Toughs Loved

Teresa Colon is the hottest girl at my gym, so hot that every time I walk in, I see a different guy hanging off her StairMaster. She looks exactly like Jennifer Lopez, and people stop her on the street every day to tell her so. She even works in housekeeping at a midtown hotel, like J.Lo’s character in Maid in Manhattan. But Teresa has yet to be swept off her feet by a dashing senator as in the movie; lately, in fact, men have been a big disappointment.

Independent, free-spirited, and as bootylicious as her look-alike, Teresa tends to meet men who want to dominate her, which is the exact opposite of what she’s looking for. “I want a guy who doesn’t smother me.” she says. But as her girlfriends start to couple off, she’s getting a little anxious about her singlehood. With her 30th birthday having come and gone and her grandma beginning to complain about the lack of great-grandkids, this J.Lo’s wondering if she’ll ever find her Ben.

Teresa became aware of her power over men at a very young age. “When I was 13, I met two guys at a party, and the next day, they both called to ask if I wanted to hang out.” She went out with each of them, but they said she had to choose. “I said, ‘Do I have to?’ ”

She picked the more attentive of the two and got a quick education. “When he asked me to kiss him, I thought it was going to be a tap, not a tongue kiss.”

One day, she and her boyfriend were hanging out with friends when she laughed hysterically at a joke he didn’t find funny. “He said, ‘You looked like an idiot laughing by yourself.’ I said, ‘What does that have to do with you?’ He said, ‘You’re my girlfriend. I don’t want people making fun of you.’ I always go for guys who try to control me.”

Since then, she’s rarely been without a boyfriend. Her relationships have tended to be with white guys, and Teresa, whose father is Dominican and mother is Costa Rican, doesn’t think it’s a coincidence. “Spanish men are too possessive, especially the older generation. They think they can have an open relationship but their girlfriend can’t. If a guy wants to feel the women, he should let me feel the men.”

But it’s not only the men who are to blame. She thinks Latin men like women who don’t ask for too much, and “I’m very demanding.” This I can attest to. Her best friend at the gym is a Jewish vending-machine leaser in his forties named Sammy who drives her around and spends hours listening to her problems. She repays his attention with a steady wail of complaints—the radio station is wrong, he’s a lousy driver. And though she’s always half joking, she can come off as spoiled. She’s the J.Lo checking her reflection in the side-view mirror of somebody else’s car.

Her selfishness is coupled with healthy self-esteem; she’s not content to have a boyfriend just for its own sake. “I know how to have a good time with just the girls. I’ll go out and party. I enjoy dancing. I’m not scoping guys, looking for who’s cute.”

Naturally, her noncommittal attitude makes guys crazy. “Guys see that I’m not giving a hundred percent, and they tell me they love me. I think they just want to feel loved in return.”

The first guy she really fell for, her Cris Judd, was a mechanic named Joey she met at 22. She wound up moving in with him, but “I wasn’t mature enough. I was a hot-blooded Latina with a chip on my shoulder. When I got mad, I would wreck the apartment and start throwing things.” After three years, they split up. “I think he got tired of my temper. Who could blame him?”

On the rebound, she got involved with a bad boy, a Puffy, a married Puerto Rican guy named Mario she met at the Copacabana. Because she knew he was married, on their first date she wore glasses and no makeup so he wouldn’t be attracted to her. It didn’t work. They dated for a year and a half. “He would say he was going to leave his wife, and I would say, ‘Don’t do it because of me.’ When I tried to break it off with him, he would go crazy. He thought I was seeing someone else, and he’d start threatening me and my guy friends.” Turned out she was seeing one of them. “I was thinking there were no strings attached,” she says.

After Mario, there was an almost Ben, an aspiring film producer named Nick. “He was a freak,” she says with admiration. They had sex in public and used toys—on him. After a year, he told her he needed space, but she still misses him. “With other guys, when I would try to do those things, they’d get uptight.”

She says she relates to J.Lo’s Goldilocks style of dating. “I understood why she liked Puffy. He was big. But he was street. After the nightclub incident, I thought, See what you get for dating street people? Cris Judd seemed like the guy next door, but he didn’t seem exciting. The guy can’t have too much sweet because it gets boring, and he can’t have too much bad boy because it gets tiresome.”

Despite her disdain for the bad boys, they keep on pursuing her. One recent hopeful, a world-champion boxer with abs you could play tic-tac-toe on, hit on her so often that she finally agreed to meet him at a Golden Gloves match. But he never showed up and, worse, never called to explain. When Teresa saw him at the gym, she said, “You had your one opportunity, and you ruined it.” He said it was her loss, and she said, “It’s a loss I won’t regret.” He said, “You will regret it, because you’re too pretty and I’m worth it.” She shakes her head and curls her lower lip out. “Now he doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m glad he gave me a reason to cut him off.”

Because of incidents like this, she’s spending more time alone, but “my family is pressuring me: ‘When are you going to get married and have kids?’ It’s a joke, but there is truth to jest.” Her friends, however, have trouble seeing her as domestic. She tells Sammy she wants to be a mother, and he says, “It’ll be eight o’clock at night, and your kid will still be waiting for you to pick him up from school.”

“I feel like I should have the urge to meet someone,” she sighs. “Sometimes I can’t believe I’m 30 and don’t even have a potential boyfriend. But then I think, Is that even what I want right now?”

Toughs Loved