I ate lunch in Washington last week with a guy who inhaled artery-bursting hamburgers and fries while haranguing me about the Equal I sprinkled in my coffee. "That's not organic and will kill you," he ominously warned. "Can you please pass the ketchup?"
Soon, we were in a heated discussion about dating philosophies when my attractive twenty-something lunch mate declared, "I no longer do hook-ups. They are shallow, empty and offer no real sustenance. I think too highly of myself to just give it away."
So, imagine my surprise at the bar that evening when Mr. "hookups are empty" had his hands full with a drunken bloke he had just met.
They stumbled and bumbled; belched and burped through a facsimile of a conversation that had the depth of "Less Filling, Tastes Great." Then, they went home together.
Out of curiosity, I asked him the next day why he had randomly gone home with a stranger after sermonizing about the sanctity of sex.
"We had a unique spiritual connection and deep bond at the bar," he piously replied.
"And it wasn't about hedonistic pleasure?"
"Absolutely not," he said. "This was about something more meaningful."
Well, of course it was. Just as straight men go to strip joints because they like the artistic mastery of erotic dancing and gay men go to bathhouses because they enjoy the music. If we can't be honest with ourselves, how can we be truthful with others?
When it comes to dating, sex or love, people are just plain prickly, weird and random. For example, I've noticed that while individuals spend countless dollars on Internet dating sites and matchmakers, they won't even cross a slender river for love.
"I would never date a guy in Virginia," said a girlfriend of mine in DC. "I can't imagine having to cross the Potomac. It's not that far, but it is a psychological barrier. A guy saying he's from Virginia is almost as bad as saying he lives with his mother."
The same phenomenon occurs in New York City where Manhattanites treat the East River as if it is the Tigress in Baghdad. When I'm flirting at a bar and say I'm from Brooklyn, I sometimes get a look like I just revealed I had an STD.
"It's just a borough, not the clap," I once dryly intoned to a potential date's look of horror when he found out where I lived. Indeed, I sometimes think same-sex marriage will occur in New York City before inter-borough marriage.
What I find most interesting is that people with the least dating success always have the most advice to give. Here is a gem of wisdom from a playboy I know who has been single for the better part of three decades.
"People are unhappy because they focus on the unimportant things, like career and personality. Let's face it, looks are what matter most because after six months, no matter how interesting the person is, they run out of things to say and start repeating themselves. If you are with the same person for thirty years, you've heard the same damn stories countless times. But if they are hot, that lasts longer. And now you can get work done to extend your years of beauty. When it comes down to it, in the end, it's all about rolling over in bed in the morning and liking what you see."
Another roiling and contentious debate is how long to wait before going to bed with a partner. There are several schools of thought and no clear answer. Fundamentalists believe that there should be no sex until marriage. Although, their high divorce rate suggests that maybe they are marrying too soon, just so they can finally get it on. On the other end of the spectrum are people who believe that the sooner the sex is out of the way, the better.
"I want to know if there is sexual chemistry right away," said another friend of mine. "I once went out with this guy for months before we had sex. We finally did it, and I found that while he was my soul mate he was not my bedmate. I mean the guy kissed like a carp. Of course, I couldn't tell him this, so I had to do the, 'I'm not ready for a relationship routine.'"
I'd like to think that I am different and more sophisticated, but, in truth, I have my own idiosyncrasies. For example, on first dates, I like to mention the television shows, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm. If the date does not absolutely love three out of the four shows, I consider our future prospects hopelessly doomed. Which, of course, is probably why I watched all four shows this week alone.