For those who don’t already know, I’m answering Carrie’s questions from every episode of Sex and the City (or at least most of them) to see how things have changed for a single thirty-something writer in New York City, ten years after the show ended…
On the show, Carrie’s secret sex question was spurred on by Big’s seeming reluctance to introduce her to his friends and make her a part of his life, a fear reinforced by a chance encounter with an old friend who was hiding away his bonk buddy in a sketchy Chinese restaurant that he knew (or believed) none of his friends would ever frequent.
Firstly, can I just say, that man was a massive twat. He wasn’t anything special, right? And the cheese shop lady seemed lovely and she had access to unlimited quantities of cheese! That’s better than a man! Typical bloody Manhattan. A dodgy bloke who couldn’t tip a six on the scale won’t ‘settle’ for anything less than an eight in a woman. And they always get away with it! The bit of this episode that really pisses me off is that in reality, the cheese lady probably would have put up with it, carried on seeing him as and when he wanted until he either a) got bored and just stopped calling, b) got bored and dumped her for someone else or, worst case scenario c) got bored, winter turned up and dates were thin on the ground and he eventually made her his girlfriend. This is the worst case scenario because he’s set so much precedent for treating the girl like shit, it sets the tone for the entire relationship. This happens. Every day.
About two years ago, a newly single male friend of mine, 36, good job, all of his own hair but not terribly blessed in the boat race department (I’m sorry but it’s important that you have all the facts) started dating. We shall call him Byron because he would like that. Several of my girlfriends always add the qualifier ‘creepy’ before his name because he can be a little bit creepy. It’s harsh but I get it. Anyway, it was his first time diving into the New York dating pool and even though he was reluctant at first, within a couple of weeks, Byron was like a pig in shit. Mostly, he met his dates online but there was one, a girl he’d met at an old job and then seduced when she visited the city for a short holiday with her mother on her birthday who told him mid-assignation that he was a terrible man. You won’t be surprised to hear he was delighted by this assessment and never saw her again. Two or three months later, our mutual female friend asked how he was doing. His is reply? ‘I’m drowning in pussy.’
Altogether now: Ewwwwwww.
This went on for a few months until our gang sort of kind of became aware that he was seeing a girl we all knew and, again, brutal honesty, no one really liked. She was pretty inoffensive in general, a bit bland and overly enthusiastic but she had a reputation for being a touch cray and had pursued one of my best friend’s exes literally days after they broke up. Sisters before misters rule decreed, we would never be besties. So anyway, she moved through the group at a rate of knots and finally settled her sights on Byron. With full awareness and a thorough report of her craziness from my friend’s ex, he decided that because she was pretty and blonde and twelve years younger than him, he’d have a go on it anyway. This went on for months. He was still sleeping around, dating all over the city but once a week or so, he’d make arrangements to sleep with this girl. We were getting after work drinks one night when Byron asked if I would go to a party with him the next night. Full of cocktails and obnoxiousness, I asked why he wasn’t taking his girlfriend but instead of explaining, he laughed, said this party was going to be full of writers and smart people and there was no way he would take her to something like that. And then downed the rest of his pint and explained he had to run because she would be at his apartment at nine-thirty and he was going to be late.
Honest to Jebus, I was lost for words. And do you know what the best part of this story is? Two years on and now they’re still together. His refusal to actually make her his girlfriend went on for over six months. We even had a shouting row about it over Thanksgiving dinner. A quick survey of my friends were torn, those who knew both parties were pretty much of the opinion that they deserved each other. Everyone else was split into two camps – there were the women who thought Byron was reprehensible and ought to be castrated (if only for the ‘drowning in pussy’ line) and then there were those who considered this girl a champion. She had hung in there and waited him out until he broke. I remember one time he was super hungover from a big night of being a filthy bastard with an online random and tried to cancel on her but instead, she came over with homemade apple pie to make him feel better. Seriously. Eventually, summer turned into autumn, autumn turned into winter and Byron couldn’t be bothered to go out dating anymore. And let’s face it, hand delivered, homemade baked goods that come with a willing blow job do help keep you warm through the long cold nights.
It’s a difficult situation. I’ve definitely dated people who I’ve kept on the sidelines of my life until I’ve been sure about them. My friends are my family and introducing any man to them is a huge step. Until I know I want him around, I don’t want them to scare him away or, even worse, love him so much they prefer him to me. Stop laughing, this happened to one of my friends. It was the worst. I suppose this is especially relevant to me this week because one of my very, very best and most important friends will be face to face with the Gentleman Caller in less than 24 hours. I’m petrified. So far he’s only met one of my friends and generally speaking, aside from the fact she came home while we were, um, indisposed and she had to shake his hand with his shirt off (He was inordinately proud. She was appalled. I wanted to die.) it went pretty well. They seemed to get along and it wasn’t weird. I’m always terrified of seeing myself reflected in these situations – admit it, you know you’re a slightly different person with your loved than you are with your friends and imagining foul mouthed BFF Lindsey co-existing with flicky hair, femme fatale Lindsey (HA!) gave me the fear. There was no need.
Ultimately, if a relationship is going to work and be healthy, all of your selves are going to have to come together. Once I’m sure I’m head over heels, I wanted to show my boyfriend off like a prize pony. Seriously, I wanted to shine him up and trot him all over New York while shouting ‘this is mine!’ at complete strangers. Love is strange. If the man you’re sleeping with doesn’t want to do the same with you, it’s probably not a good sign. My advice? Make like the cheese lady and move on.