The delirious pursuit of love is a search that inevitably takes us all both down the well-beaten path and into new, uncharted territory. In this collection of thirty-three heart-tugging and hilarious essays, celebrated Electronic Urban Report columnist Steven Ivory chronicles his lifelong quest for that thing we all crave: The Meaningful Relationship.
The journey begins with his first love — his mother — before making an amusing pilgrimage through lust-filled adolescent affections, an awkward introduction to sex, and a series of poignant and funny adventures of unrequited love, bungled blind dates, and the Ones That Got Away.
Propelled by a wit rivaled only by a willingness to bare his soul, Ivory's revelations on kissing, game-playing, sexual satisfaction, and personal insecurities culminate in a startling, life-altering discovery that touches your funny bone as well as your heart.
WHEN I TOLD A FRIEND I was writing a book about romance where it concerns me, he replied with an undertone of sarcasm, "Oh, I see — it's going to be a book of short stories." Another friend coyly remarked that, from any other writer, such a book would qualify as "a labor of love, but..." Her voice trailed off as she contemplated whether coming from me this book would actually have anything to do with love.
These heartwarming exhibitions of faith emanate from friends. When I said there would be thirty-three essays, people got wide-eyed and took a step back, as if they might catch something from a man who has bedded thirty-three women.
Actually, this is not a collection of stories about all the relationships I've ever had in my life. In fact, most of these stories are not about romantic relationships at all, but stories about the Search. The stories are based on actual experiences, but I have changed names and other characteristics.
Everyone writes about love, but the Search gets no love. Yet it's the quest for love that will make a man do strange things. Make him go out in public in way too tight pants. The Search will make him lie like a rug. Cause him to spend his rent money to impress a woman. Infinitely worse, it will make him do things that other men insist will work in his Search. There is nothing more pathetic than a man who seeks another man's advice on how to be an individual.
You can learn much about love simply by trying to attain it, and ultimately, you discover crucial things about yourself. You could find out that you love being in love. Or you might find what you were searching for and realize you enjoy the chase more than the capture.
During my own Search for true love, I'll be doggone if I didn't discover that many of the partners I've taken have been somehow connected to places, experiences and people of my past, not the least of whom were my parents, especially my mother. Freud may have made the connection ages ago, but the sheer notion still blows my mind. And that is why there are also stories here about my mother. As I see it, this book would not be complete without my taking an honest and affectionate look at the woman who in so many ways set a subliminal standard for what I seek in a mate.
As decidedly whimsical as some of these stories are, reconstructing them was not always a joyful process. Think of old hurt long and hard enough and the pain becomes fresh. Other times, I wished I could go back and relive it just as I did it the first time. Telling the tale called for an honesty that I found necessary only after I attempted to lie. But the only way for us to conquer our fears is to face them, and one of mine has long been the fear of having my feelings exposed — or worse, of having them open to judgment and ridicule. Lest you assume I say this much in the way a big star whines about the burden of fame yet goes to great lengths to ensure his celebrity, I should say this book was not my idea, but the concept of Simon & Schuster Senior Editor Cherise Grant. She read my weekly nonfiction column at the Electronic Urban Report (EUR) website (www.eurweb.com
) and proposed a collection of my (mis)adventures in searching for a relationship.
I've never done anything to this woman. Didn't know her before this project. Indeed, as of this writing, I could not tell you what she looks like if my life depended on it. Yet, she has seen to it that by commissioning such a book, I am virtually guaranteed never to have another date in my life. To her credit, at the outset of our talks, she did mention being called shrewd. She never copped to evil. Fool in Love. That title was her idea as well. Along with everything else, I guess now I'm a fool, too.
In all seriousness, I am forever indebted to Ms. Grant and not simply because she chose to publish my work. I am appreciative because she persuaded me to do this work. There are stories here I've wanted to forget — which is precisely my reason for telling them.
By the way, the Search (and the saga) continues.