Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:02 a.m.
I often go on blind dates with a great deal of reluctance, but since my matchmaker put the words "handsome," "tall," and "doctor" in the descriptive sales pitch, I was more than eager to go out with Bachelor No. 3. (Or is it Bachelor Number 8,635? I've lost count by now.) Knowing he was coming all the way up from Coconut Grove, I suggested Sage French Café & Oyster Bar, a quaint restaurant off Harrison Street in Downtown Hollywood.
In true form, I showed up about 15 minutes late and found him sitting at the bar. Damn! My girlfriend was right -- he was definitely a looker. I was thankful at that moment that I opted for a gravity-defying dress that required double-stick tape as opposed to my Barney-purple jumpsuit, but soon I wondered if any of that mattered; he seemed more interested in the beautiful blonde bartender, his espresso martini, and some middle-aged man wearing as much jewelry as some of those yentas at the Festival Flea Market. Now I generally consider myself a pretty confident gal, but suddenly I began to wonder: What if Bachelor M.D. was out of my league?
The question kept running through my mind as we walked through the dimly lit, cozy restaurant, but I let it go while we perused the menu. He voiced reluctance when I offered to share the pâté, but then he was all about the escargot, so I still gave him points for culinary adventurousness. Thankfully, when the slippery critters arrived, they were hot and drowned in delicious pools of butter, lemon, and garlic. I watched him swallow those gastropods with a smile, thankful that his mouth was too busy for an interrogation.
Soon our crêpe Christina arrived. Taking up nearly the entire plate, it was an interesting combination of jack cheese and ratatouille. (Had he seen the movie? No.) We also split the Bourride seafood stew in a white wine cream sauce. This was another great choice. He cooed his way through it, doling out healthy hunks of shrimp, mussel, and scallop on my plate all the while. A gentleman, for sure. More points awarded.
Our conversation flowed freely over the candlelit table as we shared details about our lives and I started to feel more assured with every passing minute. Yeah, he was more educated, but I'm no moron. Yeah, he's gorgeous, but I'm no pig. And, okay, perhaps he's a well-to-do doctor and I'm a broke journalist, but I have a pretty exciting life and great job perks. Maybe there's a chance for us after all.
We opted to skip dessert, voicing our shared concern for excess body fat. Then he divulged that it was his dream to have four children and I feared we were a done deal. I'm a 36-year-old woman, for goodness' sakes! Even if he threw me on my back that night, I'd still have to spend most of the next half a decade horizontally just to pump those babies out in time. Unlike Michelangelo, I simply can't do my life's work lying down (though I've been told I can do some other interesting, worthwhile stuff) and the thing I most want to produce before I turn 40 is a book, not the remainder of a human hockey team.
So after the check arrived, he turned to me, yawned, and apologized for having to end the date so soon with an excuse about having a 7 a.m. meeting the next morning. My heart kind of broke a little as I drove home alone, thinking perhaps he was the most beautiful, amazing man I wanted nowhere near my bed.
Sage French Café & Oyster Bar is located at 2000 Harrison St. in Hollywood. Call 954-391-9466, or visit sagecafe.net.
Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try and eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.