February 28, 2002
I'm seeing someone. Let's call her Alison. We're dating. We're in that very gray area between being total strangers and celebrating our silver wedding anniversary. Three months into it and people are already asking when we're getting married. At this point, we're cautiously optimistic, still prefacing all our plans with the phrase: "If you're still speaking with me," as in: "If you're still speaking with me in two weeks, would you like to go to the theater on Thursday night?"
If we're still speaking on Sunday at 9 p.m., you will generally find us parked in front of the television set watching "Sex and the City."
We love this show. It's "our story," the way some people refer to a soap opera. Watching is like getting a play-by-play update from our relationship with color commentary supplied. All our secrets are laid bare for one half-hour per week. Now you can buy the past two seasons' episodes on DVD and relive every dating horror ever recorded, and watch them unfold in ultra slo-mo, frame by frame if you want.
After the credits roll, we have a little discussion group, not unlike the "post-mortem" following a hand of bridge. It's couples therapy without that pesky therapist getting in the way. I'm trying to get Blue Cross to reimburse me for my HBO bill on an 80/20 co-pay. That would be a great deal -- I could get a whole season of premium cable for the price of one session at the shrink.
What I've learned from the show is that the sexual revolution didn't bring people closer together. The Internet isn't bringing people closer together. Singles bars don't bring people together. Chastity brings people together. Watch any Shakespearean romance and those people can't wait to wed; but these four girls are too busy running around to get married.
I watch "Sex and the City" just to know that there are four dynamic, intelligent, attractive, very, very well-dressed women who are having a lousy, unfulfilling time. Until I met Alison, I found this to be incredibly reassuring. Misery loves company. Of course, in reality, they're fictional. (In reality, Sarah Jessica Parker is married to Matthew Broderick.) They're lonely and either manic or depressive, depending upon whether they've just started seeing someone new or are just about to send him packing. In every episode, some guy starts off great, but by the end of the show has developed a tragic flaw and has to go. There is very little relationship in these relationships.
If they showed old episodes of "thirtysomething" or "Once and Again" afterward, it would be lethal, like mixing booze and pills. That would be like saying: "Here's what happens if you get that man and put an end to the seemingly endless parade of bad singles relationships -- marriage is a life of tedious fights in the suburbs, infidelities, guilt and noisy, disrespectful children." This show ain't making it any easier either, sisters. Now we're all too aware of what can go wrong.
Nothing is taboo anymore on cable, where I now have four different takes on everything. No stone is left unturned. I have the blonde, brunette and redhead points of view. They started the fourth season being sort-of-engaged, sort-of-married, sort-of-in-love and sort-of-pregnant. Now they're broken up, divorced and cheated-on. Ha!
If this show is any indication, what women want most is good sex with mostly bad men, then they want to complain about it with one another over lunch, wearing a pair of Christian Laboutien shoes. It is sexy and edgy. It has been pointed out that I, like the fictional Carrie Bradshaw, write a column about single people for a local paper. The problem is that when guys try to have this free-wheeling dialogue about their sex lives, it doesn't turn out to be sexy and edgy, it turns out smarmy and icky. It turns out to be "The Mind of a Married Man." It gets canceled after one season. It makes you want to take a shower.
Sadly, "Sex and the City" just wrapped up a "mini" season of six episodes, which means that until our story comes back, Alison and I will be getting our relationship advice from "The Sopranos."
J.D. Smith is tuned in @ www.lifesentence.net .