I’d like to stuff your ballot box.
We both know what we want. Check out my profile.
Let’s take a sensual stroll along the beach, the sunset reflected in our eyes as we hold hands and enjoy the tide. Then back to my place for the best night of your life. Here’s what I’m looking for: You’re beautiful and busty, with legs that go on forever.
“Willy’s a Democrat,” I told Amy. “Why am I not surprised?”
But there was also this.
Hey, Liberal Lady,
I enjoyed your profile, and I’m sure I’d pass your litmus tests with flying colors. Would you like to get together for a cup of Fair Trade? We could see whether you pass all of my litmus tests, too.
Social worker and counselor, recently divorced, no kids, but would like being a stepdad. I enjoy a wide range of activities such as karate, hiking, yoga, travel and discussions. I believe in family values (the right kind), equal opportunity and affirmative action. One of the things I love most about my work is the ability to give back to people, to be an advocate when people often need one most. I’m interested in civil rights, human rights, student rights, women’s rights, animal rights—my constant companion is my rescue German shepherd mutt from Maddie’s.
Joe was even geographically desirable, though a little off my personal grid—he lived on Vermont Street near the Bureau of Equipment—and he suggested that we meet at Herbivore. “They’ve got the best quinoa salad in the Mission,” he said enthusiastically, as if I were going to offer another place in competition.
He was precisely as advertised: politically committed to all the right (which is to say, left) causes, active in the community—he’d joined the protests months ago to keep American Apparel off Valencia—talkative and opinionated. Plus, he was good-looking in a disheveled sort of way, and had most of his hair.
Joe had a master’s in social work from Santa Cruz and worked for Planned Parenthood in the Tenderloin, counseling women—mostly teenagers—who went there to get birth control and, sometimes, abortions. He was a throwback to the 60s—not the love beads and the headbands, but the kind of political fervor, if not the politics, I tended to associate with Michael Savage.
Although I couldn’t match his passion for either politics or quinoa, he wanted to see me again. Maybe it was his affirmative action program for the politically challenged. He offered to cook macaroni and cheese for me at his place on Wednesday.
Twenty-four hours later, I was still picking the whole grains out of my molars. Joe defined crunchy. I was trying to digest his “chicken” with seitan, along with a raw beet salad, when he brought out his guitar and serenaded me. For once, irony eluded me; I loved it. He played a song he’d written, “Last First Kiss”, and I got goose pimples, which generally happens when I’m moved in spite of my better judgment by something maudlin, like the Forrest Gump movie.
Joe lived in a tiny house—more of a lean-to, really—that he had moved to after his divorce. Except for the requisite leather sofa, which men seem to get issued with their divorce decrees, it looked like he was camping out; he was even sleeping on a futon. There was only one decorator note, but it was distinctive: Everything was adorned with little porcelain figures madly copulating away—bunnies humping on the sugar bowl, cows screwing on the creamer lid, goats fornicating on the credenza. He said friends started giving him these after he got his job at Planned Parenthood, and before long he had a sizable collection.
It must have been an inspiration, because we fell into the futon after his song. Fortunately, the sex was more robust than the dinner—Joe was like an Energizer Bunny from Good Vibrations. Che, his German shepherd, kept leaping onto the futon, which could barely support two. It was the closest I’ve ever come, or want to come, to a threesome.
* * *
Things quickly settled into a comfortable routine. I usually saw Joe once during the week and on alternate weekends, when the boys were at Martin’s. Johnny and Chris had met him and liked him well enough but I wasn’t eager to make him part of our household. I enjoyed my time with the boys too much to want to share them. Besides, I already had one stoner in the family.
“He’s like Cheech and Chong,” said Johnny. “One of the other, except he’s not Mexican. Or Chinese. I wonder how much acid he dropped when he was my age.”
“None,” I said primly. Actually, I knew Joe was a regular customer at Walla’s.
Che went crazy the first time he entered my house. At first I thought it was because he’d been cooped up in Joe’s little shack. But then he bounded up the stairs to Johnny’s room and unearthed a stash of pot under the carpeting, where I’d never thought to look. Joe said that, in his previous life, Che had sniffed for drugs in customs at the airport.
So Joe rolled a joint and we smoked it. Groovy.
It was nice being a couple again. Dinner invitations began coming in from people who had barely said hello to me since Martin and I split up. Much as I welcomed them, the invitations rankled. What was it about being coupled that made me dinner-worthy? Had I suddenly become more interesting? Or just safer—that is, I wasn’t going to steal anyone’s husband?
I was starting to think about making a big Thanksgiving dinner for the first time since Martin left. Chris would help me bake pies and Johnny could light the candles and Joe would carve the turkey. Or was that too unliberated? Maybe I’d have to carve. Or perhaps I’d please Joe with an Indigenous Peoples’ Thanksgiving Day: a tofukey with mushroom stuffing and baked acorn squash with toasted pecans.
Thinking of Martin, I remembered that he would be turning 50 in a few days. Johnny had told me that he was planning to get hair plugs soon so that he would have a luxuriant head of hair by the time he married Dawn next year. “Dad said it was drugs, plugs or rugs,” Johnny said gleefully. Drugs—Rogaine—hadn’t worked, and Dawn said she was too young to be married to a guy with a toupee. So plugs it was.
I didn’t want Martin to feel that his birthday was being overlooked. So in my new spirit of generosity, I sent him—anonymously—a gift: paid-up membership in AARP.
* * *
One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the way the kitchen smells when you’re cooking a turkey—the drippings, the stuffing of sautéed onions and celery and sausage. You don’t get that with a tofu turkey. And you certainly don’t get that when you’re basting your tofu turkey with a mixture of miso, soy sauce and sesame oil. The kitchen smelled like Lung Shan.
In the oven, the tofukey slowly collapsed, the drumsticks melting into body. The lovely wings I’d molded turned into hard little tofu flaps. I brought the world’s largest tofu pancake to the table.
“Gross,” Chris said.
“Why did you try to make it look like a turkey, anyway?” Johnny asked. “If you’re vegetarian. I mean, make it look like a vegetable.”
He had a point. Sometimes it seemed like all I did these days was go through contortions to please others. Granted, that was part of being a mother, but now it had extended to my 9-to-5 life, too. My freelance work had dried up, and I’d put out feelers to the Chronicle, where I still had a lot of contacts. To my chagrin, the obituary desk was the only one to give me a call.
They wanted me to start right away. I knew I was lucky to get any job, but it was only until the regular reporter returned from maternity leave. And they wanted me to work on alternate weekends.
What this means, I told the boys, was that I wouldn’t be at their beck and call anymore. “If you need a ride, you can take Muni,” I said importantly, perhaps getting carried away with the idea of a salary. “I’m not a housewife.”
“You’re not even a wife,” Johnny said.
Increasingly, I was starting feel like I wasn’t a girlfriend, either. Around the time he stopped being a novelty, Joe had turned into a major bore. He was so politically correct that I could predict what he would say on any topic; in fact, only a couple of months into the relationship, I felt that I’d already heard it all before. I found that I wanted to do things to annoy him—buy a fur coat, binge on the Kobe beef at Tokyo Go-Go, test-drive a Hummer. It was almost a relief when I discovered, courtesy of Google, that the song he’d serenaded me with and claimed to have written, was actually by John McCutcheon.
I reproached him for his little white lie.
“Why a ‘white’ lie?” Joe thundered. “Why are good lies white and, presumably, bad lies are black? This country is so fucking racist!”
The problem was, I wasn’t prepared to offload Joe until I’d lined up his successor. That was embarrassing to confess, because in my limited experience it was the weaker sex—i.e., men—that were incapable of being alone. Most husbands lined up the next wife before they walked out on the first. Even if they lived on the second floor, these guys wouldn’t jump without a safety net.
And I had to admit, I could see their point. It was fun being half of a couple again, even if I was the only half whose conversation I found genuinely interesting.
So I went back to the Internet to look for a better half.
It’s tricky being a serial online dater. I felt that I had exhausted the entire inventory of match.com; eHarmony and I were incompatible; and it seemed disloyal to go back to DemocraticSingles, where Joe and I had met. I decided to go somewhere Joe would never find me: RepublicanSingles.com. Conservativematch.com was also an option, but the slogan—“sweethearts not bleeding hearts”—seemed a little hardcore.
There was a faintly titillating whiff of sin about cruising the site, sort of like sneaking a cigarette or shoplifting a bottle of cheap cologne. I wrote a profile that I hoped would attract compassionate conservatives and screen out the skinheads.
Petite, pretty entrepreneur, financially solvent, believes in family values (I value my two sons) and taking responsibility for one’s own actions (particularly when it comes to my two sons). I balance my own budget and wish the government did the same. Also, I don’t have any problem with outsourcing (especially when it comes to dinner). I like movies (Sleeping With the Enemy), books (anything by Christopher Buckley). Seeking an emotionally solid, kind guy who takes his martinis and humor dry. As for my political persuasion—don’t ask, don’t tell. I’m open-minded, hope you are, too. Hey, it’s a big tent.
“Do you think I’m two-timing?” I asked Amy.
“I’d say you’re splitting your ticket,” she replied loyally.
The early returns weren’t encouraging.
Retired from law enforcement career after 25 years. Previously married, but wife felt trapped by her lustful desires. I do not tolerate Liberalism whatsoever and consider it to be a political philosophy that is anathema to me & my country. If you’re a Liberal, go find yourself a light-in-the-crotch, limp-wristed, artsy-fartsy, girlie-man Liberal. Want a woman who will stand by her man, not a casual overnight fling. As Bob Dole said, Done that, been there. No inmates or FemNazis, please. WAKE UP AMERICA BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!
Whew. Delete. And click.
Free markets = Free minds. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream against the rush of liberal tuna in this region. I think “under God” should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance and that Obama and Schwarzenegger are ruining this country. George Washington handed the U.S. its freedom and we can’t even close the banks on his birthday? Don’t get me started. Would like to meet a woman who is like Nancy Reagan and has a brain.
Joe, my liberal tuna, was looking better. I opened the last email. Like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, the first two were all wrong. But the third one was, well, just right.
Fit, handsome capitalist (I’ve been told I look like Clint Eastwood, with fewer wrinkles) with a well-stocked wine cellar. Fiscal conservative, social moderate, I enjoy lively conversations about politics, current events, the media. I’m seeking a partner who’s also made her own way in life. We’ve won in business and can win in a relationship, too. Got emotional baggage? That’s okay—there’s plenty of room in my Range Rover.