I was very happy in my work as an RN seeing patients at their homes in and around Los Angeles. And I had more than enough wonderful friends and family too. But I wanted to "make" my own family.
I tried a dating service (paid for by my dad), but after my share of mortifying dates, I quit. I enthusiastically joined various singles groups and allowed well-meaning friends to fix me up. But somehow, my love life just didn't seem to pan out the way I had hoped.
One Sunday morning in the Hollywood Hills, I was visiting one of my home health patients who happened to be a professional comic. We had become chatty and I shared with him my trials and tribulations in the dating world.
Then he offered advice I never expected.
"You do tell your 'pathetic' dating stories in an extremely entertaining way," he said, "You really ought to consider trying your hand at stand-up. You're a natural."
I took my first comedy class at UCLA Extension and fell in love with it. Performing was a thrill. My outlook on my single life took on a new light. While I still wanted to find my soul mate, my desire felt less desperate since I could always use it in my act. I still dated, but when things didn't work out, I would think, "… new material!"
I even practiced my jokes on my home health patients and got them to help me write "nurse-patient" jokes. I practiced over and over: Setup / joke / laughter. It was a piece of heaven.
Valentine's Day was around the corner and a friend invited me to a singles bike ride in Marina del Rey. Ugh. Was there a more humiliating day than Valentine's Day to put myself out there? No. But I went anyway.
I carefully picked out my bike-riding attire. Attractive, without trying too hard. Sporty but natural. A little makeup. It was a warm, clear, inviting day as I stood with a group of cyclists, waiting for the event leader to show up. I noticed a man blinking furiously. He noticed me noticing him and explained that he was wearing new contact lenses. (So no need for me to go into nurse mode and ask to check if something was in his eye.)
Suddenly, I was glad I'd taken the leap and showed up.
We ended up talking as we rode along the bike path all the way to Redondo Beach with the group. But later, with all the undivided attention on each other, we were accidentally separated from the rest. I found out he was an attorney and a big football fan. I could imagine myself learning to not despise football.
At the end of the ride, we enjoyed some drinks and shared some stuffed potato skins.
Then the critical time came before our goodbyes. Was I willing to take the risk and wait for him to ask me out? No. I adored this guy already and was not going to let him get away. An idea popped into my head: I didn't actually have to Ask Him Out on a Date. I could just invite him to my next comedy show. No harm, no foul, no embarrassment.
"And," I asked as casually as I possibly could, "if you want to give me your phone number, I can call you just in case the show gets rescheduled."
I was beyond impressed with my quick thinking.
He thankfully took my number as well.
I thought it went well, but one of my best friends couldn't believe I would take such a chance.
Perhaps our first date shouldn't be me with a microphone, sharing my personal dating stories, she said.
And what if I bombed? Even worse.
So I called him and told him the show might be rescheduled. (It was a lie, but also kind of true.) He apologized and said he couldn't have made it anyway; it turned out he had a trip out of town.
All my newfound comedy confidence seemed to take center stage and I just blurted it out: Perhaps we could still just grab a coffee? He agreed.
Our first date ended up taking place at my tiny, rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica. It was raining. I remember marveling at how adorable this guy was. We immediately felt so at ease with each other that we never actually went out for coffee. We just talked and talked and talked.
We were married less than two years later. Although I continued to perform my comedy, I found that I became a little less funny the happier I got.
Besides, I still had my patients to practice my jokes on. Talk about a captive audience.
When I was five months pregnant with our daughter, we purchased our first home less than a mile from where we met in that Marina del Rey parking lot — it's now covered up with shops and stores. A few years later, we had a son.
When the children were little, we would walk into town and point out the exact spot where Mom and Dad met on Valentine's Day.
The author lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 27 years and doses out chemotherapy and comedy to her oncology patients at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica.
L.A Affairs chronicles love in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments, or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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