I'm a straight, middle-aged woman, still out there in the dating jungle. Sitting in a movie theater recently on a first date with a single, straight, middle-aged man, I was presented with his observation that a lot of formerly straight women come out as lesbians in middle age. His theory for this alleged phenomenon? Since middle-aged men don't find middle-aged women sexually attractive, middle-aged women are forced to turn to each other for love. A kind of default sexual orientation, I guess.
By "middle-aged men," I assumed he meant himself. And I am, as I said, also middle-aged. His remarks were stupefying on so many levels that I couldn't begin to respond--I just sat there with my mouth hanging open until the movie began. Naturally enough, a romantic relationship did not evolve between us, and I've since heard that he wants to find a younger woman, marry, and start a family.
My question, Mr. Savage, is this: If I ever find myself in a similar situation, hearing a similarly demeaning line of reasoning, what smart and incisive thing might I say in response? What would you have said?
--Stunned in Vancouver
PS: This wasn't a blind date. The guy met middle-aged me at a party and asked me out. Go figure.
I would've said, "Fuck you," and checked out what else was playing at the Cineplex. It's neither smart nor incisive, but a good "fuck you" in a situation like the one you found yourself in--being asked out by someone who turns around and insults you--can restore your dignity faster than any other two words in the English language.
As for Mr. Personality's pet theory--that middle-aged women become dykes because middle-aged men won't have sex with them--well, your date has about as much insight into the lesbian experience as he has tact. When I shared your letter with a dyke friend--the lovely and talented Elise Harris--it brought to her mind a lyric from an old, sad song: "A woman to a man is just a woman, but a man to a woman is her life." Says Elise: "Women are brought up thinking that men are the center of the universe, and some believe it from cradle to grave. If you're brought up to organize your life around that idea, it can take you longer to realize you're a dyke" and to act on that realization. For some women, it can take all the way into middle age.
This may not be within your immediate bailiwick, but I'm sure you could find out the answer. Companies typically pay to have their products seen in movies--it's called product placement--and I'd like to know if Calvin Klein pays to have his brand of underwear worn in porn movies. In straight and gay porn, every guy seems to be wearing his underwear. Do they pay for this? --Just Curious
On your behalf, I called Calvin Klein HQ in great big New York City. The receptionist asked me what my call was regarding, and like an idiot, I told her. She gave me the answer I expected (Does Calvin pay porn producers to showcase his fine undergarments? "No") but had hoped to get from someone besides a receptionist. Not that I have anything against receptionists, mind you; I just wanted to talk to someone at Calvin Klein who makes more money than me.
Having given me a one-word answer, the receptionist refused to put me through to anyone else at CK HQ. I asked the great big New York City receptionist if I could speak to someone who handles product placement for Calvin Klein. "No." Just for a minute? "No." Was Calvin around? "No." Do porn stars get a discount? "No," and she hung up the phone. Gee, maybe after he's finished beating up cab drivers and hot dog vendors, Rudy can do something about fashion-industry receptionists.
My question concerns my brother-in-law. He's in his late 30s, and he is, my wife and I believe, a virgin. He is overweight, balding, lacks confidence, and has few dating skills. He works with computers--and therefore suffers from conversational impairment--and needs to bathe more often. Everyone is entitled to romantic joy, so how can we help him? We're too embarrassed to even broach the subject, and no, he has not asked for our help. But we don't want to see him spend the rest of his life alone and sad. Any suggestions?
--Worried and Willing to Meddle
Your brother-in-law may be alone, but it doesn't necessarily follow that he's sad. Maybe he's perfectly content sitting in front of a computer, going bald, and smelling bad and has no interest in "romantic joy." It's presumptuous of you to assume that those things you value most--romance, conversation, hair, soap--should likewise be valued by your brother-in-law. Maybe he values solitude over romance and time spent at work over time spent bathing. It could be that he hasn't asked for your help because he isn't unhappy and doesn't want or need anyone's help. He's a grown-up, and if he wanted a bath, he would go take one. Why don't you and the wife butt the fuck out?
I am really nervous that breeder men will believe something you ran in your column! A woman called ABF said that guys are brainwashed into believing that women like it when men go down on them, and that women don't really like being eaten out! WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! I, and most women I know, love men to go down on us! Matter of fact, it's practically my favorite thing! Please don't leave straight guys with the wrong impression! Women love being eaten out! ABF is wrong! Thanks for setting this straight! --Clit Chick
PS: What happened to Kevin, your old research assistant?
What happened to Kevin? Sometimes I wonder myself. A rival advice columnist tried to steal Kevin away with offers of "more money," "better benefits," and "less sexual harassment." Loath to lose Kevin, I made a counteroffer: same money, no benefits, same harassment, and "I won't call immigration." You see, Kevin was not in this country entirely legally. He came to the United States as a Korean exchange student many years ago and decided to stay.
As I expected, Kevin saw things my way and turned down Miss Manners's offer. But two weeks later, Kevin was gone. Soon I discovered my passport, social security card, birth certificate, and four credit cards were missing from my desk. Apparently, Kevin has assumed my identity. He's charged thousands of dollars on my credit cards. I have a hunch he may be in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at this moment, posing as me. I intend to hunt Kevin to the ends of the earth if I have to--even to Canada--if that's what it takes to clear my credit history.
Confidential to Brianna:
The pasty-faced boys must be a real letdown after five years in Australia, where the boys are fine. I'm sure you'll find a date in time for your senior prom--it's a whole year from now, what's the rush? If you can't get a date, lemme know, and I'll go with you.
Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.