The Sex Issue

In spite of all this, I'm still six for six in the bouquet-catching department, and God gave me child-bearing hips for a reason. I refuse to believe that I've been making monthly payments on my fertility since age 12 only to be subjected to 20-odd more years of Star Trek reruns and dinner for one. So, inspired by any number of stupid TV dating shows, I decided to do something about it. I would turn Minneapolis into my own dating boot camp, forcing friends to set me up, experimenting with dating services, approaching strangers on the street--anything to fill my dance card. For the next seven to 10 days, I would tattoo my own chest for a bike messenger, fight with a carpenter for the love of a nude model, and listen to a pastor liken the dating scene to a John Cougar Mellencamp song. I would take a one-week leave of absence from personal shame and just put myself out there. That was my pledge.

And this is my book of love.


My Face Hurts from Smiling:
Three-Minute Dating at GameWorks, early evening Thursday, January 23

Three-minute dating is a little like square dancing--only without the dancing, and with the squares doubled. Today, GameWorks in Minneapolis is helping singles choose their partners. I join the women who are sitting at various tables, arranged around the perimeter of the room. Individual men choose a seat at my table, chat with me for the titular length of time, then rotate to the next table when the event host hits a buzzer. The problem is, most Minnesota men feel rude leaving after only three minutes. They stay longer so that I feel interesting, thereby screwing up the whole process. My longwinded visitors include an advertising exec, some musicians, a customer-service clerk, a film student, and a guy who has a fetish for the name Sarah. Nobody catches my interest. My face hurts from smiling. I don't meet anyone I want to date. I see one guy who turns my crank, but he turns it so hard that I decide he's probably an alcoholic or a womanizer. I don't even bother to say hello.


It's Not His Belly She's Rubbing:
Dancing at the Fine Line Music Café, late evening Thursday, January 23

My friend Tom and I decide to look for people to dance with at a Boogie Wonderland show at the Fine Line in Minneapolis. I get there first. A guy from three-minute dating shows up and sits on a barstool, trying to make eye contact with me. I avoid it. Tom arrives. We resolve to hang out until they play "Love Will Keep Us Together." We order a couple of drinks and the band plays music I haven't heard since I outgrew my Big Wheel. The crowd is having a blast. The dance floor is so full of freestyling wigglers that there's no room for Tom and me to disco, so instead we troll the crowd for potential dates. No probable candidates. We do, however, see a couple snuggling to our left. They look as if years of marriage have made them morph into the same blobby body type.

Tom watches them and says, "I love it when fat couples rub each other's bellies." I smile in agreement. The woman shifts slightly to the left, and we see that it's not his belly she's rubbing. We both raise our eyebrows. There's a long pause.

Tom says, "Is it out?"

"Yes," I say. "I think it is."


Your Last Name Is Sawyer? My Last Name Is Finn!
Bike Messenger Race, Twilight Tattoo, late afternoon Saturday, January 25

Time and distance are no obstacle for love and desperation. When I hear that the Stupor Bowl IV--the sixth annual scavenger hunt/bike-messenger race--is going on in Minneapolis, I decide that all the sweaty bikers will be more than happy to ride for miles just to encounter me waiting patiently for them at one of the race's destination points. The contestants are due at Twilight Tattoo near Bloom-Lake around 4:00 p.m., so I invite myself over. The guy working the ink needle doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he helps me put a temporary tattoo that says "SWF" on my chest in marker.

"Hey! Do you want to go out with me next week?" I holler at a never-ending stream of messengers. I get some strange looks from the first few bikers. The fifth one says yes. He's strawberry blond, with a face that's obscured by polar fleece. We exchange names and phone numbers.

"Your last name is Sawyer?" he says, amused. "My last name is Finn!" I begin to dream about the two of us getting married on a very Mark Twain-like raft adrift on the Mississippi River.

He calls me three days later. We won't be painting any fences together.


He Bites Me Hard on the Throat:
Online-Personal-Ad Date, Eli's Bar and Grill, late evening Saturday, January 25

Those who have given up on true love must not own computers. Online, there are thousands of eligible bachelors, all waiting to get into your cyberpants. Scrolling through websites, I come across Scott in the website personals of a certain local alternative weekly: His ad is poetic, but not too poetic. I decide to call him--collect.

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