Sex in the Title Paperback Release Day
New York City, May 2000. The Internet bubble has burst, and Evan's boss fires him with an email. The next day, his girlfriend dumps him, also via email. Afraid to check any more emails, Evan desperately seeks a rebound romance but the catastrophes that ensue go from bad to hilariously worse. Fortunately, Evan meets someone whose legendary disasters with females eclipse even his own.
To reverse their fortunes, they recruit their friends into a group of five guys who take on Manhattan in pursuit of dates, sex, and adventure. With musings about life, relationships, and human psychology, this quintessential New York story about the search for happiness follows five men on their comical paths to trouble, self-discovery, and love.
Your employment is terminated. I’m out of the office this morning for meetings but you should pack up your belongings by 1 p.m. today. Your last pay check will arrive in the mail.” That was the first email waiting for Evan on Monday morning, May 29, 2000, at the office where he had worked for the last two years. ChocaChump.com, the Internet-based, chocolate home delivery company, was another dot-com whose days were numbered. About six weeks earlier, the NASDAQ had dropped more than twenty-five percent from its peak in a single week.
The tech crash would continue, and Evan’s boss, a mercurial CEO who closely managed his twenty employees, grew increasingly bitter and difficult as his company faltered. After Evan read the email terminating his employment, he recalled their curt discussion from the previous Friday.
“Tell me the real reason why you were gone so long yesterday.”
“It’s the reason I gave you: my grandma had a bad fall and needed to be taken to the hospital. She called me for help because my parents were out of town.”
“You were gone for six hours.”
“Well, I had to go to Queens, where she lives. She needed a bunch of medical tests. And I wasn’t just going to leave her alone in the hospital. She’s a seventy-five-year old widow, so I had to be there to comfort her, and help her deal with insurance forms, doctors, etc.”
“Evan, everyone’s got problems. You don’t think I have a grandma who needs me just as much? Do you think our competitors care about our grandmas? It’s war out there! And we’re losing. Things used to be much better, but our operating budget no longer covers middle-of-the-day-grandma-emergencies.”
“But this is the first time I’ve ever done that. And I told you before I left that I had a family emergency. I can come in this weekend to make up for the lost work time.”
“Yes, please do that...I’ll have to think things over.”
As he promised, Evan spent much of his Saturday making up for his time away from the office.
But there was no reversing a CEO desperate to trim his payroll. Evan decided not to tell his girlfriend, Alexandra, about the fact that he was now unemployed. He would wait until after they returned from the Puerto Rican vacation that he had promised her a month ago, so that she could fully enjoy the experience, rather than feel guilty about the expense. The quality time with her would also help him to refocus on what really mattered to him, he thought.
Hoping for a fresh and positive start the morning after he was fired, Evan turned on his home laptop and purchased the airline tickets online. He then logged into his email account, so that he could forward the trip details to Alexandra. He noticed a new email from her in his inbox.
“Evan, Hun, sorry to tell you like this over email, but my plane’s leaving soon, so I don’t have time to do this in person. I’m leaving because I really need a break. From everything. Please don’t start wondering what this means or what you did wrong or anything, because you’ve been great. And that means that I have to use that trite line about how this isn’t about you. Because it really is about me...I’m twenty-four years old and I feel like I’m losing my youth suddenly. I just want to feel young and free for a few months. And I’m tired of this city. It’s making me old. The routine, the stress, the constant competition. I just need to escape for a while. I know we were supposed to go away one of these weekends, but I need more than a weekend. Much more. I decided – in a totally spur of the moment kind of way – to go to Australia. I know this all seems crazy and surprising, but that’s how these things go when you’re young. Without planning too much. I’ll be gone for six weeks. Maybe more. I’d ask you to wait for me, but that wouldn’t be fair to either of us. And I’m just not sure we’re right for each other, even though you’re really a wonderful guy...I think a clean break would be best for both of us. By the time you read this I’ll probably be on a plane. I’m really sorry, Evan, because I know this will hurt, even though that was never my intention. Call it a crazy and selfish impulse, but I just need this change right now. You’ve always been a sweetheart and I’ll totally miss you. Postcards will follow! Kisses, Alexandra.”
Evan stared at his laptop screen, in speechless disbelief. For the lonely three months that followed, he struggled with the loss of a job he had mostly enjoyed, and a woman he had begun to love after almost five months of dating her. On the few occasions when he could motivate himself to go out and act like a single man again, Evan crashed and burned with every woman he approached. Julia, a sexy, thirty-two-year-old therapist, was the only exception, but there were too many issues for that prospect to go anywhere. She couldn’t resist psychoanalyzing Evan whenever they met, which he soon realized was just her way of avoiding her own doldrums. Julia was clinically depressed and desperately seeking marriage and children (which Evan didn’t want for another four or five years), so his conscience forced him to nip things in the bud, even though she seemed open to a fling with him. Thus, Evan continued stumbling along his losing streak, learning just how much being down is not particularly appealing to anyone – especially the attractive women of New York City, clad in their heels or hipster boots, looking for a good time.
Evan Cheson was actually a charming and good-looking man. He had a full head of thick, black hair; blue eyes; an athletic, six-foot-one build; smooth, dark eyebrows; and facial features suggestive of his French-Italian ancestry. And for most of his adult life, he had been a confident and successful man, from school, to work, to women.
SAMMY — at a mere five-eight, he’s the shortest, chubbiest, and baldest in the group. But the quirky math geek, who works as an actuary, is also the funniest and the smartest of the gang. Sammy is nicknamed “Heeb” because of his plan to enjoy bachelorhood with only non-Jews until age 28, at which point he will date only Jewish girls so as to find his wife by age 30. In his ever unpredictable dating adventures, Heeb will try just about anything to get a date with a woman.
CARLOS — Sammy’s Harvard College roommate. Carlos has the slick Latin look of a telenovela star. The six foot one Mexican-American dresses with impeccable style, maintains a great physique, and easily charms with his silver tongue. But he’s still a virgin when he graduates from college because of his obsessive and irrational fear of germs, his Puritanical beliefs, and his impossibly selective standards.
YI WANG (“Narc”) — Evan’s freshman year roommate at Brown College. Yi is a good-looking, Chinese-American, who is fluent in Cantonese and ghetto talk, and — at six-three — was the star basketball player of his high school. Nicknamed “Narc” during high school for his willingness to experiment with narcotics (and later “Narse” for his narcissistic focus on his looks/style), he goes on to become a disgruntled corporate lawyer after studying at Columbia Law School. But Narc secretly maintains two alternative career fantasies: both seem wildly unrealistic, but one is unthinkable because of the shame it would cause his traditional parents.
TREVOR — A debonaire, Afro-British man who became Narc’s best friend and basketball partner while earning his JD degree at Columbia Law School. Originally from Ghana but educated at Oxford, Trevor charms anyone who hears him talk — if they can turn their attention away from his extraordinary six-foot-seven height (which earned him the nickname “Tower”). Trevor sports a perfectly clean shaven head and escapes the drudgery of his corporate law firm job by exploring yoga, alternative careers, and new dating prospects.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zack Love graduated from Harvard College, where he tried to create a bachelor’s degree in Women. With the bachelor portion of that degree in hand, he settled in New York City but – to afford renting his bed-sized studio – found himself flirting mostly with a computer screen and stacks of documents. Determined not to die a corporate drone, Zack decided to sacrifice sleep for screenwriting, an active social life, and Internet startups offering temporary billion-dollar fantasies.
To feed his steady diet of NYC nightlife, he regularly crashed VIP parties in the early 2000s and twice bumped into his burgeoning crush, a Hollywood starlet. But – much to Zack’s surprise – neither of those awkward conversations led to marriage with the A-list actress. Zack eventually consoled himself by imagining fiascoes far worse than those involving his celebrity crush. In the process, he dreamed up a motley gang of five men inspired by some of his college friends and quirky work colleagues. And thus was born Sex in the Title. But the novel is not autobiographical: Zack never had his third leg attacked by any mammal (nor by any plant, for that matter). In fact, keeping his member safe has been one of Zack’s lifelong goals – and one of the few that he’s managed to accomplish.