Columns Jul 31, 2013 at 4:00 am

Diaper Pals


I wish INACTIVE had asked a real question other than the one about being narcissistic. The answer to that is no, she's not. But what does she want?
@1: Good point.
@1 Sounds to me like she's asking for a bit of validation and permission to feel sexy, after many years of feeling unsexy. She's probably also looking for some confirmation that, yes indeed, there are young men who are into older women. I can see how she might want to hear those things, even if her assertion that she's celibate by choice can be taken at face value.
So, she's a MILF. What exactly is the problem?

Wish I was a DILF.
Maybe INAVTIVE's question is: Am I do anything (morally) wrong? If that's it, more specifically it's:

Is it wrong to flirt when I'm not looking for a LTR? (No.)

Is it wrong to lie/mislead about my age? (Not at the first meeting/flirtation stage. Yes at the going towards the LTR stage, but you're nowhere close to that.)

Or maybe the question is about whether she wants a LTR or should want a LTR now that it looks possible. If that's it, the follow-up question would be how to relate and keep conversations going. (Take your cues from how you talk to your younger female neighbor and your older wiser female friend. Talking to guys is a lot like talking to everyone else. You're obviously a terrific person or you wouldn't have good friends who enjoy your company. When taking relationships into the flirtation/sexual realm, you build on the strengths you have.)
Its fine if Ms. Gallop wants to smugly put down mainstream porn. I assume she reads romance novels about the guy from Omaha in middle management who makes missonary love to his wife of 14 years around 9:35pm after the kids finally go to sleep.
I feel for "inactive". What I'm hearing is that she doesn't know how to handle the attention- it's way outside her comfort zone. She wants to crawl back into her shell and fade into the background again, because it's what she knows how to handle.

I've been thin and I've been almost plus-size- right now I'm about a size 12 after losing 20 lbs, but not feeling that great about it- I'm still about 30 lbs heavier than I was at my skinniest.

However, I know what I have to work on is self-esteem and not just losing the 30 lbs. Even after you've lost the weight there's a part of your brain that still says "nobody wants me". When other people contradict what you believe about yourself deep down, it's challenging to make sense of it even if you want to believe what they're telling you.
Tim, have you actually seen the videos on Gallop's site? They are anything but boring.
I think INACTIVE is asking Dan how to proceed after being out of the game for so long. The men flirting with her are young and not-LTR material i.e. what she wants. She just doesn't know if she's to go all candy store with it or be more discerning. I say a combination of the two would be ideal; have fun, but keep Gallop's guidelines in mind.
I don't know any guys my age who actually into older women. Those who do bang them kind of do it for the novelty, and to say "yeah I've done it". Literal attraction seems to play little if any role.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a blindfold, a cigarette, and a brick wall.
@10 - Mydriasis - you are in your early 20s?

People expand what they find "fuckable" as they age. So while I don't doubt there aren't a lot of 22 year old guys sexually into 50 year old women, there are plenty of men in their late 20s-30s who are genuinely sexually attracted to INACTIVE.
The bigger question is: Why is INACTIVE's letter in the column. Bleh.
Letter #1: What's the significance of the bold text "man"?
Letter #2: Autie Grizelda!?!?!
[BJ] for the first letter - assume the new inamorato includes women in "everything", which isn't even particularly wild. [end of BJ]

As for the second letter, I can see taking out most of the exclamation points, but why edit out gluten-free?

Ms Gallop ought to be melded with Mr Bergner; between the two of them, they almost have the making of a worthwhile guest adviser (rather like the way Elizabeth regards Messrs Darcy and Wickham).

Ms Gallop completely misses the primary reason that makes up the vast majority of why OWYM is a vastly superiour combination to OMYW (why am I not surprised?). Perhaps she ignored it deliberately because she can't try to claim credit for it, even if she does have a "fabulous" apartment. I'm not entirely sure whether Mr Franklin can claim credit for it, but at least that means it goes back a quarter millenium. OWYM are vastly superiour to OMYW because they don't reproduce, an excellent quality in any opposite-sex couple. (Astute observers might think that I am warming up for Homocentric August; I shall leave the point open to interpretation.)

But actually to consider the LW as an individual, she says that she isn't able to keep conversations going, and I am picking up little vibrations that she doesn't particularly want to. I'd tell her not to let Ms Gallop and people like her push her into wasting her time in conversationless encounters just because suddenly she can again. If she wants to, great. If once or twice is enough and then some, there's nothing wrong with early retirement.
@6 Tim Norton

'Its fine if Ms. Gallop wants to smugly put down mainstream porn.'

I salute her for putting down mainstream porn. I, personally, smugly put down mainstream porn.

Why? As a woman, I find it inherently unsexy and I'm an incredibly visual person. The guys are ugly and gross (GTL); the women are pneumatic and spray tanned. People I would never ever talk to in real life. Why would I want to fuck them? Why would I want to watch them fuck?

Maybe it's because, as I'm watching porn, I imagine myself either fucking that person or being fucked. But because they are both so repulsive, I cannot / will not imagine either scenario. Even when I disengage from the scene, I find it all so mechanical and lacking in fun. Or joy. I find sex incredibly fun. It doesn't seem like the actors are enjoying themselves.

And don't even get me started on the ridiculous noises the women make.

I agree with Dan; NAPPIES should proceed with caution. The concept of "wild" is highly subjective. You could end up leading with breath play when he meant "with the lights on".
I would suggest to NAPPIES (speaking as someone who shares his kink) that he consider disclosing his interests in a less specific form first. If your partner freaks out at the general idea of "age play" then you know there's no point in getting into the absorbent powdery details, and you can preserve a bit more dignity while you negotiate an exit. If you don't identify as an age player then bring up piss play instead; it's the same principle: If your partner won't go *that* far, there's no point in asking whether he'll go further.
For Auntie Grizelda, in case she missed it:…
Yes, Happy Birthday, Auntie Grizelda!
@16, I largely agree vis-à-vis mainstream porn. On the other hand, porn of real people actually enjoying sex is pretty hot, IMO.

I heard Gallop on BBC WHYS speaking for the anti-censorship POV [the topic was the new internet filtering measures Cameron is backling']. It seems she is promoting an option that is neither prudery nor PORN™. Sign me up.
Good porn is like good music. It's out there, but more often than not, you have to go looking or you'll end up with something repulsive you can't get out of your head.
Hmmm . . . I admire what Cindy Gallop is doing, and yet . . . I don't know that she's answering INACTIVE's question; in fact, I'm not sure what INACTIVE is asking. She says she's been "sexually inactive by choice," but she doesn't say why. Then she tells us that she's recently lost a lot of weight (I'll leave the grey hair now colored by Miss Clairol aside for the moment). So I don't know why she's been sexually inactive by choice. Either she could not have liked the men that were presenting themselves to her (and if she is a woman in her late 40s who was substantially overweight, I know that the pickings can be pretty slim and dang unappealing), so she made that "choice" in self defense, or she's had some completely unrelated issue (she doesn't want an LTR, she says) which makes her skittish and gun-shy and she has never or rarely had sex that wasn't in the context of an LTR.

Now younger men are noticing her. But not men closer to her own age and interests. And while she concedes that they are pretty good looking, she finds that she has little in common with them ("I can't seem to really relate or keep conversations going"). She doesn't want an LTR with them, and I'm not sure she wants an LTR with ANYBODY at this juncture (which is perfectly okay).

INACTIVE, why haven't you been sexually active these last few years? Is it really a fully realized choice or is it in reaction to others' choices? Do you want sex? Do you just want to flirt? Do you want flirtation or sex with men closer to your own age because you think it is somehow inappropriate or wrong for an almost-49-year-old to flirt with men in their 20s and 30s or because you feel more comfortable with men with whom you have shared experiences/cultural references? Do you feel you are unable to relate or keep conversations with these men going because you are naturally shy or don't share most people's conversational interests or can't really make small/flirtatious talk, or is it because they are just too young to be interesting to you?

Only you know the answers to most of these questions, but they determine the best response from Dan, Cindy Gallop, and us here.

You may want to view these younger men as good for flexing your flirting muscles, and then decide if you want to try to pursue a purely sexual relationship with one of them or a man closer in age to yourself--and you don't need to be in an LTR to do that.

But with all the big questions hovering over your question, I fear that none of us, especially Cindy Gallop, is going to give you a particularly relevant answer.

Mydriasis and Mr. Ven: Regarding OW/YM, I don't think either of you has the full answer. I am an OW (50) pursued by a ton of YM (in their 20s) through dating websites, if not too often in "real life." I suspect that the real reason is because there is no way that any woman my age could assume any man that much younger is seriously interested in anything other than pure sex from me. I'm on a website, so it is presumed I'm interested in sex (plus my profile makes it clear that I am). But only a truly insane 50-year-old woman would think, after a few crazily-hot sex-filled dates, that she's going to meet his mother, or that they're in an exclusive, commitment-based relationship. He's safe to play around. In fact, many of the young men who hit on me say in their profiles that they're looking to date women aged 20-26, or somesuch, and I don't delude myself about the nature of their interest in me (plus they've been told or are aware that often older women are more aware of what they want, sexually, and are less hesitant or modest about going after it).

For the record, I find such young men absolutely uninteresting, sexually as well as conversationally. They have neither the skills nor the charm to be tempting to me, even as I can appreciate their beauty.
@12, I'm of the same opinion. Booooring.
@5 "Is it wrong to lie/mislead about my age? Not at the first meeting/flirtation stage."

Lying and claiming to be, say, 39 rather than 49 is no big deal. However, claiming to be 25 instead of 15 can create complications, especially if you end up in bed before you've discovered they're lying.

No mention of the Campsite Rule here?
@16: How many porns have you watched? Not all men in porn are ugly and not all women in porn have spray tans. The porn spectrum is very wide and thanks to effective search engines and the ubiquity of porn production it's very easy to find what you want and avoid what you don't like.
Ms Cute - I wasn't trying to be comprehensive; I was just deflating Ms Gallop's balloon a bit. Although I approve of people with disagreeable manners of presentation happening to hold good ideals as unsettling to those who find it comfortingly tidy when all the good people are pleasant company and all the vile people are repulsive, Ms Gallop fairly clearly has just set out to aggrandize herself and stumbled into something generally beneficial to humanity. It is highly significant that she didn't even address the situation presented to her, as you note. (I'd find it highly plausible if we were to learn that she didn't even wait for particulars but simply launched into that set spiel that she can, with admirable power of rote recitation, bring forth at her customarily alarming pace. I might cast her in The Mousetrap for an expected ten-year run.

As for the situation in general, I defer to your expertise, but maintain that the best point of superiourity over the more common arrangement is definitely the lack of offspring. How many men over 50, or wherever one wants to set the bar, would not cause one to shudder were they to become new papas? The only one who springs to my mind is Gary Player, although his recent opinions concerning Mr McIlroy are giving me second thoughts.
Mr. Ven: Yes, I stayed out of the mud-slinging that went Cindy Gallop's way when Dan had her as a guest on the podcast. I thought perhaps she was nervous and as a fast-talker myself (though not nearly as fast as her), I tried to be sympathetic. But I agree that she's clearly got her own bell to ring, and she's so eager to pull the rope on it, she doesn't really wait for the question to finish being asked, let alone reflect on what's been said.

In this case, I found it really irritating to read her response, because it had nothing to do with the non-question that INACTIVE didn't quite ask. It seems pretty clear that INACTIVE doesn't want advice on how to get laid by men 25 years her junior.

And not once in her letter did she mention porn in any way at all; not that she was disgusted, enthusiastic, blames it for false expectations, what have you. Gallop, once given a forum, just went on autopilot, or began advertising her websites. Here, by the way, is an amusing little video that seeks to do the same thing as Gallop, when it comes to porn, but I think it's much more palatable:…
#6 and #16 - You are both operating from incorrect assumptions about what Ms. Gallop does. You should check out her site. Real couples submit videos of real sex. People who clearly like each other, are hot for each other, and want to please each other.
Okay, if INACTIVE isn't our Auntie Grizelda, her situation is so close to what Auntie Griz has written about that I'm going to consider her letter as if it were written by that esteemed member of our Savage Love community. I hope I'm not offending you, Auntie, by doing this.

I know you were married to an abusive, manipulating jerk, and have described yourself as happily single since freeing yourself. I think it's wonderful that you took control of your life that way and that you took control in another positive way by losing weight which was causing health issues. It seems as though the ego boost provided by newly-returned male interest was a sort of unexpected collateral effect. It doesn't make you unduly narcissistic (or any more so than anyone who enjoys feeling him/herself to be the recipient of a little sexual attention), but it can be fun to be reminded that life hasn't passed you by, and if you're enjoying presenting yourself in a more sexy, attractive way and the attention you're receiving, good for you.

Why is it all coming from men who are so much younger than you are and what should you do about that? Who knows. Maybe Hunter has a point @27, but I'm going to guess that younger men are just more sexually aggressive in the sense of putting it out there and seeing if anything will reap some benefit than older men are. I've noticed that even when I rebuff them, they continue to hit on me. They may be more driven by hormones or less responsive to social cues signaling non-interest, or just more bold and gutsy before life and the full formation of a cerebral cortex dampen that battering-ram style down a bit.

You say you don't want an LTR. Perhaps that is in response to the bad one you were once in. Fair enough, though I think you might want to leave yourself open to all kinds of possibilities. But you realize that these young bucks are neither looking for nor good candidates for long term things. They want to flirt and have NSA sex. So as far as your LTR dilemma goes, they seem to be appropriate. Plus, they're good-looking, and the interest is flattering. Brad Pitt's bank robber wasn't a particularly articulate man, but Thelma wasn't looking for an LTR with him.

So you have a bunch of choices: you can unleash your inner Thelma and have some (safe) NSA sex with a young guy, just see if you're enjoying yourself. It doesn't have to be more; however, if you are the kind of person who is bothered by the fact that you can't find anything to talk about with these guys and you can't really get into the idea of having even NSA with someone with whom you can't sustain a 15 minute conversation (which happens to be one of my issues), you can simply enjoy the attention and leave it at that.

If you want to try having NSA sex with a man closer to your age and interests, but are wondering where they are and why they don't approach you, you may have to take more initiative than just going out with much younger female friends. Join a dating website, a singles organization, a community group where you'll meet like-minded people from a wider variety of ages. It's harder to find single, interesting, interested middle-aged people to date in general, for men and women. by late 40s/early 50s, a lot of people are already settled with partners, or deeply dysfunctional, or much less attractive than they were when they were 23. The pool is smaller. But if it is NSA sex or just flirting you're interested in, as opposed to an LTR, you may find more choices open to you than if you were looking for a Serious Relationship. It's just that they're not lying all over the ground, waiting to be scooped up.

You really don't need to worry about the LTR part of the equation--now or at all.

@13 & 14 - I definitely hope so! Good on her if so!!!

There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with flirting around with these younger guys who are interested. If a woman is in nice shape and attractive, het men - especially younger het men with that higher testosterone level - will be quite attracted to her. As she notes, more attention than she got when younger (and heavier)..out of shape and slovenly is unattractive at whatever age. Many >35 + kid(s) adult women are too tired and busy to keep the gym body up.
I don't blame INACTIVE for her surprise. I'm still astounded that my 6-years-younger boyfriend didn't reject me as too old. It's a mindset that is unfortunately drilled into many women: the older they get, the less attractive they must be - no matter how they actually look.
Maybe Dan asked Gallop for her opinion because she's a flagrant narcissist, and INACTIVE was specifically worried about that. Predictably, Gallop talked about herself instead.

(I wonder if Gallop has become an icon for Dan the way the aged Joan Crawford is for my gay coworkers.)
@6, @16: I *work* in mainstream porn and I'll put down mainstream porn. The industry is very stuck in its ways the same way any institution primarily run by older white men is. There's more variety, sure, but not nearly enough, and believe it or not there's still content that it's almost impossible to find anywhere, mainstream or not, at least if you want it to be decently-shot, adequately lit, and contain moderately attractive people. Having a halfway decent script is a whole 'nother level, but we try to contribute...

I've also shot content for Make Love Not Porn; it's a great site.
@38 If you like girl/girl check out Lily Cade's work. I may be biased, but I'm extremely picky about my girl/girl porn and her work manages to actually turn me on. She has a way with the ladies, breaking down performer walls and getting them to be real and connect... and quite frequently blows their minds. :)
Ugh, Dan, please, no more Cindy Gallop! She's a tedious, narrow-minded, uninformed charlatan with no credibility or bona fides to speak of. Stop promoting her bogus website and giving her a platform from which to blather—it's making you look bad!
Yes, I googled 'toaster fetish.'
@28 repete

I've watched enough porn to know that the average stuff doesn't titillate me. And slogging though all that drek is tiresome and needless to say a turn off. If anyone knows of interesting porn that bucks mainstream trends, I'm open to suggestions.
Uh.....very humbly, is true, everybody. And thank you, Dan, for printing my emailed letter! I appreciate all the positive, non-trolling responses.
INACTIVE and Auntie Grizelda are indeed, the one and very same crazy
49 years younger looking het chick. I wish I had "before and after" pictures to share with all of you as proof of my recent health changes for the better. If I only knew 20 years ago what I know now......!

@19 lolorhone & @20 nocutename: Thank you so much for the birthday greetings!! I'm still having a blast, and LOVIN' my gluten-and-sugar-free cake!! Life is sweet!!
@23 nocutename: My sexual inactivity was by choice due to low self-esteem then, and low sex drive. I believe my weight problem was a contributing factor.

@32 nocutename: And thank you, too, for sharing your kind thoughts! You could never offend me. I'm surprised when any comments I make sometimes do offend others, though.
You're right, nocute--I WAS once in an abusive relationship. But please note the past tense. I have since moved on with my life and am becoming increasingly independent.
I'm just not currently seeking any LTRs, and a lot of you already nailed the main reason why I'm not sexually responding to men half my age: many heterosexual guys in their 20s and 30s seem to crave NSA sex.
I'm not totally comfortable with making love to someone in my nephews' age group. Call me a prude, I guess, I dunno, but that sounds almost like incest to me. And why would I have sex with anyone simply out for a one-night stand? Our society wires us differently and in weird ways.

@33 AFinch: Thank you so much!! It's so true!
@35 marilynsue and @36 ladycrim: Thank you, too, for further nailing my reasons for politely refraining from having sex with much younger men. Right now, I'm doing just as marilynsue has said: I'm just bemusedly enjoying the attention without acting on it.

Well, Happy Birthday again, Auntie G, and kudos on writing in to Dan! My only advice is that casual relationships need not be strictly NSA or one-night stand based- you can pick someone you would talk to afterward. Go at whatever pace you feel comfortable, but don't hold yourself back out of fear. And if you want to simply enjoy the newfound attention, that's fine too. You have options, and sometimes just knowing that is enough of a turn-on to carry the day. Whatever you decide, you have more than a few people rooting for you. Get it, girl! (I mean that with the upmost respect).
Wow Auntie Griz - brave of you to write in. And from another "older" woman, thanks for doing it in spite of trolls seeking what they consider easy targets, too. The same grit that saw you through your transformation will stand you in good stead as you figure out what you want in relationship(s), and go about finding it.

and thanks, Ophian @ 22 for the laugh.
Ms Grizelda - Good for you. Nothing wrong with enjoying whatever level of interaction suits you.

Just out of curiosity, how edited was the letter? I've been getting spooked lately by some letters being presented in ways that have misrepresented the original to various extents. For instance, if your original letter did contain the gluten-free, I might guess that that reference was removed in order to make it more of a guessing game.
Auntie Grizelda,
I think you should focus on what makes you happy. If you don't want an LTR, don't look for one; if you don't want NSA sex or a one-night stand (not all NSA relationships are one-nighters, btw), don't have it; if you don't want to have sex of any kind with a man so much younger than yourself, don't.
You can enjoy the flirting and the positive attention. And if or when you decide you want to have sex with someone you find attractive, you decide the terms on which you're willing, and then go from there.
I wish you all success.
@INACTIVE/Auntie Griz:

I wonder if the unspoken question in your letter relates to considering, for the first time in a long time, that you might want to change your current sexually-inactive-by-choice status.

As others have pointed out, this is perfectly okay (even fun and exciting!) to do or explore and you do not have to find a LTR and you do not have to have an NSA one-night stand. There is a lot of middle ground and there are plenty of people interested in casual relationships or friendships with benefits.

Maybe you aren't interested in 20-year olds but their interest in you is making you wonder if a 30-40 might find you desirable too. They will. Keep an open mind, be true to yourself, but be open to some possiblities you may not have considered in a while.

Meanwhile, Congrats on your positive life changes, your improved health and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Hi Auntie Griz (and a belated happy birthday!),

Do you get out there and participate in any classes or organizations (whether volunteer or paid, social or serious)? I'm thinking weekly swing classes, or kite flying clubs, or a soup kitchen, or a water polo team or bike club? Something physical, and something that guys might sign up for? That takes a lot of the pressure off the whole dating thing, because it makes it possible to get to know each other first. Then if two people decide to include sex along with their established friendship, that's nobody's business and it can be a ton of fun. And you don't have to say yes to anything that doesn't sound like fun to you.
@49: I'll let Ophian know he made you laugh :)
@lolorhone: Is there something you need to tell us?
@nocutename: Huh? @54 was a joke about the misidentification StillThinking made @49. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you mean. But if it's what I suspect, I never, madam :)
Ah, an announcement. Well done, Mr Rhone. There is no better way to begin Homocentric August. But I shall wait to congratulate Mr O for myself and not secondhand; I'm a difficult translation.
My lover broke up with me two months ago and i was SO devastated. So i needed help and i searched the internet for solution and came across Great OKOJA email adress, And i contacted him, within 48hours i got my lover back. If you need help in getting your lover back you can as well contact Great OKOJA on his email:
A clarification before this goes off the rails. @54 was a joke towards @49. @56 was an explanation and a joke about @54, not an announcement of any kind. Ophian is one of my favorite commentators and looks damn good in a pink cowboy hat IMHO but we have not, as of yet, made each other's acquaintance.
Just to clarify on my end, I hadn't seen 55/56 when I posted what turned out to be 57. Not bothering to mistrust Ms Thinking and look at 22 for myself, I interpreted 54 as an indication that one of several things had happened, the most likely of which was that Messrs Ophian and Rhone had met (as they had been instructed to do, people will recall), and that Mr Rhone's skill, enthusiasm and other amiable qualifications (as Mr Collins would phrase it) had convinced Mr Ophian to embrace the status of a Slave who had renounced the agency for voluntary communication with the outside world. Hercule Poirot was correct - only trust information one has verified for oneself.
@61: Whoa. I figured you assumed we had met. As for the rest, I am at a loss for words. Thanks for the shout-out for my "skill, enthusiasm and other amiable qualifications", I suppose. Didn't know I had it in me.
@6 "Smugly put down mainstream porn"? That's really not the issue. The issue is that inexperienced men sometimes expect women to act like porn stars in real life.

I can love the hell out of and celebrate action movies, but if I start to think men should act like the badasses in those action movies, I have a problem, don't you think? That's not an insult to action movies. It's a concern about immaturity and the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
i have a question for Mr. Dan. But the links for his e-mail here go nowhere. i genuinely want some advice & i've tried everywhere else. Doctors say i know more than they do. Not helpful! So, anybody know how to submit a query? Thanks.
@lolorhone: I was teasing. I was fairly certain that you and Ophian hadn't met up in real life.
@nocutename: I know. I was joking with you @56. And then Mr. Ven's post @57 made me think this might get taken seriously. Then the one @61 kind of blew my mind (though, honestly, I'm flattered Mr. Ven assumed I had those kind of varsity-level skills/interests). But I felt I should definitely clarify matters seeing as how it's not just me involved in this deeply funny little caper.
"We've even been called out to rescue a man whose penis was stuck in a toaster."…

Well, we needed something to liven things up around here, and Homocentric August is not going to get off to a good start if there are no new letters.

The only thing that comes to mind to float at the moment is the question raised elsewhere on Tuesday about whether to create a "Gay Table" at a wedding reception. I am still in a state of irritation produced by seeing a number of comments by people pretending to take umbrage at the idea and saying that it would appear to be the nastiest sort of negative discrimination when really they don't give a flying fig and just want the presumed superiourity of heterocentricity not to be threatened.

My serious response is that, while same-sexer is not quite in Joan Plumleigh Bruce's "top drawer" of qualities I'd hope to find in fellow wedding guests (I hope this is not too astonishing, but I am quite serious - the absolutely most desirable qualities would include such things as the capacity to reel off lengthy literary quotations), I'd far rather be at an all same-sexer table than be marooned at an all straight table (barring one comprised of those likely to share more frequently practised interests), where inevitably somebody would mistake me for straight, which always depresses me. At least I'd be able to take some part in general conversation. Part of why I rate so many of those commenting I mentioned above as concern trolls is that none of them point out not to maroon a single same-sexer (barring some exceptions, such as a deeply dyed conservative Republican) at an otherwise all-straight(-appearing) table.

My Homocentric August answer is of the Share the Wealth variety. After all, as this is an opposite-sex wedding, the reception will need all the help it can get. We do all know that same-sexer weddings have considerable inherent advantages. And I rather imagine that, if one were to test the point by consulting the experts, should one ask those who have played one of the lead roles in both, a considerable if not a substantial majority will pronounce in favour of the SSW.

For those not used to HA, I am deliberately twisting things to homosupremacist advantage. It seems safe to say that the vast majority of those who have married both an opposite-sex and a same-sex partner had the SSM more recently, and, as one is by honour bound to prefer one's current partner, we don't even have to bring up those OSMs of the Closeted. I am not entirely convinced of the HA superiourity of weddings per se, as I suspect that opposite-sex couples in real life get rather better presents, but I got to use a piece of real life, and thus deem this satisfactory.
68- Ven-- If I could "like" your post, I would. That's excellent.

I wish that Pru had suggested more imaginative solutions. For one thing, how about not assigning seats? That reminds me too much of my elementary school cafeteria.

I suppose the assigned seats were supposed to keep any one child from being refused a seat at a table, thus keeping her from the day after day anxiety of finding a group of children that will have her, but the assigned seat idea meant that the children who didn't want a particular boy got stuck with him for the whole school year. He never had a chance to find welcoming and congenial company.

Thus with the wedding. No matter if the seats are assigned with the aid of a previous test of one's literary acumen (enclosed with the invitation or found with the registry information?), nothing beats an elegant buffet and catch as catch can seating.
Mr. Ven: I am not sure I understand one point: in your seating preference, are you assuming that a table of "same-sexers" are all gay? I couldn't tell if you were mainly objecting to
(a) having nothing in common with straight people at the table.
(b) being rendered "invisible" by being seated among nothing but straight people.
(c) being hidden amongst straight people.

Were I to be hosting an event today that required me to seat people at different tables, I would try to balance the tables by several factors, including the age of the guests, their relationship status, sexual orientation, political orientation (a moot point, in my circle of acquaintance, thankfully, as everyone I know is at least somewhat liberal), whether or not they knew (and presumably liked) other guests they'd logically want to sit near, and the interests of the guests.

I have a large enough gay and lesbian acquaintance that I could form several exclusively same-sex tables, but I would probably try to balance out my guests and distribute them according to that algorithm I just referred to because I wouldn't want to create a gay ghetto, and I think it is presumptuous to assume that being gay is a more overriding point of similarity (for the purposes of sitting at a table over dinner or an hour) than sharing a specific interest or hobby, or knowing one of the guests of honor in a shared way (say, old college friends of the groom who all had once been members of the same organization and might now want to wax nostalgic). Not all my gay male friends, and very few of my lesbian friends indeed would be likely to reel off lengthy literary quotations, but a bunch of my straight friends would. It is true that sometimes just being a member of a majority is a point of commonality, and since as a host, my goal is to make my guests comfortable, I would seriously consider sexual orientation a point of enough commonality to rank high on the list. But is isn't the whole list, right?

Just as I would be loath to seat a lone single person, male or female, gay or straight, at a table full of couples, or to push all the single people together in some sort of matchmaking-style seating plan, or to assume that just because some people are distantly related, they must want to sit together, I wouldn't want to either strand one gay person at table full of straights or create Same-Sex Siberia.

All this assumes an endless number of tables and a large variety amongst guests, and that isn't always the case, either. I have had my share of sitting with the distant relatives of the other side of the family, in a way that reminded me of being one of a bunch of unwieldy leftovers. The implication was not particularly pleasant, and I had nothing in common with my table-mates. But when it comes down to it, I survived just fine.
@64, you could always post your question here, and you'd get definitely get advice. Might not be the advice you're looking for, but if you have a tough skin then it couldn't hurt.
@48: lolorhone: Thank you so much!! I agree whole heartedly about taking things slowly and enjoying the attention. I feel a little like Thelma Dickinson right now, with J.D. dreams...!
Yep...yep...that's him going...I looooooooove watching him go.......
@49 Still Thinking: Thank you, too! I think it's nice to see comments from people in my age group, too. We've gotta stick together!
@50: vennominon: Thank you! Nice to hear from you, too.
I think you're right---I believe any mention of a gluten-free diet was edited / and or omitted to make my letter to Dan appear more anonymous.
@51 nocutename: Thanks so much and bless your heart!!!
@52 Scum&Villainy: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I'll keep them in mind. This could indeed be a challenge for me, though, after twelve years of self-acquired celibacy.
@53 EricaP: Thank you so much for your sweet birthday greetings and ideas on further socializing! It's great to hear from you, too. I have been activating my music website with a trombonist friend of mine earning his doctorate in Biology, and am currently nose-deep in everything musical in my life. I like the idea of joining clubs that share my interests.
@67 migrationist: Gotta watch out for those sticky buns!! This guy who got his dick caught in a toaster reminds me of another guy who woke up an entire motel in Sarasota, Florida, during a seemingly innocent midnight skinny-dip in an outdoor pool. Somehow he managed to get his dick "caught" in a pipe and had to get rushed to the local ER after motel management had to be alerted in the wee hours to drain the pool first and remove the pipe holding the man's anatomy captive.
Ms Cute - Well, you, for instance, would be in the top drawer, as we could discuss whether the various women in the wedding party most resembled Joan Plumleigh Bruce, Beryl Mrs Timms, Isabella Knightley, Franca Sheerwater, Mrs Manresa or Cordelia Flyte, etc. That would be much more entertaining than listening to a detailed discussion of house music (just to give an example of a possible unpleasant seating experience).

I was a little irked by the original question because the asker used "gay" as shorthand for what might be any sort of mix of LGB. I am reasonably good, I hope, at using "same-sexer" to be bi-inclusive. Now I have not, to my knowledge at least, been surrounded by a group of opposite-sexers who all happened to be bi-bi couples, so cannot speak from experience on that, but I do hold fairly firm on not marooning a single same-sexer at a completely straight table (save a very few exceptions or sufficiently intimate acquaintance to indicate the desirability of the particular assignment), ESPECIALLY if the wedding is not in an Equality State (for the US) but is rather in a Christianist State. Nobody paid any attention to that point of major importance.

Perhaps my ideal composition would be about half a table; it's tricky and unsatisfactory having to deal with unspecified table sizes and guest numbers, but I'd rather not go below a quarter if manageable.

Now there is one group about which I suspect we can reach consensus. I am entirely in favour of a Homophobe Table for anyone so unfortunate as to be in possession of enough people to fill it. And yet the arguments of the concern trolls apply just the same to this group, and they would disperse them among the general population, spreading misery far and wide, rather than having it confined to the table that doesn't quite balance perfectly in the remote corner of the room.
Mr. Ven: You know, the more I hear from people, the more lucky I realize I am, not merely in my friends, whose attitudes I can assume I would share as a prerequisite of friendship but in my more general and superficial acquaintance and my relatives. I live in California, not a Christianist state, as you so perfectly describe them. My relatives, even those substantially more conservative than I, are pretty tolerant of people, and either harbor a relatively light lode of bigotry if any at all, or are capable of not giving voice to it if they possess it.

I have some friends whose lifestyle is pretty foreign to some others and to some of my relatives (and some relatives whose lifestyle is pretty foreign to some of my friends) and yet I have never worried that people would make others uncomfortable in a social situation. In fact, some of the most counter-cultural people I know are the most charming, and in every experience in which people from all my range of acquaintance have mingled, they end up coming away with a bunch of new fans. I recently had the experience of watching my great aunt, who's led a very conventional life, have a delightful conversation with my heavily pierced and tattooed polyamorous friends. Doubtless, my great aunt was unused to the glimpse of life these people offered, but she was pleasant and engaging and warmly polite--and I had the pleasure of seeing her expand her definition of what a "family" might look like. But I realize that I am fortunate to not have to deal with having friends or relatives who would be openly or even veiled-ly hostile to people who are different from them.

I think your idea of homo-centric August must be similar to the way it felt for me to be a Jew in Israel; even if I wasn't having a specifically *Jewish* interaction, there was something about the knowledge that suddenly I was in a place where I was the majority and not a tiny minority that tinged every single interaction and made it feel different. I will try to employ homo-centricity to my thinking about every Savage Love letter I read for the rest of the month, but it will probably only serve to show me how very hetero I am!
Gallop's premise is that increasingly more men at an increasingly young age are getting more of their sex education from hard core porn sites which leaves them woefully mistaken as to what real sex with real women is like. Younger men are not flirting with me, and I'm not having sex with them so I question the premise.

Are there men in their teens and 20s who think that all women come all the time and noisily and with essentially no stimulation because that's the way (straight) sex is depicted in porn? If so, how long does it take for them to be disabused of their incorrect ideas after a little experience with women?

Could I hear from a man in that age range who'd be willing to share his experience with porn coloring or not coloring his expectations?

I'm the wrongest person ever to field your question (except for a person who has no sexual experience with that demographic, I suppose) but hey, you can always skip my answer. That goes for all y'all.

I came up with guys who came up on internet porn. Those were my first sexual partners. Later on I got together with guys a little older. Comparatively it felt... boring. I don't know if that's just a coincidence but it just felt like their concept of sexuality was lower octane, kind of muted. Even when the desire was obviously super intense.... the oldest person I ever got with was like embarrassingly into me. But still there's sort of something missing when you're with someone older. Plus also, full disclosure in case anyone missed this from earlier I'm not really attracted to older men and it has the possibility of really perving me to an uncomfortable degree so it's kind of off-limits in my books now.

Why am I the worst person to ask though? Because I am a lot like the supposedly "fictional" porn woman. I come easily, I come best from aggressive penetrative sex, and I'm vocal. I also have a body type that's also often cited as "fictional" and I'm comfortable revealing it. So I don't think I disabused anyone of anything.

Then as I got older I encountered people who had had more experience with normal women. The comparison was typically favourable (as one would expect in that kind of situation) and most of the qualities that were.... positively compared to that of the normative women were in fact my more porny attributes. But they weren't the ones you'd expect.

I think the starkest contrast between porn and real life for those men isn't the fact that "real" (*shudder*) women don't come so easy, and don't always come so dramatically, and maybe have pubic hair, and aren't willing to do x or y sex act.... it's the level of body shame/discomfort that "real" women have. I've had lots of guys comment on my level of comfort being naked, whether just straight up saying "you're clearly so comfortable being naked" to mentioning how the average girl wants low light, or to be under the covers, or both, or covers up right away afterwards, or whatever the case may be.

Age has a lot to do with this too, I hear. Older women are apparently way more comfortable in their skin - but not always. I've heard lots of stories about wives in their 30's who will not have sex in a brightly lit room.


Crin, I think Gallop's right to a degree but bfd.
@ vennominon and nocutename:

Not all weddings have enough same-sexer gueasts to make a same-sexer table a possibility.
The two weddings I was invited to last year were both same-sex weddings. At the lesbian wedding the guests seemed to be split about half opposite sexers, half same-sexers;at the gay wedding, there were no uncloseted lesbians, gays or bis among the guests.

Since I met my out LGBT friends and acquaintances as I met my other friends: at school, at work, when volunteering, etc., I would rather seat them based on similar interests/ backgrounds/ temperaments than based on sexuality (should I ever have a big celebration with assigned seating).
Oh, the embarassment!

Having said that, I'll admit I find it easier to understand the allure of a pipe than that of a toaster.
@76 Crinoline

'Gallop's premise is that increasingly more men at an increasingly young age are getting more of their sex education from hard core porn sites which leaves them woefully mistaken as to what real sex with real women is like. Younger men are not flirting with me, and I'm not having sex with them so I question the premise.

Are there men in their teens and 20s who think that all women come all the time and noisily and with essentially no stimulation because that's the way (straight) sex is depicted in porn? If so, how long does it take for them to be disabused of their incorrect ideas after a little experience with women?'

Don't question it, the premise is real. I have been involved with men in their 20s and they definitely take a cue from mainstream porn (unreal expectations). But then, I have been involved with men who were 30s and 40s who seemed just as clueless as far as Real Sex vs, Porn.

So what is a modern woman to do? Be very up front about what you are into and what you desire. What gets you off. What he can do to assist (positions, speed, toys). And be open to suggestions. I am very choosy regarding my partners, in that I look for intelligence, curiousness, and a sense of play. Because sex should be fun.

The cool thing is once I show a partner how I get off by myself (with their assist), like an actual real live orgasm, most men are blown away and want to do it again. Cool. The beauty of the elusive female orgasm is once you figure it out, women can have multiple orgasms. And trust me, men love to assist you getting there.
Ms Migrationist - Well, I must approve of a wedding reception at which all the guests are personally well known to the celebrant in charge of seating, as such an event would clearly be sufficiently small and select to suit my preferences. Of course, there is that pesky matter of the other celebrant's guests to consider.

{[not-entirely-HA] This is actually one of my big "objective" points in favour of SSWs; they start without the preconceived socialization that the event is a big flipping deal down to the tiniest detail for Celebrant F and that Celebrant M does well to keep out of the way, invite as few guests as possible, show up on time and, if ever asked for input, pretend to care while intuiting as if by magic what Celebrant F wants and demand it.}

The original letter emanated from a reasonably gay-positive (but still mildly heterocentric) celebrant, probably somebody closer to representative of people likely to have such a question than you might be. Your post does not specify, but it comes across as if you'll seat your guests and your co-celebrant will seat those guests that aren't. This LW apparently will be doing all the seating, and I was basing my comments on the model of there being a number of guests that the seater doesn't know all that well. I entirely agree that sexuality is not the best marker of compatible seating, but in some cases it will be all one has.

As a general rule, I'd suspect that any straight (opposite-sexer? I'm not sure) couple who between them don't have enough same-sexer friends (and relations, assuming an average number of invitees to whom the celebrants aren't close) to fill a "Gay Table" aren't likely to be sufficiently same-sexer-positive to have this problem (exceptions, of course - the date might turn out to be a bad one for certain guests, or there might be only three or four tables - I hate dealing in inexact terms). And I really want to emphasize the importance of location. A wedding in a Christianist state calls for a bit of extra consideration.

{General Aside - I have not seen anyone point out one of the most significant aspects of the recent addition of two Equality States. 13 is the magic number required to be able to defeat the FMA should the Rs in Congress ever get desperate enough to spend the required amount of political capital to pass it. NOM and cohorts can no longer market the FMA to Christianist states only, telling them the Equality states are trying to impose minority values on the majority; they must convince an Equality state to strip people of rights.}

Taking your mention of the MM wedding as not misstated, I'm surprised you'd attend a wedding of a same-sex couple so conservative-sounding. It sounds as if you knew that there were closeted guests in attendance; the circumstances sound quite unusual. I'd guess at the circumstances, but suspect that you would not be at liberty to confirm anything.

You did, though, give me the idea for a new game show. It could be hosted by someone like Mr McGreevey. It would be done in elimination style; closeted contestants would all be in an atmosphere full of same-sexer temptations (except for the special Bi Episodes when presumed LG contestants would run the gauntlet) until either they yielded voluntarily or were judged to have given themselves away too much.
Ms Cute - Well, half the fun is in the surprising things that can emerge, which happens more when others join in. Feel free to make any contribution that occurs to you - even ones with a sting in the tail.
Mr. vennominon,
regarding the MM wedding without any LGBT guests: I don't know if any of the guests were closeted. That there weren't any out gay or lesbian people around I only know because one of the grooms mentioned it in his speech.

This wedding was not the most conservative of weddings I have been to by far. Different to nocutename my very diverse circle of friends and loved relatives includes political and religious beliefs from very far right to very far left. I try, however, to avoid bigots.
Mr. Ven re: LGB Tables

I mostly disagree and I'm going to use my wedding as an example of why:

Had we assigned seats (we did not) and assigned all LGB attendants to their own table, that table would have consisted of my husband's aunt and her long-term partner, two of my mom's friends from work and their long-term partners, and our gay and lesbian friends. Oh, and the bride. Since I'm bi, I would have wound up at the LGB table, too. My husband, who is straight, would not.

Instead, we had open seating. My husband's aunt and her partner sat with my husband's parents rather than with strangers. My mom's coworkers sat with the other teachers who were in attendance but not with each other. Because despite the fact that the two couples know each other, the fact that they are all lesbians does not automatically make them besties. Most of our gay friends sat together because they were already friends (most, not all).

Had the members of the LGB community in attendance wished to sit at "the gay table" with most of our gay friends they certainly could have. But a shared sexual orientation alone was not enough to prompt them to do so.

(Besides, it irritates the heck out of a lot of LGB folks when a clueless but well meaning straight person decides that she should totally set that one gay person she knows up on a date with the only other gay person she knows. "Because they'd be perfect for each other!" Is this really all that different? In both cases, a well meaning straight person is assuming the LGB folk she knows would want to sit down and make small talk and eat dinner together based solely on their sexual orientation.)

But I think assigning seating - especially at a wedding - is an exercise in micromanagement and masochism anyway so I concede that it's possible I have no idea how to do it right.
Ms Kitty - I wasn't arguing in favour of them, just saying that I had a much stronger dispreference to being marooned at an all-straight table. (I'm not sure what I'd think if I ended up at an all-lesbian table - perhaps that I was put there for being the least cisgender male attending.) What the concern trolls would have done would have been to divide all your LGB friends up and disperse them so thoroughly throughout the room that they'd never have seen each other for most of the night.

I'd imagine the virtue of arranged seating is that it allows one to take care of the guests who are bound to get left behind in the Musical Chairs shuffle of open seating through not being pushy Type A people. Now it seems as if you got just about the right mix without having to exert yourself, for which I congratulate you. And I am reminded of an article by the vile Dr Schwyzer lamenting a party he and his wife had planned with a careful seating arrangement designed to provide each guest with new and vibrant opportunities, only for all the guests to ignore the assigned seating entirely and sit with all their friends as usual.

I'll agree without having to go into HA mode that most heterosexuals have nowhere near the capacity for same-sexer matchmaking they think they do. I am again presuming a wedding at which there will be a number of guests not known well to either of the lead players. This is not the sort of wedding I'd ever have myself. But people do have it. And however annoying it might be to find oneself next at table to a hypothetical Mark Futterman with whom one had nothing in common beyond the orientation, it would be far worse to be paired off instead with his hypothetical sister Marcia and to be expected to dance with her, etc.

At the last wedding I attended, which was twenty years ago, I was instructed not to bring My One True Love, to which I replied that then I'd be sorry to miss the event. I won, and decided, after MOTL's death later that year, that there was no point in replicating the experience with a lesser substitute.
Ms Migrationist - Ah; I thought uncloseted a specific word choice, being so much longer than open. It would seem a safe assumption that, if you go to deep red weddings, you've been to a good many that outdid this one on the conservative.

It still sounds rather gruesome, though, not politically but psychologically. Obviously you know the people involved and I don't, but I find it difficult to imagine enjoying being a token in one's circle of acquaintances, and would think that people who would like being the only Qs would be rather unpleasant. Of course, I've seen interviews of various young gay men who have no gay friends whatsoever and genuinely dislike any other GB men they don't want to boink, and they all seem either sad cases or downright unpleasant.
@54, that made me laugh.

Did you get to the rest of it? I would be blushing if I had the complexion for it.
auntie grizelda, @auntie grizelda, congratulations! You prove the--always misapplied--Fitzgerald quote about Americans and second acts to be bunk. I hope you enjoy this, your new chapter, and take it as opportunity, not obligation. Cheers!

Ven, @61, while I adore Poirot, my roomies accoladed me with Miss-Marple-of-the-House when I solved The Case of the Exploding Lighter.

lolo, @90, sometimes I like my men like my coffee... ;)

You are a torment, my friend. Austin ain't that far away...
I got the Kinsey Millhone Award from my old co-workers when I solved The Case of the Disappearing, Reappearing Waterpipe (it was an inside job).
@93, "S" Is for Saucy
@94: "T" Is For Titillating
"U" Is for Unguent

"V" Is For Vaporub (since we've turned to unguents)
"W" Is for Wankel Rotary Engine...

Walrus, I am the...

"X" Is For Xanthan Gum
Xavier, Professor

How did this happen?
First, I want to make it clear that my mis-attribution does NOT mean that I can't tell the difference between Ophian and lolorhone, delightful gentlemen both. I was jet-lagged and I also need new glasses ... But I'm happy to give you (pl) another excuse to flirt.

Second, what about asking various sorts of people where they want to be seated at a wedding reception, whomsoever's it is? For example, I could imagine a known agoraphobe or someone in a wheelchair not wanting to be smack in the middle of a crowded room. Sexual orientation and/or preference is one of the dimensions that I think should be considered in the calculus.
Mr O - Given how often I say, "that reminds me," it should not surprise anyone that Miss Marple is one of my greatest role models.

Ms K - I could have mentioned that I am used to arranging seating for parties of about 32-52 people, but they're all bridge parties, where good micromanagement goes a long way.

Ms M - To clarify, it would be possible to say that, if straight people having no LGB friends is a pink flag, one can certainly be consistent and hold a same-sex couple to the same standard, but I think it goes beyond a same standard idea. To be able to sustain a unitive relationship with one of one's own kind when one can't or won't befriend anyone else in that group seems a bit of a stretch. (It's possible, of course, that there were such friends who didn't happen to be able to attend; a specific particular event isn't a foolproof marker, but still.) I could guess that the wedding was a relatively affluent one, that being the common denominator among those of my own acquaintance who are quite capable of voting against same-sex marriage on a Tuesday and attending a same-sex wedding on the Thursday.

Having a gay table at a wedding sounds kind of like some kind of weird ghettoization to my ears. But that's me, and I'm straight. Thinking about it... most of my gay friends don't know each other and would probably prefer to sit with friends even if those friends are straight.

Again, I could be way off just by being straight, who knows.
@auntie grizelda : fine letter, and it couldn't happen to a nicer person. Enjoy the attention and have fun, your way. Happy birthday too !
Still Thinking @100: I never thought you couldn't tell us apart (just a numbers mix-up) and I very much appreciate the excuse to flirt :)

Mr. Ven @88: A case-by-case approach to seating LGBT friends is probably the wisest; I'd personally feel better knowing I was seated according to preference of personality rather than "Oh, he's/she's queer, too." But that's me; others would take a table full of shared sexuality rather than be marooned in a sea of straight people attempting polite engagement. And I'd like to think there are several iterations in between those two options in terms of social comfort.

Also: you wrote "boink" and it made me smile.
@lolorhone: You have become my favorite Savage Love crush.
Thank you kindly, nocutename. I've been working out : )
Ms Cute - That makes a difference, of course. But would you really segregate by making up entire tables of people who are already a specific circle? (I'm reminded of the video game version of Clue, in which one of Mr Boddy's wills divides his estate among: "my hunting partner, Colonel Mustard; my bridge partner, Mrs Peacock; my knitting partner, Miss Scarlet; my business partner, Mr Green...") Of course, it depends on the table size to some extent; with very small tables, there isn't really room both to provide familiarity and mix. But if I could, I might put together half a table from your hunting club with half a table from your business group, and just maybe the gay member of H and the gay member of B might just happen to end up next to each other, or perhaps not.

(I suspect it's difficult to get around all the different inner visions of "normal" weddings.)
Mr.Ven: I haven't hosted the kind of event that called for table assignments in a long time. The last two or three very large parties I threw at which dinner was served, and the last party of the same type I attended, were self-seating affairs. People mixed a little, but typically chose to sit with people they already knew in a previous context (i.e. work friends, members of my book group, parents of children who'd gone to the same elementary school, relatives, fellow-hobbyists, newish friends who are close friends of other close friends,

However I had about 10-12 "wild card" friends present, whom I knew in a sort of separate-from-the-rest-of-a-group way and I had one or two friends who transcended one group and knew people from two groups rather well. Since as the host, I considered it my responsibility to make sure everyone had a good time, I introduced some people across group affiliates, pairing some sports fans from work with my brother-in-law the sports fan, and my book group member the sports fan. I introduced one friend who didn't know anyone else to several women who are leading similar lives and are about the same age with children the same age; I trusted the most gregarious (and least conventional) friend I have, who knew no one there, but who has many interests and is a charming raconteur to make his own way and noticed from time to time that indeed as expected, he was chatting with literally everyone, about virtually anything.

There were about 40-50 people at the party, 15 of whom were LG. Some people were partnered; some were single. The age range was roughly 15 years, but my children were there and so were my parents.

This wasn't a wedding, but I would have used the same technique at one. If given the choice I find that people may be comfortable mingling more indiscriminately, but want to sit down to eat with someone they know or can count on to keep the conversation of mutual interest.

Unless nobody in attendance knows anyone else, and part of the expectation of the event is to meet a lot of new people.
Mr Rhone - Well, I congratulate you if everyone who ever invites you to a wedding falls on the list of people who know you well enough to be able to choose brilliant table partners based solely on personality.

To a great extent, I think the whole enterprise resembles trying to match up chess players for a competitive game if neither has a recognized rating or ranking (although my so-called aunt, who lost the first 25 tournament games she played mostly against players rated 1400 or lower, did in one of those game give a player rated over 2200 a huge scare). Even knowledge of interests is likely to be so superficial that it may do more harm than good. This has not happened to me at a wedding, but I've been introduced to people by other people who thought we'd get on because we were both great readers - only the other person read only romance novels.
Ms Cute - We seem reasonably on the same page. I was going to add a comparison for you - what would you make of being seated at a table full of Republicans (during the Bush administration)?
Mr.Ven (@112): It has happened. I kept the conversation apolitical. It just meant that for an hour and a half, I limited myself to other topics. It was fine. I mean, I wasn't attending the wedding of A and B so I could make new best friends.

A few times something came up, and rather than take the cue to start an argument, I made some vague non-comment and then politely introduced a non-confrontational topic.

I've also been the only single person (invited without a date, and I can't imagine that I would have brought a casual date who didn't know anyone else to an acquaintance's wedding anyway) at a table of couples.
I've also been seated next to the only other single at a table (perhaps at the entire Bar Mitzvah)--a man with whom I had nothing whatsoever in common, and with whom the conversation was limited to things like the weather--and lest the host's intention be lost on me, the host (and later his *father*), came by repeatedly and told the stranger what a great woman I am.

No biggie; I endured. We made polite chit chat and then when the dancing started, I danced with my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my children, my friends, my parents' friends, my friends' children. I left the party having had a fine time.

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