How to Spot the Ideal Partner

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First crushes get all the attention. But there’s a whole lifetime of important crushes to document: first reciprocated crush, first crush on a bad boy/girl, first crush you’re truly ashamed to admit. I have found that charting the map of your desire is not only a hilarious activity, but a worthwhile one.

Which brings me to a very important stop on my own journey, circa middle school. While I readily admitted to lusting after various pop stars and matinee idols at the time, a different kind of crush was beginning to percolate. When avoiding homework, I would often find myself tuned into my local PBS station, absentmindedly watching a little show called Simply Ming, in which the handsome and affable Ming Tsai would stand in an earth-toned kitchen cooking dish after delectable dish while guiding the viewer through the steps.

It was during those afternoons that I fully became a woman, because I learned to recognize and appreciate the ideal life partner: the Sauce Man. A Sauce Man is a person of any gender who gives off the aura of feeding you marinara on a wooden spoon, gently blowing on the sauce to make sure it is not too hot, seeking both your approval and admiration in their slow simmering labor. A mix of sensuality and support, a Sauce Man seeks simple pleasures and delights in sharing them with you.

While Ming Tsai was my first encounter with a Sauce Man, it wasn’t until much later, when I laid eyes upon my muse, Sterling K. Brown, that I was able to put that feeling — that vibe — into words. The voice! The skin! The aura of responsibility coupled with really, really nice arms! A Sauce Man is a person you look at and think, they’d just treat me so nicely. The opposite of someone unattainable, a Sauce Man is available without being smothering. They’ve got interests and passions and know how to live life to the fullest; they wear suede, not leather.

When I said the words “Sterling” and “K” out loud in the office the other day, I sent my coworkers into a tizzy, especially MR Operations Manager Crystal, who waxed poetic with the following:“Sterling is the prototype that Andre 3000 sung about. The recent video of him and his wife high-fiving at the Emmy’s like they just won an NBA Championship is truly the only content I’m here for in 2019 and beyond. Salt of the earth, lovely, real, and imperfect, Sterling K. Brown is Randall [from This Is Us] and Randall is him. He’s nerdy and little corny in the best possible way. He’s a Dad joke sushi roll, if you will. One layer corny dad, one layer handsome husband (to an on-screen wife and an actual wife) finished with a sweetness that gets dunked into a vat of black uncle coolness.”

“Sterling K. Brown could offer me a shoe and I would eat it,” Amalie MacGowan, MR Social Media Manager added. But what takes SKB from regular hot person to Sauce Man is that he would never in a million years feed you a shoe. Never! Only sauce!

It is important to note that a Sauce Man is different from someone who has sauce or is saucy, linguistically speaking; I made it up so I get to decide the rules. Also, the type of sauce you associate with a Sauce Man doesn’t matter, it just has to have a complex flavor profile, require a low and slow simmer and is made without a recipe. The sampling of the sauce is non-negotiable, however. In order to clarify and spread the gospel that is the Sauce Man, here are a few examples:

Stanley Tucci

I feel that if you made it this far into the article, you don’t need an explanation as to why Stanley Tucci is a Sauce Man.

Danai Gurira

An intimidatingly perfect Sauce Man, but a Sauce Man nonetheless. Behind the brilliance and incredible bone structure is just a person who wants to make dinner on a rainy Friday and hear your opinions on her latest draft.

Meryl Streep

I would go so far as to suggest that she’s such a Sauce Man that her wooden spoon might actually be a hunk of crusty bread.

Gregg Popovich

Don’t know much about sports but I do know that social justice-minded, father figure-like giant Gregg Popovich is for sure a Sauce Man.

Lena Waithe

A true millennial Sauce Man. And I feel like the sauce has like a really deep, smokey quality to it.

Sam Waterston, Jessie L. Martin, Mariska Hargitay, Benjamin Bratt and Ice-T but not Jerry Orbach

No disrespect to Broadway and Disney legend Jerry Orbach, but he’s just not a Sauce Man, too busy being a triple threat.

Barry Jenkins

A Sauce Man, albeit an absent-minded one. He may get so caught up in a book or writing a script or that vintage jazz album you found together on your trip to Lagos that the sauce will boil over a bit, fogging up his perfect, stylish glasses, but he’s still a Sauce Man.

Shohreh Aghdashloo

Shohreh’s voice is perhaps the perfect distillation of the Sauce Man aesthetic.

Nick Offerman

In his quiet moments, a Sauce Man.

Rachel Maddow

When Rachel retires she will have the time to fully become a Sauce Man. Look for my numerous self published e-books on this subject on Amazon.

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen

Together they are a single Sauce Man

Paul Newman

Paul is quite literally a Sauce Man. I spent far too much time trying to find a clip from either Ellen or The Rosie O’Donnell Show where he rode out on a motorcycle and delivered a giant bag of popcorn to either Rosie or Ellen. Perhaps, this was just a fantasy as Newman’s Own Movie Theater Butter is my popcorn of choice and I do love Paul Newman but please, if any of you remember this daytime TV moment from the late 90s/early 2000s, please let me know that this is not the erotic waking fever dream of a popcorn addicted madwoman.

Omar Sharif

Specifically in Doctor Zhivago, but his mustache, always.


Sade is probably a conditional Sauce Man. Do her wrong and the sauce will be there but it will be ice cold and she will be on the balcony, red lips perfectly lined, single high braid down her back, waiting for you to see what you have wrought and taste regret.

Consider this post a raising of one of those big fancy wine glasses: a cheers to the Sauce Men. May we know them, may we love them, may we be them.

Feature photo by Jonathan Wenk/©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor is the Editor of Clever. She can frequently be found knocking things over in the greater New York City area.

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