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Friday, July 30, 2004

A New York Reality

A few months ago I posted a rated NC-17 story entitled: A New York Fantasy. Although it had a strong element of denial and submission (although everything that takes place is consenual), the places and events in the story were also a big part of the fantasy.

Even more recently I posted Fantasy Girl, where I claimed I had met somebody that reminded me of the fantasy girl I used to dream of when I was a teenaged boy. What the heck, I'll call her "Paulina."

Earlier this month, the two stories collided. I don't know what it all means yet, but I thought I'd write about it.

As usual in these missives, the story starts with I met a girl.

I met a girl . Hardly a new thing... so what makes this worthy of writing?

Well, for one thing, I met her twice!

We had met first at a scientific conference a few years back. But of course her being an attractive foreign scientist made her appear unobtainable.

We met another time online. I didn't know it was the same person. She had read some of my posts about hobbying. She saw past the arrogant posturing, shameless name dropping, and the swinging lifestyle... to the thoughtful and shy geek underneath (ok, you can stop gagging).

More to the point, she had linked my real persona to my online one... and then she sent me an email. Some digital back and forth resulted in a phone call. Somewhere in there she let drop that we had met before. How could I help but be intrigued? There's that superficial resemblance to Paulina, but beyond that, she is also a foreigner spending some (limited?) time here in the states.

Is she a supermodel? no, but one meeting proved she has the pretty face, smile, lean body, fantastic legs, sharp wit, and irreverent attitude that I like.

It is a weird situation, right? Here's someone I meet professionally, and then later on she knows all this strange stuff about me (for example, what I've posted here). And we meet. Is the meeting in a professional context or a prurient one?

But we tried a brief couple of hour meeting.

The remarkable thing is that she is a scientist, geek, and entrepreneur, like myself. Now I am only somewhat chauvinistic; it's not all bad: for women it makes me open the door, pay for dates, and give up my subway seat. But I am willing to admit that statistics alone may not be responsible for why I find few attractive women very smart, or few very smart women to also be attractive. Chauvinism surely plays a role.

Not that they don't exist. They certainly do. Usually they occupy a territory reserved for major dieties and I find that I can't talk to them without looking really stupid. Thereby putting me in the category of "ok looking, but an idiot" rather than "ok looking geek."

But perhaps because we started with shared common entrepreneurial interests and with my prurient habits exposed online a priori, I found talking to Paulina very easy, and so I probably avoided landing in the category of "idiot." At least not yet!

So we set up a date for a couple of days.

Paulina is beautiful, funny, satirical, creative, and smart.

And the sparks flew.

Mind you, "the sparks flew" isn't always a good phrase.... flashback over fifteen years ago:

FLASHBACK: Repelling Myself
I met a woman who was a lot like me. All our common friends thought we should be together because of how similar we were: high talent, rationalist, entrepreneurial, research scientists, and non-stop hyper-analytical thinkers. We even had competing scholarships in the same program. But that was the year I discovered that I really didn't like dating myself. The sparks flew, but they rapidly became a conflagion that burned and consumed everybody nearby. We were Bad News. Black cats would cross the street to avoid walking in front of us. The sex was incendiary as well, but that did not make up for the ego-bashing no-holds-barred arguments that routinely crossed the line from intellectual to personal. After several months, when it became clear that neither of us would break off the relationship first, that we were in an ego-driven mutually-assured brinksmanship, the same common friends who had set up this "ideal couple" begged us to stop dating. They arranged a mutual cooling off period.
Later that same girl dated a friend of mine who was as different from me (and her) as a duck pond is different from a whirlpool. And they happily dated for at least two years. (Hmm, just Googled her and found out she's either a married medical professor in Texas, or an unmarried math professor on the east coast. It's a testament to her intellectual breadth that I could believe in either outcome.)
The moral of this flashback? Some asymmetry is helpful in a relationship.

Now back to the story: so the sparks flew. But in a different way. Although Paulina was very similar to me in many ways (although fortunately she did't look like me,) it seemed to work well. Perhaps there were asymmetries that I haven't nailed down. The most provocative theory is that it works because of the financial asymmetry we have. But then again, maybe that's wishful thinking, turning a constant long-term liability into an asset!

I titled this entry "NYC Reality" in homage to my "NYC Fantasy" story. No, Paulina did not torture me with sex deprivation for days. On the contrary, there was a surfeit of sex. But many of the activities and places we visited were very much like the story.

SIDEBAR: Avenue Q! We saw Avenue Q. When you hear about a Broadway musical with puppets and sex, how can you not go? Highly recommended.

There also was more emotional depth to the NYC Reality, which brings us to the question:

Paulina: girlfriend, friend with benefits, or mistress?
Now that's an interesting question. "Normally" I would think of her as girlfriend material.

But as I noted in previous posts (and she has noted herself), it's difficult to hang out with me long-term unless I shoulder most of the financial load and the woman has a flexible (or no) job. Or if the woman is independently wealthy (hmm, perhaps I should watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels again!)

And episodically doesn't really work for me. I can lose interest.

I recently read that, in marriages between spouses of vastly unequal wealth, the best long-term strategy is for the wealthy spouse to give the other enough money to put them on equivalent footing. Not equal footing, mind you, but enough so the other person isn't influenced by the invisible pressure of finances (ah, a new form of the invisible hand of Adam Smith.) That would suggest a mistress situation, with a stipend and expenses taken care of. But I have written before how that has not worked in the past.

As to friends with benefits, I believe there is too much emotional content to make that work.

So we are faced with an odd situation again. The sensible thing would be a hybrid between the two. But what is that really? Can two rationalists keep that in perspective as the emotional content of the relationship becomes larger? Is the "I owe you / you owe me" invisible obligations and self interest too powerful? (and there's that invisible hand again!) Is it possible to overcome the loss of interest from an episodic relationship by substituting a business relationship? Will that keep things going when we can't meet face to face?

So this is why I call this NYC Reality. It's relationship reality, not a denial fantasy. Reality can be much better than fantasy, although during the honeymoon phase of any relationship, the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred anyhow. We shall see how it turns out.

In the words of Dumas:

...until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words: wait and hope.


Blogger Charlie Branchbrook said...

Much agreed on the honeymoon phase of relationships...

I had a dream during my last relationship (that almost left me rendered lost with a ring on my hand) which coerced me to end it.

The girl in my dream was so rad...so comfortable...and so happy - I decided I needed to try to find her.

Haven't yet...but I would venture to say that 100% of the fight is simply refusing to accept anything but the girl in your dream.

9/16/2005 6:52 PM  

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