The ultimate mood kill

As he made his way down to my belly, I felt something strange on my left breast.

By Salon Staff
Published July 30, 2003 1:21PM (EDT)

Sex bites

I met "Harold" through an online dating service. Our first date was at his house, deep in a posh neighborhood. Harold worked for a bank, he said, but had insisted he was one of those cool guys, with an ear for underground and indie music. Really, he was a bookish guy, far too old for his mid-twenties, who wore sweater vests and laughed like Mr. Howell on "Gilligan's Island."

Intelligence is high on my "must have" list, and Harold had plenty of it. It turned out he was going to leave his soulless bank job to go into the museum industry. We talked about art and culture, teased each other with obscure literary references, and quenched each other's thirst for dry humor. He was tall, not unattractive, and as the evening wore on, and I drank more wine, he was starting to seem like quite a catch.

We went back to his house after dinner, and he drew back the curtains of all the windows in his lower-level cliff-side apartment to reveal a stunning sunset. I sank back into his retro leather reclining armchair and melted as ambient techno drifted from speakers mounted high on the walls. I closed my eyes while we talked and laughed. He invited me over to where he was sitting, on his bed, to look at some old photographs, and I went.

At some point we looked at each other, and kissed. It was nice. Very nice. I kissed him again. But no, I was right. There was no fire, no oomph, no fireworks.

Suddenly, with the grace of an elephant on a racetrack, he threw me back on the bed and was grinding into me with the determination of a man who's not seen any action in 20 years.

Truth be told, I needed to get laid. In my months of dating, I'd gone pretty slow with all the guys I'd been with, and I was still getting over being rejected by the one guy I really liked. So I went for it.

Harold slowed down but still seemed to think we were running the Kentucky Derby. He wanted to be playful, so I indulged him. He put his face to my button-down shirt and started to undo it with his teeth. I giggled as he struggled with the buttons. He looked at me and grinned.

But something was not quite right with his smile.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," I replied, not wanting to be rude or shallow. I don't have the straightest teeth in the world, so I didn't want to start critiquing his.

He got my shirt off and started kissing the flesh of my bosom spilling from the top of my bra. As he made his way down to my belly, I noticed something strange, almost like a presence, on my left breast. I opened my eyes...

His front tooth was lying there, in plain sight, right there on my left boob.

I squealed, and he looked up. I could see the gap in his teeth where the tooth had been. It's true what they say: missing teeth really do make you look somehow less intelligent but, more to the point, really, really not sexy.

He gasped, scrambled up to my chest and started grabbing at it, but the whole area was covered in saliva where he'd been a little overzealous, and the incisor kept slipping out of his fingers, jumping across my chest and belly like a wily watermelon seed. "Oh god, I'm sorry!" he kept saying as he frantically groped me, trying to get a hold of the wayward tooth.

I was, at this point, hysterical with laughter, shrieking whenever it skipped across my skin. He eventually got a hold of the thing and raced into the bathroom, trying to put the tooth back in his mouth.

He came back and asked me if his tooth was straight, and I nodded. He closed his mouth, then smiled again, and it dropped from his mouth onto the floor. He'd been in a terrible accident when he was little, he said, and had to have false front teeth put in. My revulsion and laughter was replaced with sympathy, and we ended up talking and watching television until morning.

Before trying to make another date with me, he made one with his dentist. Our dating life was pretty short-lived after that -- not because of the whole tooth debacle, but because we just drove each other crazy.

It wasn't a complete loss, though. We're still friends. And for the record, his teeth look better than mine.

-- Dottie Wang

Tru Luv Iz Fonetik

I'm a writer by profession and a spelling Nazi by instinct, but Luv has broken the beast of all things grammatically correct. Online dating being the new Saturday mixer, personas are made or nayed over the written word, over how fluid-yet-erudite are the sentences the eager Nerve.commer scans on-screen. One apostrophe too many, and a potential suitor vanishes with the tap of the delete button. Many hold it's the perfect filtering technique, and 18 months ago I would have agreed. (To really establish how much I valued high-end writing skills in a fella, not even three years' work as a literacy counselor, with all its attendant sympathy and lore of learning differences, shook me off that tall stool I used to peer at potential mates in ivory towers.)

"I should have went" sets my teeth on edge. The "it's" vs. "its" mix-up is getting out of hand when big-ticketers like JVC and Adobe let the "its" gaffe out the door in major ad campaigns -- when even my city's most prestigious university fouls up the "its" on its own Web site. And since the word is the face of the online dater, best to keep that face clean and presentable, attractive and intriguing. Poor writing is frumpy; we think blue-collar or over-young or, worse, mentally ill. Workaday sentences are the plain Johns of the intro note; we think suburban dads, football fans, minivans and canned peas. And strong, original (dare we say, even poetic) prose is the tall, dark and handsome walking through that cafe door. For some of us, TDH writing is not the bonus but the bare minimum, signifying progressive: He reads, he's sensitive, he's up on current affairs. He travels, he thinks, he respects women and animals, he owns obscure music, he possesses an artistic bone in his body somewhere.

Though I'd tried online dating, I met him, unexpectedly, through a mutual friend in our neighborhood indie video store. Lo, he wasn't an arts student in his day but a physics major, and he didn't know who Mordecai Richler was. Most times he prefers mountain biking and video games to a good book, but he supplants that with all that's good in modern man: hysterically funny, devoted and affectionate, committed and compassionate, silly and flexible and patient and fit and smart and endlessly fun and stuck on me like glue. He meets my standards in film and music and food and clothes and politics and pastime and, when he does read, in subjects of interest. He walks in hip. He gleams with charisma and made my friends and co-workers gasp on sight during first-round introductions -- he is the literal (not literary) tall, dark and handsome with a near-Mensa IQ. He is my he, and he's tone-deaf, colorblind and radically dyslexic.

Uncomfortable with the written word, he never dredged the databases for chicks because he knew he'd only ever be the face with the pizza-stained chin, destined for my delete button. That's a fact. I would have deleted him based on his effortful sentence fragments, pained punctuation and (admittedly) imaginative spelling twists. Of course the irony is florid: Your chance of finding your life mate online is a billion to one and, in the real world, infinitely incalculable (though my physicist would tell me that statement is off both in concept and number). Infinitely incalculable would have been my loss had I dismissed him over double consonants where a single would do.

This is my caveat to all the boyz n' grrls who place good turn of phrase high on their checklists. And there is more than one variable in this kind of situation: 1) What might have happened if he'd clumsily courted me via the written word? 2) Where would I be if my physicist valued math acumen in a mate? Compatibility is complementary, after all; I edited the application essay that got him into a graduate program this fall; he whips off algebra formulae I use to calculate my freelancing fees. "We're a team" is one of his refrains that actually lives on principle when he says it. His writing skills now exceed the average after months of stubborn self-tutelage (while my math is still limited to arithmetic), have moved steadily through to plain John appropriateness so that I no longer get called on to proofread outgoing e-mail (variable No. 3 holds that which is unpracticed may not necessarily continue in that state indefinitely, once momentum kicks in).

Ultimately, the language of communication, however necessary in human soul mating, is only the surface sound of another being's full worth, roomfuls deep.

-- Jody Cooper

Salon Staff

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