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Report From the Front

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“New York is a medieval society,” says an Israeli architect, 36, fingering his foulard at Dean & DeLuca. “Israel is much more progressive when it comes to relations between the sexes. A modern Israeli girl would never assume you are paying her way. I feel like saying to these women in New York, ‘I’d like to acquaint you with an ancient custom, paying for your meal?’ It’s not just that women in New York don’t pay -- they don’t even say thank you.”

“Girls are all looking for a guy in a suit,” says Scott Aronowitz, 23, a college student who says he would like to be a professional baseball umpire. “Well, Ted Bundy was a clean-cut guy. Jeffrey Dahmer could put on a suit. Serial killers like to be very unassuming. I’ve read about this, believe me. David Berkowitz, a nice Jewish kid. Just because they meet some yuppie at Bryant Park, how do they know he’s not a serial killer? . . . I like to hang out in the Village,” Aronowitz adds. “Women are more down-to-earth there.”

Heterosexual women had plenty of pointed things to say about the inadequacies of male New Yorkers as well. An oft-repeated complaint was their tendency to be slippery with the truth. “They’re liars,” says an actress -- wearing a Tweety Bird T-shirt -- fresh off the dance floor at Life. “Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie.”

“I was seeing this guy,” says Antoinette Jones, 23, a student, “and he’s telling me all about how independent he is, how he has his own car, makes a lot of money, has an apartment with three bedrooms. Okay. So one night I say I want to come over and see his place. I get there, and sure enough, he has three bedrooms just like he said. He’s showing me around. Then he starts to get all nervous, saying that I have to leave, and I say, why? We get into an argument, and all of a sudden his mother and his two sisters come home from work. They lived in the bedrooms. He slept on the couch. Oh, and he said he was twentysomething? His mother started yelling at him, and I found out he was 19.”

Not only do men in New York lie about their ages and incomes, women say, but they “are the vainest men on the planet.” “Check and see where else in the country sells this much men’s makeup,” says an interior-design assistant, 28, gesticulating impatiently in the aisles of Barneys. “I swear I’ve seen it in more bathroom cabinets than I can take. And they’re obsessed with their hair -- they all have these creepy weaves and hair plugs, but they’ll never admit it.”

New York women also say their dating prospects can be chronically unfaithful and ungrateful. “I didn’t want to sleep with this guy anymore, and he says to me, ‘That’s okay, baby, New York is a smorgasbord’ -- a smorgasbord!” says a flight attendant, 30, waiting for the bus. “Like we were pigs in blankets or something. I don’t think it was just sour grapes,” she continues, demonstrating a knack for food metaphors. “I think that’s how they really feel, like there’s so many available women in this great big city that they can walk out the door and find some other chick waiting on the corner.”

A few women in their forties and fifties have problems along the same lines, saying that men in their age group -- particularly if they are well-off -- opt for younger women, making them feel like damaged goods. “The only men who ask me out anymore are cabdrivers,” sighs one frustrated woman in her forties. “I’m starting to consider it.”

“There really is no suitable place to meet a man in New York if you’re over 45,” says a female attorney, 52, “except through work, and who wants to go out with someone you work with? You can meet people through friends, but by the time you get to my age, you pretty much know everybody in your circle. And I’m way past the point of approaching strangers.”

“Every person you meet turns out to be a burn victim or totally crazy or has some weird history,” snaps an art gallery manager, 34. “There’s always some dirty little secret.” Just ask the female photographer who went on a blind date only to find out that her companion for the evening was an arachnophile. “I walk into his apartment -- a loft in TriBeCa -- and he says, ‘I want you to meet my tarantula. His name is Bunny.’ Then he says, ‘Let me show you my black widow. Look, she’s about to have babies.’ She had a big sac on her. Then he took me to see In Cold Blood at Void.”

“Blind dates are the worst,” says a filmmaker, 34. “You come away from them thinking, What kind of loser must my friends think I am to think I’d want to go out with this person?

“Recently, a woman friend of mine tells me, ‘You have to meet So-and-so,’ “ he continues. “I saw this flicker in her husband’s eye, like ‘Don’t do it!,’ but I guess he was too scared to say anything. So I go meet this woman for dinner at the Gotham Bar and Grill, and she’s fine, I mean, really nice, smart, interesting. But huge. I mean, she’s not pleasantly plump -- she’s Paul Prudhomme.” He pauses. “Do I have to call her again? . . . Do I sound like a bad person?”

Gay men say they have the added indignity of having their straight friends constantly trying to fix them up with extremely unlikely candidates. “They figure, ‘They’re both gay -- they’ll be perfect!’ “ gripes a systems analyst, 30. “Whenever a straight friend says, ‘Have I got a guy for you,’ you know it’s going to be their hairdresser.”


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