I will meet more single women this week than most men will in their entire lives. The women will touch me, hug me, laugh at my jokes — and then walk out to their husbands, boyfriends or Chihuahuas and hike Runyon Canyon.
I'm a casting director for TV commercials. On a typical day I interview 100 beautiful and spirited women, all of whom stare deeply into my eyes and listen to my every musing. Their very livelihood depends on it. If they catch just a nugget of something I say that the other women miss, it might lead to a callback, then a booking and maybe $25,000 in residuals.
So when, week after week, year after year, I remained single, friends looked at me with wonder and inquired as to how that might be possible.
Maybe it's the red hair. I've been told by women over the years that I'm handsome (thank you, ladies, very kind), but I know that the red hair has a niche following.
As a single man, I tried to follow a self-imposed rule, to wit, always accept an invitation to a gathering where there might be even one single woman. You're not gonna find her sitting on your couch.
So, do I really feel like putting on pants, getting on my skateboard (yes, DUI — oh, like you're perfect?) and going to Buckley's place for game night? No. But I do. Summer is around the corner, and wouldn't it be nice to have someone to chase around the pool?
I walk into the party at the same moment as another guest, a pretty woman with a wonderful smile. My host introduces us, "Hey, Marty, you remember …?"
"I'm sure you guys have met."
I'm sure we haven't.
"She's married to …"
Ah, yes, there it is.
I tend to block out all the pretty-smart-married women I meet. (Also, I drink — I think I mentioned the skateboard?)
As the evening comes to a close, I make a bid to escape, but I'm thwarted by this pretty woman with a wonderful smile. She offers me a ride. I decline. I'm looking to get a number from one of the two single women at this shindig. I duck around the kitchen. Hmm, now where is that single ... ? I turn the corner and — wham, run right into the pretty woman with a wonderful smile.
Am I sure I don't need a lift?
Pretty sure. But thanks.
OK, one last loop. Maybe I can corner the single woman in the hall.
But then from behind me I hear: "Get your skateboard and get in my car."
The pretty woman with a wonderful smile is sassy. I like that.
So on the three-minute drive to my house, it comes out. Filed for divorce, waiting to sign the papers, not telling her friends yet, lying low in a little apartment in Hollywood.
We pull up in front of my house, she wishes me well and I get out. I make it all the way to my door before I stop and fish out my last dog-eared business card and hustle back to her car.
Now, I need to pause here to explain something that people who don't live in L.A. don't get. Los Angeles is a very romantic place to get away from. There is something so romantic, so sexy, about the overnight bag. As you throw flip-flops and swim trunks, sunscreen and a few T-shirts into a black leather bag, you can feel your heart beat faster.
Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Vegas. You hop in your car on a Friday, make sure you are on the road by noon, and all your worries fade away as the city you love grows distant in the rear-view mirror.
And that's what we did. We got away. Ran away feels more accurate. Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs, drinking cocktails by the saltwater pool and watching "Casablanca" under the stars. Driving through the desert to gamble and up the coast to taste wine. Room service. Tangled sheets. Lust. Pure and good and new.
When you're on the other side of 40, you tend to think that the window for true love, for romance that makes you weak in the knees, for longing that makes you so crazy you can't sleep, for desire that keeps you waiting by the phone counting the seconds until she responds to a text — well, you think that window is closed.
Because nothing gets easier as you get older. It gets harder. It gets harder to find a reason to let yourself love. It gets harder to be single, and it gets harder to be a couple.
So when you find her, when you find the one who makes you crazy, the one you thought would never show up, you buy a ring. You get down on one knee. You stand up in front of your family and say I do. I will. I promise.
You hold on.
That's my plan.
I'm holding on.
Fortney is a casting director, actor and screenwriter. He lives in Valley Glen with his wife of two years, the pretty woman with a wonderful smile. L.A. Affairs chronicles romance and relationships. Past columns and submission guidelines are at latimes.com/laaffairs. If you have comments to share or a story to tell, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.