This essay was first published in Marco Polo, April 2013

 

Kissing Frogs

How else can you meet guys these days—

Tess is fortyish, a Sharon Stone lookalike. We’re her best friends, her cheerleaders. We talk her into joining Match.com. “C’mon, just try it!” After smooching a few frogs, she meets a prosperous, good-looking urologist. We call him “Doctor Dick.”

They bond over music—

They’re into the same indie and classic rock. He tells her during their first phone conversation, in January, that he’s going to New York to see the Allman Brothers in March: “Maybe you can come.…” Whoa! She laughs it off. We help her get ready for their first date. Suggestions and clothes fly around her room; she tries something on, snaps a picture and sends it to us. “OMG, you’d think I was going to meet Johnny Depp.” She chooses a burgundy halter top, black silk pants, and her spiky Sex-and-the-City shoes.

Things progress quickly—

He invites her to New York. This time for real. She makes good money but she’s buried in debt, can’t manage it. “You’ll be my guest,” he says. “I can afford it, and you can’t.” We’re uneasy, jokes about sugar daddies notwithstanding. But what the hell.

“Geez, it’s barely a month—”

Tess notices when his early attentiveness starts to wane. And he starts picking at her. Tessa’s fit and toned, with sculpted Michelle Obama arms. He admires her triceps … but “you should work on your biceps.” And underwear; you wear your best and sexiest in a new relationship, right? “When my panties and bras don’t match,” she tells us, “he mentions it. Every time.”

But now New York—

Tessie’s in a tizzy: “What should I take, I don’t have a warm coat, what shoes I will need, my suitcase is too small….” Old, new, borrowed, blue; it’s like we’re sending her off on a month-long honeymoon.

He’s a control freak too—

At Carnegie Deli he forbids her to order turkey. “I didn’t want pastrami,” she says. There’s no time to run in Central Park, no sight-seeing or shopping, except to buy us Pashmina scarves from a street vendor. It’s bitter cold outside the theatre before the concert. A Southern California gal, she’s shivering.

“Brrrr, I’m cold…”

Freezing. “I am so cold.”

Nothing. “Could you warm me a little?”

Brisk shoulder rubdown. That’s all? Really?

She confronts him later—

“I have some issues,” he says. Turns out, at dinner that night she set her butter knife down in the wrong place and put her napkin on her plate before everyone was finished.

“Are you fucking kidding me? Did I eat with my hands?”

He shrugs. “I thought you’d want to know.”

That’s the last straw—

She tells us everything over lunch. We sputter: “We’ll show him table manners.” Someone flings a napkin onto the table, and it’s a free-for-all, flapping linens and clattering cutlery. “You know where he can put his butter knife?” We laugh till we’re in tears.

She’s back online—

More toads. We cheer her on: “Someday your prince will come….”

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