In acting class I learned about the “moment before” — before you enter a scene, your character has had a previous moment, a life before that scene, which directly effects how your character is going to act in the present moment. Was he just yelled at by his boss? Did he just get smiled at by a pretty girl? (Often when you only get “sides” in an audition — just the few lines you are playing — you have to make up a previous moment for the character.)
I mention this because I think the “moment before” a date is pretty critical, especially with women, who are unusually sensitive to moods and their surroundings. That’s why I don’t like to meet women immediately after they’ve worked late at the law office and still are in their pants suit and in ‘attorney head.’ There is something to be said about the days (30′s? 40′s? 50′s? 1880′s?) when women spent a few hours “preparing” for a date, bathing, relaxing, grooming and transitioned into “date mode” and stepping into their femininity.
What happened to me last week was when I got to the vegan hipster bistro to meet my date Francesca, she was in the midst of being hustled.
I got there 6 or 7 minutes late (I called ahead while in terrible traffic) and I saw what looked like her at a table outside and she was sitting with another woman. There were drinks on the table, so I thought maybe that’s not her — these ladies have been here awhile. So I call and then hear HER phone ring at that table. She says to woman she’s sitting with (her back facing me), “You gotta go,” with an unusual amount of anxiety in her voice.
I approach, stand in front of the table and they are arguing.
Woman (mid 40′s, black, dreds): “I told you how much before I sat down.”
My Date: “No, you said it was free.”
Woman: “No, I did not.”
(Now, I don’t understand what is happening — I thought maybe she had a business meeting before me — she was a freelancer –and my head isn’t really clear since I just spent an hour in traffic trying to get to Hollywood in what would have normally taken 35 min – 45 minutes max)
Then, flustered, my date says, “Okay, fine — I’ll pay you, it doesn’t matter,” reaches in her purse, thrusts the Hustler a $20 and the Hustler hustles out of there so fast, there was practically a puff of smoke where she had been standing.
Then my date tells me what happened — the woman approached and offered a FREE palm reading.
Now, I’m from back East (lived in NYC, went to high school in the inner city) — nothing’s EVER free — there’s always a catch. When people try and hustle me here in L.A. I say, “Dude, I’m from NYC — we INVENTED this.” One guy actually said, “Sorry, man” like he was violating my patent.
So this lady’s hustle is she says it’s free, but then says she didn’t say that, then out of social awkwardness and social anxiety and white guilt, the mark gives up the money that never would have if they knew it was $20 at the start.
So, understandably, my date — who is BREATHTAKING — pretty in her pictures, but just stunning in real life — is a little shaken.
I tell her a story how I got hustled in L.A. in a faux almost car accident to make her feel better. She comes off the ceiling a bit.
After an hour of nice chatting and laughs, she announces, “Look, I’m just getting a friend vibe from you — I just wanted to be honest, because your profile says you appreciate that, I mean, I’d go out with you again to get to know you better, but romantically I’m kinda on the fence so I’m not making any promises — I just want you to know if we go out again.”
(Now this was a woman who e-mailed ME first a note that said in the subject line “D — You look and sound absolutely fabulous” a couple weeks before)
Me (recovering from the shock, trying to keep a smile on my face): “Wow — that’s the first time in twenty years anyone’s told me that even before that first dated ended. So, just so I’m clear — we can go out again, as friends, but with small portion of romantic potential on the side?”
She laughed and nodded.
I picked up the check and got a “awwwwwwwww”-our-chests-are-not-touching-pat-on-the-back hug.
I bet if I knew what was going on and told the Hustler to get the fuck away before I called the cops, she not only would have not dumped me at minute 55, she probably would have made out with me, having stepped into my masculine and saved her. I bet something inside her was blaming me for being late, ’cause if I was on time, she wouldn’t have gotten hustled. She didn’t feel SAFE on some primitive level.
Had I just gotten there a few moments before…