Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Danny DeVito vs Judge Alex - the Jury's NOT Out

FACT. There are no decent, available men out there. Anywhere. In the world.

And here’s another FACT. There never have been.
Trust me: I’ve been out there for over four decades now and have trawled five countries and three continents (so far), so you can’t say I haven’t tried. But it’s a wasteland. A wasteland littered with penises (or should that be penii?) of so many shapes, sizes (and smells: let’s not beat about the bush – although many have tried), but trying to land one accompanied by a brain, humour and even average good looks, is an impossibility.
My first date was at 14 with a police cadet (the astute among you will already have noticed my lifelong obsession with law enforcement and uniform). His name was Kevin and we went to see The Sting. He kept kissing me/dribbling over me at all the key moments, which, with my already being a lover of film and television, was a real drag.
My first boyfriend was called Pete. He was very nice and wanted to marry me. I was 16 and he was 21 and there was no sex. We went to Barry Island funfair in his car (registration number NBX 693H – maybe you’re getting to see why I’ve never found a man?), where he attempted to put his hand down my top. My screams drowned out even those of the people on the roller coaster.
A bad relationship with someone much older set the pattern for me to make bad choices for the next 30 years, but there was fun along the way. Most of the guys are dead now, anyway, or at least on their way out, so I must have done something right (or wrong, depending on your way of looking at it. Hey, ho. I’m still standing).
Concentration on my career put any thoughts of a regular relationship on the back burner; I also love freedom: deciding to take the train to Paris at a moment’s notice; moving to Los Angeles when I had gone there only for a holiday (okay, I was in pursuit of a man. Sadly, not interested. Even sadder. Dead. After only five months of knowing me. See what I mean? But you’ll have to wait for the book on that one).
I don’t like being answerable to anyone. I specially don’t like certain aspects of coupledom – in particular, when one person (usually the male) wants to stay at a party, the other (invariably, the female) doesn't, but the party pooper insists on their more exciting other half leaving with them, thereby removing them from my tentacles.
But in recent years, I decided to dip my toe back into the dating game.

I wasn’t optimistic. The last time I tried it, when I moved to London in my twenties, I went to an Easter party at a singles club in London’s West End. A man dressed as a rabbit kept trying to force his carrot on me. Then I tried Dinner Dating and sat next to what seemed like a very nice photographer. He fell asleep. In his soup. At the next dinner, I sat next to a horologist during the starter but called time on him and moved seats for the main course. Man number two was a urologist, but after exhausting the subject of my tiny bladder and the origins of the phrase “a piece of piss”, gave up.
Dating in Paris, where I lived for seven years, would surely be a . . . well, a piece of piss. It was rumoured to be the most romantic city on Earth, after all, although my experience had been anything but. My one time boyfriend and I sat drinking at a wine bar in Montparnasse, where he told me: “You are the most funny, clever, brilliant woman I have ever met . . . I just don’t fancy you.” He was no Serge Gainsbourg, let me tell you. He’s probably also dead now (along with Serge), but I no longer care.
Paris also brought me a saxophonist, a banker, and a Grand Master who kept groping me under the chess table every time it was time for me to make my move on the board. At least, that was my excuse for never losing to him in over four moves.
The dating club was a disaster. With my limited French, I was never going to fit in with the philosophical tone of their events. While I can ask for a beer and offer a blow-job (“Une bière et voulez-vous une pipe, monsieur?”) in most languages, it doesn’t get you very far in a discussion about the nature of love according to Stendhal.
Clearly, it was Europe that was at fault, not me, so when I moved to the US, I thought I would try again. It’s a big country; there had to be ONE man there, didn’t there?
I tried a couple of dating agencies and was very specific in my requests. Tall (I’m only five feet, so I want a man who can protect me from a bear), funny, smart, kind, slim, mentally stable (I was so done with unstable) and generous. I had my diamond tennis bracelet nicked a few years back, so this was important. I had also paid for every single thing for every man in my entire history, which had left my bank account somewhat diminished (don’t even get me started on David the money-grabbing, short, fat, ginger bore, who went off with Bonny the nurse from Boston).
And he HAD to be a non-smoker who lived not more than 30 miles from Los Angeles, because, although I drive, I don’t have a car here.
So what do both agencies send me? Every overweight, chain-smoking, unemployed, clearly psychotic dwarf from Wisconsin.

Having given up with dating agencies, I inadvertently found a matchmaker. I hadn’t intended to, but ads kept appearing on my Facebook page along the lines of: “Bill the fireman is just five miles down the road from you and really wants to meet”.
I managed to resist. Bill the fireman might look all right at the moment, but what would he be like after his next job? I didn’t want to be a fireman’s wife, swabbing Bill’s disfigured face over breakfast every morning. I didn’t want to be a fireman’s widow, either (although that might be preferable to the disfigurement scenario).
But once you click, they’ve got you, and the matchmaker pursued me. I decided to fill out their form, but changed my mind halfway through. Then the phone-calls started. Non-stop. And so I found myself in Brentwood, in an office, being assured that there was a veritable plethora of men out there who would be “perfect” for me.
These people, I quickly discovered, operate like Timeshare merchants. They shut you in a room to do the form-filling and then, when you get them face to face, they show you pictures of how your life could be if only you were to surrender everything about the old you and hand over everything to them – which, in this case, was $8000 for “the 12 man package”.
Pictures of overweight, smiling couples in hideous wedding gear adorned the room, and already I wanted to run. If Bill the fireman was going to be a pain in the arse, imagine being married to George the overweight salesman in a pink shirt for the rest of my life.
I was asked about my dating history and the type of man I liked. I specially stressed tall. Over six feet. Apart from David the plump ginger cheat, I had never been out with a man under six feet in my life, nor did I intend to start (have you seen how many wild bears there are out there?). The interviewer tried to stress that sometimes life could take you by surprise and you might go for someone entirely different. This did not bode well. At this point, I knew they had absolutely no man over six feet who wanted a short, dark, brilliant, funny and (allegedly) unfanciable Welsh bird.
What about Danny DeVito, she asked. Wasn’t he an example of an attractive short man? Nooooooooo, I screamed. She pushed me on the subject. Wasn’t there ANYONE under six feet I might go for? At a stretch, I reckoned James Spader (Boston Legal – lawyer, albeit acting one). I could do Mark Harmon (NCIS – cop, albeit acting one), too. Or that lovely Latino bloke from Law and Order: SVU (cop – okay, another acting one). 

She looked slightly relieved. Finally, she thought she was getting somewhere. But I still want Judge Alex, I wailed (TV courtroom show, but real life ex-cop, lawyer, Judge – and an ex-pilot, too. Uniform. Tick, tick, tick, tick). Tall, dark, handsome, clever, funny. TALL! Are you listening to me, woman? Her sigh shook the building.
I negotiated them down to $2000 for the 12 man package (don't believe them when they tell you fees are not negotiable - they are), although they told me that I could have more dates, should I need them (trust me, a dollar a man was not even going to come close to their being able to find me what I wanted – I could already see that).
After several weeks, they sent me the details of an interested man. Five feet seven. FIVE FEET SEVEN! That's not a man, it's a hobbit. The bear could eat him for breakfast and still have room to consume an entire McDonald’s chain. Not only that, he was living in rented accommodation – at the age of 60 – and spent our phone-call moaning about how unhappy he was in his job (that’s another thing I can’t stand: people who hate what they do and do nothing to change it).
So, I find myself, in my mid-Fifties, pursuing a company for having taken $2000 from me and misrepresenting what they could offer - a disgraceful $1000 for the interview and $125 for the hobbit "intro".

I might take the case to Judge Alex. Even being a litigant in his courtroom has to beat planning Danny DeVito’s diet.

Or Bill the fireman’s funeral.

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