Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nobody Flirts in L.A.

At least if they're middle-aged men. Or maybe it's just if the potential flirtee is a middle-aged woman. We're invisible.

A while back I went on a downtown tour of lofts with two girlfriends, both married. They spied a single guy they deemed "cute" and suddenly became twelve-year-olds trying to set us up. When we got back on the bus after traipsing through an over-priced staged unit, my friends deliberately sat together, manuevering me to sit next to the cute guy.

He wasn't that attractive. He was short and was wearing those over-the-knee length cargos, which didn't help his height. He did have a full head of hair, though, and a pleasant enough face. Egged on by my friends' insistence that I was just too "picky," I did my earnest best to chat him up. I learned that he was a yoga instructor interested in a loft live/work space downtown so he could cater to the growing young and affluent crowd there. I already experienced him as dull but I told him he seemed to have a terrific plan. Perhaps he sensed my essential lack of interest because, for the rest of the tour, even though we compliantly sat together, he was far more interested in playing with his iPhone than he was in talking to me. I chanced upon him again a couple of months later, walking out of the same hair salon I was trying for the first time. He was still wearing the unflattering cargo shorts that made him look stubby. I became positively nostalgic for my ex, who had had a sense of style and refused, for example, ever to wear inherently dorky short-sleeved shirts. To add insult to injury, I emerged with a really lousy haircut.
And then there were the dinner parties, at which I and another man were the sole singles, strategically and painfully placed in seats next to or directly across from each other. At one, a friend across from us asked me what kind of work I was doing these days. She might as well have winked; she knew damned well what I did for a living and whose benefit this was for. But I played along and even asked Mr. Single next to me what he did, though I already knew that, too. Number one was "a physician" (I am picky about language, so that struck me as a slightly pompous way to say he was a doctor); number two was involved with various organic and New Age pursuits. Sigh. Still, he had helped the hosts to cook, and he didn't have an iPhone or Blackberry, at least in sight.

But he made me feel invisible. He didn't even attempt to make conversation, nevermind flirt. He seemed asexual. I remembered having seen him at these friends' before, always solo. Was it my "pickiness" again sabotaging a connection or was it just him?

I recalled the visiting playwright. He'd been prematurely gray, skinny as a scarecrow (okay, I'll admit I do favor skinny), and dour. But the night I stopped to drop him at the friend's where he was staying and he grabbed me passionately across the stick shift (ahem) in my Alfa--well, we segued to my place instead and began a highly sensuous affair of words and sex for several months. Suffice it to say that he'd read and written enough to know the power of carpe diem--one might say he was skilled in the art of extreme flirtation. "Seduction" demeans his--and my--sincerity in the whole endeavor.

I don't need someone who can send me postcards with his erotic translations of Catullus, as the playwright did. But it would be nice to find a man my age who still knows how to flirt, or who isn't afraid to. I do wonder about the fact that the playwright wasn't from here. Not that many of us are, originally. But our relationship went sour in part because he couldn't stand L.A. I guess he was just too picky about his environs....

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