Unrequited Bromance

I went to Whole Foods on Sunday mostly to buy food but also to see Astrid.

I wanted to hang out with Cesar again, because he seemed cool and smart and I wanted to be his friend. But how do you go about saying that to another dude? I figured I would ask his girlfriend to set it up. But a weird thing happened when I brought it up.

I waited in her checkout line and when it was my turn, I said, “Hey, hope you had a good time at the party.”

She said, “Totally. It was so cool of you to invite all those people.”

I said, “I really liked your friend Cesar. He’s one funny dude.”

She said, “Yeah, I saw you guys talking.”

I tried to be nonchalant when I said, “We should hang out some time.”

Then she looked at me kind of weird. She said, “Like all three of us?”

I was like, “Sure. It could be a group thing. Or just me and him. Like guys night out or something. Either way.”

For some reason this didn’t come out right in her mind. She just looked at me.

So I said, “So can I get his info?”

Astrid said, “Why don’t you give me your info and I’ll pass it along to him.”

I was confused. Not sure how I made this weird but apparently I had. I just said, “Sure, whatever’s easier.” I wrote down my email on the receipt and gave it to her.

I walked out with my lemon chicken wondering what she thought I really wanted.

Post-Game Wrap-Up

First of all, the game was pretty exciting. I didn’t mind watching at all, though I couldn’t care less who won. No one at the party was a super-fan so we didn’t have any problems with guys in face-paint going berserk when some dude dropped the ball.

Twenty-two guests showed up. Scott, Gunther, Gordo, Polly, and some other obvious candidates, plus the dry cleaner Ramon and believe it or not, letter carrier Hung. The Whole Foods contingent came en masse, and the fun thing was, a lot of people brought a friend or two, so there were new people to meet.

One of the best things about the party was that it was such a weird mix of people that practically no one (besides me) knew more than a small percentage. So everyone was meeting a lot of new people. But hands down, my favorite new person is Astrid the check-out girl’s boyfriend Cesar. He works in marketing, but mostly for appliance manufacturers. His job is to “humanize” appliances by making boring features seem more intelligent. Example: He pointed to my toaster oven. It had a setting called, “Bagel.” He asked me, “What do you think that does?”

I had never really thought about it, but I did use it every time I want to toast a bagel. I said, “I don’t know, some kind of sensor makes the toaster heat penetrate a thicker dough of a bagel?”

He said, “That’s what I do. I make you think the toaster is smart. ‘Bagel’ setting increases the toast time by 10%. That’s it.”*

Turns out, there are only two things that are adjustable on the toast setting. Power and time. You can make the power go from 10% to 100% and you can adjust the time it toasts. That’s it. Putting a button on the front that says “Belgian Waffles” doesn’t change the fact that there’s only those two variables.

I love this guy.**

Anyway, the party was a big hit. Everyone had fun. It was good seeing Scott again. And Gunther even got along with his ex Monica. (I should have mentioned that things didn’t work out with 19-year-old aspiring TV personality Marta. It didn’t long. I think they broke up in December.) I’m not sure, but I think Gunther and Monica may have left together. So maybe if that’s back on, I can add matchmaker to my resume.

* Bagel setting also makes only the top element heat because it assumes you sliced your bagel and placed both sides face up, unlike the normal toast setting which toasts on both the upper and lower element simultaneously. But I already knew that part.

** I will post another entry about the rest of our conversation. I just love it when I learn something that never occurred to me but is so obvious when someone tells you.

Cheese Guy

No word from Michelle. I honestly think she needs to get some professional help. She is certifiably crazy.

But I digress. I went to Whole Foods last night to pick up some dinner and I walked by the cheese department. I always find it fascinating but a little intimidating. I probably know the names of a dozen cheeses like everybody else, but here there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of varieties.

I reminded myself that one of the best ways to meet strangers is to ask questions, especially about things I actually want to learn. So I asked the cheese counter guy, “What do you recommend?”

He asked what I was looking for. I admitted that I didn’t know the first thing about cheese. I don’t like soft stuff like Brie. I like Swiss Cheese. I like Provolone. That’s about it. So Cheese Guy spent the next twenty minutes giving me an education in cheese. The basic varieties. What goes with what. What to look for in each variety.

As I was listening, people started to gather around. It seems a lot of people wanted to learn about cheese and were just afraid to ask. I ended up getting an Emmentaler and it was pretty good. I don’t think I’ll ever be a cheese connoisseur, but it’s fun to learn about new stuff and interesting to watch someone talk so passionately about cheese.

Animal Shelter Girl

I was walking down Montana on Sunday on the way to meet Paul for lunch when I saw the pet adoption people outside the Whole Foods.

I was early anyway, so I stopped and said hello to the dogs. (I’m not much of a cat person so I mostly talked to the dogs.)

I wasn’t even noticing the actual humans running the adoption. I was really just amusing myself by having a conversation with this one mixed breed dog that looked like a shaggy mutt. “What are you in for?” I asked him. (He was in a cage so it kind of made sense.) “Barking and entering?” (I swear I didn’t think anyone heard me say that.)

This went on for a while where I talked to this dog that I named The Artful Dodger. I was getting into the zone where I didn’t even notice anyone else. But then this girl came up behind me and said, “I think he likes you.”

I turned and saw this cute girl who helps out at the animal shelter. “I’m just making conversation.” She pushed me to adopt him but that isn’t a real possibility. I like dogs but I’m at work all day, I explained.

She seemed disappointed. She gave me the hard sell. I told her I just couldn’t. She said if I change my mind to call her. She gave me a card for the shelter. I said goodbye.

I went and had lunch with Paul at R&D Kitchen. I know what you’re thinking. That during lunch I kept thinking about the animal shelter girl. But the truth is, I kept thinking about The Artful Dodger.

Going for a Walk

A year ago, Sunday would have meant watching TV or catching up on work.

I hate the outdoors. I don’t like hiking, biking, or riding on whatever you call those pretentious three-wheel sit-down chopper-bicycles that you see tree-huggers on sailing down San Vicente. But I am such a changed man these days that yesterday I went for a walk.

First, I stopped at Coffee Bean and got a coffee. I hate all the losers sitting on their laptops but I like coffee so it’s a trade-off. The guy at the counter is paid to make small talk, so it doesn’t count that we discussed (for about thirty seconds) how glad we are that the fucking L.A. Marathon is over. Those people make our lives a living hell with all the road closures.

Next I was heading east on San Vicente and stopped at that frame shop. There’s never anyone in there and I always wonder how they pay the rent in such a pricey location. I learned the owner is from Iran. But he said he was “Persian.” I asked him why people from Iran always say “Persian” when there’s no “Persia” anymore. Apparently, Persia was the western name for Iran. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s basically the gist of it.

I had lunch at Barny’s Burgers where there is this cute waitress that I always talk to. She’s told me her name a bunch of times, but I have a mental block and can never remember. But I did remember that she’s from San Francisco and we talked about that. She misses the vibe SF has. She says L.A. is too self-absorbed. I said, “Sorry, what did you say? I was reading a text under the table.”

I headed back to Barrington and stopped at Whole Foods. Saw that nose ring girl and said hi. I think she remembers me. Whole Foods is easy to talk to people in because there’s a lot of stuff that’s confusing, especially in the cheese shop. Asking questions is always a good way in.

Walked home with some groceries. Half-way there I wished I had taken my car, but still…

Flurry of Strangers

  • Newspaper guy said hi to me this morning. I asked him why the L.A. Times combined the real estate section with the business section. He said he didn’t know.
  • Talked to another waitress yesterday. She wasn’t as hostile as all the others. She said she was an actress but she was thinking of moving back to Minnesota. I told her it was probably a good idea.
  • I left a note for the mailman. I never see him because I’m at work, so I wrote him (or her) a note to introduce myself. No idea if he’ll write back.
  • I met the check-out girl with a nose ring at Whole Foods. She thinks people who eat meat are assholes but she tries not to say anything all day long.

P.S. Scott is moving in tomorrow.

My Friend Timmy: The Real Story

I got a lot of emails questioning why the lady was so mad that I talked to her kid if all I did was ask where his mom was.

Well, the truth is, I kind of edited what happened a little bit because I was embarrassed about what really happened. But what the hell. The blog is semi-anonymous. Here’s what I really said:

“What’s your name?”

“Timothy.”

“Where’s your mommy or daddy?”

No response. Then, for some reason, I thought it would be fun to try to have a real conversation with a six-year-old…

“Where do you live?” He gives me his exact address. “Wow, do you tell strangers the alarm code, too?” No response. “Well, it’s a nice neighborhood. Do you go to school?” Yes, he’s going into first grade next week. “What’s your favorite color?” Red. “Do you like dogs or cats?” He likes rabbits. “What’s your favorite ice cream?” Cherry Garcia (figures, we’re in Brentwood). “What do you like to do for fun?” Play knights and dragons. “Do you have a girlfriend?” No. “Do you like gladiator movies?”

The last question was clearly me just amusing myself, but that’s when his mom showed up and I’m pretty sure she overheard it. Again, like I said, it never even occurred to me that I would seem threatening to some kid’s mom, but I guess I am a 28-year-old creepy guy asking her kid about ice cream and girlfriends and gladiators. So in retrospect I’m lucky she didn’t call the cops.

I just don’t interact with children that much. Or ever. I forgot what the boundaries are. So better off just to make a bright-line rule: no talking to fucking kids!

My Friend Timmy

At whole foods buying some dinner last night and a little kid maybe six comes up and stands next to me.

No parent in sight, just standing there looking at me. I say, “Hi, what’s your name?” He says, “Timothy.” I say, “Where’s your mommy or daddy?”

And all of the sudden, his mom comes rushing over and grabs Timmy away from me. She looks at me like I’m a registered sex offender. Like I was luring him into a van with promises of ice cream and puppies.

It’s weird, I still think of myself as someone who could theoretically be abused by some pervert, not as the pervert himself. Totally freaked me out to be looked at like that.

So, new rule for the Project: no talking to underage children.