Cruising through the San Gorgonio Pass on the 10 Freeway into the Coachella Valley, I reveled in the starkly dramatic view — hypnotic, pinwheeling windmills; sun-bleached boulders; and the chocolate-brown, snow-tinged San Jacinto Mountains hugging the valley's southern border like protective mama bears. Then, BAM — a lengthy row of tacky billboards disrupted my desert trance.
Most of the signage featured images of geriatric rock stars advertising their performance dates at local tribal casinos. I zoned out at these deflating reminders of my own advancing age. Suddenly, one of the billboards — lemon-yellow with bold black text — penetrated my consciousness. "Make the First Move," it said. My eyes strained to read the smaller print: "Bumble," with an image of a bee.
I'd heard my 21-year-old daughter reference Bumble as the feminist dating app alternative to Tinder. When I asked what this meant, she explained that women initiate contact after both parties swipe right and match. Ergo, men have to wait for that first text or call. Bravo! I mentally applauded the Bumble billboard.
My mother always told me that Nice Girls should never make the first call after exchanging phone numbers with a guy. If I'd listened to her prim, 1950s-bred advice, I would've missed the right man for me.
Instead, I'm a proud poster woman for making the first move.
I had been on my way to a UCLA School of Law graduation party at the staid Westwood Marquis Hotel (now the far-hipper W) hosted by one of my law school friend's parents when I met a cute, dark-haired Nice Jewish Boy (NJB) with a winning smile, heading the same direction. Like me, he'd arrived on the late side and planned on making a cameo appearance. He had a Dodger game to get to, and I was expected at a celebratory family dinner.
When we arrived at the fancy hotel suite, my classmate's father offered us chocolate-covered strawberries and flutes of Champagne. The NJB and I downed the bubbly together. He asked what I planned to do after taking the California bar exam. I told him I was going to Washington, D.C., to find a job on Capitol Hill — I wanted to make a difference.
"I'm working on a congressional campaign now," he said. "I can help you find a job."
"Really? That would be great!"
"Sure, give me your number ... I'll put you in touch with some of my D.C. contacts."
This sounded too good to be true.
But I took the leap of faith and scribbled my number on a cocktail napkin.
He seemed sincerely interested in me but a tad distractible. I worried he might lose the napkin while at the Dodger game. I asked for his number. He pulled a business card out of his wallet and handed it over. I tucked it away in my black patent-leather party purse.
Days went by and I hadn't heard from the NJB with the D.C. job leads. I'd just completed my first week of the grueling 50-day bar exam prep marathon. The endless hours spent in the stuffy, fluorescent-lighted classroom in a low-rent Santa Monica office building on Third Street (think pre-Promenade days) were making me crazy. I desperately needed some bar relief. But where to find it? A voice in my head (definitely not my mother's) said, "Call the NJB!" I pulled my party purse off the shelf, plucked out his card and called. His voice mail picked up so I left a message.
Ten minutes later my phone rang. The NJB sounded a little frantic. "I just got back from the laundry room. I've been wanting to call you but couldn't find the napkin with your number anywhere."
"That's OK. I totally understand," I said to him, saying "I knew it" to myself.
"When can we get together? Do you want to go out to dinner this Saturday?"
"I'd love to," I said. Yippee!
At the end of this networking opportunity/first date, he kissed me and asked me out again.
I wasn't planning to let this relationship get too serious because as soon as I finished taking the bar exam a girlfriend and I were road-tripping to D.C.
NJB had other ideas. He later told me that after our second date he knew he wanted to marry me.
I took the bar and left for D.C. But I missed my beloved NJB too much. Four months later, I moved back to West L.A. and into his apartment. Guess who was sitting next to me when I spotted the "Make the First Move" Bumble billboard? NJB. We were on our way to Palm Desert to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary.
So, ladies, Bumble away and don't think twice about making the first move.
The right guy will love that you did.
The author is a freelance journalist and longtime columnist for the San Diego Jewish Journal. You can find her on Twitter @RosenLeib
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene 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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