I can't explain it any better than this. I think I've lost my mojo. That phrase has been going through my head for months now. Lost my mojo.
How do you know you've lost your mojo? You get a couple clues.
I'm eating dinner alone at a restaurant when an attractive older man approaches. He puts down his crossword puzzle. We chat. I discern that he's a divorcé with a teenager, not much my type, but since I'm feeling the mojo slip away, I'm less discerning.
He asks for my e-mail. Never writes me.
What's a four-letter word for that thing you used to have, that charm, that magic that makes guys ask you out? Mojo.
My friend's brother, an actor you've seen in many movies from the 1980s, asks me out. He brings me gloves because I mention in a column that I gave mine away. We see a play. He insists on taking me to dinner afterward.
Never heard from him again. So, thinking -- in a moment of delusion -- that my phone may actually not be receiving incoming calls (for a week, despite several calls from people with the last name Strasser) I called him. He didn't call back. I tried again. I relate a condensed version of that conversational carnage here:
"Hi, this is Teresa. I haven't heard from you and I just wanted to see how you were doing."
"Yeah, been busy."
"So, I was surprised I didn't hear from you. I don't know many people here in New York and I was hoping we could be friends."
"Yeah, what can I say? I thought by not calling you back I was communicating something."
"That I'm not interested in pursuing ... anything ... with you," he said, with all the dynamism of a sleep-deprived substitute teacher.
"You don't even want to be friends?"
"No. I'm trying to be clear about this. Sorry. See you around campus."
See you around campus? What school are we going to? The University of No Mojo, or U NoMo, as we call it on campus?
A comedian I interviewed for the morning show I work on comes up to me after the show.
"I'm a guy, you're a girl, we should go out."
It wasn't the best line, but he gave me his card and as I slipped it in my pocket I thought, I'm back.
I left him a message. A week went by before he returned the call. I called back. He returned my call another week later. You see, when the mojo is working, that call comes the next day, or maybe two days later. Mojo eliminates phone tag. Phone tag is for suckers.
I've started to wonder if I've reached some sort of expiration date that I can't find printed on my person. Is it over? My best male friend says I'm crazy. My mom tells me that I've just become intimidating to ask out because I'm on TV now, a statement I'm sure is right out of the mom handbook. She has to say that. A Jewish mother is a highly unreliable source.
What if I'm not intimidating but in fact simply unappealing and unattractive? What if this self-deprecating thing I've been working for years has grown tired? What if I was such a mess in my 20s that I seemed like a good time to save and a blazing, sloppy fire to put out, and now that I'm slightly more together, there's no allure?
I pay a sweet woman with smart blazers, sensible shoes and a very calming hairdo to solve these problems for me once a week in 50-minute intervals. She insists that the high drama I provided in my 20s might have been useful in getting into relationships, but it was also pivotal in ending them.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that from age 16 to 28, I never went more than a week without a boyfriend. I listened to my friends drone on about their loneliness, their Internet dating, their desperation and felt the secret smug comfort of knowing that though I was never the prettiest in the room and rarely the smartest, I always had mojo.
Now that I've matured, I'm far less likely to, for example, throw a plate at you, hang up on you, toss your stuff out the window or storm out of a restaurant as if you've just shot my cat when all you've done is infer that your ex-girlfriend was pretty. Just when I'm becoming someone it might not be a nightmare to date, I'm being asked out solely by people who are at least 20 years my senior or 10 years my junior. Worst of all, I've become the girl you don't call back.
Mojo, come back to me. I don't know where you went, but if you return, I promise not to throw any plates your way.
Teresa Strasser writes from Manhattan where she is a feature reporter for Fox's "Good Day New York." She's on the Web at teresastrasser.com.