Having just finished a fabulous dinner of roasted chicken thighs on a bed of multicolored heirloom carrots and Yukon Gold potatoes, I sat back, looked at my beautiful wife and thought about how thankful I am.
It was 1985 and I was having the time of my life. I had moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast to pursue an acting career. I was working evenings as a waiter and, frankly, partying my butt off. With my dance skills and confident gift of gab, I wasn’t having any problems meeting and dating.
One day, I left the condo I was renting in Culver City and walked down the hill to the grocery store. At that time, there was a grocery store chain called Boys Markets, and it was known as the place “Where Boys Meet Girls.” I swear! I shopped for my usual dinner fare — hamburger meat and a bag of frozen vegetables. What can I say? I was single. Barbecue and boiling water was the extent of my culinary skills.
As I walked out of the store and headed back up the hill, I spotted the backside of my ideal California Girl, with long, blond hair cascading down her back. I quickened my pace to catch up to her and perhaps say hello. Before I could reach her, to my amazement, she turned into the same gate where I was headed. I had seen her only from the back, but the front was just as beautiful. Now I just had to chat with her.
I managed to make some small talk, discovered we both lived in the complex and that she had just shopped for the makings of chocolate chip cookies. I explained to her that I had been watching the TV show “North and South” and was looking forward to that night’s episode. (This was before DVRs and Netflix, of course.) I suggested that we watch it together while making cookies. She said yes! We made plans to get together at her place that night.
Now remember, I was a single guy living with a roommate in a bachelor pad, eating burgers and frozen peas. When I walked through her front door, not only was I greeted by a beautiful woman, but also a tastefully appointed adult living space. The best part was the kitchen. Among the accouterments I noticed a pasta machine and a pot rack overflowing with copper cookware. When the refrigerator door was opened to put away the bottle of wine I brought, I noticed it was fully stocked and filled to maximum capacity. (My fridge held a gallon of milk and a jar of mayo). I had a feeling I had struck pay dirt.
We made cookies, we watched the TV show, we had a fabulous evening and when it was time to go, I didn’t.
In fact, you could say I never left.
We both had some loose ends to tie up dating-wise, but for the next few weeks we were almost inseparable. She was recently divorced and between jobs, and my days were free because I waited tables at night. Our days were filled with bargain matinees, breakfasts, lunches and other adventures.
As was obvious from her kitchen, her hobby was cooking. She was practically a gourmet chef. My new life was now filled with fresh pasta and vegetables, homemade bread and, best of all, Maryland-style seafood. Not only that, but my brother, my mother and her boyfriend arrived from the East Coast a couple weeks later for a preplanned visit and she and my Mom combined on a Thanksgiving feast for us all.
As the saying goes, the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This was living proof. After a year of dating we moved in together and then married a couple years later at her parents’ farm in Maryland.
She later told me she’d spotted me that day in the checkout line at Boys Market and, intrigued, hoped we would run into each other out in the parking lot.
We easily could have missed each other out there, got into our respective cars and driven away, never to have seen each other again. The fact that we ended up walking to the same gate on a street filled with condos and apartments was pretty much a miracle.
We just celebrated our 30th anniversary and are still very much in love.
We will never forget the day we found each other because, somehow, she had the forethought to save her shopping receipt from that day. Now it sits framed in our living room, an exquisite reminder to us both that on Nov. 3, 1985, not only did she buy Hershey’s chocolate chips, dark brown sugar and a six-pack of Diet Coke, but at shortly after 5:28 p.m., we both met the love of our lives.
The author is an executive assistant living in Los Angeles.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love 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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