In 1981, when Olivia Newton John was telling us to “get physical,” I was way ahead of the curve. I often didn’t get around to exchanging names and phone numbers with attractive strangers until after we had let our bodies do the “talking.” I didn’t think of my behavior as promiscuous. I thought I was being merely polite. A guy at the car wash offered me a hit of his bong, the least I could do was strip naked and make passionate love to him during the suds cycle.
Flash forward to 2014. One of my oldest friends, who well remembers my free-spirited past, suggests I meet a single man named Jake because “You guys have so much in common.” Dry skin? Flatulence? Fear of dentistry? She adds an important caveat. “He could just be a friend.” It’s been a long time since I’ve met anyone of the male persuasion in the market for a platonic hookup, but I’m game. After all, not every man over sixty is on Viagra.
Our first meeting is at a suburban deli. Over lox and bagels, I do my best to hide my panic. Jake is not my type. I like lean, dark, witty, intellectuals. Jake is pale, squat as a fire plug and volunteers that he dropped out of college. Then again, where did my type ever get me, other than frequent visits to therapists and STD clinics? Jake strikes me as the kind of basically nice but nebbishy guy I never would’ve gotten physical with back in the day — bong or no bong.
As it turns out, I’m not Jake’s ideal either. “You’re the first Jewish woman I’ve had brunch with who isn’t a relative,” he says. It’s an "Annie Hall" moment. However, hot sex is no longer on the top of my shopping list. In fact, it’s way down at the bottom below "lowers the toilet seat" and "flosses regularly." My friend was right. I really could use a congenial male friend with whom to do things not requiring nudity or lubricants. By the time we have coffee and a bite, we make plans to get together again.
The next weekend while strolling through a park Jake revealed he’s a Libertarian and “inhales.” At one time, this would’ve led to rolling a joint and letting nature take its course. Don’t get me wrong, in the right time and place, there’s nothing wrong with that. (Go Colorado!) But Jake had rapidly moved onto his “anger management” issues and his passion for firearms. Did I want to go to a shooting range the following week? Um … no.
Suddenly, I wasn’t sure what my friend had meant by us having so much in common. I’m a liberal Democrat who would like to see gun purchases made as difficult as, say, passing the LSAT. True, Jake and I were both journalists and had opposable thumbs. But, other than that, he was starting to make me nervous. And I didn’t think that my idea of being “friends” matched his. I would’ve happily settled for going to a movie (anything starring Johnny Depp) and a Chinese restaurant. But I had a hunch that Jake had something more X-rated in mind. It was time for The Conversation.
Talking about sex is never easy. Jake’s preferred mode of communication was email, not phone. So I decided to insert (no pun intended) the subject into my next message. I started off casually enough discussing politics, climate change, and — BTW — “I’m not looking for an intimate relationship, just friendship.”
Suffice it to say, I never heard from him again.