he was a great guy. Smart, funny, witty. Tall. Well-educated. He was also cynical, which should have been a tip-off, but Sarah was starry-eyed.
They'd met at a bookstore on the Upper West Side, attending a reading of one of those Clinton exposé books. "I can't remember which one it was," said Sarah, who works for the Sierra Club. "It wasn't 'Bloodsport.' I think it was a Hillary-bashing book." She was annoyed when she saw a man's arm shoot up just seconds after the author had finished reading, but his question was admittedly pointed, and, well, interesting.
On their first date -- a walk around the reservoir at Central Park -- the conversation moved easily. Harry was apartment hunting; like all New Yorkers whose housing is imminently threatened, he was obsessed with the topic. Sarah could relate; she'd just moved into a closet for $900 a month. They exchanged old war stories like only New Yorkers can.
On the second date -- lunch at a noodle bar in SoHo -- they talked about their family. Harry had grown up in Connecticut, in a town near where Sarah had grown up. They talked about siblings, parents and Connecticut. Still, no hint.
On the third date -- cocktails at the sculpture garden at MOMA -- Sarah had two glasses of wine. Feeling warm, she languidly began to talk about the Hillary-bashing book. "Thank God the truth's coming out about that manipulative bitch," he exclaimed. "Isn't it obscene that those two are still in office? Don't worry though, they may get in office again in November, but Starr'll impeach that lying sack of shit."
Sarah's dreams suddenly vanished. No, it couldn't be... but, yes, it was true.
"Harry is a... " Sarah choked over the phone, gasping. "I can barely say it... a Republican."
That was it for Harry. Harry was history.
"Maybe you could just not talk about politics?" I asked doubtfully. This being the 20th century, the religion question was obviously moot.
"Sure," she retorted nastily. "Just the way you gave that Perot supporter a chance. He didn't even get to tell you his name." I winced. She was right: I'd cut off Mr. Perot Voter the second I learned of his political affiliations. He'd failed my Personal Litmus Test, which I believe in aplying as deftly -- and as quickly -- as possible: Who did you vote for in 1992?
"Sarah," I said, choosing my words carefully, "I've heard that some Republicans are okay. I personally would never go out with one, but have you noticed how tolerant they are of us Demos?"
"Patronizing is the operative word, here." Sarah was firm. "Besides, the last time Harriet went out with a Republican, he couldn't get it up. Remember?"
"Actually, I think he was a Libertarian."
"That's even worse."
Okay, I admit it. Some people are agists, some people are sexists. I am a politicist. I cannot, and will not, ever sleep with a man who supports Pat Buchanan, Bob Dole or George Bush. I will never date anyone who voted for Perot. I will barely talk to anyone who invokes Richard Lamm.
Good for you, James Carville and Mary Matalin, if you can make it work. But I'd like to know, what do you talk about over dinner?