Wednesday, October 11, 2006

That's Soooo L.A.

The following is a verbatim reproduction of an exchange written on six cocktail napkins last night at Tangier, a night club in Los Feliz. I was attending a spoken-word event with my friend Boomer. (Yes, spoken word event. What can I say - the "fingernails on chalkboard" event was sold out.)

Boomer: "Story slam" - ???

Duck: like open mic contest, but for stories

Boomer: How long you wanna stay?

Duck: C'mon - paid $6 to get in.

Boomer: OK. But hungry.

Duck: OMG! The guy on stage...

Boomer: ?

Duck: I went out w/him once.

(horrified expression from Boomer across table)

Boomer: When?

Duck: Couple of months ago. Match.com date.

Boomer: He's gross.

Duck: Actor. Plays nerds on TV - go figure.

Boomer: Dumb story too.

Duck: HE'S CHEATING !!!

Boomer: ?

Duck: Story supposed to be off the cuff. He told me same story word-for-word on our date!

Boomer: Wanna tell judges?

Duck: No. Story sucks - won't win anyway.

Boomer: Must be only story he has.

Duck: He does one-man stage show with this story, too.

Boomer: You need to find better way to meet men.

Duck: I know, huh?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blues Women Have the Right Idea

When Jackie "Moms" Mabley did her famous stand-up comedy routines at the Apollo Theater in the 60's, one of her favorite subjects was her sexual preference for much younger men. Claiming that her parents had once forced her to marry an 84-year-old man when she was a teenager, Mabley got a lot of comedic mileage at the expense of her late husband. Describing sex with an old man, she once said, "Honey, it's like trying to push a car up a hill... with a rope."

Jackie Mabley, of course, hasn't been the only woman to publicly declare her love for younger men. The female blues trio Saffire attest to the value of younger men as a cure for their "Middle Aged Blues."

"Well I was looking 'round and checking out my very best friends
Seems that they've all taken up with young young men..."

Then there's my mother, who keeps being hit on by geezers. At 55, Mom is not quite ready to give up her size 4 hip-hugger jeans and short spiky hair. Yet the only men who ask her out are dowdy 70 year-olds in golf pants and Depends.

"...Well, it seems like men my age are all boring, married, or tired.
You gotta find a young man if you wanna feel desired..."

"Where are all the single men in their 50's?" she asks. I don't have the heart to tell her, but they're all sending e-mails to her daughter's match.com account.

"Now some of my friends is worried 'bout what people may say,
I say age ain't nothin' but a number, the good lord made it that way..."

I love how these old guys try to reassure me with lines like, "I'm 58, but I don't look or act my age." Great, I think. Just what I need: a man with a skateboard AND a penis pump.

"You know, he can get it up and he can get on down.
He'll help you do the dishes, take you out on the town..."

At 35, I don't exactly consider myself over-the-hill. But still, when 30 year-old Timmy asked me out for a drink, I had to wonder what his angle was.

"He'll let you navigate 'cause he ain't worried about seniority,
You can tell him where to put it, keeping you happy is his priority..."

Oh God, I thought, I hope this isn't like one of these guys I see on Court TV who will date an older woman and talk her out of all her money while she's in a state of unbridled ecstasy.

"Well I'll forget about my arthritis, my backache, my lumbago
That young man makes me boogie at the horizontal disco..."

On the other hand, I can't remember the last time I was actually in a state of unbridled ecstasy. It might totally be worth it.

"I'm cleaning out my closet, I'm no longer sentimental.
Forget about experience, I'd rather have potential..."

OK, so he's a little rough around the edges, and he's still figuring out what he wants to be when he grows up. But his hair does do that cute flippy thing in front...

"Well I don't need to reefer I don't need to cocaine,
All I need is a young man to drive me insane..."

Besides, we're just talking about having a little fun here. When I decide I want a station wagon and a ranch house in Reseda, I have a whole in-box full of pot-bellied, bald-headed, Old Spice-wearing accountants to choose from.

"I'm throwing away my dust mop, got a brand new vacuum cleaner,
I'm no longer taken for granted, my young man sucks it up sweeter..."

Sure, I know what you're thinking. Younger men are great, Duck. But if you're not Cher or Demi Moore, why would one of them want to go out with you? Well, they may be few and far between, but I like to think there are some clever ones out there who have figured it out:

"An old woman don't yell
An old woman don't tell
An old woman don't swell
And she's grateful as hell..."

Yes, Young Timmy might be just the thing to get me enthused about the dating process again. God knows I don't think I can deal with another evening listening to some guy rattle on about his stock portfolio and his ex-wife.

"...and like a rare wine, you don't get older, you just get better.
Give me a young, young man."

Click here to access "Middle Aged Blues Boogie" in iTunes music store.

Click here to for Moms Mabley's routine, "Talkin' 'Bout Men."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Drawing The Line on Geekdom

I finally had that luncheon date with Todd, the PhD candidate from Match.com. He had e-mailed me several times, and for some reason I was balking at the idea of meeting up with him. I'm not sure why. He was tall, not bad-looking, and apparently smart. I just had a feeling we wouldn't be compatible. Maybe it's because he is a Middle Aged Career Student, and I am a Person With No Regard For Institutions of Higher Learning.

On the other hand, maybe I was just making excuses. Whenever that happens, I find myself grappling with that small-but-needling Voice in the back of my head. You know the one.

It's the Voice that says: Come on now, with that attitude you're never going to find yourself a man.

It's the Voice that says: Stop being so picky. Give the poor bastard a chance.

It's the Voice that, come to think of it, sounds an awful lot like my mother.

Anyway, I finally agreed to meet him at a restaurant on Melrose. And it started out pretty well. He was well-read, articulate, despises George Bush. All good signs. But then, like most men, Todd tragically continued to talk.

"Oh, hey," he said, "every Thursday a bunch of my friends come over to my house to play board games. You should join us, it's a great time..."

I started to say something rude, but the Voice intervened:

Hey, hey, you could do a lot worse than board games. At least they don't smoke crack and and watch wrestling every Thursday night...

"I'm not just a grad student," Todd continued, "I'm also a semi-professional card player..."

"Semi-professional" card player? Is that a euphemism for "heavy gambler on a losing streak?"

He's a brainy math-and-science type, said the Voice. He might just be into it for the intellectual challenge. It's possible. Don't be so judgmental.

"I guess I'm a bit of a risk-taker," he continued. "I had to declare bankruptcy a few years back when I lost all my money in the stock market..."

Okay, gambling problem confirmed. Can we call for the check now?

Well, maybe he learned his lesson after the bankruptcy thing, said the Voice. Financial hardship has a way of maturing a man.

But Todd was starting to feel comfortable, and he was on a conversational roll. "Oh, and I go to the Renaissance Fair every year," he added. "Let me describe my costume for you..."

Oh, Jesus Christ, said the Voice.

Now, most women have a long-standing list of qualifications a man must meet in order to be eligible for the role of boyfriend. But every now and then, we discover an all new rule that we never realized we had, because in fact the issue has never come up before. So from that point of view, my luncheon date was not a total bust. It revealed an important new requirement for my Ultimate Mr. Right: he would not... under any circumstances... even if threatened with death at gunpoint... don purple tights and a feather codpiece.

After all, even the Voice has standards.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where are all the pearly whites?

If you're a regular reader of my blog (I'm talkin' to both of you), you've probably noticed I frequently comment on the dental condition of my dates. This is neither a neurotic obsession nor a sign of typical Hollywood superficiality. It's an essential part of American philosophical doctrine. For the half of my readership who are foreigners (that would be you, Emma), let me begin with a brief history lesson:

In 1776, the 13 American colonies had a big falling-out with Britain over 3 fundamental issues: our profound hatred of taxes, our refusal to touch Marmite, and our demand for good dental hygiene. These three principles became the ideological foundation of our fledgling nation and continue as part of the bedrock of the American value system to this day. Americans spend over 2 billion dollars a year on over-the-counter dental care products. And while we admittedly tend to fall short when it comes to proper flossing, failing to take care of one's teeth is not only unhealthy and gross; it's also damned unpatriotic.

With that in mind, I have to ask, what's up with these men I keep meeting on the internet?

I met Scott in Los Feliz for lunch on Sunday. The guy seemed bright, had nice eyes, and was not (for a change) ten years older than he claimed in his profile. He was in good shape, being an avid cyclist (which was actually a minus in my book. I'm all for being in shape, but men who wear those tight little shorts in public - especially to a first date - are hard to take seriously).

But once again, I could not get past the bad teeth. This wasn't just a case of little yellow rodent teeth, like we've seen in the past. This guy had HUGE yellow horse choppers. But that's not the worst of it. The teeth were actually black at the gum line. And as much as I tried to focus on his nice blue eyes and whatever the hell he was talking about, my eyes kept drifting back to the teeth. It was a deal-breaker; I just cannot date a man with a mouthful of rot.

Come on, guys! I realize we're a Blue State and not that into the patriotic thing. But this is also L.A., which is arguably the world capital of vain, narcissistic self-obsession. You'd think we could all take time to at least brush and gargle.

Coincidentally, I had a dental appointment scheduled for today. Dr. Danny is hands down the best dentist anywhere on the planet, and as I was driving to the appointment, I realized he's probably also my longest-standing adult relationship. That gave me an idea.

"Dr. Danny, you gotta hook me up."

He frowned and shook his head.

"Duck, we've talked about this. Nitrous oxide is for dental procedures only. I cannot prescribe it for home use."

"No, never mind about that. I'm looking for a man. You must have some single patients who are nice-looking and employed, with a good set of teeth."

He chuckled.

"No, I'm serious. I've been trying to meet men on the internet, but match.com doesn't ask people to list their dental history. It's a drawback."

"I don't think I can help you with that," he replied, "but if it makes you feel any better, your teeth are in great shape."

Damn it! Why does Dr. Danny have to be the only medical professional in Beverly Hills who follows a code of ethics?

I'm going to work on his receptionist, though. Maybe she'll let me put some flyers in the waiting room.

http://www.healthyteeth.org/


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Online Dating: The Fantasy, The Reality

I have this fantasy. I'm standing in the history section at the book store, perusing a book on the Armenian genocide.

Suddenly, a voice from behind and slightly above me says, "Wow, pretty heavy subject matter, don't you think?"

I turn around. He's gorgeous, with piercing blue eyes and perfect, distinctly non-rodent-like teeth. He's holding a biography on William Blake, or maybe it's Charles Bukowski. (I'm not sure because, to be honest, I'm not looking at the book.) And he smells really, really good.

"Well," I answer, with my characteristic grace and feminine charm, "fucked up human psyche is a sort of hobby of mine. Genocide is just more of an outgrowth of that."

He smiles.

"You seem like a fascinating woman. Do you have any hobbies that don't involve death and destruction?"

"I like to drink coffee with beautiful men," I reply.

Then we adjourn to Starbuck's and live happily ever after.

Alas, every time I browse the aisles at Barnes & Noble, the only man in there is the sixty year-old guy with his pants pulled up to his armpits, looking to see if they have anything new on the Civil War or the Kennedy assassination.

This is why I'm back on match.com.

The thing I find daunting about internet dating sites is the sheer volume of e-mail involved. Apparently there are a lot of men out there who have an impressive amount of time on their hands, which they use to hunt for women. And much like Dick Cheney, they figure if they shoot at anything that moves, sooner or later they're gonna hit something. Every morning I wake up to a barrage of e-mail from a variety of inappropriate men. For example:

Kevin of Redondo Beach doesn't want any drama because he's had a lot of heartbreak in his life and can't handle any more.

Jake from Sherman Oaks works in the "adult entertainment" industry, but he doesn't bring his work home with him.

Steve from West Hollywood sent me a list of obscure movie quotes and will consider me worthy only if I can identify them.

Tom from Silverlake saw the rhinestone cocktail ring in one of my photos and felt compelled to comment on the materialistic "message" it was sending.

Twenty-eight year old Lucas from Encino thinks I'm "totally hot," and we should "hook up some time."

Glenn from Orange County wants me to come to his Bible study group.

Dave from Burbank is forty-nine, and he's "financially secure" because he acted on a sit-com that was popular when I was in high school. (Word of advice to Dave: if your age is easily verifiable with one visit to Wikipedia, it's pretty silly to tell me you're forty-two, now, isn't it?)

Carl from Pomona is fifty-five, but he does a lot of yoga and seems to feel that general bendiness will compensate for being the same age as my mother.

Tariq is very polite, but apparently he lives in Pakistan and is having a teensy immigration problem.

Really, though, it isn't as bad as all that. Against all odds, a few interesting guys manage to find their way into the in box. It seems there actually might be a number of normal, decent-looking, non-psychopathic men with jobs, who are still single because they've never thought to look for their soulmate outside the walls of their own house. I guess I might have to give in and e-mail some of them. Hey, maybe if I told them the time and place, I could get some of them to indulge me in my book store fantasy.

And if that doesn't work out, I could always hook up with Lucas from Encino.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Twinkie's Big Idea

Twinkie's all excited. He just came back from a big business trip where he was pitching his new million-dollar idea, and it looks like he got some nibbles. He's been working on a business plan for a service that would work with online dating sites, and it could solve a dilemma they've been having for some time.

Basically, the problem is that the anonymity of online dating sites can create a haven for all manner of creeps and predatory weirdoes. This potentially leaves the companies who own these sites legally vulnerable for not having sufficient safety guards in place. On the other hand, they can't start running credit or background checks on all their users. Besides being expensive, it would open them up to even more lawsuits. So it's a conundrum.

Enter Twinkie and his Big Idea. Why not have a user feedback system, like they have on eBay? Pick out a guy on match.com, meet him for coffee, then come home and tell the world all about him. Was he polite? On time? Did he smell OK? Have big yellow gerbil teeth? Did he mention anything about being a serial killer? This is important now, so take it seriously. Other desperately lonely single women in your area need to know.

As a sometimes-user of some of these services, I had to seriously consider how this kind of system would impact my dating experience. After my date with Geriatric Rodent Man, for example, I would have welcomed the chance to vent online. I can just imagine my feedback now:

"LADIES BEWARE!" I would type, furiously, "This guy is AT LEAST ten years older than he says in his profile. He's short, scrawny, and has bad teeth! He has no personality, no social skills, and he looks like a rodent..."

Then I'd stop. What if he reads this? What if it really pisses him off? Then what's he going to write about me?

"OH YEAH???!!! This woman sure takes a liberal interpretation of the phrase "athletic and toned." Plus, she kept staring at my teeth..."

Or worse, he could get really pissed and just totally start making stuff up:

"The bitch gave me herpes..."

Oh God, no! Backspace, backspace, backspace.

"He was a very nice guy, and although we didn't hit it off, I'm sure he'll make some lucky woman a fine partner some day."

Ahh, better. Catastrophe narrowly avoided.

But then, what if I meet some guy who turns out to be really great? Someone I want to see again? Someone who might actually be "The One"? Am I going to hop on the internet and peck out something like:

"A+++++! Fantastic date! This guy is totally hot and interesting and smart and funny..."

Fuck that. This is MY man. Let all those other women find their own; I don't owe them nothin'.

"He's sort of sweet, even with the hare lip. It's kind of a drag his parole officer won't let him leave the county. But without a car, it's not like he can go too far anyway..."

Now let's just hope The One doesn't read it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Curse of the Useful Man

Some time ago, Emma and I decided that we wanted to find ourselves a couple of really hot men. This was a bit of an epiphany, because prior to that we had been more concerned with just finding anyone who would put up with either of us. I, for one, think this a extremely positive breakthrough in our personal development.

Of course, the problem with really hot men is that they usually are only attracted to really hot women. Or really wealthy women. Or really hot, wealthy women. Unfortunately, Emma and I are neither hot nor wealthy. And I suppose the case could be made that we have a few teensy emotional issues. So to say the least, we have a bit of work to do.

We decided that a good first step to becoming hot women would be to each lose thirty pounds. Unfortunately, this means we can't hang out together much these days, because we have this weird knack for making each other eat and drink in quantities that would probably win us a contest at a Teamsters picnic. So for now, we're both Sweatin' to the Oldies on opposite ends of town.

That means life in Hollywood has been not only sexless, but also lonely and dull. The search for eligible men has taken a temporary back burner as well, 'cause face it: it's hard to feel romantic when you're preoccupied with trying not to gnaw your own arm off out of sheer hunger.

Meanwhile, there's been an ironic development back home: my mother has a new boyfriend.

If you knew my mother, you might be wondering why this is big news. Mom is never short of male company. She's already got Country Dan the Maintenance Man, Marvin the Bongo Player, Larry the Sports Geek, and that one old guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to a parrot. Come to think of it, if you take Mom and all her men and put them in a bitchin' condo in Miami Beach, you've got a pretty good concept for a CBS sitcom.

But now Mom's got Jake on her hands, and he's a little different. For one thing, he actually wants to date her, in the sense that he wants to take her places. Outside the house. On his nickel. This has Mom a little disoriented, because she's only accustomed to men who want to sit on her couch and drink her liquor. This getting-up-and-leaving-the-house stuff is putting unfamiliar demands on her. For example, she now has to put on shoes and a bra for her dates.

Perhaps this is why Mom's not more excited about the whole thing. Lately she's been calling me and saying things I haven't heard since she was married to my dad. Things like, "Call me in half an hour and say you've been in an accident so I can get the hell out of here."

On the other hand, Mom knows an opportunity when she sees one, and that's why Jake has recently enjoyed the rare privilege of hanging her new drapery rods, fixing her plumbing problem, and clearing out her storage unit.

But this is where Mom is veering into dangerous territory. If my extended bachelorettehood has taught me one thing, it's this: never let a man snake out your drain unless you're really, really attracted to him. Once a man commits unlicensed plumbing on your behalf, you've entered into an unwritten contract that's more binding than marriage. You can rid yourself of a husband by sleeping with someone else, or by not shaving your pits for a few months. But the kind of guy who snakes out your drain before he's even gotten any pussy? All you can do is hope he falls off the roof while cleaning your gutters.

Yes, yes, I know; poor Jake. He's trying so hard. He's a good guy. But fate is never kind to guys like Jake, who always seem to end up smitten with women like Mom and me: women who just aren't attracted to guys who are worth a damn.

If I were a more introspective person, I'd be reflecting upon how my mother's unhealthy relationship dynamics have affected my own dating habits. Perhaps I'd even begin to rethink the qualities I'm looking for in a man. Maybe I'd stop focusing on such superficialities as appearance and charisma, and I'd seek out someone who's reliable. Honest and caring. Responsible. A hard worker. Handy with tools.

On second thought... nahhhh. I can hire a plumber; bring on the hotties.

...just as soon as I can get back into my skinny jeans.

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