So this was James. About 5’8” Cuban, coal-black eyes and wavy hair, blinding white perfect teeth that launched a killer smile, half-dressed in a tuxedo and a little manic as he ran around, trying to get dressed. In the middle of this hottie hurricane, he stopped and asked me to do up his tie. I approached my date who could easily have been a soap star, and was glad to see he wasn’t that much taller than me. He even smelled good. As I clipped on his tuxedo bow tie, I hit the reverse button in my imagination, tearing off his tie and ripping open his white perfectly starched shirt. Instead, he whirled around his apartment getting ready, he stopped and said, “This is me relaxed.” Another red flag hoisted up the flagpole. But I quickly tucked it away and scanned his apartment for clues to his personality; minimalist, expensive taste, some classic books and a framed black and white photo of a younger stunning guy. “Who’s this?” To my surprise it was James. He tried to be an actor once-upon-a-time and apparently once-upon-a-new-nose-time too. I could see he’d had some “work done” and although he didn’t look exactly like the man in the photo he was still the best looking date I’d ever landed.
James was finally dressed. Handsome, Hollywood tanned and tuxed, he tossed me his car keys. “You drive. I may want to have a few drinks.” I responded, “Uh, James, I hardly know you but you were just in the hospital for mixing meds with alcohol and you’re going to drink tonight and go into a coma in front of Al Gore?” “I’ll be fine,” he chirped and out the door we flew. Behind the wheel of his BMW, I pulled up to the valet parking at the Century Plaza Hotel and we breezed through the lobby toward the event ballroom. There must have been a thousand handsome black-tie men and I couldn’t take my eyes off my own date. Someone pinch me.
We strolled the Silent Auction tables commenting on items and eventually carved out our own space where James indulged me in conversation about life, death, spirituality, politics, entertainment and advertising. Wow! I really scored. Most of my dates took on the tone of the Jewish Inquisition mumbling answers that never topped one syllable.
We meandered into the banquet hall toward our $500-a-plate plates. It was like a Bar Mitzvah, on a strange planet inhabited by men in formal wear. We were seated at a table with about ten other guys, many of whom were couples. James and I chatted up our fellow guests but mostly got lost in each other, picking at our arugula salads while onstage, Charo serenaded us on guitar.
Before I could finish my breadstick, James had his hand on my knee and my linen napkin almost rose off my lap. The man next to me leaned over and whispered, “So how long have you two been together?” “An hour,” I replied with an, I-don’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me-but-fuck-do-I-deserve-it” grin. Before the main course, James got up to go to the bathroom and as he returned, I watched him navigate his way back to our table and silently sighed, “This guy is my date,” and checked to see if my glass slippers needed Windexing.
After dinner, Al Gore, speeches and dessert we decided to have a cocktail in the lobby while hundreds of guests lined up at the valet stand to wait for their cars. James had been drinking, but so far no red flags. We plopped on to a plush sofa. He picked up a cushion and clutched it to his chest. Pointing to a tall tuxedoed man across the lobby he whispered, “That’s my shrink. I don’t want him to see me.” His body language was that of fear and insecurity. But I empathized with him having once seen my New York shrink out of context which had brought back memories of the time I was in fifth grade and saw my teacher in the fresh produce section of the supermarket.
The shrink left and our cocktails arrived. We raised our glasses in a toast and James said, “Honey, if we’re going to have a relationship there’s some things you need to know about me.” ‘Honey?’ I was flattered this Adonis was already calling me ‘honey.’ He held my hand and confessed, “I’m very, very, very, very high maintenance.” I gazed into his fathomless eyes and replied, “Taxi!” Then, in a diatribe of vulnerability and honesty James told me he had severe A.D.D., he was Bi-Polar, a recovering Alcoholic, Crystal Meth Addict, Sex Addict, abandonment issues, low self esteem, agoraphobic with body dysmorphia and addicted to plastic surgery. My date had more issues than a subscription to National Geographic. My glass slippers were fogging up as my Cuban prince had turned into the index of the DSM Psychology Manual. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have waved his shrink over and gotten him drunk enough to tell me that James was also Borderline Personality Disorder. And yet, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt since it had so far, been an enchanting evening and more importantly…he was hot!
It was 2AM when we arrived back at James’ place. I was heading for my Honda when he asked if I wanted to come up to his apartment. Thank you Fairy Godmother. I didn’t want the night to end. And up I went. We weren’t inside more than a minute when he asked me to tear off his tie and I couldn’t believe that my earlier fantasy was coming true.
James started to strip off his clothes. Had I wandered into Chippendales? Needless to say, he had the body of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue model and I felt like the “before” in an ad for Gold’s gym. But it wasn’t long before I felt like the “after” in a brochure for the Betty Ford Clinic. (Pt. III To be continued)
(Excerpted from, “Nut Magnet. An Autobiographical Assortment of Fruits and Nuts”)