L.A. has more flakes than a box of Raisin Bran. And once you launch into cyber-space looking for a date, a relationship or anything at all, you’re lucky to find a raisin. I had posted my ad on Match.com, proud to be one of the only ones in orbit who can spell, actually show up and the only one in North America to show up on time.
Being a writer, I give good profile and attracted a plethora of hits. The only lie I told was my age. In La-La Land, Darwin’s theory of evolution has been rewritten as, “Survival of the Youngest.” Luckily, living in L.A. you automatically deduct ten years and with the Canadian exchange I hoped to pass for an embryo. They say, “Love is like a bus. If you wait long enough another one will come along.” But mine always seem to be the Shortbus, attracting those who are either magnanimously boring or clinically insane. As it turned out, “James” fell into the second category…
I can’t recall who made first contact. But when someone offers the first dating volley, it gives you a bit of an edge. So let’s just say it was James who responded to my profile and contacted me. I rarely respond without seeing someone’s photo because there are enough surprises in life. But he was 43 and after swimming in uh, younger waters I was trying to up my age range where I didn’t have to censor myself from referencing Doris Day.
I recall that we quickly graduated from cyber-space to Defcon 2; a phone call. I’m not much of a phone person and yet our first conversation must have lasted an hour with no lack of anything to talk about; a good sign. James lived in West Hollywood on his own and he was a lawyer. Over the phone, he had charm, energy, insight, humor and opinions. And in West Hollywood, any one of those qualities will get you a membership to Mensa.
We spoke on a Monday. We spoke again on Tuesday and wow – more easy conversation. I even liked the sound of his voice, engaging with a bit of a sexy rasp. It was during our second conversation he asked, “What are you doing Saturday night?” Yikes! That’s date night. After living in New York for fifteen years, I rarely went out on weekends due to the obnoxious hordes. And being freelance my whole life, I don’t do line-ups. It could have been embarrassing admitting that I had no plans for Saturday night but one of the perks of being “older” is that I give 79.4% less shits.
When I told James I was available he asked, “Do you have a tuxedo?” I said, “I have a black suit. Why?” He told me, “I have two tickets to the Human Rights Campaign Gala dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel with Al Gore as guest speaker. I was waiting for someone special to go with me and I think that’s you. If you have a tux I’ll pick you up in a limo.” A first date with a stranger is only supposed to be ‘coffee with room’ at Starbucks. And when I learned that each ticket was $500 I gulped, wondering if I was supposed to pay for my own ticket? I wouldn’t spend five hundred bucks on someone I never met. I wouldn’t spend five hundred bucks on someone I had met. Having been in therapy for ambivalence, and having spent too many years cyber-dating, I didn’t trust this to be real. And then I thought, ‘Fuck it! I deserve to be Cinderella for a night,’ and agreed to be his date. In L.A., black tie means ‘don’t wear jeans.’ So I told James I had the proper attire and he said he’d pick me up at seven. Date night, a limo and Al Gore.
Wednesday. I emailed James my address so he could pick me up in the limo with hopes my neighbors would happen to be looking out their windows. No reply. Thursday. I phoned him. Nothing. Friday, I debated whether or not to polish my black party shoes and iron my white shirt. I called again. Nothing. And here, I thought I’d landed a raisin.
Saturday morning James called filled with apologies, hoping we were still on for the evening. He explained that he couldn’t call because he was in the hospital. “Oh my God. Are you all right?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, “I mistakenly mixed my Xanax with my anti-depressants.” A red flag unfurled in front of my ears. But then again, I’m the only one in L.A. who isn’t medicated. James continued, “And then I was drinking and I shouldn’t have.” Up popped another red flag. But I wanted to dine with a salad fork and Al Gore. “And so I couldn’t rent a limo,” he explained. “That’s okay,” I replied, glad he couldn’t see me mouth the word, “Shit!” James thought out loud, “We could take my Jaguar.” A smile curled my lip. “But it’s in the shop. I hit a tree while drinking and driving.” There was beginning to unfurl more red flags than a Chinese May Day Parade.
I sighed, “Well, if you don’t mind being picked up in a Honda Accord that’s been keyed at Bally’s I can pick you up.” James agreed and I was fine. Big deal. So Cinderella has to drive her own pumpkin.
I spent the afternoon grooming, spiffing and fantasizing with the occasional knot in my stomach anticipating a real live Saturday night first date with someone who may even have relationship potential. On my way over to James’ place I phoned him from the car to ask about parking. He suggested it would be easier if we took his other car, a BMW. I re-considered. If he wants to drive his BMW then I’m up for it. I agreed and drove into West Hollywood to meet my rich, handsome, tuxedoed Saturday night date. James opened the door to his apartment. I grabbed the door jamb to support my swoon and exhaled, “Holy fuck! You’re gorgeous!” (Pt. II To Be Continued)
(Excerpted from, “Nut Magnet. An Autobiographical Assortment of Fruits and Nuts”)