There are endless ways to meet men in Los Angeles. Because no one seems to have a real job, at any given time you could be meeting Mr Right. Maybe in your groovy local coffeehouse, where he will be tapping away at his screenplay. He could be at Mulholland dog park, (described as “the best place to meet hot chicks” in Entourage). Maybe he’s playing tennis on the Poinsettia courts in West Hollywood, or cruising the Venice boardwalk on an artfully-distressed bicycle.
Since this is all about the meeting of strangers, it helps to be inviting. Friendly. I have come to realise that I am neither. My froideur precedes me, even. Once, at the Velvet Margarita on Cahuenga, a guy hitting on me suddenly stopped talking and said, “whatever happened to you, I’m really sorry. I hope you feel better soon.”
The other night, I was at a glitzy afterparty for the Emmys (it’s my job) and my fellow mag reporter, Margi said, “it’s important to give guys a sign they won’t be rejected. Smile, make the first move, reassure them. Then step back and make them come to you.”
This was a revelation! Back home, men expected the cool, distant appraisal. They loved it even. Outright friendliness and flirtiness was too direct. Plus, it just wasn’t me. Now I was expected to melt a little, be encouraging?
This brought to mind my grandmother telling me, “lovey, you will spend your life stitching a man’s bollocks back on.”
She also said, “men’s brains are in their knickers.” But then, I knew that.
During this party, I approached Stephen Moyer, Vampire Bill from True Blood. Ok it was for an interview, but as soon as I heard his Brit accent, I relaxed, flirted a little even. I knew where I was with him.
Brilliant! I would start slowly, I would go on an official date with a Brit.
Two days later, courtesy of match.com I was sitting at the bar of the Dresden in Los Feliz with Dan, a 33 year-old originally from Manchester. I picked flat shoes, a short dress with a t-shirt thrown over it (it was 90 degrees at 8pm) and was not remotely nervous. I mean I didn’t care, had nothing invested. This dating thing was easy!
We drank beers and chatted over the drone of Marty and Elayne, the 60-something cabaret act. He told me about his childhood during the ‘Madchester’ scene of the 90s, where people necked ten ‘E’s a night and he developed mild drug psychosis, where he could only lie in a darkened room. I told him about my teenage years dancing around the gay clubs of soho, sharing a house with an Ecstacy hound who became ‘afraid of the sky’. We had stuff in common.
After 20 minutes, Elayne’s version of ‘Private Dancer’ was grating, so we crossed the street to Cuba Libre. Suddenly Dan seemed a bit sad. On instinct I asked why he had moved here and there it was, the ex-girlfriend. From there we moved onto how sad he was that he had left his dog behind.
“I think I broke his heart. He died” he told me.
I felt for him. I too have a dog and an ex. But did we have to talk about this now? I liked the honesty and if I’d been attracted to him I would have thought, “oh cute, vulnerable!” just as I did when my ex told me about his awful relationship with his mother the first time we ever met. (Ladies, never date a man with mother issues. Ever).
With Dan it was just draining. He walked me to my door and with zero chemistry there I thought, “please, please do not attempt to kiss me”. Still, he hovered, uncertain.
I recalled a friend who, on a terrible dinner date, was just wondering how small the bathroom window was when the guy shimmied up next to her on the velour banquette, leaned in and said, “shall we try a little kiss then?”
I cut this pointless moment off with the ‘quick hug and bye’ combo. Relieved, he waved and said, “’til next time!”
He never called. Which was good. Nice guy. Not for me.