Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where The Boys Are

Apparently that would be Manhattan.

Before you get any funny ideas, I am merely talking about friends of mine. I realized the other day that of all the friends I currently have in New York, only one is a woman. But the boys I know there are truly platonic friends. They are all either married, engaged or otherwise emotionally unavailable; one is my former boss; and the others I have known for anywhere from 15 to 25 years. In other words: no romance here. But on the occasion that my current East Coast tour has taken me to New York, my one female friend is out of town. So I have spent my time playing with the boys. Well, at least the three boys I could corral during the 36 hours I am here.

We begin with Omar, with whom I am staying in Soho. He is a PhD-holding assistant professor, but that doesn't stop him from also being bouncy and fun. Staying here has been like a big slumber party. He even gave me flip flops to wear while in his apartment, creating a spa-like atmosphere. He is also teaching a week-long seminar before he leaves town on a Fulbright, and we toyed with the idea of me being a guest lecturer in his class this morning. Neither one of us were certain what I'd talk about, so it probably would have been more like Show and Tell: "This is my old friend, Sassy!" But for reasons involving an unfortunate incident with a car alarm that went off in front of Omar's apartment at 3:00 this morning, I am a little too pooped to even pretend to impart wisdom upon impressionable youngsters. So in just a couple of hours I am going to hop a train back to Boston.

Next is Schleevin, whom I mentioned on this space when I saw him in Southern California a couple of months ago. Over cocktails at the Soho Grand Hotel, Schleevin regaled me with the story of how his "package" got a great review in a magazine a few years ago. The review was supposed to be of the avant-garde stage show he and some of his fellow NYU Graduate School alums had created, but apparently his anatomy dominated the reviewer's attention. The life of an actor, I suppose.

Then there is Shawn, whom I haven't seen in almost five years. He and I went to Brown together, and I learned he shares my "If I knew then what I know now..." mentality when it comes to looking back on his college years. The word he uses to describe how he invested in the opportunities Brown has to offer is "squandered." But he's certainly landed just fine. Shawn now owns this cool record store/night club/art gallery in Brooklyn. He also told me on this visit that he has realized he has some work to do on his relationship skills. He's had plenty of girlfriends in his time, but he says that if he were to place a personal ad today, he'd describe himself as a fixer-upper. Actually, while I love him to death, that sounds pretty accurate to me.

And finally, it wouldn't be my life had I not been hit on by some random, marginal dude. I was in Mid-Town yesterday on my way to the subway to meet Schleevin on the Upper West Side for lunch. At 53rd and 7th, a man on a bicycle rode up to me and told me I was beautiful and then asked me if I am "afraid of Black people." He was African-American, but.... huh? After I told him I was not afraid of him (well, not because of his ethnicity, anyway), he asked me if he could take me to lunch. I told him I was on my way to meet my boyfriend, which was technically not a lie since Shleevin is my friend and a boy.

This dude's response? "I am so glad you said 'no' because I don't have any money." And he said this with a very genuine tone of chipper relief in his voice. What if I had said yes? Would lunch have then been my treat? But I didn't say yes, and with those words, Lunch Man happily rode away, only turning back to ask me if the book I was carrying is any good. Ironically, that book is Love Monkey, a fluffy tale about a man in Manhattan who seems to be challenged when it comes to women and dating. Seems a little appropriate.

Ah, men. That's all I can say. But now I'm on my way back to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and then it's back home tomorrow. I'll see you back in the West!

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