Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Jeidar, 44

Are first impressions accurate?
Not always, no. You have to do a second take on it.

What are some false impressions men often have of you? 
The main one has been that I'm unapproachable, or that I wouldn't be single. You know: "Why bother, because she probably already has someone." So I don't get approached very often.

Have you ever dated a high-maintenance man?
Yes, my ex-husband. [laughs] He was very needy. He always needed to be told that I loved him, and it didn't even matter if I showed it to him in actions. He just always needed to hear it.

Tell me about your first kiss.
I was sixteen. It was my first boyfriend, my high-school sweetheart. I was always very sheltered by my mom, so that was the first time I had experienced any type of kiss that meant anything. I went to his house and his parents were out, we went down to his basement and he was making brownies, and then he just leaned over and gave me a kiss. There was no inkling that it was going to happen. It was a weird thing. I expected flashes of light and all that. But it was memorable. I was very tense and shy about it, but I remember relaxing after a while. [laughs] We ended up dating for about four years, which was great. He was also the first guy I had sex with. We still go out a couple of times during the week, and it's great. He's still a very good friend. We're surprised that we know each other still, and that we still maintain a good communication.

What's the craziest thing you've done to sexually please a man?
Oh lord… I've done a lot of interesting things. With my ex-husband, we were at South Street Seaport, and we got out of the car and, right in the parking lot, I just lifted my dress and we had sex. So… [laughs] People were passing by. I don't know if they noticed or didn't notice, but it was great. I took him by surprise. He was like, "Oh my God, people are going to watch." And I was like, "I don't care." That was the craziest thing I've ever done.

What time of day was it? How long did it last?
Summer, daylight. It lasted not even ten minutes. It was a quickie. And then we laughed and walked away, and that was something that we could always remember. That was around the time that we met, so there was always something crazy going on.

Jerome, 27

What do you do for a living?
I'm a promoter.

What's the boldest thing you've done to get a woman's attention?
I spilled a cherry Slurpee on a girl's white sneakersI did it on purpose. We were in the South Berry station on Staten Island, right outside the station. When I came in, she was looking and our eyes connected. So I said hello first, and when I said hello, I spilled the slushie and it got on her laces. I'm always playing around. I had some money on me, and I already knew that I was going to give her eighty dollars for her sneakers.

That's an expensive way to pick up ladies, isn't it?
I knew that if I did the whole thing right, and she didn't have a man, she'd give me her number. So, she starts flippin'. I'm like, "Where's your man at? I can't go hooking you up with more sneakers because I don't have any money on me!" and she's like, "I don't have a man! Don't be asking me all these personal questions! You just spilled on my Ups!" I was like, "Well, look, here's eighty dollars right here. Boom!" and she snatched it from me real quick. I start kickin' it to her, we started talking about clubs that we had been to, and I was like, "Yo, look, I'm a cool cat. If you ain't doing nothing, let's link up and go shopping on Saturday, and let's go hit the club." I actually didn't tell her that I did it on purpose until the night that I called her. She was like, "You know what? Your approach was kind of like you did it on purpose, because I saw your hand when you poured it, and I was so mad. I didn't know if you were some dude who had lost his mind for a split second or what." I think it lasted with her for about eight months.

Before you gave her the money, were you thinking, "I better get something for this?"
I know black girls like the top of my head, you know what I'm saying? Growing up where I did, going to school, going to college, I know them on that level. I couldn't really do something like that with a girl who wasn't from the same place as me. Even if she was from the same place but she still wasn't black, I still probably wouldn't have done it. I know how black girls act when they're approached by a black guy. It was kind of dirty what I did, but I felt her a lot, so I was like, "I know she's going to go for me. I know she's at least going for the money, and then after I give her the money, I know she's going to give me some type of information." I could just tell from her eyes and the tone of her voice.

How many women do you date at a time?
The most I'm at is two at a time. I don't have the money for a bunch of girlfriends like that.

How do you determine if you want to keep a girl around?
I like to be in control of the moment, so that no serious feelings get involved. So I'll date girls who don't live near here. I live in New York, so she'll live in Jersey, or Connecticut. If you live near me, I'll let you know what's going on from the beginning: I'm not trying to get married. That's why a lot of the girls I date are lesbians, because then —

You mean bisexuals?
Yeah. That way, they always have somebody there, just in case we don't work out. I just don't want there to be hurting and crying and tears and all those hard feelings. I'm not about all that.

Was there ever a time when you got attached and the woman wanted things to be casual?
It's never happened to me before.

Have you ever been in love?
Once.

Do you want to tell me about that?
Not right now. [laughs]

Going back to the slushie incident, is your approach always premeditated like that?
Always. Because you know what happens? You'll get to talking to a girl, and then she'll tell you she's got a man. Then you just wasted twenty-five minutes of conversation with this girl. So I'm like, all right, let me plan this out. That way, I can get in and stay in if she doesn't have a man, and if she does have a man, I can get out real quick and I'm not too rude. I really don't want to be rude. Even if it's nothing but a tiny bit, it's always premeditated so I don't go up in there sounding stupid. Females will get you quick and just turn their heads and decide they don't like you.

Maybe you were dissed once, and that's why you're more careful now?
I've had a girl break up with me before. But I haven't been dissed, because I always go up to a woman like I got some sense. The only guys who get dissed are the dum-dums — the guys who just go up to them and they're like, "Yo, let me get your number." I'm like, "How is she gonna give you her number if she doesn't even know your name? You got nerve. We live in New York City." That might work with some girls, but not the kind I like. I like office girls. A girl who's not just hanging out, letting years pass her by. I ain't with that. I like girls who have something of substance and relevance to talk about. I also don't like quiet girls. All that shy stuff is like, out the door with me, yo. [laughs] I can't deal with it. I could even set up across the table from you and hold the conversation myself, but I ain't doing that. I want to hear what you're thinking. I want to hear what you're about.

Amber, 20

Random question: how many strangers have you mentally undressed today?
Probably about three.

Is this a normal, everyday thing?
Um… I wouldn't say it's a normal thing. But if I happen to see someone I find attractive, then I'll totally do it. [laughs]

Have you ever been caught gawking at someone, mid-fantasy?
Oh yeah, for sure. One time on the subway, I was checking a girl out who actually looked a lot like my girlfriend. I was staring at her for the entire time. She finally looked at me and she was like "Yeah? What?"

Are you bisexual, or are you gay?
I'm gay.

When did you first know that you liked girls?
Probably when I was six or seven. I remember being really young and having the girls from my neighborhood come over to play house or whatever, and I'd always end up being the dad. I remember kissing the girls, too. I just pretended that I was a manIn middle school, I was really close with some of my female teachers, and in high school I would have my teachers' numbers and we'd go to dinner. I was always very into my women teachers. My mom told me that she knew since I was younger, because I always wanted to be with an older woman I could talk to. I think it was my junior year of high school when I was finally like, "Okay, I'm ready to come out." There was just no question about it.

Tell me about your first lesbian experience.
It was my first semester of college. I went to a musical-theatre conservatory, and she was my counselor. We had to learn all these different tap steps for the next day of class. I'd had a couple drinks before practice, so I just went ahead and told her that I thought she was really pretty and I really liked her personality. Then she invited me over to her house, where we had a few more drinks, and we ended up going to bed together… It was pretty good. [laughs]

Are you in a relationship now?
I am.

How did you meet?
She worked with my mom a long time ago, probably when I was twelve or thirteen, and I saw her then, and I thought she was really pretty and I used to joke with my mom that she was "my girl." And then I went up here and years went by, and then she ended up adding me on Facebook and we started talking on there.

What have you found in your current girlfriend, and nobody else?
Total understanding. No matter what comes out of my mouth, even if it's something she doesn't agree with, she takes the time to think about it and see where I'm coming from. I just adore her, and there's no one else for me. She's extremely smart, and I really love teachers or just very smart women, in general. She's also a really good writer — she writes fiction. And everything about her face is just adorable, like the way she'll just crinkle her nose… it might sound clichéd, but I just think she's adorable.

Fast Eddie, 37

You must meet lots of women, as a comedy promoter.
I do. This whole Midtown area is full of women. They're from Germany, Sweden, France. They want to laugh, they want to have a good time, and they want to meet guys. We make them laugh, and we show them a good time. All the guys at the comedy club have a great time, and I have a great time. I can even show you pictures on my cell phone. It's crazy. Every night. During the summer, it was absolutely crazy. I was giving free piggyback rides all the way from here to the club. Females only.

Which women are most responsive to your flirtation?
For some reason, I find that black women who are Baptists tend to really like me. That's the thing I noticed that they all just happen to have in common, when I'd see their Facebook profiles later on. I'd be like "Whoa… I slept with a lot of Baptist women last month." [laughs] And also French women. Maybe it's this Jerry Lewis thing I've got going on.

Did you go on dates with these women, or did you just hook up with them?
These were hookups, mostly. I'm not even interested in dates. It's like a candy store out here.

What other jobs have helped you meet women?
I used to be a dog walker. That was really good. But meeting women has never really been an issue for me. I'm friendly and I'm social, you know? I've always been the "funny guy," the natural-born extrovert.

Do you find any women intimidating? Do you ever lose your cool?
If a woman is very shy, and very quiet — in a street-corner kind of scenario, it really doesn't matter that much, but if I ask one out on a date and she's very nervous, that is uncomfortable and a little intimidating. It's like kryptonite or something. It's like, "It's not working." Every trick in the book just doesn't work. But I wouldn't say that those women, themselves, are intimidating. I feel for them, because I love women.

What's the boldest thing you've done for a woman's attention?
Here's a strange thing I said to a woman once — you know that line from The Terminator? "I was sent from the future to protect you." It was intended as a pickup line, but then I really just talked her into going into the comedy club.

Have any funny lines been used on you?
Oh! Here's a great line a woman used on me. I walked into this bar, and this girl just threw her arms around me and said, "I'm really sorry about what happened last time. I was really drunk that night." I said, "Oh, don't worry about it," or whatever. But she admitted the next morning that she just thought I was attractive, and had never even seen me before that night.

How do you normally handle a bad date?
I never wanted to hurt their feelings, so I would just try to be a bad date myself. I would pretend to be very cheap, very boring, or just have no social skills. I'd say "Do you like to go to museums?" She'd say yes, and then I'd say, "…because I've always wanted to go to the Con Edison Energy Conservation Museum, to see how the refrigerator lightbulb turns on and off! That sounds really cool!" Here's another example — I'd say, "Have you heard of Blue Man Group? Well, I heard that we can get in for free if we volunteer as ushers!" Women don't like men who don't want to spend any money. These are just harmless things I'd do to turn the woman off from me. I wouldn't do anything to insult her, or embarrass myself, except for something like that.

Have you ever been stood up?
Yeah, that tends to happen with younger women. They'll actually confirm the plan, but then something else will happen in between. That's why I usually prefer women over the age of twenty-three or twenty-four.

When was your last relationship?
Gosh… it was a long time ago. Personally, I've never really been interested in relationships. Maybe it has to do with the whole Irish-Catholic thing — I'm an atheist now, but that's how I was raised. Growing up in an environment like that, you're taught that when you make a deal, like with marriage, you make that deal for life. Even though I'm not religious now, sometimes I'll say in the back of my head, "I don't want to make that deal."

What would it take for a woman to change that?
You know, I do creative things, and I think that if I met a woman who was beautiful and also extraordinarily creative, and then we were able to work together and really create art and love each other, that could absolutely work. I'm always inspired by women. Like, if you were a guy, I wouldn't even be talking to you right now.

Michelle, 22

What's your relationship status?
I have a boyfriend. We met in college. We're part of the same organizations. We just kind of became friends, and then about six months later we started going out.

Did you click instantly, or did it take some time?
Um… I think it took some time. Initially, I thought he was gay, but he's European — he's from Greece — and they just have a different way of behaving and carrying themselves. Eventually, by spending the whole year together and working on all of our projects, I got to know him a lot better, and things just worked out.

Do you have a general type?
Well, I've only really had one other boyfriend, and he was pretty much the complete opposite of my current boyfriend. I think from that relationship, I knew exactly what I didn't want in a guy. He was very needy and very controlling, and we went to different colleges, and it was kind of unbearable the amount of attention that he needed. We'd spend hours on the phone and I was sacrificing my academics for it, and so the whole thing just didn't seem worth it anymore.

What have you found in your current boyfriend, and no one else?
He's very sweet and he always has my best interests at heart, and he always puts me first, and that's a really nice change. [laughs]

Did anything surprise you about him?
I think it was the chivalry. He would never let me pay for anything, and he would get upset if I wanted to pay for dinner. It was a little difficult to deal with because growing up here, everyone pays for themselves when going out to dinner, or at least it's not out of the question for a girl to pay for dinner, and so there was some adjusting I had to do.

Have you generally dated American guys, before him?
Yeah, they've all been American, but not white, Asian-American. And then one of my other boyfriends was Persian, but he was still born in America. I feel like Europeans are more, um… they have a way about them, and they've been introduced in society with more drinking and more smoking from an earlier age than Americans have. So, I think his maturity level was higher than the other guys' maturity levels.

What are some false impressions guys have had of you in the past?
I've been told I'm very reserved. I kind of observe more than I participate, if I don't really know the situation or if I don't know the people around me, and so I guess sometimes people find me anti-social. But I'm just, you know, assessing the situation that's going on. It really depends on who I'm with. I have two sisters, and with them, I'm pretty free, and I just say and do whatever I want. It's the same with a few of my college friends, too. And then, mostly with everyone else — and acquaintances — I'm more conservative.

Peter, 31

Tell me about one of the worst dates you've ever been on.
I was about eighteen, going to see a Knicks vs. Nets game with an older woman, a banker around thirty-five, who I'd met through a friend. We cruised into the city in her Jaguar convertible, and we wound up having a few drinks before we got to Madison Square Garden. She got totally drunk and a little obnoxious. She took my phone and threw it out the sunroof of the car, and I was driving. So I just pulled over, jumped out, and hopped in a cab and left her there.

She got drunk and threw your phone out the sunroof? That doesn't sound like bankerly behavior.
[laughs] Yeah, you never know. That was a rough date.

What do you generally look for in a woman?
I don't like women who are ditzy. That turns me off. I like a woman who has a good head on her shoulders, knows what she wants, and gives it to me straight.

What do you do for a living?
I'm a construction worker here in the city. I've been in construction since I was eighteen. Before that, I worked for a guy who owned a construction business, in his boatyard, so he was prepping me to be a construction worker, I guess. I also teach martial arts, and I'm a MMA fighter. That's my dream, to be champion one day. So, that's the other half of my life.

Do you feel it's important to date a woman whose job is similar to yours?
Maybe being in the same financial bracket. I've never dated a rich woman, and I don't know if I'd be totally comfortable with it. I've always wondered if that would be an issue. The women I date usually have regular jobs — nothing too extravagant. Some have worked in veterinarians' and doctors' offices, and some of them do a little work in clubs on the weekend — promoting, and things like that.

What's one of your biggest regrets when it comes to past relationships?
I wasn't always the type who you could sit down and talk to and get through to. I guess I could have been… an ass? So now, I've learned as I get older, to be a little more understanding and more considerate of someone else's feelings.

Is there one common thread running through all of your past relationships?
All of my serious girlfriends wanted to get married. They brought it up really early on, too, and I always told them that I wasn't ready for that. I didn't think I was responsible enough in those relationships. And then the topic of children came up, and I just didn't think I was ready to handle that responsibility, worrying about taking care of a whole new person, or bringing a life into this world. I ran for the hills when I heard that, you know? Even my first girlfriend brought up having a baby, before we ever had sex. I was like, sixteen or seventeen. I said, "We're not having a baby." I couldn't even take care of my dog at that age. But now, at thirty one years old, I'm entertaining that idea. Definitely. Yeah. If I met the right girl, I wouldn't even put a number on how many children I would have. Boy, girl… five, ten… you know? [laughs] If she's down with it and we can afford it, why not? Now, for the first time in my life, I think I really want that. It would be nice.

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