I met Landy in church — and immediately hated him.
I know, I know. I get the irony.
But there I was, minding my own beeswax — I volunteer with the AME Zion Church’s artist program — when the wonderful Rev. Maize popped into the room with that familiar grin on his face. He wanted to introduce me to his best friend, Landy, who had just relocated to Los Angeles from Cincinnati. And the reverend wanted me to give him a tour of L.A.
I knew of Landy’s musical reputation. He had played guitar with R&B groups in the ‘70s and worked with the American funk, soul and jazz composer Roy Ayers. So yeah, I knew he was a fine artist. Didn’t matter, I still didn’t like him. He was a know-it-all. He reminded me of the annoying boy who sat behind you in first grade and pulled your pigtails.
But the reverend had asked. So I gave Landy a tour and then took him to the Hard Rock Cafe. Where else would I take a guitarist? I figured he might like all the guitars and the rock ‘n’ roll decor. He didn’t. The whole night, he acted as if there were at least 17 other places he’d rather be.
Now, I’m originally from Crown Heights in Brooklyn. I had considered myself the black Carrie Bradshaw (well, with more “City” than “Sex,” but still a force to be reckoned with). My “reckoned with” came in handy when I told the Rev. Maize that even though I knew he could pull rank, I would never again go out with Landy.
Well, there’s an old saying: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans ...
Before long, I found myself working with Landy on the church’s artist program. And on occasion I would join my fellow choir members and other church members at some of Landy’s shows, as support and thanks for all his church work. I’m a comedian — clean comedy only — and sometimes he’d join church members at my shows.
At this point, Landry was annoying me less, most likely because he had a girlfriend, Renee. She was a wonderful schoolteacher and had a personality to boot. I really liked her. You could see she had a beautiful spirit and was devoted to her family, Landy, friends and students.
Imagine our devastation when she passed away from organ failure at too young an age, and just too soon in general.
During all the time she was sick, Landy was there for her. He was at her side at their home and at her hospital bed, day in and day out. He had to give her CPR twice. He was at her side when she passed away. I had been totally unaware that he had this tender side to him until this tragedy had occurred. I saw bit by bit that loyalty and the heartbreak he felt. It was palpable.
After her memorial, a group of us went to help him pack up her belongings.
I could feel my heart starting to melt ...
... but not enough to go out with him when he asked me a few months later.
Just so you know, I’m a child of the ’60s and ’70s, and I believe in gender equality, but I believe you have to let a man be a man. They love the chase; it’s in their DNA. And I wasn’t playing hard to get; I was hard to get.
After a suitable amount of time, I finally said yes.
And almost immediately, I regretted it.
He showed up at 10 p.m.(!) on a Saturday night. Where were we going? I asked. “We’re going to Morongo,” he said. Morongo?!? The casino? He finally wore me down. So, yes, this is where we went on our first so-called date. I had never really been to a casino before. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was doing and lost $20 in about 10 minutes. He was kind enough to give me some more money to play with. I became friends with the penny slots.
It turned out to be, dare I say, a fun evening.
Somehow, between his music and my comedy, we became an item. And then we became engaged.
Our wedding day was wonderful and surreal.
I was a young 52 when we married; he was 54; and it was a first marriage for both of us. The church was packed with congregants who had witnessed our story unfold.
Truthfully, aside from the Rev. Maize, I don’t think anyone at church believed this day would ever come.
My mother walked me down the aisle, and we lit a candle for Landy’s late mother (our wedding date fell on her birthday). There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, because it had all seemed so impossible.
Earlier this year, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Or, as Landy likes to say, we’re doing “13 to life.”
The author is an L.A.-based writer and comedian.
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