The Sex Issue

Pablo and I have known each other for some time because we are both performers around town. He picks me up at my place. "Before we go to dinner, I've got one errand to run, okay?" he asks. "My mom likes to meet all my dates. She'll ask if you're Jewish. Just don't say anything."

We arrive at Pablo's house. His mom begins the interrogation.

Pablo's mom: How did you meet?

Me: Swing dancing, and also through our mutual involvement in theater.

Pablo's mom: What do you do, Sarah?

Me: Oh, I do a little theater and I write for the papers.

Pablo's mom: Tell me, Sarah, are you Jewish?

Me: [Look miserably at Pablo. Look miserably at Mom. Look at floor, thinking, I hate to lie to his mom. What to do? Decide: Oh hell, fuck Pablo.] No, no, I'm not Jewish. I'm Presbyterian.

Pablo's mom: Oh...

[uncomfortable pause]

Pablo's mom: [bursts out laughing] Pablo, I just can't do this to her! It's too mean!

It turns out that Pablo has orchestrated this whole scene--maybe to test my mettle, maybe to be funny, maybe a little of both. I box him about the ears.

Leaving his mom behind, Pablo takes me to eat at Pazza Luna in St. Paul. Because he's observant, considerate, and sharp, conversation with him is challenging, comforting, and funny. While we're eating, he even offers to cut my seafood pasta for me. My hero! He's a vegetarian, and he'll still stab my octopus.

Later, we look at the ice sculptures from the winter carnival. Pablo takes me on a little tour of St. Paul, pointing out some of his favorite nightspots and filling me in on the culture of Rice Street.

Pablo thinks I'm foxy. He says so. I put little stars by his name in my black book--and also on the bathroom wall in several local watering holes.

 

Here Are a Few Things You May Want to Ask Bob About: How Is His Golf Game?
Matchmaker-Arranged Blind Date, Famous Dave's BBQ, Minneapolis, early afternoon Saturday, February 1

In this city, you can pay someone $500 to find you a date. I discover this while looking over the website for the Matchmaking Connection (www.thematchmakingconnection.com), and decide to make an appointment. A woman named Andrea personally interviews me, promising that she'll match me up with approximately 10 dates. She sits with me for an hour, asking about my hobbies, eating habits, religious preferences, and romantic history. The questions are hard to answer: I realize I don't really know what I am looking for, and that all of my dates in the past have just added up to a long game of trial and error. It occurs to me that I wouldn't approach any other life decision this haphazardly.

Later Andrea e-mails me about a man she thinks might interest me. From her notes, I learn that she's matched me with Bob, a 35-year-old bank employee who has never been married. Andrea gives me information about Bob's height (5'10"), eye color (blue), hair color (blond), social group (good friends he's known since high school), and hobbies (playing golf). The e-mail also notes:

"Here a few things you may want to ask Bob about.

How is his golf game?

Who is his favorite comedian?

Does he have a new niece or nephew?"

The long setup is finally over: I meet with Bob at Famous Dave's. He's wearing a sweater, a jacket, and khakis. As we talk, I decide that he's a perfectly good-looking man. A darling man, in fact, who is pleasant in conversation, seems like great family-man material, and...would be perfect for a friend of mine.

I plan to set them up.

 

I'm a Cold, Forked-Tongued Bitch:
Lust-Inspired Ask-Out, Monte Carlo, early evening Saturday, February 1

I first met Christina nearly eight years ago at the Loring Block Party. She was pregnant with her daughter then, and looking at her crazy, curly blond hair, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in my life. Since then, I've discovered that she's a teacher, a carpenter, and a nude model--depending upon when you catch her. Did I mention she's incredibly hot? (Lest you doubt the snackiness of my Saturday-night date, you can see her naked at the Icebox Gallery's Skin 2003 photo exhibit this March.)

Recently, I ran into Christina at a coffee shop and finally worked up the courage to say something really suave.

"Gee, you're pretty," I drooled.

"Sarah, if you want to go out with me, all you have to do is ask," she replied.

Eventually, I did.

Christina picks me up in her red pickup truck. I open the door and she hands me a single pink long-stemmed rose and a box of Necco Sweethearts with "To: Sexy Hot Mamma Sarah. From: Christina" written across the top. She gives me a sweet little hello kiss.

After drinking flirtinis at Monte Carlo, we head to Christina's holiday party for her carpentry job. This is how I find myself on a first date, watching complete strangers receive "Employee of the Year" certificates and speaking about their dreams for the company. They seem like a fine crew, but I'm feeling a little out of my element. Happily, the white russians are strong.

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