L.A. Affairs is our weekly column about the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles -- and finding romance in a wired world. If you've got a story to tell, we want to hear it. We pay $300 per published column. Past columns and submission guidelines are at latimes.com/laaffairs
In my 33 years on planet Earth, I'd never said yes to a blind date. But a friend texted me on a Tuesday, telling me about a woman he knew who was "hot." He dangled the millennial FOMO — fear of missing out — carrot and added: "It could be fun." Just coming off of a four-month backpacking tour of South America, I had not dated an American girl for some time. This might be a good reintroduction. My resistance was further lowered when I found out my blind date had 30 Seconds to Mars tickets at the Hollywood Bowl.
What's the worst that could happen?
I pulled my truck up to her apartment around 7 p.m. with a bottle of wine and some Trader Joe's snacks, ready for a picnic. She lived right off the Sunset Strip, as indicated by her emoji-filled texts. She buzzed me in, and I saw her for the first time underneath the fluorescent lights of her narrow hallway.
On the politically correct hierarchy of attractiveness, it goes: Hot. Pretty. Cute. Sweet. Funny. Men are smart enough to know that when a girl says her friend is "pretty," it's safe to knock it down two levels — she's probably sweet. But if one of your male friends tells you a girl is "hot," then it's safe to assume she's close to that.
In this case, however, she was less than funny.
During the drive to the Bowl, I found out everything about her because she told me everything. She was another New Yorker who moved to L.A. for a job. She said she tolerates it here because she gets "the hookup" from bartenders and fancy restaurants around town. She then listed those restaurants and name-dropped a few celebrities.
Then we were at the Bowl.
The parking lot attendant informed us that we couldn't bring in a picnic. Her response was to disagree and yell at him. I leaned my head back on the headrest, unable to believe what was happening. I felt terrible for him, but after seeing her, he probably felt the same for me.
She didn't care about hearing the opening band, and I needed a drink. We sat in my truck bed and ate Gruyère chased by a Bordeaux. I listened to her talk about her former boyfriend, a male model, and how on her last blind date the guy was "super" into her.
We found our seats, but they were occupied. "I'm about to ruin someone's night," she announced. "Someone is in our seats." Two teenage girls scurried away, and we sat down. I looked at the night sky and wondered: Why is this happening? Is my friend punishing me? Am I being used as an industry pawn for client relations?
During the second song she looked behind us and reported that her ex-roommate, "the drama queen," was sitting a few rows behind us. Her solution to this dilemma was to latch on to my arm and pull me close so she could hide. She was drunk and trying to get me to kiss her. I played oblivious and excused myself to go to the restroom.
Outside, I leaned against the railing while listening to Jared Leto croon about angels in the distance. I forgot how loud American women can be. I thought about getting in my truck and driving east toward the desert until I ran out of gas, but the gentleman in me would never leave a woman stranded (i.e., I was in stacked parking).
On the drive back she insisted that we get a drink at the Viper Room because she knew "everyone there." I declined. Her response was to start screaming at me. This woman, whom I met only a few hours ago, was now screaming at me in my own car. Instead of returning her anger, I became profoundly sad. I sat there absorbing this woman's scorn, unable to reciprocate because, if I did, I was the bad guy. I took solace in the fact that she knew nothing about me because she had yet to ask me a single question about myself. By the time we hit Crescent Heights, she switched gears as if nothing ever happened.
Bypassing the available spots in front of her apartment, I double-parked and flipped on my hazards. I got out of my vehicle and gave her a hug. As I walked back around to the driver's side, she asked, "Do you want to come inside?"
With the width of my truck bed and 2 tons of steel in between us, I said, "No, thank you."
She was now crying. "You know, you're really charming and you don't even know it." Not wanting to engage her any further, I bid her goodnight.
Twenty minutes later I got a text from my friend asking, "How'd it go?" A few minutes after that she called. I ignored them both.
Chris Backley is a paramedic turned writer and native Angeleo. He writes at ChrisBackley.com
L.A. Affairs chronicles dating in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.