Hannah’s Love Interests:

Pete – Boy-next-door from Hannah’s old neighborhood in Chicago.

One night we went out with some friends from my old stomping grounds, and I was ordering drinks for Pete—whom I hadn’t seen since karate class in the tenth grade. My boyfriend started in on his usual jealous, immature, off-kilter remarks-then told me he was leaving. I ignored him and continued partying.

Eventually, I took a cab back to our hotel, ordered pay-per-view porn, crawled under the covers, and gave him a mind-numbing blow job. We were fine the next morning. – ch.1


Corey
– Hannah’s first kiss; grade eight.

Mr. Smyth and I are sitting in a dark booth at a dark dive where the only lighting emanates from the neon bulbs above the bar.

“First boyfriend?” Mr. Smyth asks.

“Corey. Grade eight. We made out at the bus stop every day after school for five months. It was a very serious relationship.”

“You had a boyfriend in eighth grade? Wow! Back in my day we didn’t start dating until high school.”

I stop playing with the coaster in front of me. “Back in your day…what are you, like, sixty?”

“I’m turning forty in November.” Mr. Smyth pauses as if expecting me to jump up and run out. “I also dye my hair, I used to smoke two packs a day, I still eat red meat, and I still can’t figure out how to put on muscle. Any deal breakers?”-ch.7

Tom Richardson – Hannah’s second boyfriend, grade 11, who she almost went all the way with, until her sister wedged herself in the middle.

Jack covers his mouth. “Oh my god!” he starts.

I drop my feet from around him. He is not going to bring that up…

“I just totally remembered that your sister had sex with your very first boyfriend before you ever had a chance to.”

But he does. I put a foot into Jack’s chest and push him away.

I had been in love with Tom Richardson since the eighth grade—well, more like the tenth grade, after he’d lost all the baby fat and grown six inches. But by the time I realized I was in love with him, he was dating older, more popular, and more fully developed girls.

Until he became my lab partner.-ch.11

Ace Flannigan – Hannah’s tennis coach at USC that taught her a lot about the perfect stroke.

I met “Ace” Flannigan my first day on the court—which was a total disaster except for my cute tennis outfit. Ace immediately offered me private tennis lessons and I accepted. Ace was a great teacher, but he was also the moodiest son of a bitch I had ever met; like John McEnroe, except on and off the court. Lucky for him, he had a rock-hard body that no eighteen-year-old just discovering her sexuality could resist.

Ace and I began a passionate liaison that consisted of tennis lessons and après-tennis sex sessions; but we both agreed that we were just “friends.” Unfortunately, this paved the way for a horrible jealous streak every time I saw him paying attention to any female with a better swing than me. Ace fared no better: he once punched a guy in the face who I was having coffee with. Of course, for him, that was kind of sweet.-ch.14

Angus – The Australian rebound relationship in college.

Angus was in my Biology class. He was obnoxious, full of himself, and even more full of shit. He spent most of his time telling stories about wrestling alligators in dangerous waters, yet freaked out over dissecting a field mouse. But he was persistent. Every single day after class he’d invite me out drinking; except I would rather have wrestled alligators than gone out drinking with Angus. Besides, I was dating Warner.

Warner was a bartender at the murky underground pub on campus. He was gorgeous and perfectly charming; I fell madly in love. Six months later he broke my heart. Devastated, I finally agreed to drinks with Angus.

I spent the next two weeks getting drunk and having sex with Angus in various bathrooms, laundry rooms, the bushes, my car, and his closet, because he shared a dorm room with this guy who was so fat, depressed, and angry at the world that he rarely left his bed. And I wasn’t about to bring Angus back to my place and have to explain him to Ireland.-ch.5

Warner – Hannah’s first love, a bartender at USC’s only pub, and the first man to break her heart.

Warner was the perfect man: tousled hair, bronze skin, athletic; and more eloquently versed, thoroughly traveled, and mature than all the über-horny boys in my freshman classes put together. We started dating and I fell madly in love.

Warner took me on my first camping trip. I would have never dreamed that hiking up a mountain until the sweat seeped through my bra; sleeping on a foam mat in a thirty-six-square-foot tent for three nights; and peeing outdoors could turn me on to a man so much. Warner taught me how to surf, snowboard, skateboard, and give what he considered the perfect blowjob in the backseat of his Volvo. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

“Hannah, I’m moving to Japan to teach English.” He sprung this on me one night after we’d picked up burgers and fries from a drive-through.

My take-out bag dropped to the floor. “I’ll go with you,” I offered immediately. I felt like I was about to die.-ch.8

The Ex – The on-again-off-again dysfunctional relationship.

I always thought The Ex was The One. When I was thirteen, we had to make a poster of what we wanted our future to look like, and he was it: tall, dark, and fashionable. Not that my whole collage was of the perfect man—I had included my fantasy wardrobe, too—but the male model I’d cut out of the October issue of Cosmopolitan was the centerpiece. And when I strolled up to the Beverly Hilton concierge that fateful Saturday morning looking for directions, I had an eerie feeling I’d just met my centerpiece.

We were in love—through the growing pains and the glory. Even when he broke up with me eighty-seven days ago and I ran after him, tears, mascara, and eye shadow streaming down my face, screaming: “Are you sure? Because this is it!” and he stopped, and I went on: “There’s no going back after this! I’m done. No need to hang on to that engagement ring! Are you sure this is what you want?” and he paused, staring at me, and finally said, “I’m sure,” his voice cracking and his head turning away quickly, and I yelled out: “You’re dead to me!”—I still believed we would be together forever.-ch.10

Ben – A twenty-three-year-old hunk who is…sweet…but not that bright. But really great to look at.

Ben reaches over for the beers and hands one to me. I feel him take a few sips then lean his icy bottle against my chest. Water droplets trickle down my shirt. Butterflies in my stomach, I lift my bottle to my mouth and take an extensive gulp of liquid courage. He sets his finished beer on the coffee table and his fingers begin to trace the moisture around my collarbone, chest, and shoulders, drawing circles and squares and triangles on my skin.

He puts his mouth on my neck. I feel the warmth of his lips opposing the cool of my skin. His thighs encircle my torso tighter as his hands make their way down toward my stomach, bellybutton, and lower. I place my empty beer bottle on the hardwood floor next to the couch. I am so excited I am about to peel my wet panties off myself. And I don’t care if we ever have a conversation.-ch.4

Mr. Smyth (David) – An older, charming, gentlemen who’s got everything going for him…except he’s emotionally unavailable.

“Can I get your number?” Mr. Smyth calls back from the bedroom.

I want to be happily surprised by this question. The man who I met in a women’s bathroom, got totally drunk in front of, lured home, threw myself at, then couldn’t remember whether I had sex with or not, might actually like me. But I am not able to focus on the situation. Between my head’s persistent pulsing and trying to figure out how strategically important the meeting I’m probably going to miss might be, I am completely and utterly frazzled.-ch.6

Cain Benson – the doctor who could be mistaken for superman.

Over dinner, I realize Cain Benson isn’t afraid to talk about the past, or the future. He confesses he wants nothing more than to be married and have kids—ten, if possible (my vagina actually quivers). That he’s jealous of all his sisters who married their high school sweethearts and lead these fulfilling lives with their life partners.

Either I’m the luckiest woman in the world, I think, listening to this, or he’s about to bring out Mr. Hyde…

But he doesn’t. Instead he tells me about his life before pediatrics. How he used to be this skinny nerd with no life who graduated early from high school just so he could get into pre-med faster.

I stare at the man who looks like he can bust out of any extra-large shirt. It was hard to imagine Superman as Super-geek…-ch.15

Phillip Ferrari - Hannah’s new boss…and lover.

“Th-thank you…” His nearness makes me stutter. I feel hot, and tense, and I feel it from his end too. “For appreciating…my work.” My heart starts beating faster and I’m having a hard time looking away from his piercing gaze.

He lifts his arm above me, to the edge of the door…and pushes it closed. I drop my hand from the handle. He drops his briefcase.

He places one hand on my hip and grips onto it, then moves in without hesitation. His mouth is hard and he’s an awkward kisser; but that doesn’t stop me from responding. I reach my hands around his head and kiss back. He moves his other hand up the back of my top and deftly pops the only button. My hands move to the collar of his jacket, forcing it off him; he drops his arms and it falls to the floor. Our mouths continue to explore…-ch.17

Hannah’s Other Men:

Jack – Hannah’s BFF.

I turn back to face my best friend: his crazy platinum hair, the dark roots already growing out; his perfectly trimmed goatee, which he’s worn ever since puberty allowed him to grow facial hair; his tall husky frame busying about in the makeup bag he always carries since he got his cosmetology license—a dichotomy that is the exact reason I love Jack.

“Jack, do you believe in love?”

Jack starts lining my lips. “As in how you love a puppy? Or the fairytale-romance happily-ever-after kind of love?”

I wrap my feet around the back of Jack’s knees. “The fairytale-romance happily-ever-after love.”

“Uhh…no.” Jack puts the liner down and grabs a lipstick. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”-ch.11

Hannah’s Boss – At the job she hates.

Distracted, I twirl around in my office chair and prop my feet up on the credenza so I can look out the window. The last thing I need is to get set up by my boss. And what does he know about falling in love anyway—a man who has been married four times and decided to become a born-again Christian just to hook up with the hot blonde he met in a grocery store?

I fold my arms behind my head and tilt my chair back.-ch.8

Brock – Jack’s friend, and the man The Ex accused Hannah of cheating with…

I start recounting in my head all of our major break-ups: when he got pissed at me for not coming home one night because Ireland and I got stoned at the Santa Anita racetrack—and won $1,887 off his horse pick; when I found long blonde hairs in his shower drain; when he didn’t tell me his “vintage” GQs were packed in a box marked “Recycle”—so I did; when he called off our wedding after accusing me of cheating on him with Jack’s friend Brock; when I caught him having lunch in a dark corner of Trader Vic’s with Tiffany, his ex-lingerie-model ex-girlfriend. Not once in all our emotional drama did it appear as though his world was collapsing. He had probably never even cried over me.

The Ex was emotionally and physically spotless. He’d never broken a bone or disfigured his face, not even when the speed metal freak at the Rainbow threw a punch at him because of an accidental jock shove. It’s like the guy had a lucky fucking charm crammed up his ass.-ch.10

Clark – Hannah’s landlord; a forty-something gay navy contractor who has a bit of a fascination for Hannah.

Clark is such a good friend, and he’s saying all the right stuff…except it wasn’t supposed to end like this. Mr. Smyth wasn’t supposed to be regretting anything, and I wasn’t supposed to be wallowing over my life with my gay neighbor. Mr. Smyth and I were supposed to be together forever. I grab the new drink in front of me and start chugging.

“Look at you.” Clark leans in closer. “Your glossy hair, your smoldering eyes, your sexy little figure…” Clark places his hands around my hips. “You’re a doll.” He squeals and plants his big wet lips on mine.

I can’t believe I am kissing Clark.-ch.12

Chopper – Hannah’s hair stylist and other landlord; a Harley-riding, hair-salon-owning bear.

Clark is forty-something and works a high-level job for a navy contractor. Chopper is his Harley-riding ex-boyfriend who owns a hair salon, also within walking distance. They met in Virginia, halfway between their hometowns of Boston and Charleston. They’re the perfect example of two people able to stay friends after breaking up; of course, they’re also financially invested.

Six months ago Clark and Chopper rented a room to Ben, this twenty-three-year-old supposedly straight guy. I say “supposedly” because he’s a twenty-three-year-old guy who rents a room from two gay men, washes hair at Chopper’s hair salon to pay rent, and has never hit on me. We’ve never even had a whole conversation. Then again Ben is severely attractive. In the way a guy who is blessed with perfect genetics, has played sports all through school, and goes to the gym daily is. People like this don’t need to know how to have a conversation.-ch.3

Jimmy – used to date Clark, but is now married to one of Chopper’s exes.

Jimmy is sitting next to me on Clark and Chopper’s couch. Jimmy is a very tall man who looks like he should play for the Lakers, except that he’s not donning rocks in his ears and gold chains around his neck. Jimmy used to date Clark but is now married to one of Chopper’s exes; I live on a small and incestuous square block. Jimmy visits us once per quarter when his husband runs off to China for six weeks to make inflatable pool furniture for a dollar, which he then resells here for sixty.

“Girl, if I was straight, catching a glimpse of that thong would be the end of me,” says Jimmy, ogling the top half of my Agent Provocateur Nymphette knickers peeking out of my jeans.

I smile. Gay men are so great for the ego.-ch.16