The can’t-miss first date

L.A. Affairs
(Gwenda Kaczor, For the Los Angeles Times)

I pride myself on my instincts. I can tell my roommate is avoiding her chores by her walk. My predictions of early television cancellations are always on the money. My personal mantra is “I know,” and when I’m sure, I’m sure.

After my first date with Greg, I know that I’ve met the right person.

I arrive early at the Dresden in Los Feliz and sit in my car watching the clock. I’m wearing my first-date outfit; everything is the same each time, down to my jewelry, undergarments and bobby pins. My heels are tall enough to make my legs look better but short enough not to look high maintenance.

Finally, it’s time to walk in.


The apathetic bartender wants to know my order and I wait, glancing back at the door while leaning on the bar, practicing my bored/sexy pout.

The door opens and in comes Greg, whose eyes do a quick once-over, up and down my body.

He grins. I pass the test.

And so does he. He may be the best-looking man I’ve ever been on a date with. Dirty blond short hair, straight teeth, blue eyes, muscular arms without looking too body-builder-esque. He pulls off the effortless look effortlessly. He’s wearing a T-shirt with a pair of jeans that fit him snugly on the hips without being hipster too tight, and when he smiles, I stumble like a baby calf.


He leads me to a table.

He’s full of sturdy views and engaging questions. He runs over topics as easily as I do, and I have to speak quickly to keep up with him, another first. He tells me he wants to prevent painful silences by continually talking over them. I rib him for calling my phone and asking for CVS earlier, assuming my unsaved number was the local pharmacy. He looks down in his drink and smiles.

We bounce from topic to topic — the ending of “A Separate Peace,” OkCupid dates, “Dawson’s Creek,” the differences between the Church of Science and Scientology — one story leading right into the next as if the evening were designed for us to tell one long interwoven tale. After two drinks, he takes out his wallet without batting an eye while I fake-protest.

Rather than walking me to my car and ending the date, he chooses to extend it and walk with me around Los Feliz, talking more and more. He puts his hand on my back and whispers in my ear when he spots Kiefer Sutherland enjoying an espresso at Figaro Bistrot with a mysterious woman.

I feel his hand on my back long after he takes it away.

When we reach my car, he leans on the parking meter and pops a piece of gum, then offers me one. I smile slowly, looking down and then back at him.

Gum means he wants to kiss me.

“Can I ask you something that a 14-year-old would ask?”


God, yes.

“Can I get a ride home? I walked here.”

OK, not quite what I wanted to hear, but I anticipate a moment that will be worthwhile enough to negate the “I need a ride” bump.

I make a U-turn and stop in front of his apartment. We turn to look at each other. He tells me he had a great time and leans in. I let my hand graze his chest through his T-shirt as a tentative kiss quickly turns into a deeper, albeit brief, makeout session.

We kiss perfectly. No adjustment necessary.

He forces himself to leave the car and tells me he will call the next week. Before he shuts the door, experience tells me to double check. I shout to him, “You’ll really call, right?”

He nods, reassuringly and I know that was all just really a formality. This was the magical first date I’d be telling our grandchildren about. When I get home, I float to bed.

This is real. So I begin to plan our future.


I will finally have someone to go to the Arclight with. Someone to force me to go on hikes. Someone who will put his arm around my waist as we watch the latest series I recommend on Netflix.

Five days after the date, without any word from him, I text him an inside joke from our date.

“Is this the number for CVS?”


I sit on the couch, watching TV, watching my phone, and slowly my thoughts slide from confident all the way down to insecure.

Four days after that, I realize that he’s either dead or he is uninterested, which in my current state of mind is arguably more devastating.

I’ll never know the reason he didn’t call. There may not be one. But I’ve never been more sure. And never so very wrong.

Lisa B. Palmer is a freelance writer, middle school teacher and sarcastic tweeter.

L.A. Affairs chronicles romance and relationships. Past columns are archived at If you have comments to share or a story to tell, write us at

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