Oh the joys of dating in Los Angeles *insert eye roll, here*.
Online dating was not my cup of chai. Magnoon Mustafa was officially blocked from calling me and I had to notify my neighbors and landlord, to never allow a short brown man, who resembles an Afghan smurf, from entering the building. That’s how bad his stalking became. For two weeks after our encounter, he sent me an abundant amount of fan mail. In forms of flowers, edible arrangements and he even stood on the sidewalk and serenaded the crickets, one evening. He was a sadistic man-child from the Hollywood Hills, with a body in the closet and lived with fifteen relatives in a condo.
I worked in Academic Publishing, as the Los Angeles representative. I was responsible for making sure students and campuses were equipped with the appropriate materials for their education. I was the dealer in the world of publishing deal making. My focus was primarily on Medical and Law Schools since those areas brought in the largest revenue, in the simplest ways. An early morning meeting on campus forced me to interact with people at 6:00AM, on a Monday.
It was the Mondayest Monday that I have ever Mondayed. I was already on my second tumbler of coffee when the new Dean of the Medical School at the University of California, Los Angeles walked in with a guest speaker. A few professors and administrative staff had been waiting with me in a large conference room. The presence of both the Dean and the guest speaker, commanded everyone to stand up. The coffee hadn’t kicked in precisely enough for me to catch on. I tried to gap the row of people standing, by easing back into my chair out of eyesight. But thanks to the law of physics, I ended up falling backwards and ate carpet.
It was the Mondayest Monday that I have ever Mondayed.
You would think my graceful flip would cause people to be concerned and help me up, right? No, no. These Professors didn’t even bat an eye.
“Thanks, yal! I’m great. No injuries here,” I proclaimed while brushing my hands over my skirt to ease out the wrinkles as I stood up.
“Who said that?” The Dean asked.
“Oh, just the rep,” Professor Douchebag responded.
Just the rep? What kind of condescending comment was that?
I cleared my throat, preparing to respond, when the guest speaker stood before me, barrel chest at eye level, forcing me to lean my head back to meet his gaze. He looked to be no more than thirty-five. His eyes were emerald green, a stark contrast against his golden, olive skin and ink-black hair. His stare was intense and made me blush. I shyly glanced to the floor, but not before catching a scan of his gray Armani suit, white button up and pale pink tie. I twitched when I saw his bare ankles and Prada loafers. He wasn’t wearing socks! But he was wearing a $2,000 suit and $900 shoes. Um, what?
This strange, gorgeous man with an odd bare feet fetish came from France and was here for a visit.
“Is something wrong, Miss?” He asked as he righted my chair.
Why, yes, now that you ask. You’re not wearing socks! I’m allergic to bad fashion, I thought to myself.
“Not at all,” I smiled broadly and gracefully took my seat.
The meeting lasted an eternity. I learned a few things about him during the meeting though. For starters, his name was Kamel. He was Algerian with a sexy French accent and perfectly manicured cuticles, a book published traveling man who enjoyed university campus hopping, speaking at conventions, TED talks, and he didn’t wear socks. He thanked me for my participation and asked me to stop by his temporary office for a meeting, the following day. These meeting requests turned into, six, before he asked me out to dinner.
Being a good-looking Algerian-French man in Los Angeles obviously required him to take me to a French restaurant in Santa Monica. He left it up to me, as he was such a gentleman. I chose a simple Monique Lhuillier red cocktail dress that stopped mid-calf. My hair hung down in loose beach waves, my makeup was minimal and offset a touch of bold red lip.
Conversation flowed over platters of mussels and French fries. We shared a mutual admiration for literature and macaroons.
“There’s nothing like seeing a Shakespearean play at The Globe Theatre, in London,” Kamel ventured.
“I love Shakespeare!” I proclaimed as I put my hand over my heart and said, “My favorite line is from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ‘Love looks not with the eyes, but-‘” I was cut off mid-sentence because Kamel said, “With the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
*Sigh* Kamel spoke Shakespeare.
After dinner, we walked on Ocean Avenue, with the beach to our left and the promenade to our right. We stopped at the flat terrain covered in rocks. You could smell the ocean mist and catch a glimpse of Palisades Highlands. The temperature was a little cool. Kamel must have sensed my slight discomfort, because he took off his suit jacket and gracefully laid it upon my shoulders. I tilted my head back, smiled and thanked him for the kind gesture. He cupped the side of my face and graced his thumb along the side of my cheek.
Our eyes were locked in a gaze, what a way to get the phenyl ethylamine pumping through our veins!
“May I kiss you?” He asked.
It was so romantic and polite of him to ask!
I bit my bottom lip and bashfully glanced away, breaking our gaze. “Thank you for asking but, no.”
He drew his eyebrows closely together and licked his lips. “Is everything OK?”
“Yeah, yeah. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to kiss on the first date. Besides, I’m in heels.”
After a sigh and an arm rub, Kamel placed his hand on the small of my back and we proceeded with our beach stroll. The night breeze picked up and the moisture from the ocean did not do my Arab hair any justice. Our night ended with a simple hug and a promise to see each other, over the weekend.
I woke up Friday morning by a call from my Landlord, “You have a delivery at the front desk. It’s in the form of a human being.”
“If he looks like an Afghan smurf, call the police,” I said thinking it was Magnoon Mustafa.
“Um, no. Not him. This one looks like a French dark version of Brad Pitt.”
Kamel found out where I lived (read, this is creepy) and he was here on a Friday morning. I needed to look naturally beautiful, right? So I threw my hair up in a topknot after I jumped in the shower for a quick rinse, and dabbed on concealer, mascara and plumping lip-gloss for the Angelina Jolie bee stung look. Super natural. Right?
Standing in the lobby, looking like he was ready for a board meeting was Kamel holding two cups of coffee and a brown bag.
“Good morning, beautiful,” Kamel said and brushed his lips on my cheek.
“Hey, good morning. What a surprise.”
“I thought I’d stop by on my way to work, with coffee and a croissant,” he handed me heaven in a cup, hazelnut coffee from my favorite café down the street. “And, clear your plans for the weekend.”
I gulped down my coffee and stuttered, “Wh-why?”
“I’ll pick you up at 8:00, tonight.”
“Wait! What do I wear? This surprise is already giving me anxiety.”
“Just be ready for an epic weekend. I’ll take care of the details,” He kissed my cheek goodbye and left. My landlord stood there gaping, with an expression on her face that couldn’t exactly be translated.
“Hey!” I said, while waving my hand in front of her face. “Jessica! Snap out of it!”
“Jehan, Mr. Tie me up, tie me down, is like a god.”
“Ugh, I know. He’s so pretty, I want to cry,” I rolled my eyes and devoured my croissant. “Isn’t that weird he found out where I live? AND that’s he’s planning this getaway after one date?” I finished my croissant so fast; I almost bit away at my fingers.
“Do I need to repeat, that he looks like a god? Who cares if this is fast, he’s hot! You better start grooming from now!”
Later on that afternoon, another delivery arrived at my building. This time, a messenger with an envelope and a heart shaped box. The card read,
“Jehan, wear this tonight. I’ll be at your place, at 8. -Kamel.”
A beautiful black colored box tied with a white ribbon with the word CHANEL boldly printed was staring at me, waiting to be opened. I carefully fingered through the intricate ribbon tie, not wanting to tear apart the delicate streamer. Inside was the most beautiful white and gold accented cocktail dress I had ever laid eyes on.
This felt like a fairy tale. I had never been swept off my feet, at this magnitude, before and in a matter of days. The fast pace was not only giving me anxiety but it was thrilling to be excited about someone, again. After my humblebrag on social media, I got dressed and vigilantly waited for my date.
Kamel greeted me with a single white rose and a smile as big as the moon.
“Thank you for the beautiful dress,” I said.
“You look ravishing,” he took a hold of my hand and spun me around.
“So where are we going that requires me to be in Chanel couture?”
“I’m taking you to dinner in the city,” he led me down the stairs towards the town car that was waiting. “In San Francisco.”
“San Francisco? Tonight? What?!”
“Bien sur (of course), haven’t you been?” He chuckled.
“Well, yeah of course. My sister lives up there. But, why?”
“It’s my favorite restaurant in all of California,” Kamel said matter of fact.
We took a small plane for the forty-five minute trip and I was so scared throughout the entire trip, I couldn’t enjoy the breath taking view. Nonetheless, upon landing in San Francisco, the city lights illuminated the jewel-boxed sky. We walked into the Top of the Mark restaurant and were led to our table. The 360-degree panorama view was a magical setting to the classic, romantic rooftop. The view was simply breathtaking.
Throughout dinner, Kamel sat across the table from me. I started the conversation to break the intensity of his stare, “So, do you bring all your dates to San Fran, on a whim?” I laughed while taking a sip of my water.
His left eyebrow twitched and his tone flat lined, “Why would you think that?”
“I’m just kidding. This is just magical, to me. I’ve never experienced a dinner out of the city on impulse.”
“Well, you’re welcome and you look beautiful,” he took my hand slowly opened it and kissed the inside palm.
“Thank you. So, how was your day?” I asked him, nearly slipping off my chair. He proceeded to explain the extent of his profession; he was a physician who traveled with his father’s pharmaceutical company for years, published three books and decided on speaking all over the world. He came from a family of medical professionals and the demands of his job required him to travel extensively.
When it was time to order desert, he got up and sat next to me and draped his arm around my shoulders. He nuzzled his face into the nape of my neck and whispered, “Are you ready to go back to the room for desert?”
I pulled out of his embrace and gave him stinky eye. “Excuse me? What room?”
“The hotel room I reserved, downstairs of course.”
“What makes you think we’re staying the night?”
“Well, bringing you up here for dinner comes along with expectations.” He said softly, practically purring. “Let’s be practical. It’s late. Why not join me for the evening?”
“Expectations? I’m so confused. It was your idea and surprise to come up for dinner. Why would there be any expectations attached to that?”
“This is how it works. I take care of the glam and the pizzazz and you handle the feminine role. Right, mon cheri. You’re such a little girl.”
“So you want a prostitute?” My heart raced. I could feel the heat rising in my face, coloring my cheeks a rosy red.
“I don’t have time for this back and forth. Are you coming, or what?” he stood up, and extended his arm , as if I were Cinderella.
“Oh bless your heart. I didn’t realize you were that sick!”
I stood up about to slap his face, but instead, I walked off in a huff and weaved between dining tables towards the Maitre D. I stood there in all my stupidity, acutely aware of polite societal behavior.
“Miss, is there anything I can help you with?” The Maitre D asked.
“I can’t believe that slime ball!” I managed to say as I fumbled through my purse for my cell phone.
“I know I should be discreet Miss,” the Maitre D started. He lowered his voice to a whisper, “But, this isn’t the first time this week. Monsieur Kamel is a regular bringing the pretty ladies here.”
I didn’t have a voice, but I had my fingers. I stepped out into the cold night and dialed my sister.