I was set up with Patrick by a mutual friend. She didn’t say too much about him except he was a great guy.
Back then, I thought it was perfectly fine to let a guy I didn’t know pick me up at my place. The night of our date, I walked into the lobby of my building and there he stood, leaning against the wall, in a pose, leather jacket collar turned up, chomping on gum. “Hey,” he said – holding his pose for a lingering effect. He may have thought looking like a character out of Grease would be attractive to me.
Patrick was a big guy. He was tall, he was broad and he was loud.
We walked out to his car, which was the biggest pick up truck I’d ever seen. Like a boat. On steroids. I could barely step up into the cab.
He had an upbeat energy. Or was it hyper nervousness? “So I thought we’d go to Ruth’s Chris,” he said, referring to the steakhouse chain. “You ever been there?”
“Yeah, once or twice,” I said. “You have a really big truck.”
He laughed, but it seemed more like a laugh for show rather than for humor’s sake. “It’s my baby,” he said. He continued to chomp on the gum. “So, how’s the acting going?” He asked.
I’d told him this on the phone when we talked, but I didn’t know what he did. He said, cryptically, I’ll tell you when we meet.
Once, I got into an email exchange on Jdate where they guy wouldn’t tell me what he did, because he said I wouldn’t want to go out with him if I knew. When I finally got him to tell me (via email) he told me he hosted a show on the Playboy Channel and then never wrote to me again. I think I still would have dated him, though. His photo was so cute.
I was pretty certain Patrick had nothing to do with Playboy.
“How’s your career going?” he asked.
Might as well have said, how successful are you? How talented are you? I didn’t know what to say. Should I tell him about the commercial audition I’d just had for Curves where I walked into the casting office and the casting director said, “Hmmmm. I’m not sure you are over weight enough for this. Turn around.” After looking at my butt for a few seconds she said, “OK, let’s put you on tape.”
“My career is… well, you know,” I laughed, also not for the humor, rather for the misery that was this date already. And also because I didn’t want to talk about my stagnant career.
“I can help you if you want. Coach you…. I’m a life coach.” He pulled into a parking space.
Ah ha. Yes, I wouldn’t have made a date with a life coach, if I would have known – for this very reason. “Oh, thanks, but you don’t have to.” I opened my car door and tried not to fall onto the street as I slid out of the giant truck.
A date with the Playboy guy would have been so much more interesting.
We walked into the restaurant and the hostess smiled, “Hey, Pat!” She said.
“Hey, Dianne,” Patrick said. “Table for two.”
“Sure,” Dianne said, as she picked up two menus and started walking us to the table. “How’re you doing?”
“Livin’ the dream!” Patrick practically sang.
“Hey Pat,” The bartender called out. “How goes it, brother?”
“Livin’ the dream, man,” Pat called back.
OK. OK. So livin’ the dream is his catch phrase.
We sat down at a table and opened our menus. “Order whatever you want. Get the lobster!” he said. It was a little paternal.
“Thanks,” I said. I actually wanted the lobster, but would not let him have the pleasure of deciding what I ordered. I selected the filet and shrimp. “So, you come here a lot?”
“Not really,” Patrick said. “I mean, you know, once in a while.”
A waiter came over, “Hey Pat, how’s it going?”
“Livin’ the dream,” Patrick said again.
“Good. Good,” the waiter said. “Can I get you started with some drinks?”
We ordered. I didn’t believe him that he came here only once in a while, unless that meant only once and a while per week.
“How long have you lived in Los Angeles?” I asked.
“Uh, about eight years,” he said.
“Where is your family living?”
He looked at me for a second, the bravado escaping from him like a balloon losing air with a slow hissssss…..
“They are all back in Minnesota.” He gulped some wine.
“Do you have siblings?” I asked.
He took a breath and didn’t answer. “All right, let’s see if we can figure out why your career hasn’t taken off,” he said. “What are you doing everyday to help yourself?”
I tried to answer him, “Umm, well… I don’t know.”
“Maybe that’s why you aren’t working,” He was pumping the air back in. Inflating.
I thought about the casting director checking out my butt and deciding I was over weight enough to be put on tape. “I do a lot of theater, I go to acting class…”
“What kind of frequency do you put out?” he asked, interrupting me.
“Frequency?” I asked. “Oh, you mean like attitude?”
“No,” I watched as Patrick fully morphed into life coach mode. My date was gone. I was the student. I didn’t think I’d be able to get in an actual conversation. The lecture began, “You see, people’s frequencies directly correlate to colors…”
He went on and on, excitedly, passionately explaining his metaphysics. Though he was just trying to help, my date felt like I was low status. I listened to his lecture as our food came and waited for an opening to equalize us. “So, I’ve noticed you say living the dream when people ask how you are. Why?” I asked, hoping to get him talking about himself rather than orating.
Patrick chuckled with a mouthful of food. He swallowed and said, “When you say livin’ the dream, you are that much closer to achieving your goals. When you say it, it becomes true.”
I knew it. I knew it had a programmed feel. “Like an affirmation!” I added.
He squinted at me like I wasn’t getting it. “Um, not really. You see, when you say something about how you wish to live, your frequencies….” he went on to explain what I still interpreted as affirmation. “So what to you do everyday to achieve your goals? How do you speak about your career?”
I thought of all the roles I hadn’t gotten. It was depressing. Acting was a painful thing these days. I felt pretty awful in that moment. I felt low and stupid and like a failure. I tried to answer. My answers sounded pathetic. My date had turned into that nightmare where you don’t know the answers in class and everyone laughs at you. Why weren’t we just conversing?? I’d give anything for small talk right now.
“I’m gonna give you some $500 advice,” he said. I guessed that was the cost of his workshop. He spoke in more metaphysical lecture style. He signaled for the waiter and asked to borrow a pen and paper. He then began to diagram his , what I assumed was lecture from class one: intro to Patrick’s frequencies for success.
I needed this whole thing to stop. I was taking the date back. “Whatever with my career,” I said. “I just really want to be a mom. Do you think about having kids?”
Patrick was speechless for the first time all night. He turned a little red and cleared his throat. “Huh?”
The more questions I asked, the more uncomfortable he felt.
We took turns trying to take control of the date, thus making the other person feel crappy. I wanted to discuss LIFE, he wanted to explore COACH.
At the end of the date my head was spinning.
Driving home in the monster truck, somehow he’d managed to pop another piece of gum in his mouth and again chomped loudly. “So this was fun, right? Next time I can teach you about how to apply color theory to project success.”
It was clear to me we weren’t on the same frequency.