Growing up in Manhattan, I was an obsessive girl with a dog-hungry appetite for books beyond my years.

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While I've long identified as an artist in my own right—or at least an artist in formation—I've been drawn to men who were champions of a belief system.

I can sympathize, on a bizarre level, with the women who took up with David Koresh: He provided them with an answer to their doubts.

A painter, he was dressed as he'd been when we met—at a literary party in Tri Be Ca, to which he was accompanied by one of his nude models—in a fleckless Savile Row suit.

He wore it effortlessly, in the way only men over 50 can.

In college, I dated almost exclusively grad students, including an aspiring theater director my mother laughingly called my "Svengali."As I reached my late twenties, however, a shift occurred: My fetish suddenly seemed to fit the cultural moment—one defined by thirtysomething man-boys and a generational deferral of activities such as marriage and procreation.

So much was made (justifiably) of this extended adolescence that giving my attention to men 10, 15, even 20 years older seemed like the logical recourse. At the height of this phase, I became involved with an established Brooklyn writer.

He could live a sort of downtown elder statesman's existence, built on the wilder days but now distinctly separate, mellower. He'd rented the same cluttered, top-floor brownstone apartment for 12 years, and the only lifestyle change his good fortune had brought was the occasional visit from a desperately needed housekeeper.

The writer's life plus the perennial bachelor's life equaled scant room for a partner.

(The feminist in me just burst out laughing.) While it's true that Kurt Cobain was thrashing around on TV in a dress during my formative years, my tastes in the masculine—and what the greatest hits of '90s theory would call "the performance of the masculine"—have remained decidedly old-world.