Countdown to Bliss

Matthew Greenfield and Molly Jong-Fast

Met: June 6, 2002

Engaged: Feb. 16, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: January 2004

Molly Jong-Fast, 24, the daughter of the woman who coined the term “zipless fuck” and a candidate for an M.F.A. in creative writing from Bennington College, is engaged to Matt Greenfield, 39, a professor of Shakespearean studies and 17th-century English literature at CUNY Staten Island. They met on the self-consciously bawdy Web site Nerve.com.

“My whole family were weird bohemians who all got married with, like, cigar bands-and I didn’t want to be the first in my family to be totally J.A.P.-py and horrible,” said Ms. Jong-Fast, draped over her fiancé’s leg in her candle-lined East 60’s one-bedroom. “Matt’s strong and protecting, but in a feminist-pleasing way. It’s cool for me to have this relationship where he can look at what I write and I can read what he writes. It’s equal.” However, the age difference is occasionally an issue. “Sometimes, I get all scared that he’s going to die before me,” she said. “But then I realized I could take his cryogenically frozen head all around Europe with me in a special hat box when I’m, like, 70.”

She went on several dozen Nerve dates before happening on Mr. Greenfield’s profile-routedthrough Salon.com-which contained a description of an M.L.A. essay he was workingonabout “wound narratives” in the works of Christopher Marlowe. “Like, ‘Ow, my aorta is dissecting!'” said Ms. Jong-Fast, whose own profile was rife with spelling mistakes (she’s dyslexic).

On date No. 1, the dark-haired, soft-featured Mr. Greenfield showed up in Ms. Jong-Fast’s lobby with a lily. “He was really sweaty,” she said. “But I thought, ‘This is the man I’m going to marry! I hope he’s nice!'”

They lunched at an Italian café and meandered through the dregs of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. “He was so smart, I was afraid to talk,” said Ms. Jong-Fast, who’s tall with a strawberry-blond mane and a smile that resembles a frown. “I was really intimidated.” Mr. Greenfield found her warm, effusive … open. “There was a kind of emotional nakedness with her that was the opposite of what I’d been experiencing in New York,” he said. Indeed, Ms. Jong-Fast is the author of Normal Girl , a semi-autobiographical novel published two years ago (the film version, written by Bret Easton Ellis, begins shooting soon), and the forthcoming memoir Sex Doctors in the Basement . Mr. Greenfield cracked Normal Girl after their first date and likens her work to that of Tom Wolfe. (He’d read Fear of Flying , her Second Wave feminist mother Erica Jong’s chef d’oeuvre , when he was a teenager at Andover. He’s also a longtime fan of the science-fiction novels written by her father, Jonathan Fast, and her grandfather Howard Fast, the once-blacklisted author of Spartacus .) “Molly’s just so much more alive than most people,” he said. “‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’-that’s Antony and Cleopatra .”

The subject of marriage came up even before they went to bed together. “If you’re in my position, you can’t rebel with casual sex,” Ms. Jong-Fast said. “You sort of have to go the other way.”

Mr. Greenfield knelt down in front of the Asia Society on Park Avenue on a snowy, snowy night-“It’s, like, us and 100 doormen,” Ms. Jong-Fast said-and is currently sizing his great-grandmother’s platinum ring, which has a round diamond. “We were like, ‘No diamonds! Little children on the Ivory Coast lose their hands for diamonds!'” Ms. Jong-Fast said. “But then all of a sudden, Grandma Rose’s ring came into the picture, and we were like, ‘What little children?'”

The wedding will be a literati-sprinkled event at a yet-to-be-determined location in Manhattan. The bride hopes that the teenage designer Jessie Della Femina, a family friend, will design a gown-possibly in shearling.

She is also happily engaged in that nouveau-feminist task: registering for gifts. “I really want the china called Woodland Stream that has pheasants on it and is really WASP-y and funny,” Ms. Jong-Fast said poutingly, “but Matt says you can’t register for ironic china patterns.”

“The pleasure of irony is short,” Mr. Greenfield said. “The pleasure of china is long.”

Monique Brown and Jaime McKenzie

Met: July 4, 1997

Engaged: Dec. 22, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: July 5, 2003

Monique Brown was an editor at Black Enterprise magazine when Jaime McKenzie, an analyst at Lehman Brothers, took her to that masterpiece of progressive African-American thought: Chris Rock’s Pootie Tang. “I thought that taking a senior Black Enterprise executive to see such a ghetto movie was a hilarious thing to do!” Mr. McKenzie said.

Ms. Brown is now editor in chief at The Network Journal , a business publication for black professionals, and author of It’s a Sistah Thing: A Guide to Understanding and Dealing with Fibroids for Black Women . She spent much of her 20’s suffering from these benign but debilitating chronic uterine tumors. “I could barely walk, because they were so large and heavy and caused such a pain in my abdomen,” she said. She eventually submitted to two major surgeries that left a constellation of scars on her midriff (“I think imperfections are sexy!” said Mr. McKenzie, who likes to caress them) and her ability to have children an open question. “If we have to, we’ll adopt,” Ms. Brown said. “He wants five-he has 11 siblings-but I keep telling him he’s marrying an old woman!” (They’re both 33.)

It was love at third sight. They met briefly through a mutual friend at a music festival in New Orleans and he took a picture of her, but it got shoved in a box back home in New York. Their second encounter was at a real-estate seminar at the Hilton in midtown, but neither could place the other. Then one day the stocky, goateed Mr. McKenzie was switching planes in Atlanta, heading home from yet another New Orleans music festival. “Suddenly I hear someone behind me yelling, ‘Excuse me! Excuse me!'” he said. “So I was trying to get out of the way, and then she was behind me all out of breath saying, ‘Don’t I know you?'”

And so he came to call her his “Sexy Mama,” while she dubbed him “Pumpkin Pie,” after his favorite dessert. Last spring, they set up what they call a “W account” (for “wedding”), and then after several months he formally proposed on one knee in her living room-but without a ring.

Three weeks later, Ms. Brown-tall and sleek with a bright smile-was onstage at the eighth-anniversary event for Professional Women of Color, an organization she founded and heads, when Mr. McKenzie suddenly bounded up and presented her with a diamond, just under two carats, in a platinum band embedded with six channel-set stones. The 200 attendees erupted in cheers. Among them was Nicole Brown, a D.J. at KISS FM, who spent the next morning on air dedicating love songs to the couple, who plan to live in Brooklyn.

Their wedding reception will be at Antun’s, the fabled Queens catering hall. Ms. Brown will wear a Demetrios gown with a dramatic fishtail bottom. “She’s very straightforward and aggressive,” Mr. McKenzie said. “She’s never content; she’s always looking for the next possible avenue to uplift people. She sets a standard for integrity and dedication for black women.”

He added that his fiancée would like to be a contestant on Fear Factor.

Jim Schoenbeck and Dana Wood

Met: Feb. 17, 2002

Engaged: Dec. 31, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Apr. 5, 2003

Dana Wood, 40, is an assistant vice president of strategic development for L’Oreal’s “luxury products” (a.k.a. the ones we can’t afford-Armani, Kiehl’s, etc.) and rarely ventures outdoors without a generous slathering of moisturizer, self-tanner and foundation. But despite the careful grooming, this pretty, diminutive blonde was having trouble finding a mate. So she squirted a puff of powerful pheremones onto Match.com, writing that she liked golf. “I do!” she said. “I love the little outfits!”

Her third online suitor was Jim Schoenbeck, a former Air Force captain and vice president at Merrill Lynch who had just ended a five-year marriage to a designer for Calvin Klein. “My first wife just decided I wasn’t right for her, and that was a difficult thing for me,” said Mr. Schoenbeck, a dark-haired, blue-eyed 43. “So I think I was pretty cynical about marriage in general.”

The brooding veteran waited for Ms. Wood at Village, a townhouse restaurant in … the Village. “When I walked in, I thought he was so cute that I was flushing,” she said. “My cheeks turned pink-a smoky rose.” But the glow faded quickly. “He was a little dodgy in the first encounter,” she said. “He said a few sarcastic things that hurt my feelings. Like when I described what I did for a living, he said, ‘ You’re involved in mergers and acquisitions?'”

“She just didn’t strike me as that sort of person,” Mr. Schoenbeck said. “I mean, she didn’t have a Wall Street profile-she was a beauty editor [at W ] for eight years!”

“And then he said, ‘You don’t really play golf, do you?'” Ms. Wood said.

But on their second date, they went to a driving range in Westchester, and by the end of the day-well, she might as well have been Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary . Last fall, he indulged her obsession with large cats by taking her to Las Vegas to see Siegfried and Roy. “That’s when I knew Jim was my extremely special guy,” Ms. Wood said.

This feeling was confirmed on New Year’s Eve, when he scored a table at Bouley and then had the waiters bring out a caramel mousse tart with “Will you marry me?” written in chocolate on the plate. “I was hyperventilating,” said Ms. Wood, who will soon move into Mr. Schoenbeck’s Battery Park two-bedroom with her 20-pound Maine coon, Flynn. “I had an out-of-body experience.” And this was even before she saw the ring-a 2.5-carat round solitaire diamond in a chunky, “industrial” platinum setting.

The wedding will be at 91, an event space in the West Village near the site of their inauspicious first date, with a shabby-chic Renaissance theme: think draped brocade, muted colors, distressed woods. The makeup will be L’Oreal, naturellement , and the bride won’t be the only one glowing-Mr. Schoenbeck is now a devotee of Acqua di Gio pour Homme and Kiehl’s Crème de Corps. “His skin is just so soft,” Ms. Wood cooed. All we can say is that this guy must be really confident in his masculinity-Siegfried and Roy? Kiehl’s?