In 1999, I joined JDate and met exactly one woman. She was a doctor, just my type. I like powerful competent people. They excite my fantasies of rescue.
We exchanged messages and emails and talked on the phone and finally met one Sunday morning for brunch at the Newsroom on Robertson Blvd.
The conversation flowed. It was so easy. We went for a walk. It was so easy. The hours flew by. Though I wanted to be at my best, I didn’t feel the need to pretend to her (OK, I didn’t talk a lot about my writing on the porn industry, I preferred to concentrate on my lofty chronicling of Dennis Prager). I came home exhilarated.
So many people shunned me for writing on the porn industry. Here was a woman who accepted me for who I am.
Here, at last, I thought, was a woman who was worthy of me. She was beautiful. She was smart. She was accomplished. She was strong. She was busty.
She went home and Googled and found my website lukeford.com and emailed me that she was appalled by some of the content, in particular this vicious rant I published by a reader against Howard Stern and his wife, asking how would the mother of his children tolerate the kind of degradation that Howard dished out to his porn star guests on his radio show?
After I got the good doctor’s email, I looked at the rant and I shuddered. It was disgusting. She was right. I felt slimy. My life was disgusting. It was unworthy of such a woman. I would never have published such content if I had known my date was going to look at it. I would never have published it if anyone I cared about was going to read it.
I started going out with this woman about once a month for two years (splitting the check evenly). She told me early on that after our first date, after she looked me up online, that she told her friends that I was fascinating but that she’d have to wrap me in plastic and freeze-dry me for a year before she got with me to make sure she didn’t catch any STDs.
Ha! I’ve never had an STD. I guess she didn’t believe me.
One night after a movie at the Beverly Center, she led me lingerie shopping. The good doctor was stacked and had a hard time finding sexy bras. She was intrigued with one particular bra and asked me how I liked it and when I said I did, she asked me with a smile if I would buy it for her and showed me the price tag — $200. I said gulped and said sure, if I could see her in it.
I’d definitely pay $200 to have sex with her. Oy vey! Sex with a doctor! I’ve never had sex with a doctor. She could name all the parts that were grinding against each other.
I think that moment was the closest we ever got to crossing the boundary from friends to lovers.
She looked at me for a few seconds and smiled and put the bra back on the rack and led me out of the store and down the safe tidy boulevard of platonic love.
I developed a vigorous email life with this woman. We started arguing early on about the dynamics of sexual excitement. I said that what drove this excitement was the desire to sin, to be dirty and nasty to the object of one’s desire. I was quoting the late psychiatrist Robert Stoller. She vehemently disagreed. She said erotic excitement was the product of mutual love and respect.
Harumph! When I think about my mutual love and respect for a woman, it does nothing for me erotically. When I want to get nasty with her, that lights my rocket.
Despite our hot and heavy emails (all theory, nothing about what we’d like to do to each other), we never did get sexual together. We never kissed. We never held hands. We just went to dinners and movies and talked. Because her job required her complete attention, she had me plan everything we did. Fine with me. I kept taking her to the same vegetarian restaurant — Real Food Daily on La Cienega Blvd.
In 2000, our email arguments upped in intensity. Healthcare for women has always been a passion for me. I suggested that the good doctor offer free pap smears in exchange for patients consenting to streaming everything on a paid feed over the internet. She was not impressed with this suggestion.
I made some disparaging remark about the play The Vagina Monologues (which I had not seen, only read about) and my date responded that I hated vaginas. I didn’t see how my contempt for Eve Ensler’s production had anything to do with how I felt about women’s private parts, but that kind of hysterical lack of logic is pretty bloody typical for a woman, isn’t it?
One night in early 2001, we went to the Marquis DeSade movie Quills. I have a weak stomach for violence and as the movie reached its climax, I had to look away. It was too much. And I remember my date grabbing my face, forcing my eyes open, poking me in the chest, and saying, “Look at this. This is what you like.”
No! It was not what I like. When I want to hurt the object of my affection, I want to do it through fantasy and play like tickling and biting and scratching and spanking, never through real violence. Yes, all good sex has an element of violence, but there should be no damage. I’m a gentle nurturing boyfriend. Ask all my ex-girlfriends. I always ask for permission. I dole out safe words. I say please and thank you. I pay obeisance to the mutual love and respect thing. I talk about how what we’re doing makes me feel closer. I say things gently, as in, I’m terribly sorry but would you mind taking your dentures out before you do that?
Even though the good doctor later apologized, we didn’t go out again.
I hate how people can’t hear what I was saying. They can only hear what it represents to them, what it evokes for them. The incentives to lie are powerful, particularly for a man with a woman he wants. Yes, my dear, it is love that is the most erotic thing for me, and I only ever desire you, never anyone else. Don’t even look at others. Now let us join together and experience our mutual love and respect.
I want to live in truth. I want to speak the truth. I don’t want to relay banalities and lies just to get ahead. I’m not a careerist. I don’t want to sacrifice my integrity to get ahead. I want to call ’em as I see ’em.
I relayed it all to my therapist, read to her some of our emails, and my therp said my date must have a messed up relationship with her father and with men in general.
And I gave up on the good doctor, though not, I’m afraid, before she gave up on me.
I’m a little hazy on my chronology here, but after about two years of our monthly dinners, and I fear that this might have been after the Quills debacle, I asked her via email if she wanted to go out more often. She very politely asked for 24 hours to think about it and then got back to me to say no.
I appreciated that she took that time to think. It meant I was worth considering. A swift “no” would’ve stung.
A few weeks later, she told me that she was thinking about dating a good friend, but feared losing the friendship if things didn’t work out.
“Men and women can’t be friends,” I said to her. “Go ahead and date him. At worst, you will only lose something that can’t last anyway.”
They married quickly and just before Rosh Hashanah 2001, I was a dinner guest at their Shabbat table. It didn’t hurt that bad. I was never in her league.
We’d had a good run. She’d been very tolerant. I was such a pariah in those days, but for two years she gave me monthly tastes of happiness.
At our final Shabbat dinner, she congratulated me on my recent two-page profile in The Jerusalem Report, and all I remembered was how, perhaps it was that very night or perhaps it was months before, she called me “the great under-achiever”, or perhaps she said I was “the great f***-up.”