, "Better alone than poorly accompanied."
Plus, women rarely have B.O.
|Woman on the Verge of Having Kids is single, in her 30s and on a mission to outrun her biological clock.|