Cheesecake Guy

Went to see Bad Teacher with Chloe at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks (because you can reserve your seat–totally worth it).

The only bad thing about the Galleria is that there are very few places to eat and no stores to browse in. So left with few choices, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before the movie.

Now I’m not one of those people who decries chains like the Cheesecake Factory as symptomatic of the decline of society. All things being equal I’d probably choose somewhere else, but the food is actually pretty decent. The problem with the Cheesecake Factory is that everyone else in the world seems to think it’s a fine dining experience and that makes the place too damn crowded.

We put our name down and were told it would be a 20-30 minutes wait. I was ready to bolt, but Chloe is more patient than I (by a factor of 93) and said we would wait. Of course, there’s nowhere to sit down, just a massive crowd of people waiting to get seated. So I made the best of the situation and turned to the guy next to me (wearing a Lakers jersey) and said, “I should just wait until they beep me and then sell my beeper to the highest bidder.”

He thought that was a good idea. He said, “Yeah, you could come here every night and auction off your place.”

“Sounds like a great business plan,” I replied. “Like we stand outside yelling, ‘I got a table for 6 in five minutes, table for 2 in ten, who needs a table for 8? I got a table for 8 and it’s beeping right now!'” I acted out the ticket scalper routine which he seemed particularly familiar with.

The bit ended and I turned back to Chloe. She was looking at me a little oddly. She said, “Do you know that guy?” I said no, I was just making conversation. She said, “You know, I’ve noticed that you talk to strangers a lot. Like when we were in Vegas you talked to that guy at the roulette table for like an hour.”

So I made a decision. Over the course of dinner, I told Chloe about the Talk to Strangers project. (I didn’t mention the blog. Baby steps.) She thought it was a cool thing I was doing. Especially when I told her that’s how I met her.

Carver Carver

Okay, one last post about Vegas and then I’ll move on to current events.

Chloe and I ate the buffet at Planet Hollywood on one occasion (it had to be done) and it’s always amazing to see the spread of food they have. It’s as if someone asked, “What kind of food should we have in our buffet?” and then a big fat tycoon laughed diabolically and said, “All of them! Ha ha ha ha!”

Anyway, we split up since Chloe is a vegetarian and I went to the prime rib station. There I saw a chef guy in a big white hat slicing pieces of prime rib to order. And on his chest was a tag that read, “Carver.”

I actually flinched for a second, confused, and just instinctively blurted out, “Is ‘Carver’ your name or your job description?”

“It’s my name. How would you like your beef, sir?”

“Wait. Sorry for being so nosy, but is it your first name or your last name?”

“My first name. Would you like it medium rare or more well done?”

“So your parents named you Carver and you got a job as a carver. Isn’t that weird?”

“You’re holding up the line, sir.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll take a rare piece please.” But I couldn’t stop myself. “Do you think they assigned you the carving station because of your name, like as a joke?”

“Here’s your prime rib, sir.”

He placed the slice on my plate and that was it. He turned to the next customer and made it clear that he wasn’t going to be talking to me anymore.

On the way back to the table, I reminded myself that people have had their names their whole lives and it’s next to impossible to think of anything clever to say about it that they haven’t already heard a million times. Still, it did occur to me that if he married Shia LaBeouf, he’d be Carver LaBeouf.

The Pretender

Still more stories from Vegas…

We went out to a club the first night we were there. Now, personally, I hate clubs.

I hate the people, I hate the music, I hate everything about it. But going to clubs is something guys pretend to enjoy if they want to have girlfriends.

Anyway, I took a break from Chloe on the dance floor and went to get drinks at the bar. That’s where I met Obnoxious Russian Guy. This guy looked like he was out of a SNL skit. Open shirt, gold chains, massive Rolex. He was drinking some sort of __-tini and scanning the crowd for prey. I couldn’t resist.

I leaned in and said, “How you making out?”

He instantly saw me as a kindred spirit. He replied with his heavy accent, “Is early. Be patient, my friend.”

“Not me,” I argued. “I see what I like and I go in for the kill.”

“What is your hurry? Is waste of time to make all your chit chat now. Buy all your drinks. Spend all your money. And then what? Girls get sober. Girls go home with their friends. Is too early.”

I said, “I never thought about it like that. So you have to wait until the end of the night before you make your move?”

“American women, they like to play the game. But I don’t play that shit. Two hours, then we will see who is the pretender and who is here to party.”

“Awesome advice. Thank you, my friend,” I said, using his parlance.

We clinked glasses and I took off, back to Chloe on the dance floor.

Penny Sluts

I’m still catching up from Vegas. We had so much fun and I personally talked to so many strangers that it’s going to take a while to write about them all.

But first some information to clear up. In response to reader demand, I can divulge the following information: Yes, Chloe and I slept in the same bed; but no, we didn’t do it. How did I handle that bit of awkwardness? Simple. I simply told her as part of the invitation. (I think my exact words were, “We’ll get a big king bed, it’ll be like a sleepover, but no sex.”)

With sex off the table, it made the whole weekend a lot more fun. To tell you the truth, telling Chloe before-hand that there would be no sex actually seemed to make her up for it. At least that’s the vibe I got. Like, I said “no sex” because that’s what you do in that situation, but she wasn’t holding me to it as a firm promise, and in fact, may have been surprised that I actually kept my end of the bargain. But I didn’t mind. We had fun and I’m sure we’ll cross that bridge soon enough.

Anyway, the first stranger I want to mention is this escort/prostitute named “Jelly.” Now maybe I shouldn’t be so proud of myself here. After all, pretty much everyone in Vegas is in a talkative mood. You can’t sit at a Blackjack table and be surprised if people strike up a conversation. That just goes with the territory of gambling. But Jelly was a different story. Jelly was a “penny slut.”

Allow me to explain. Apparently if you are a prostitute (which is illegal in Vegas in case you’ve never seen CSI or Reno 911), you can’t loiter in a casino looking for customers or they’ll kick you out. So what the clever escorts do is hang out at the penny slot machines. A normal gambler might put a dollar in at a time and play a million lines for five cents each so the penny slot machine gets expensive really fast. But the prostitute literally play one penny at a time. Hence, they are gambling. Hence, they are customers, not loiterers.

Anyway, Chloe and I learned about this when we noticed all these obvious prostitutes hanging around the penny slots at two in the morning. I walked up to an Asian woman and said, “What’s the deal with all the escorts playing penny slots?”

At first, she didn’t want to talk to us. It was obvious we weren’t looking to hire her for a three-way and so we were theoretically hurting her business opportunities. But she quickly realized that there were no such opportunities at the moment and decided that talking to us was more interesting than gambling 1c.

And that’s how we learned about penny sluts. (The “sluts” part is an inside joke because that’s what Chloe thought Jelly kept saying.”)

I’m Married!

Just kidding. I’m not that big of an idiot. But we did have fun this weekend.

Chloe and I drove to Vegas Friday.

Traffic was a bitch but once we hit the desert it was okay. Whenever I get to Barstow, I always think of that Kim Wilde song, “Kids in America.” There’s one line, “New York to East California/ There’s a new wave coming I warn you.” I always wondered, “What the hell is East California?” I mean, there’s Northern California and Southern California, but there is no part of the state known as “east” California. I get that Kim Wilde is English, and that “east” is one syllable, but really there’s nothing there but barren desert.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun. We gambled a bit, got to know each other, and ate a lot of food. Chloe is just so good-natured it’s weird. She doesn’t have a mean thought in her head. Not sure why she likes me, but I really like her.