Before I commence with today’s sad, revelatory narrative, I must say a few words about the good people of Boston, those provincial New Englanders who, through their hospitality, were so hospitable to my cronies and me as we rampaged through their streets. I offer special thanks to Carrie Gauthier, who pulled me from the tracks after I was struck by the trolley. Oh, accursed trolley! Props must also go to Julie Madden, for chastely nursing me back to public-reading condition through a studied mix of soothing unguents and new-age claptrap, Jim Behrle, for cutting the check, and the mysterious Fleck Daddy, from Providence, who grinned at me all night like a child on a carousel, and then bought me a Scotch. I thank you all, and when I return to your city sometime, I will either fete you or ignore you, depending on my availability.
Now, onto matters of journalism, which begin, as all journalism must, with amateur sociology.
In America today, some women are married, and some are not. A few weeks ago, I was reading my favorite German newsweekly, Die Humberschlingel, which revealed that fewer women are married today than were once married. This has created a fascinating new class of people in this country: Single women. The Germans, who are very intelligent, discovered that of the 37 million single American women, some of them live in Chicago, others in Northern California, and others in other places. But I was shocked to discover that nearly five million single women live in New York City alone, three million of them in Manhattan. The place is just seething with single women.
“Isn’t that an interesting phenomenon?” I asked my wife.
“Not really,” she said.
“Oh, yes it is,” I said.
As a journalist, which is my profession, I was determined to attempt what no journalist had yet attempted. A single, nearly magnetic force was drawing me to the great untold story of our age. I was going to write about the single women of New York City, and no one, especially not my wife, was going to stop me.
My initial attempts at research were rebuffed. I ventured into the nether region around 14th Street and 11th Avenue, which had once been called the Tenderiron district, because of the tender irons that its inhabitants would apply to the bodies of interlopers. But now, this once seedy area of wharfside bars and hurdy-gurdy houses has been transformed, by the magic of the New Economy, into a pungent flowerbed of loft offices and trendy bars.
I ventured into Pomme, a nightclub that Time Out has called “one of the hottest spots for sexually ravenous single women in New York.” From my excellent store of foreign vocabulary, I concluded that “pomme” was French for “disco.”
At the bar were a dozen women, all employed in media, high technology, or law. I could tell this because, in the manner of the new New York, they wore placards around their neck.
I approached one woman, whose sign read, “I work for VH-1. In promotions.”
“Why are you single?” I asked. “Is it because you want to have sex with many men?”
Her friends surrounded me, as though they were a coven. None of them spoke, save one, who was wearing a fetching little turquoise sailor’s suit. “I work for Burston-Marsteller,” her sign read.
“We will eat you for lunch if you do not leave this bar at once,” she said. “A new day has dawned in New York City, with a new ruling class. Ask us no questions, for we are single women, and we have power.”
What a single woman she was! I returned to my hotel, gazed at the sleeping form of my wife, and sighed. Why couldn’t she be single, too?
I didn’t understand the true power of Today’s Single New York Woman until after my recent reading at Galapagos, a workingman’s bar located in a hardscrabble Brooklyn neighborhood. As usual, my performance drew much laughter and awed, gaping stares. However, unlike in other cities where an hour after the show, I am left sitting alone at a table with a big wad of cash, in New York people stayed, and most of those people were women.
As drinks were bought and then consumed, the crowd began to thin slightly. Then four women formed a phalanx and headed toward me. They introduced themselves, not by name, but as a gossip columnist, an architect, a single mom with a trust fund, and a writer of cookbooks in Braille. The architect grabbed my hands, and pinned them to the table.
“You’re coming with us, author-boy,” she said.
A few minutes later, I found myself in the back of a limousine, and the women were force-feeding me Scotch from a funnel. The columnist tore at my belt with her teeth, and the single mom ripped off my Zegna suit jacket. The cookbook writer donned a pair of heels. Grinning lustfully, she pressed them against my chest.
“Please don’t hurt me,” I whimpered.
“Oh no,” she said. “We are definitely going to hurt you. We are single women, and we hurt people.”
By midnight, I was a heaving wreck of a man. Every part of my body had been licked, sucked, poked, stabbed, and spilled upon. The women had penetrated all the major orifices, and a few of the minor ones as well. They smoked cigars while I gasped and bled, now dressed only in stained boxers and a torn T-shirt.
“Can you take me to my hotel now?” I asked.
“I don’t think so, buddy,” said one of them.
They bid the driver to stop the car, opened the back door, and kicked me in the rear.
“You have satisfied us sufficiently,” the columnist said. “And now we are through with you.”
Then I was on the street, at the corner of 125th and Amsterdam, and they were driving away, with a song blaring from the trunk speakers: “Sisters,” the lyrics went, “Are Doin’ It For Themse-helves.”
I was glad that they were gone, and to have escaped with my life and with a narrative. I sat on the curb, wept, and wondered how I was going to get home.
Another limo pulled up. The window rolled down. Inside, I could see five women, all snorting cocaine, dressed in nothing but pink leather.
“Three of us are lawyers for the United Nations,” one of them said, “The other two are a librarian at Columbia University and her friend Tracy. We are on the prowl for man-flesh!”
Before I could stop them—and I couldn’t really stop them—they had me hogtied and lying across their collective lap. Although I was severely dehydrated, I submitted to my fate, because in today’s New York City, you do what single women tell you to.
“Good ladies of New York,” I moaned against my will, “I belong to you!”