I just want Jen Doll to be happy, you know? Her piece in the Village Voice today is a killer, a nightmare laundry list of bad relationships and wondering when her personal romantic comedy will start filming. Read it, you may need a hug afterwards. Why can't the beautiful lovable women of New York find someone to love them?
Well, take it from me, the Men of New York are assholes. We don't treat women well. You just have no idea. For instance, the looks we give to one another as we admire you walking down the street. Complete Stranger #1 will check out a woman's ass and then look for confirmation that that ass is that ass and Complete Stranger #2 will nod or shrug, or just smile or laugh. We cheat on women, lead women on, string them along. Like Jen Doll, we've seen the romantic comedies, too. We want to find the same thing that she does. The grand cinematic spark during the kiss with the girl next door that makes you realize She is The One and How Did You Never See It Before. We want to feel the same overwhelming Purpose of Lloyd Dobbler in Say Anything who just loves Ione Skye from the moment the movie starts to the moment the movie ends. He just won't stop, he wants to be with her so badly. Even though she is Completely Awful and Unworthy of Lloyd Dobbler, oh my god. Have you seen Say Anything lately? She sucks. But I'd still marry Lloyd, unswerveable Lloyd. But would that we could all feel such purpose and Certainty.
I don't think men intend on being single forever or dating and sleeping with every woman in New York City. Being single sucks, that's why we usually have girlfriends or wives already when we hit on you in bars. Marriage isn't really all that appealing to the men I know. I've known some who've wanted to be married their whole lives only to find that being married is harder than it looks — no one does romantic comedies about how to stay in love with your wife. They're all about getting your wife back after ruining her life and stuff. But most marriage ends in divorce, and there's just nothing much magical about getting Divorced, especially in New York City where No Fault Divorce just got on the books in August. Before, you had to go cheat on your wife or have her cheat on you just to get out of the frigging marriage. I imagine my first marriage will be (to a Saint, obviously. A living breathing St. Cecilia) to someone I wouldn't mind splitting my stuff with and paying a bunch of money to never see. I don't have much great stuff, a really nice Spiderman comforter I wouldn't want to tear in half though. But New York's most desirable men are rich and have nice stuff, why would they want to split it with you if they weren't Really Really Crazy about you?
I read Doll's piece and thought, I'd love her right. But I'd also be the worst thing that happened to her, and that's saying a lot. I imagined when I moved to New York City when I was 30, in a fugue from the Red Sox finally winning a World Series, that I was moving to New York City in which everyone had graduated from such banal things as weddings and marriages and white picket fences. Isn't that why we moved out of the corn fields to this dirty, pounding Gotham in the first place? We could have stayed in the Suburbs to have Suburban lives if we wanted them. I imagined everyone here was this omnisexual octopus, balancing out weird bisexual arrangements in which everyone wore tutus and made love to each other and wrote poems out on each other's legs. I'd have a girlfriend and a muse and an older sexual mentor and maybe a dog and a young hooker I'd befriend and some tranny who I'd love most of all. How's that working out? I have a boyfriend who I live with and love but don't sleep with, I just don't feel as sexually adventurous as I used to in my bi-curious youth. We go along platonically but tenderly (well, as tender as I get, which is Gruff). I go from one hopeless crush on women to another. I'm of the fat bald and short variety of men that Doll mentions.
In New York City the only real Sex is Real Estate. The question I mostly got on dates with women would be "If you could live anywhere in town, where would it be?" My answer, inside the Astor Place Cube, didn't really thrill anyone.
I'm broke and unemployed and writing poems, so I am definitely living the dream, don't get me wrong. I'm sure I'll fall in love with another coffee shop employee soon enough, flirt with her ridiculously for a while and then avoid the coffee shop entirely for a while and then move on to some other dream relationship with someone who works in a bookstore or something. I don't really care if I ever have kids or find anyone. I could always just sleep with prostitutes if I want to. That is the most understandable relationship of them all! You pay them to go away! But I'd probably fall in love with them, too. I'm such a fucking sucker for love. Ha ha.
Ms. Doll shouldn't feel alone: no one knows what they're doing, no one knows where they're going and no one can predict what wonderful and terrible things will happen to them along the way. I would say there's as much magic in New York as anywhere else. If you're ready to hear it and see it and feel it. Everyone here walks around with headphones on. We bubble ourselves in for the trip to and from work, our lunchbreaks. If we see someone we think is pretty or reading a cool book, why don't we just walk right up to them and say "Hey, I'm Jim. That book is amazing?" This is part of a different project I'm working on, a language that men and women could use with one another in which their intentions could be known through a delightful kind of no-bullshit code. "Avacado!" could mean "I see you checking me out on the train and I am checking you out, too. Come over here and talk to me." "Bearclaw!" could mean "Can't you tell that I'm flirting with you?" Etc. It would be nice to think if women and men had the ability to communicate better that meeting people and falling in love could be easier and better.
I also think we all need to be a bit more patient with ourselves and our lives. Sure, drama and passion is fun, too. And things will get dramatic and passionate, that's just human nature. But it's not a race to be married. I'm in my late 30s and waiting around for women who married friends of mine to finally be sick of their bullshit and run away to France with me. Ha ha. It would serve them right, though.
I do feel for Jen Doll, but I'm not worried about her. With this article she'll probably be dating A-Rod in a few weeks and then feeding him popcorn at the next Super Bowl. But to all those women who, especially as fucking Bullshit Valentine's Day approaches, feel unloved and sad and undesirable — you aren't. We will get around to loving and marrying you. It's that guy who walks into your coffee shop and flirts with you. It's the guy whose dog you pet. Or maybe it's some very exciting lesbian lady who'll sweep you off your feet. Who knows. As Elizabeth Bishop, whose 100th birthday was yesterday wrote, "Someone loves us all."
Jim does cartoons about an aging, bumbling but sometimes loveable dinosaur trying to figure it all out at newyorkasaurus.com.