I moved to Los Angeles, from Cincinnati, in my mid twenties. Most people would be intimidated by the drastic culture shock. I, however, found it invigorating. I reconnected with a high school friend, and three nights later, we were at the MTV Music Awards pre-party. Our table was five feet away from Usher and his entourage. Yes, he is everything he embodies on stage, in real life. But he is short. Embarrassingly short.
In only two months, my transformation was in full swing. I went from a wardrobe of long sleeves and pants; to tank tops, mini skirts, and the latest fashion forward trends plastered on the streets of Rodeo Drive. A pivotal point in this transition was discovering my love for shoes. From Louboutin to Christian Dior, my adolescent years of playing soccer prepared my feet for the commitment required to wearing high-end heels. Ladies, I get it! The higher the heel, the better.
I am ready for the Los Angeles dating scene. At least, according to my group of West Coast friends I am. The tomboy, minimalist Ohioan has been upgraded to glammed up and glitzed out Beverly Hills socialite.
While at a show with a group of friends, I met a 6’2″ tall soccer player, who is fluent in four languages and had a sparkle in his eye that glimmered when he smiled. We talked so much, we were asked to leave the show. Not ready to leave each other, we continued the conversation at In-N-Out. Over burgers and fries, we laughed and talked the night away until we shut down the restaurant. As he walked me to my car, he gently pulled my hand up to his lips and whispered, “I feel like our souls have known each other for eternity.”
My knees melted and I felt as if my soul leaped out of my body. I didn’t drive home that night, I floated on cloud 9.
Like any new beginning, I was filled with so much excitement and happiness. We spent hours every night on the phone. Not only did our personalities blend, but also we were on the same level with how we viewed and practiced religion. So I thought.
Suave Steve* (name is changed to protect the privacy of the individual) and I had a dinner date planned at an upscale Italian restaurant. While my clothing got a face-lift, I was still coming to terms with it. I settled on a simple James Perse black cocktail dress with long sleeves and a low open back. My legs were elongated with black Louboutin stilettoes.
Not familiar with the area, I accidently parked a block away from the restaurant. As I walked towards the restaurant, I started to feel nervous. This was officially my first solo dinner date. Normally, I’d meet with a guy in a group of friends. If the guy showed interest, we would take the traditional route; where he would meet with my parents and we would resume getting to know each other accordingly. My parents knew of Suave Steve because I was obnoxiously giving them a play-by-play, daily.
I gave myself a pep talk and brushed off the nerves. Holding my head up high, I walked down North Beverly Drive as if it were my runway. Upon locking eyes with Suave Steve, he stood up to greet me. He brushed my cheeks with a light kiss, causing me to bashfully pull away and blush. The customary kiss greeting was ok with my girlfriends. But with a guy who made my knees week, I wasn’t prepared and didn’t know how to receive it.
“When I saw you through the window, walking, I noticed people looking at you. I needed to greet you standing up, so everyone can see that you’re coming home with me, tonight,” he said, while keeping a grasp on my hand and a large smile on his face.
“Coming home?” I said, raising my right eyebrow and tilting my head up to make eye contact with him.
“Well, you know what I mean. Here, take a seat. This place is well known for their truffle pasta.” He couldn’t keep eye contact with me for the next few seconds while he changed the subject.
Perhaps I was overreacting, I thought to myself. Surely, there was no way he actually meant I would go home with him.
Dinner was delicious and before ordering dessert, I was sipping my latte when he said, “So, when do you feel it is the appropriate time to be intimate?” he asked point blank. I gulped my coffee down and my head snapped up, as if his words had air and pushed my head up.
“I’m sorry?” giving him the benefit of the doubt, I asked him to clarify himself.
“You know?” he trailed off, picking up his napkin and twirling it in between his fingers.
“No, I don’t. First, you’ll need to define what you mean by intimate. Second, I’m flabbergasted you’ll even bring that topic up. Especially on the first date.”
“I believe intimacy is important in a relationship. There can’t be compatibility without intimate compatibility.” His voice started getting stronger, as if he were trying to convince himself of this ridiculousness.
A flare of confusion and anger flashed my eyes as I just looked at him from across the table. How could a man who just told me, he doesn’t miss a prayer, ask me this? Doesn’t one act invalidate the other?
He interrupted the silence by clearing his throat and saying, “Jehan, sex is important. Nowadays, everybody has sex.”
That was it. That was the clarification I needed to downgrade him to, Sleazy Stevie.
“No, no. Not everybody. I don’t believe in sex before marriage. And I don’t believe in your definition of intimacy.”
“Sex is important. Nowadays, everybody has sex.”
Naturally, I couldn’t let a latte go to waste. So I gulped down the coffee and laid out cash for my share of the dinner, before speed walking out of the restaurant.
Did Sleazy Stevie walk after me? Nope. He did, however, text bomb me that night begging me not to disclose our conversation to our group of mutual friends.
This is just a snippet of what dating is like, for me, in California. Join me, while I recount the torrid tales of dating in the major cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Orange County. While I embark through life living in these cities, I encounter many who will test me; awaken me and most importantly, love me.