James gave good phone. When we talked he was laid-back, interested, a good listener.
Of course he was a good listener, he was training to be a couples counsellor.
“Are you making this up?” I asked.
But he wasn’t. He was really a 35 year-old man so interested in others’ welfare that he was devoting his life to it. And he was cute too, a real head-turner with dreamy brown eyes.
“You live in Los Feliz?” He’d said, sounding disappointed. “That’s about as far from me as you can get.”
Was he already thinking of geographical inconvenience? If you like someone, then you’ll drive for 30 minutes.
For our first date, I drove.
Outfit: Flip flops, short skirt, baggy t-shirt and creative jewellery.
He’d picked this place with no name on Abbott Kinney and we sat at a butcher block communal table full of Venice people in gold sandals and overpriced sweats.
“So it is quite far,” I smiled, “which is a shame because I love it here. I only just moved and I’m not used to my new area yet.” I smiled more.
He sat back looking delighted to see me (points there). He told me about his upcoming grad degree in counselling and how he didn’t get much apartment for his money in this neighborhood. I told him about my life a bit. He kept touching my arm.
After some figs and goat cheese thing, (wine for me, bloody mary for him) I was dying for some water, maybe a diet coke, and opened my mouth to say so, when he grabbed the passing waiter’s arm.
“Hey man, can I get a diet coke?” he asked, not turning to me.
It was just for him. The waiter had rushed off. I continued to be thirsty. But whatever, no biggie.
He talked about some of the bad dates he’d been on. Women with obvious checklists, asking, “so, when do you think you’ll have a steady income?”, or “what do you think about children?”
I got it. I mean I once had a boyfriend who after only a month told me, “you know I’m serious right? I wouldn’t be like this with you if I wasn’t thinking you could be my wife or have my children?”
I felt like he was shopping for ‘a wife’ and didn’t even see me.
Anyway, James had segued into telling me about his married friends back East in Philly and how miserable they all were.
“I mean my buddy only gets a blow job on his birthday.”
“That’s terrible.” I said.
We talked about his imminent move to Culver city for college.
“It’ll be great to live alone so when you know, you have people over, girls, and you want to do stuff.’
I asked him some pertinent questions about his counselling course.
He said, “it’s funny, everyone says the same thing when I tell them what I’m going to be studying. I say I was inspired because my friends trust me with their problems and they all say, ‘oh that’s funny! Me too!'”
(This is something I once said on the phone to him).
“Oh right, how annoying.” I said.
“That’s four negatives” He said.
“You just hit me with four negatives in a row. First you said this place was too far away, then you said something about apartments being small in Venice, then something else and now it’s annoying for me to help my friends.”
This guy was like a mad menopausal woman.
“But that’s ok. You be glass half-empty, I’ll be glass half-full,” he said. Then he sat back with a smug ‘I-see-through-you’ smile.
I thought of when Hannibal Lecter rejects Clarice’s questionnaire with, “you would dissect me with this blunt little tool?”
We walked to my car.
“Oh a Jeep!” he said, “so you like to be higher than everyone else?”
The words ‘fuck off’ formed in my mind.
“It’s good that you got the big tyres though, with normal tyres, these cars look awful.”
Then he pulled me in for a long, smooshy hug. I gave him a lightning-fast squeeze and sped off.
An hour later, he texted.
“I felt there wasn’t much interest on your end. The quick hug usually gives it away. Lol”
I responded, “I don’t know you, we had lunch, a quick hug seemed ok. I didn’t think there was much chemistry.”
He fired back, “it’s ok to hug someone longer if you like them.”
We’re still on the hug?
He went on, “If you don’t think there’s chemistry, then there isn’t. Good luck with everything.”
I’m assuming he’ll be taking an extra seminar in hug therapy.