“Oh My God! You EAT!” ~ A Tale of Pasta, Swooning and Middle Aged Dating
I met my husband through the most old-fashioned of means—the blind date.
I know in this time of hooking up via the worldwide web this sounds as antiquated as sidling up to a bar and ordering absinthe. Oh, wait, that’s a thing again, isn’t it?
Anyway, here is how it worked—friends fixed us up.
My friend Sharon was dating his friend Bert, and when she met Raphael she thought of me. Nice, right?
I’ve often wondered about that though. How much thought is put into a friend’s fix-up?
I wondered if it was pondered thoughtfully, carefully… like a wine pairing? Or was it knee-jerk, impulsive like, “You read books and John mentioned that he read a book once, so…”
In our case, my friend knew I liked European men and his friend knew he liked big boobs, so, yeah, what our fix-up lacked in depth and substance it made up for in that personal touch—two people who actually knew us thinking that we would make a good match.
Bert was a serial fixer-upper and at the time that ours was suggested Raphael had a serious case of blind date fatigue. Nevertheless, when Bert uttered the code words, big boobs, it triggered a deeply embedded Pavlovian response in Raphael which overrode all of his reservations and prompted him to ask for my number and give me a call.
Now on dating websites, I’ve heard that hours of very careful consideration are given to filling out the personal profile. I’ve known people who’ve hired a ghostwriter in order to convey just the perfect blend of desperation and disinterest.
As far as the photo goes, I have friends who have been known to enlist the services of a professional photographer. As I understand it, lighting is a life or death proposition. There is one guy in town who has a waiting list as long as one of Donald Trump’s ties because he manages to give everyone that “bewitching hour” glow.
You know, the kind that renders you unrecognizable even to your own mother.
Giving our friend’s good judgment the benefit of the doubt, without the ability to Google each other, or the benefits of viewing each other’s carefully crafted social media narrative in advance, (because neither of those things existed), we agreed to meet at a bar in Brentwood. Here is a frame of reference for you: Brentwood happy-hour was used as the basis for the movie The Hunger Games. It is savage. It is every man for himself. You try to escape with your soul intact—and nobody eats.
That is except for me.
I was the new improved, fully revised, 2.0 version of blind-dating Janet, which meant that after surviving nearly twenty years of this contact sport I had decided to reinvent. To adopt a new and audacious persona. I had decided to just be myself.
So, after nursing a glass of wine while we exchanged pleasantries, I determined that I liked this Frenchman enough to sneak out and let the valet know he didn’t need to keep the car running—and because I was STARVING I also agreed to have dinner.
This sent a shockwave throughout all of Brentwood and any “wood” within a twenty-five-mile radius. You see, as I would come to find out, women in the metropolitan Los Angeles area do very little eating on first dates. And if by some magical twist of fate you DO find yourself seated across from a man by the dinner portion of the evening—you do the sane thing—you order a salad.
Never carbs. Carbs are strictly forbidden. They are horrible and terrifying, and they scare women to death.
You may as well just order a bowl of live snakes.
I could tell I’d broken a cardinal-dating rule by the puzzled look on Raphael’s face as I dug into my pasta entrée with gusto.
As soon as the shock of this spectacle wore off enough for him to speak, he educated me on the dating habits of the West Los Angeles female in the 20th century. It started off with this pronouncement: “Oh my God! You EAT!”
He continued, “I am SO SICK of watching a woman push a piece of salad around a plate. Honestly! There is so much incredible food out in the world to share!” He shook his head, bewildered, as he tore off a piece of the warm focaccia and dredged it through the pungent, green, extra-virgin olive oil.
I nodded enthusiastically while at the same time sucking a stray piece of linguine drenched in the most delicious clam sauce through my puckered lips.
Sensing he was in the presence of a fellow foodie he went further. “Or… they order the most expensive thing on the menu, poke at it and take it home. What is with that?” His lightly accented voice was filled with genuine curiosity.
I couldn’t answer because well, my mouth was full.
“You eat with appetite”, he declared, a huge smile hijacking his entire face. “I like that!” Then he said something so perverse I almost dropped my fork. “I like women to look like women”, he said, “To have a little meat on their bones. None of those skinny-waif, teenage boy looking women for me.”
Had I heard him correctly?
Well, you’re in luck mister because I am none of those things…except the meaty woman part… I thought as I smiled back broadly, daintily dabbing at my lips with the cloth napkin. Damn. Who knew this being myself stuff would pay off so well?
Then I swooned. Or at least I think I did. Having never really swooned before I did my best impression of a swoon. It probably looked like I had gas.
Undeterred, he continued, “We share a passion for food, that’s obvious.” His swoon-inducing sweet-talk continued while he deftly reached for the bottle of wine. “I’ve always felt that passion translates into every aspect of life. Work…play…even sex.” His eyes sparkled as he re-filled our glasses with the hearty Cabernet.
“Cheers!” I toasted in agreement as our crystal glasses clinked together melodically. “Salute” he replied, locking eyes with me in a charmingly wicked way.
We have been savoring life together ever since.
The moral of this tale? Ladies, order the damn pasta!