By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Mike successfully drags Adam away. I spot from the corner of my eye a short thirtysomething with an ample belly scoping me out. I approach him. He introduces himself as Bob and then rehashes the last time he was dumped. "I was living with my girlfriend, and I came home one evening and found all of her stuff, and her kids' stuff, gone," he says with a puppy-dog plea for sympathy. "Ends up she was embezzling money and got caught, so she immediately moved her family back to Cuba. I guess she figured her kids would have a better future there than here."
I feel for Bob. But I should have known, as Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" plays overhead, there was one more jagged little pill to swallow.
Meet Fernando, a tall and handsome Cuban-American who "accidentally" dated a prostitute. "I was 17 and she was 28, but I told her I was 20 and she told me she was 23. I met her at a gas station one night. She was wearing nothing but a teddy and a Members Only jacket."
"We exchanged numbers and I'd invite her over when my mom wasn't home. A few weeks later, my neighbor came up to me one night after she left and told me she was a hooker and he'd been with her. At first I was seeing red, but then he told me she also had a big, mean pimp, and then I got scared. I mean, I was only 19."
"I thought you said 17," I say.
"Oh yeah, 17," he responds, flashing a smile as his cheeks become flushed. "Anyway, I stopped calling her, and she started getting mad. She'd call my house all the time, yell at my mom, until one night she showed up at 2 a.m., blasted music from her car, and started yelling my name. Thankfully my neighbor got rid of her."
All right, I've had enough. Now I totally understand why Cher asked to turn back time ... why Pantera felt compelled to pen the lyrics "I'd kill myself for you, I'd kill you for myself" ... even why Guy Ritchie went from feeling like a virgin to publicly admitting that making love with Madonna "was like cuddling a piece of gristle."
That or I just can't take any more pop music.
On my way to the door, I run into Cheri again and ask her if she has found husband number three tonight.
"It's hard to date at my age," she laments. "All the young boys think I'm a sugar mama, but I ain't got no money. I can't help them out...."
So she's not Madonna.
"And all the men my age are so boring. All they want to do is stay at home with their remote controls, pop a Viagra, and kill you all night long."
Cheri, meet the preying mantis. Preying mantis, meet your new mentor, Cheri.