When Harry Met Sheila
“You sure are one classy piece of trim,” Harry said at the conclusion of our first date. I should have listened to the voice in my gut and run. Instead, I giggled, thankful that Harry, unlike so many of my other Tinder-suitors, had not once mentioned his fantasy of one day living in a van down by the river. He owned his own small ad agency, appeared to brush and floss with regularity and spoke highly of his still-married and sweet parents. While the stories of his beloved cats Fluff-E and Fluff-IE-R were bordering on creepy cat guy, at least he didn’t show up on the Megan’s Law web site when I googled him before our date like the guy I met organically at the yacht club who had a criminal record for roofying his dates.
Harry gave me a chaste kiss on the cheek and a hug uttering the word “nice” as he briefly felt my back muscles before I climbed into my car. I was flattered at the attention. After all, in Los Angeles, any compliment bestowed upon a woman past the age of 35 is accepted as readily as a pouch of gold coins.
So, when Harry called and asked me to meet him for dinner Friday night in Larchmont Village, I accepted. I strolled along the street in my pretty little black dress and kitten pumps, eye flirting with an obviously divorced dad dining al fresco with his teenage sons at an Italian café. I looked up and saw Harry see me from across the street. I gave him a little wave. He then bolted into the oncoming traffic – running towards me like a lost child at a carnival – ignoring the blast of horns and howls from drivers as they slammed on their brakes.
While Tuesday night Harry had seemed a bit madcap, Friday night Harry seemed mad (as in a hatter) sort of way. Divorced dad gave me a look of concern. I should have run to divorced dad and his strapping young sons for protection. Instead, I found myself staring at the bloody tip of Harry’s scratched-up nose. His right arm was flailing and, as he tucked my left arm under it, he looked wild-eyed at my shoes.
“Can you walk in those?” he asked, guiding me down the street. His gate was erratic and duck-like, but I said “sure” chalking up his “I need to walk it off, I just need to shake it off,” mumbles to a case of second date nerves. He seemed to calm down a bit and guided us to the front door of Le Petit Greek. At this point I didn’t have the heart to acknowledge the bloody nose. When the maitre’d gave me a look of trepidation, I smiled, channeling my inner Mother Teresa saying “table for two, please.”
As the waiter approached our table, Harry’s arm flailing resumed and he blurted out “All I want’s tabbouleh. I had a fuck-friggin’ tuna sandwich for breakfast. I think outside the fuck-friggin box.”
At that moment it dawned on me that Harry clearly hadn’t taken his meds today for what I presumed was Turrets Syndrome. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s a malady I’d yet to consider on my would-be-suitor-deal-breaker-list. “Nick,” I said, glancing at the waiter’s nametag, “I’ll have a very large glass of chardonnay even if it comes from inside a box, thank you.”
“And for you sir?” Nick asked, apprehensively.
“Just tabbouleh. Alcohol doesn’t agree with me,” Harry said, scratching his head.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be drinking for two. I’ll have the lamb combo, please,” I said through a pursed smile not unlike Nancy Regan’s the time the White House press secretary made her kiss Mr. T’s bald head during an Oval Office visit and photo-op.
“Right away, Miss,” Nick said scurrying towards the bar.
“I’m starving,” Harry said, visibly trying to control his arm movements in between fist bangs on the table.
I tried to ignore him and grabbed the generous goblet of beautiful golden liquid Nick presented me with in record time. I took a long, soothing sip and glanced over at the door.
“Oh my gosh, Billy Crystal just walked in. I love him,” I said noticing the comedian and his lovely wife chatting with the host.
“Oh great, fuck-friggin’ Paparazzi, just what I need,” Harry said grabbing my drink and taking a glug. I grabbed it back and noticed Billy Crystal notice some friends of his sitting right behind me. As Billy stood chatting with his friends showing them photos of his grand child, Nick placed a huge, family style bowl of tabbouleh with a large serving spoon in the middle of our table.
“How goes it, Nick?” Billy asked, acknowledging the waiter and giving me a polite smile and a nod. At that moment Harry proceeded to grab the enormous serving spoon and shove a hefty gob of tabbouleh in his mouth with great chunks of green parsley spilling down his face and onto the crisp, white tablecloth. Billy gave me that classic Billy Crystal wide-eyed look with the head tilt.
“I’m not supposed to be doing this am I?” Harry asked, still chewing. The blood on the tip of his nose had now coagulated into a large scab.
“No, you’re not,” I said, handing him a small plate while draining my glass that Nick then replaced with farcical speed. I glanced up at Billy giving him my best ‘save me” look and he gave me a wink and a shrug then another wide-eyed “where’d you find this guy?” look.
Billy rejoined his wife at a large booth a few yards away. My combo plate arrived and when Harry tried to stab it with his used fork I grabbed him by the wrist saying “Why don’t you let me make you a plate?” In a ‘go ahead, make my day’ tone of voice.
Upon eating a piece of the spicy lamb Harry choked a bit and then launched into an absurd sneezing fit eliciting gesundheits and God bless you’s from the other diners. I lost track at about sneeze 15 and shook my head when Billy gave me another wide-eyed look from across the room. I caught Nick’s eye and signaled for him to bring Harry the check (who was now waving an American Express card in between blowing his once again bleeding nose into his white, cloth dinner napkin).
In his most lucid moment of the evening, Harry said “You should just go,” as he rushed to the men’s room with his bloody nose in the air. As I headed for the door I heard Billy’s wife ask him what she should have.
I could have sworn I heard Billy say you definitely don’t want what she’s having.