Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Portland, OR

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Nicole, 30

Where are you from?
I'm from New York. My ex-husband brought me out here. He's from Salem.

He brought you out here, and it didn't work out?
Kicking and screaming, he brought me out here. I said, "If we move out here, we're going to break up. It isn't going to work out." And sure enough… He's homeless now, has been for years, and here I am in Portland, running a business.

Does he want to be homeless?
I kind of think so, yep. I think that he does. He seems to be relatively satisfied.

What kind of business do you run?
I run a homemaking service, so I'm like a rentable housewife. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, chasing screaming kids, organizing…

Do you wear a cute uniform?
No, that costs extra. If I have to wear makeup to work for you, it costs extra.

So you get to have kids without having kids?
I do. I get to watch other people's kids. We have a great time. It's fun. Some nights though — I'm not going to lie — I want to go home and Google how to tie my own tubes. But I was married to a kid for a long time, so I'm pretty good on that. Now, I just kind of chase after the younger guys.

Really? I've got a friend you might want to meet later on.
If you're eighteen to twenty-two, you're perfect for me. If you're older but cute, I'll make an exception. Otherwise, I like the younger ones, yes.

What is it about them?
It's their attitude. They're fun, they're spontaneous, they like to go out and do things. They like to go watch bands, they like to go watch movies. They like to go on weekend trips. Their career doesn't dictate their lives. They don't have all this baggage. They're not jaded. They don't think all women are out to get them. No, I don't want to cuddle and talk about my feelings. You're here for what you're here for, and then… you have a home. Go there. I'm done with it, essentially. That's not for me.

You're down for a good time.
You know, men say that's what they want, and then when I do it, they're almost offended when I tell them it's time to go. They seem surprised — they're like, "Wait, what do you mean I can't stay?" We've had our fun. The door's that way.

When they don't get the picture, do you lay it out, or do you try to be polite about it?
Typically, I'm like, "Do you need me to call you a cab? Do you have a car?" I don't want to end things on a bad note, but I don't want to be that clingy, crazy person either. Like I said, men say they want that, but then when they get it, they don't seem to understand. It seems as though I offend a lot of guys, and I don't mean to, but at the same time it's like, "Honey, you're nineteen. I'm thirty. What did you really think was going to happen tonight? I'm not looking to have babies with you. You're just pretty and nice to look at. We're good here."

Is that mostly Oregon guys, or are New York guys the same way?
No, the East Coast and the West Coast are very different. East Coast, everyone knows where everyone stands. The women are very much… they're going to tell you how it is upfront. And the men are going to be very upfront too: "I want you for tonight," or "I want you for a girlfriend." West Coast, however, the women spread like hot peanut butter, and the guys feel as though they're entitled to it. And that mystifies me. On the East Coast, I'd be married with kids right now.

Is that what you wanted?
I always thought so. Now that I'm out here, I'm like, "I look young and pretty." So I have fun with it. I don't know. I did want the white picket fence, kids, husband. I had the husband. It was okay. Everyone should be married at least once. It's a learning experience. You learn a lot about what you want, what you need from other people. But at the same time, if you're looking for fun, marriage is not for you. Marriage is so not fun. I was married for years — not a Kim Kardashian marriage — and it was an uphill battle every day. Let me tell you, the next time I get married, it's going to be for money, because if it's going to be Vietnam every day of my life, at least I'm going to have nice things.

NEXT: "I don't sleep naked, but I invite women to, by all means."

Scottie, 23

What are you doing in Portland?
I am currently working at Abercrombie and Fitch.

I bet that gets you a lot of dates.
I work with some cute girls, but that's it. Just working. They're too young.

What's your ideal age range?
I would say twenty to maybe twenty-five. If they're too young, it's just harder to hold a conversation. I work around them, and I know what they talk about.

What do they talk about?
Inappropriate shit.

Justin Bieber?
That, and how cool they think it is to party.

Are you single?

Do you prefer being single or being with someone?
Both are really enjoyable, but I think I've always been more of a relationship guy. I enjoy the company of one person more than a bunch of random people.

How do you meet people?
I do better if they know me a little bit before, or ahead of time. Maybe through friends. I don't know, I'm a nice guy and I'm funny. I'm a big dancer. I don't really like being in bars. I really like to dance, when I've had a few in me.

Something I've always wondered about: when you're talking to a girl at the bar, what makes you decide to buy her a drink?
If you think you need to. Maybe she's soberer then you. Maybe you think she'd be impressed by you buying her a drink. Maybe she'd rather drink instead of go dance. You've got to read the situation.

So it has to benefit you?
Yeah, definitely. Unless she's a close friend, or she bought me a drink first.

Have you ever asked a girl what she's wearing, when you're on the phone with her?
I actually say that a lot.

What's the best response?
The best answer's probably a towel, and they say they just got out of the shower.

Can you say it like they would say it?

Go ahead, try. I'm typing this up anyway.
[in a soft whisper] "I just hopped out of the shower… I haven't put anything on yet…"

Is that what you like to wake up to, too?
Yeah. I mean, I don't prefer to sleep naked myself. I sleep with my dog. Not with women over, though. I don't sleep naked, but I invite women to, by all means.

Do you take your socks off first?
I wear tube socks, and they look really bad, so yeah.

Has the dog park been a good place to pick up girls?
Honestly, since I've had him, I haven't done well.

It's supposed to be the opposite!
I know. It's probably me.

NEXT: "I'd probably tell him that I wasn't wearing a whole lot, and I expect him to be home in ten minutes or I'd start without him…"

Kristen, 28

What are you doing in Portland?
I sell cosmetics, and that's pretty much it.

Does that help you pick up dates?
I'm actually engaged.

To him?
To this one, right here. We met ten years ago, when I was eighteen, a freshmen in college.

Have you been dating for ten years?
No, we didn't actually start dating until a year-and-a-half ago.

What happened?
Well, sometimes you get drunk in college and sometimes you follow each other home, and find it enjoyable, and eight years later decide to make it honest.

Thank you!

Are you nervous about getting married?
I'm not. When you've known somebody as long as we've known each other — I mean, we went through deaths in the family, he lost his dad, we went through financial hardships. At that point, it was like, if we can get through all of this, it's kind of meant to be.

So you passed all the trials?
Yeah, we went through everything before we started dating. We were each other's rock. Dating was kind of the last part of the equation, but it was amazing.

When you were single, how did you approach guys?
I went to an all-girls Catholic school, so we didn't have the option to be shy. If you wanted a guy, you had to go up to him and say exactly what it was you wanted, since no guy was going to ask you to your own dance. So we were taught to be outspoken from a young age.

Were you saying, "I want you to go out with me," or "I want you to make out with me?"
A little bit of both. Yeah, we were pretty forward as females. We did whatever it was we felt like doing, and there weren't a whole lot of consequences.

Is there one song that always reminds you of someone?
Any time I hear Billy Joel, "Only the Good Die Young," the first thing I think of is that it was me and my girl's song for a long time. It was kind of the motto we lived by — this is it, you only get one chance to be this age, so you might as well do it. It's one thing to regret the decisions that you've made but it's another to regret the decisions that you didn't make.

Hell yeah. Your fiancé calls you up and asks, "What are you wearing right now?" What's your response?
I would look at exactly what I was wearing, and if it wasn't something sexy, I would probably lie. I'd probably tell him that I wasn't wearing a whole lot, something with easy access, and I expect him to be home in ten minutes or I'd start without him.

What's the craziest thing you did when you were younger?
When I was about twenty-two, I ran off with my boss to Tijuana at about two in the morning. We had some friends who worked for the airlines, and they had a couple of free tickets and invited us, last minute. So we jumped on a flight, two a.m. to Tijuana, and spent a week there. It was awesome.

Sex on the beach?
Well, in the cabin.

Any regrets?
Not one.