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May 1, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I'm 30 and have been taking dance classes for eight months. During that time, I've met new people, gone on a weekend dance workshop, and my social life is generally looking up. Here's the rub: Although salsa looks like a sexy dance, there's actually very little opportunity to take things any further. It's not like you can smooch while dancing a salsa, and the men are in short supply and, therefore, always up dancing.

The guy I like, C, told me a while ago that he was "sort of" going out with someone. It turns out that he kissed her on the dance floor (brave!), but she had to go back to Singapore for a few weeks. I don't know if she's back yet, and he doesn't seem to mention her.

He and I have started e-mailing, ostensibly so that I can improve his e-mail style, as T, the "sort of" girlfriend, only seems to write to him to complain that his e-mails are too short and impersonal. My motives are somewhat akin to those of Cyrano de Bergerac. I give great e-mail and letter, so I have been writing to him, and we've got a banter-thing going.

Every time I ask him what T's full name is, he changes the subject and doesn't want to talk to me about her. (He only writes her initial when he talks about her.) I did ask him ages ago what a "sort of" girlfriend was, and he said "It's early days yet; it's not written in stone." He also said to me last week, "Now I know what your deep eye-contact means." (I tend to stare into his eyes.) I replied, "Do you?" and he smiled and said, "yes." (I think he'd asked one of his female friends why I was staring.)

I am really attracted to this guy, but I don't know what to do next, or even if I should pursue him, as he is 21. I should point out that he's astonishingly mature and that everyone thinks he's around 26, as he's lived all over the place with his diplomat parents and is considerably more polished than most of his peers. He's also very bright and is majoring in Philosophy and Politics. I already wrote out an astrological chart for him, which took me ages and which he found really touching. I haven't seen him since then, as he has had a cold. Now, the salsa club has recently moved to a venue with a lot of velvet sofas and nooks and crannies, which has romantic potential, but he's so in demand as a dancer, how can I finagle him into sitting down with me? And, more to the point, should I?

-- Sultry Salsera

Dear Sultry Salsera,

I am not saying this guy's not divine. Estoy segurísima que está hecho un cuero.* But remember, Salsera, where you see him. In a salsa class. Salsa. Not the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Salsa. I know you can't smooch, but still.

I am also not saying he's not mature. But: while polish, Philosophy and Politics are all well and good --  picante doesn't hurt either --  they do not (necessarily) a life (as opposed to salsa) partner make … of someone who is not only that much younger, but also with that particular (i.e. 20s) age gap. (Perspective: two years ago, he was a teenager.) Over time --  and Relationship --  his youth could get old.

Finally, I'm not saying that you shouldn't flirt, or heck, even have a fling. (Or that there's any way you wouldn't, should the opportunity arise, even if I told you not to.) And sure, he's flirting (keeping the T thing vague is part of that), perhaps even as an end in itself. But (if indeed you are looking for a permanent paso doble with a true peer) I don't want you wasting your time in steps that may only take you around in circles, or leave you and your game face perched stiff and alone on a poky-springed couch. So bat your eyes back all you want --  as long as you don't miss the other salsero in the shadows waiting for you to stare back.

Breakup Girl

* "I am sure he is a total hottie." = idiomatic term BG acquired in Mexico at age 14; usage more common than, like, "and."



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