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Date on a Friday night: Trouble ahead

Special to The Times

RECENTLY, a shocking thing happened to me. I was asked out on a date. Not a coffee meeting, but an actual date. You know, one of those things where a man you don’t know very well picks you up at your house and takes you to dinner?

“He’s picking you up? At your house?!” A friend asked, incredulous. “I didn’t know men did that anymore.”

“Me neither!” I replied. “It’s kind of exciting.”

“It’s like my fantasy,” she said.

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Of course, there’s a reason that kind of date is considered a fantasy -- because for men, dates take on a whole different reality. And for my particular date that Friday night? A “yes” was all the encouragement he needed to show up at my front door with a party-sized bottle of vodka and a camcorder. Clearly his idea of a first date was to make a movie. I guess that’s what happens when fantasies collide.

I do give the guy props for bringing his “props” to the front door. At least that way I knew from the get-go that he expected more from the date than I did. Which also meant I got to spend the rest of my Friday night in the comfort of my own home instead of futilely trying to hail a cab from some seedy section of Los Angeles.

But not all men are that obvious. In some cases, they’ll cater to your fantasies as well as their own. Case in point: One of my friends recently went on a first date with a composer. When he told her he wanted to take her to dinner at a favorite spot near his house, she reluctantly agreed to schlep over to his side of the hill. In what seemed to be a show of gratitude and/or affection for her effort, he immediately poured her a glass of wine, took her into his studio, sat her down at his piano and sang her a love song.

“For a moment I was swept away by the sheer romance of it all,” she said. “Then I began to listen to the lyrics. Really listen to them.”

And that’s about the time she realized the song was about some other woman. Some other woman who had apparently broken her date’s heart and for whom he was still pining.

“Then, as if to add insult to injury,” she said, “he asked me for notes. On not just the song but the relationship.”

She was glad she had driven her car.

At least the next fantasy-wielding date I had didn’t want me to be someone else -- he just wanted me to be something I wasn’t: Jewish. I got the hint when he picked me up for the date not just with flowers but also a menorah. When I saw the flowers, I was touched. When I saw the menorah, I was confused. My date knew I wasn’t Jewish. Nevertheless, when I came back from putting the flowers in water, I found him placing blue and white candles in the menorah. And without a word of explanation, he started to recite what I assumed was a prayer in Hebrew as he lighted the candles.

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Sure, there was the part of me that wanted to know what it all meant: the Hebrew, the lighting of the candles, their colors. But I was afraid to ask. I think it was because I half-expected that would be a cue for him to wave the menorah at me like some magic wand that would turn me into the nice Jewish girl he wanted me to be. Luckily, my fears were soon laid to rest. His ritual had made us late for dinner, but he said we had to leave the candles lighted.

“But I have cats and antiques,” I said, not loving the idea. “We could always put it in the bathtub.”

My date looked at me in horror. He then proceeded to blow out the flames on the candles one by one, until all that was left was smoke.

weekend@latimes.com

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