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September 1, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Sex and the (Melbourne) City


Published August 2011 at Farrago’s Batmania blog

Blokes might switch off now, but it could be worth staying on past the opening line: I have been on a Sex and the City-watching marathon. Hours of Carrie Bradshaw (writer), Samantha (sexed-up), Miranda (lawyer lady) and Charlotte (throwaway hopeless romantic). SATC has hundreds of shoes (mostly Manolos), clothes (mostly Chanel), and a predominantly sex- and man-based lifestyle.

I can’t lay claim to possessing any Manolos. Even though I can only lay claim to one long-term relationship, there are eerie parallels to my life and the fictional world of singledom Carrie Bradshaw inhabits. It only happens, however, when I stare into a potential SATC moment from the outside. Take, for example, a night I spent sitting in a Brunswick pub with Lisa, my best friend (names have been changed, of course). I was proudly showing off my just-off-the-runway stockings, the $9, haute-couture, extra-thick winter pair from Kmart. Lisa’s friend Jess walked in, clutching a beer and her mobile phone. I can’t remember what she was wearing, but it was not Dolce and Gabbana.

Minutes after Jess sat down, she cracked and broke the news about her date the night before. It went well, she said, but how should she interpret a text message from the guy? He’d sent her one after he’d gotten home that night.

“What does ‘see you soon’ mean?” she asked. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

Here, I was at an SATC crossroads. Did I make some sympathetic wisecrack (Carrie), offer a pessimistic verdict (Miranda), spout hopelessly romantic crap (Charlotte) or whip out an outrageously sexual cliche (Samantha)? If I’d had any experience at all about how this lifestyle worked in Melbourne, maybe I’d have stopped being so useless. Maybe I’d have ludicrously expensive clothes, a killer figure and an actual writing career. Television has the powerful effect of creating a desire where there wasn’t one before, but it was one of those moments where I couldn’t feel any less like a sassy, single, 35-year-old New Yorker. I’m so first-date virginal that I don’t understand what a first date is unless I’m viewing it through the SATC prism of singledom, one in which every man is gorgeous. In the SATC-world, men (or sometimes the women) always have crucial and easily definable flaws that nix the relationship, and love affairs live and die within an episode. In an odd way, being ignorant of a proper dating life can make talking or viewing it a little isolating, because I sit in Melbourne pubs and watch other girls discuss the intricacies of a date I’ve never had. It’s almost like missing out on growing breasts (sad but true).

This is probably an essay on mutual understanding. I’ll probably get eggs thrown at me for this, because it will invariably come across as smug. But then again, SATC isn’t great to watch because everyone in it is unavailable. The temptation of the unknown, of the elusive, and of the hard-won is what keeps Hollywood churning out the romantic love stories year after year, and why women around the world, regardless of relationship status, drink it up. That and the shoes I’ll never, ever be able to afford. Sigh.

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