Best Laid Plans

Making it through a dry spell.

By Mike Newall
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 30, 2006

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Solace for the loveless: Who needs sex when you've got beer, seriously?

He's enjoyed the company of a woman only once in the last six months, so it's understandable he's drinking at Grumpy's.

"Oh sure, it's affected me in a number of ways," he says of his sexual slump. "Weight gain. Self-doubt. Negative energy. Negative attitude. You name it, I got it."

He stands in the neon glow of a Budweiser sign and tears at the label of his beer bottle.

"I need a woman," he shouts over the music. "Badly."

For purposes of privacy, he asks we refer to him simply as Marty.

Marty, 29, wears a rumpled cabana shirt. His hair is dirty, and so are his shorts. When he's thin, his mother says he looks like Antonio Banderas. When he's chunky, his friends say he looks like John Belushi. An interesting conversationalist, he debates the merits of John Cassavetes films, and says his favorite musician is Rivers Cuomo from Weezer.

He explains his carnal dilemma:

"It's a self-perpetuating process. You go a few weeks, maybe a month, without a woman, and then you start obsessing: 'Why aren't I meeting anybody? I don't go to the gym enough. I'm not funny enough. No one will ever have me.' And the one thing you can't fake is confidence. If a girl hears even the least bit of self-doubt in your voice, you're done."

He drains his beer and wipes his chin.

"But I feel good tonight," he says, taking a look around. "Lucky."

And indeed, there's a good vibe inside Grumpy's Tavern, a corner bar on Ninth Street near Tasker in South Philadelphia. Aside from the few menacing-looking biker dudes keeping to themselves at the bar, Grumpy's doesn't live up to its name. It's a fine place to drink. The beers are cheap and cold, and the crowd ranges from the bikers to old-school neighborhood guys to Italian Market hipsters. It's a clean place with wood paneling and lime green walls. And everyone's friendly.

The bartender is pretty and has a piercing under her lip.

She never loses patience with Marty.

"Let me see your fingers," he says.

She obliges, smiling.

"Not married. But I have a man. And I'm not a cheater."

"I wouldn't think any less of you for cheating on your boyfriend with me because it'd be me, the guy you'll have kids with and spend the rest of your life with."

"I'm sorry."

"Is it because I'm not muscular?"

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