After all that's happened, it's still hard to put a finger on how
exactly the culture of the city has changed in the past few months.
But change it has. I remember being at a bar maybe five years ago
and overhearing a woman ask her friend, "Have you slept with that
guy?" She was slim and slick with blow-dryer-straight hair and a
pastel cocktail. Her friend said she hadn't. "Good," the woman replied.
"I'll do it for you."
hard to believe the nineties were actually like that: Balthazar
and dot-coms, hookups and monkfish. Even if it wasn't your life,
it was the New York state of mind. We felt daring, acquisitive,
invulnerable. I made half as much money then, but I remember spending
more and worrying about it less there was so much cash rolling
around, it seemed logical to assume that some of it would imminently
land in my lap. Really, who knew what might wind up in your lap?
Sex was the most affordable form of conspicuous consumption of all,
and you tried to get yourself the best and the most. It seemed perfectly
appropriate glamorous, really to bounce from bed to
bed, just as we were bouncing from stock to stock and shop to shop.
September 11 didn't change everything singlehandedly, of course.
There were other moments along the way, like the bursting of the
Internet bubble, and Lizzie Grubman's bad night at Conscience Point,
when you could feel the glitzocracy dissolving.
Safety, family, community, all those values not necessarily celebrated
in a sleek TriBeCa bistro, are not just words used by politicians
anymore. These days, we aren't so giddy out there in the night by
ourselves. The sky could fall - it already has once: Who will
hold your hand?
These are more than perceptions. A poll of more
than 600 city singles commissioned by New York and MetroTV,
and conducted by Global Strategy Group, Inc., shows New Yorkers
changing their attitudes about dating, romance, and nightlife in
surprisingly large numbers. Thirty-six percent of singles say they
are more interested in marriage, 32 percent are more interested
in a family, and 46 percent want a more serious relationship since
the 11th. "I feel like there could be a third world war or something;
I feel like I should get married before it gets any worse," says
Diana Roderick, a 31-year-old from the Bronx. She's not alone. "I'm
looking for a more serious relationship," says 20-year-old Lisa
Plubla. "Before 9/11, I wasn't even looking; I was just out having
fun. A lot of people I know are already in serious relationships
or getting married, and now I think I want that, too." Thirty-nine
percent of gay New Yorkers polled are also more interested in a
serious relationship marriage, remember, is not a legal option
and 22 percent are more interested in a family.
That exhilarating moment when women were supposed to be the new
men and all the ladies'-night-style sexual opportunism that
implied seems to be slipping away. The women we polled were
considerably more gunned up about fusing into a post-September 11
domestic cocoon than the men. "The wish to be with someone is more
urgent," says Tina, a 29-year-old musicologist. "I am more drawn
to people who are open and sensitive and everyone seems to
be a little more open and sensitive since 9/11."