Why I never got married

And why I threw my Chinese fortune-telling sticks out the window


In 1990, when I moved back to New York, I was 26 years old; in 2000, when I left it, I was 36. Those were the years in which women of my generation and class were expected to get married, if they were ever going to get married. I tried very, very hard to do so, but I never did.

Of course, a lot of it was my own fault. I had a preternatural ability to choose the confused, the troubled, and especially, the gay. A fair number of perfectly nice guys tried to date me, but none of them offered that thrill, that angry passion, that frisson - in other words, that dramatic excitement that's offered principally by the confused, the troubled, and the (often undeclared) gay.

Now that I'm 44, people have stopped asking me if I'll ever get married: I suppose that by this point no one cares. But in order to make this episode about the 1990s complete, and to answer in advance my daughter's inevitable questions about why she doesn't have a father, I'll offer a brief summary of my love life during the decade when I was supposed to be getting married.



The French Alps, 1984. Chris, a hiker, offered me a loaf of bread and a jug of wine. I was so excited by this concept that I neglected to take a photo of his face.


I didn't date much until I was in college, and when I began, I enjoyed a series of romantic adventures, mostly during my years of traveling.

There was Jacques, the French Marine who took me to a discotheque in an abandoned swimming pool; Detlef, who took me around Paris on his motorcycle at dawn; Chris, who took a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and me for a picnic in the Alps. There was Stefan, a graphic artist with his own small company at age 24. (I still miss Stefan, who should have been a keeper). There was Manuel the aspiring architect, Rainer whom I met on a train, and Neil the Irish poet.

Even when I returned to New York, a subway driver once stopped his train in the middle of the tunnel to give me his phone number.

But when I was ready to settle down, my luck changed. Or maybe just my criteria.


I've always said I was looking for four things in a husband: someone I could trust, someone I could respect, someone I could enjoy spending time with - which implies that we actually spend time together - and clearly, someone I found attractive.

I've managed to find two or three out of the four on occasion, but never all four.

But I did my best in New York. I went out at much as possible (there used to be a great night club at the top of the World Trade Center) to as many different types of events as possible. I was open to a single dance or a single date with anyone. I smiled.

And I did meet people. I met Toby, who wrote me sweet, literary emails late at night -- while his live-in girlfriend was asleep, it later turned out.

I met Hector, who ended our date by saying, "Why don't you let me kiss you to sleep?" (Note to men: this line does not work.)

I met an extraordinary number of unfortunate blind dates. Walking around Manhattan, I could pick out all the places I had been on failed fix-ups.

Someone in Hong Kong had given me a set of Chinese fortune-telling sticks, and I would regularly ask them when I would meet my Prince Charming. I ultimately got so frustrated I threw them out the window.

With Hector, sometime in the early 1990s, someplace that had columns and a statue of a man on a horse. I think it was Philadelphia. Hector had a line that didn't work.




My final romance in New York City was not a romance at all. It was a misunderstanding.

I had been doing a little freelance journalism on the side, and when I interviewed "Norman", we seemed to click. When the interview was over, Norman's lovely blue eyes looked deep into mine. "I'd like to see you again," he said.

I wanted to see him again, too, so when the article was published I sent him a copy with my phone number on it. I never heard back from him, which bummed me out a bit.

But as luck would have it, my peripatetic television career soon had me switching jobs to an office that was located across the street from where Norman worked. He reported for work about the same time I did, and we'd pass each other amid the crowds on the street. At first, I smiled from a distance.

But after he'd seen me once or twice, Norman started to look alarmed. As the weeks passed, he became convinced that I was stalking him. He began to act hunted.


There was a post office nearby, and one afternoon, coincidentally, Norman and I went to mail our letters at the same time. When he spied me standing behind him in line one afternoon, he left in a panic, carrying his unmailed correspondence in one hand.

We continued to cross paths, and one day I actually saw Norman follow close behind me to my office and peep through the door. I welcomed this, as I thought might convince him that I had actual business there.

Apparently it did not. A few weeks later, we ran into each other again at the opening of a museum exhibit, and Norman was terrified. He had a severe knee injury at the time, but he limped away from me as fast as he could, out the museum door and into a taxi.



That last incident threw me into a depression. Seeing an attractive man desperately limping away from you is a sad thing, and I was also having troubles at work and troubles getting my book published.

These were a few of the many events that ultimately ended in me moving to Denmark.


Next: I become slightly famous, crack up, and leave town.

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