2004_07_intnicole.jpgThe Basics
Age and occupation: 30, freelance writer

How long have you lived here: Six years

Where did you come from: Boston

Where do you live now: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Dirty Three

As Men's Health's "Girl Next Door" columnist, you regularly give advice to lovelorn, confused and maladjusted men. What qualifies you to give this advice? Do you ever worry that something you write will emotionally scar your readers forever? What is the craziest letter you've gotten? Why are men (interviewer included) so fucking stupid sometimes?
My one qualification for writing the column should be that I’m the girl who lives next door, but that’s only true for a handful of people who I doubt read Men’s Health. What I know about sex and relationships I’ve leaned from experience, academic research, and asking just about everyone I come in contact with about their love life. Luckily, it’s a topic people are eager to go on about in disturbingly intimate detail.

Emotionally scar someone? No. My advice tends to be too general for that. But physically, maybe. I crossed out a line in my last book contract (a large sex manual to be published by Rodale in the spring of 2005) that read ‘no harm will come as a result of using the techniques described in this book.’ Some of the sex advice I give is complicated and involves delicate organs and various furniture. If you’re not careful, things can go painfully awry.

Most letters aren’t crazy. What’s crazy is how earnest and romantic they usually are. Most men want a successful monogamous relationships and the ability to give a woman an orgasm far more than they want to bed a cheerleading squad, a jacuzzi full of supermodels, or a herd of sheep. It’s very surprising, really.

Men aren’t stupid, they’ve just been getting mixed messages from and about women their entire lives. Our culture seriously screws with your head, making falling and staying in love extremely difficult.

You've written a book about cocktails for young women and now you're working on a book about Buddhism for young urban women. Why are these women so stressed out that they need to become meditating boozehounds?
Because we’re trying to make sense out of too much information, too many conflicted emotions, and too many goals that we’re not even confident will make us happy if we were to attain them (whether it’s getting married, making a six figure salary, or losing fifteen pounds). We feel a strong need to step back from it all and get perspective. In my opinion, sipping a cocktail and reading about Buddhist philosophy is a good start.

A cleaning woman from your hometown recently won $294 million in the lottery. If you were to win a similar amount of money, what would you do first? And then, after saving the world and curing diseases, etc.., what would you do second?
I’m not politically savvy enough to know how to spend money in ways that would actually result in positive change, so I’d have a sit down with ultra-liberals Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader and spend a chunk of it based on their recommendations. Then I’d buy the New York aquarium and turn it into Sea-World meets C-Note. Live music nightly. Cheap beer. No lines. No cover. Penguins, puffer fish, and electric eels everywhere.

Proust-Krucoff-Hirschman Questionnaire
Given unlimited resources and the ability to purchase any living space in the city, where would you most like to live (this can be a specific intersection, a specific building or even a specific apartment)?
I would buy the massive Watchtower building in Brooklyn, (which I hear is about to be put on the market), and live on the top floor. I’ve had my eye on that building for years. Through the windows you can see one massive empty room after another, and never a soul coming in or out. How can those Jehovah’s Witnesses sleep at night when they’re wasting so much precious waterfront space?

What was your worst living situation in New York?
I lived on Roosevelt Island for a few months. but I don’t want to talk about it. The one cool thing was that the vampire grampa from the Munsters was usually strolling up and down Main Street (which is the only street), chain-smoking cigars.

Which NYC TV show or movie would you most want your day-to-day life to resemble?
Late Night With David Letterman.

If you could pass any municipal law, what would it be and why?

It would be a noise-reduction law: No car alarms. No car horns. No beeping when a truck is backing up. And no glass recycling trucks before 10am.

Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
In 2001 Billy Crystal made a movie called 61 about Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris trying to beat Babe Ruth’s homerun record, and my friend and I were seated behind Yogi Berra at the premiere. It was like staring at the back of God’s head during a showing of The Ten Commandments.

What was your best dining experience in NYC?
The Four Seasons restaurant for lunch. The old-boy atmosphere leaves something to be desired but the food was the most perfect I’ve ever tasted.

Best place in the city for a first date?
First date: Dinner at Robin Des Bois on Smith Street in Brooklyn on a Wednesday night, followed by drinks at the Brooklyn Inn on the corner of Hoyt and Bergen Street. Either that or hamburgers and beer at the Corner Bistro followed by a stroll around the West Village.

Best place to break up with someone?
On a street corner in the East Village or L.E.S. You go one way. He goes the other. And you both end up in bars with good jukeboxes.

What about the city makes you most happy?
The way it brings cool, new people into your life on a steady basis.

The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Rally friends and head to the park between the bridges in Dumbo with the largest stereo equipment we can muster. Get buzzed and dance like fools to ultra-dramatic classic rock—Queen, The Who, Led Zeppelin. Eat burritos at Pedro’s and devour one Jacques Torres chocolates after another. Later on, my boyfriend and I could drag the mattress with clean white cotton sheets up to the roof of his building, curl up, feast our eyes on the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan, kiss, and wait.

- Interview by David S. Hirschman