I met Bert twice, before I met him. I have no memory of either, but witnesses attest to it, so it must be so. The first time I met him, I was about 30 years old and writing everyday with a writing partner. Our office was at the foot of a beautiful hiking trail. He and his roommate, Lorenzo, who was friends with my writing partner at the time, stopped by to say hi, interrupting our writing session. He thought I was very pretty, so he told Lorenzo on their hike that day. I thought, “How rude! Can’t you see we’re working!” I remember the interruption, but not Bert.
The second time we met, was in a yoga class at the Hollywood YMCA. I was nursing a fresh heartbreak, and had just run into my ex, at the Y, on his way to a fencing class. Bert was again with Lorenzo, in the yoga class I was there to attend. Bert, I guess remembering our previous meeting, and still finding me a beauty, unrolled his yoga mat next to mine. Again, I have no memory of this, except, I do remember looking at the guy next to me thinking, “He’s sweating A LOT. I hope he doesn’t have a heart attack or something.” And he giggled that famous giggle throughout, as we watched sweat pool around his wrists. I thought, “What a weirdo.”
As they say, three’s a charm.
The third time we met, we were bowling. Having fully recovered from my heartbreak, and dipping my toe back in the cesspool of dating in your early 30’s, my writing partner and I invited several friends to bowl, one of them being Lorenzo, who brought his roommate, Bert. We were divided into two teams; couples vs. singles. I had recently had maybe two dates with a guy, which didn’t exactly qualify me to be on the couples team, so I ended up with Lorenzo, Bert, and six or seven other L.A. dateless, hopeless, singletons. Needless to say, the singles kicked some couples booty, as I remember it. Showing off for other singletons lends itself to a competitive spirit, and we dominated. Bert was being his usual, gregarious, fun, hysterical self, and seemed to get along with all our friends, as if he’d known them forever. I thought to myself, “He’s actually a very real guy.” Which is so rare in Hollywood. Los Angeles is such a tremendously difficult town to date in, unless you look like Charlize Theron if you’re a woman, or drive a Mercedes if you’re a man, you’re pretty much out of luck. Seeing that I look more like Sally Field and Bert drove a truck, should have been our first hint that we could work.
When we were wrapping up the night, I went to Lorenzo, who had become one of my close friends over the course of the last few years. “Hey, give Bert my phone number, would ya?” Lorenzo looked at me like I was completely, totally and fully certifiable, but said “Sure.” I thought to myself, “Great. Two, three dates tops, then we’ll be really good friends. He’s not the type you marry. Too crazy, too wild, too comedian.”
Five days went by with no phone call from Bert. I’m thinking, “What is this guy’s problem? He was flirty with me when we were bowling, why hasn’t he called me.” So I called his roommate. When Lorenzo answered his phone, I said, “Why hasn’t Bert called me?” Lorenzo said, “ Ask him yourself.” And handed the phone to Bert.
Bert’s voice came on with a “Heeelllo?”
“Why haven’t you called me? Didn’t Lorenzo give you my number?”
His response was, “Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh.” I said,
“If you ask me out, I’ll say yes.”
His response again was, “Uh-uh-uh-uh.”
I didn’t know this at the time, but he had never, in his life, at 29 years old, never, ever asked a girl out on a legit date. He would always “hang out” with them until they “became” his girlfriend. The Shang-hi approach to dating, I suppose. Needless to say, had I never called, he would have never called.
I repeated myself, “If you ask me out, I’ll say yes.”
“D-ddo you wanna go out on a date?” His voice crackled like a seventh grader being questioned by a teacher.
“Yes! That would be great.”
“How’s Wednesday?” he asked.
“Great.” I said.
I did not know this until years later, but he told me as soon as he hung up the phone, he turned to Lorenzo and said, “She just wants me for my body.” Is he serious?!?! You have seen his body, pretty much. Would you want him for his body? Lorenzo’s response was, “Uh, I don’t think so.” I think the prospect of this being a “real” date scared the heck out of him, so the only way he could wrap his head around what had just happened was to think I was after him for his body. What a goof.
And this was the first time I had ever called a man and said “Hey! What’s up?!?!” Born and raised in Georgia, girls were girls and boys were boys and girls just didn’t call boys. I think I probably new he was scared to call, and asserted myself like never before.
His theory of “She just wants me for my body” was shattered when he picked me up. He did not come to my door, still convinced my intentions were wanton, but instead called me on his cellphone to come down to his truck. He’s told me later, the second he laid eyes on me, he knew this date was legit. I was wearing a dress, heels, jewelry. Not your typical Booty-call attire, I’m guessing.
I hopped in his truck and off we went. Bert was so nervous, he didn’t eat a bite. So excited to be on the date, he wouldn’t let it end. After dinner at one restaurant, and dessert at another, he finally dropped me off, at my door this time, and snagged a good night kiss.
My phone rang around 2:00 the next day. “What are you doing this noche?” Bert said.
“Going for a hike. Wanna come?”
Conqueroring the Conqueror