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'Til Death Do Us Tart

I’m dating “Mr. Paper Perfect.” Theoretically, he’s everything I’ve dreamed of -- loving, handsome, intelligent and faithful, with a job being held for him at a prominent law firm. He wants to marry me when he graduates from law school next year. I do love him. However, he has a pretty rigid religious background. He’s straight-laced; I’m wild. He was a virgin until recently. He flips out about my sexual past and is very judgmental about my wild streak. Also, something’s missing -- I’m not sure what. I’m 99% fulfilled. Is it unrealistic to want 100%?

--Missing Peace

A lifetime walking on the “Girls Gone Wild” side can have a high price -- starting at around $20,000: the cost of surgery for repetitive stress injuries from constantly pulling up your top and exposing your breasts for the video camera. That’s why even bad girls need a vacation now and then -- like this side trip you’ve taken into “respectability.” At the moment, it probably seems no biggie to kick off your four-inch heels and trade in dresses you remove with a paint scraper for the paper-perfect man. It’s actually a great way to extend the life span of your imported Agent Provocateur lingerie -- putting it in storage and putting yourself on the waiting list for a burqa by Burberry and a chastity belt by Louis Vuitton.

Of course, there’s more to making this relationship work than trading tart-wear for a little fundamentalist chic. If, for example, you wear the strumpet suits I took the liberty of shellacking onto you in the previous paragraph, it’s probably because they suit who you are -- a lifelong strumpet. Can’t people change? Sure -- their hair, their toothpaste, a five-dollar bill. But, can you transform, overnight, into Marian The Librarian? Probably not. Not unless you wake up one morning, independent of the influence of your favorite zealot, desperate to make the transition from “Born To Be Wild” to “born-again virgin.”

Maybe you’re tempted to go for “security” -- a word that also comes after “maximum” on the outside of a lot of prisons. It’s a serious thing you’re considering -- trading in what you are for what you’re supposed to want. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe you can lock the hussy in you in a closet. Sooner or later, though, it’s bound to get its long, tacky talons around a nail file (or maybe a steel spike from a leather bra you tossed in there with the rest of your nasty lingerie), and dig its way back into your life. Then what? Do you inform Mr. Theoretically Perfect that you need a sabbatical from the “Girls Gone Respectable” video series -- the lifelong contract for you to get videotaped buttoning the top button of your flannel nightgown, drinking warm milk, and reading children’s books to the cat?

Keep in mind that he’s a guy who really wanted a girl who’s been squeezing a penny between her knees for the last 20-some years. Then you tottered into his life. Don’t think for a minute that he accepts who you are or where you’ve been -- he probably just does his best to block out all the nudity. Can you live with this? Should you? Time will tell, which is why you shouldn’t be making big decisions according to anybody else’s timetable -- his or the law school calendar. Take all the time you need to figure out who you are and what it takes to make you happy -- and whether it’s really a guy whose dream girl is one who runs around blurting out stuff like “Nothing comes between me and my big white granny panties.”


Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.