As most Los Angeles love stories begin, I first met him when I walked past his set. He was out there leaning against a wall, in between takes, smoking a cigarette and leering at leggy extras. He was a man on the brink of great success, like a young Milton Berle. He had the kind of confidence that comes with knowing you never have to worry about parking and the kind of smile that says, "I get a lot of complimentary fruit baskets." Although I'd like to shout his name from the rooftops, for the sake of protecting his identity, I'll refer to him here on out only as "Rob Lowe."*
Rob Lowe and I didn't need to make eye contact for me to get all flushed in the face: The glances over my shoulder, the waves to people just behind me, Rob Lowe was obviously smitten. When I accidentally-on-purpose dropped my water bottle by his feet he didn't glare at me when I stooped beneath him to pick it up. Nor did he freeze up when I took the opportunity to pledge fealty to his bare foot. Later, when I nearly choked to death on my morning bagel while walking by his trailer, he was on hand to lend me the unspoken support that lovers do.
Even the stars seemed to be aligning, according to my morning horoscopes. A love calculator I was re-directed to online informed me that if the Moon was in the seventh phase of Jupiter and if my cat's bowel movements came made the shape of an L in her litter box, then I could expect things to heat up romantically and also, for my cash flow to increase.
Still, this was a startling development for a few reasons. To put it statistically: Of the 5.4 million men living in Los Angeles, 1.4 million are single and between the ages of 20 and 30. Of those, about half to three quarters are gay or refuse to put labels on their sexuality. Of those left, about a third have a disqualifying amount of facial hair. Of the 1,000 or so men that still remain, I have gotten into non-verbal arguments with about 100 of them on the freeway; rear-ended three and half of them at major intersections; side-swiped a couple dozen of them on side streets; and nearly ran down two of them as they biked across the crosswalk. An offhand regression analysis suggests that my odds of finding real love were fast diminishing.
The fast-paced life out here challenges a sensitive soul like mine. They say the boulevards of Los Angeles are full of broken dreams, hearts, and now, more than few of my busted hubcaps. It's hard to stand out in the crowd, when I can't even get the person in the next lane to let me over. It's all too easy to feel like the lone Ford Taurus in a sea of Cadillac Escalades. Or like a Nissan Altima among all the Mercedes S-Classes. Or even, like a 1982 Yugo with a heated rear windscreen up against a 1986 DeLorean that can travel back in time. Some days, I just feel like giving up and moving to Nebraska or wherever it is ugly people live.
So while this wasn't the first time my Jewish good looks had caught the eye of someone so tall and popular, it still took me by surprise. I wasn't sure just how to handle Rob Lowe's advances, so I broadcast them to everyone I knew. I couldn't help it. I was in that giddy young stage of love, where everything seems like a magical dance and you don't have to pay your bills.
My friends thought I'd gone nuts. Slow down, they said. Last thing you want is to be somebody's baby Mama. That's what my friends would have said at least, if they were in the cast of "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila" and you know, supportive.
I spent days sitting on tenterhooks, wondering when we were going to take our petty flirtations to the next level; when we'd go from petulant strangers to more intimate strangers; from co-stars on a mediocre seventies sitcom to Abbot & Costello. I spent my days dreaming about flying down to Mexico on chartered planes feeding each other kosher cocktail shrimp, and my nights pretty much the same way.
Then, one day, fate finally brought us together. Well, fate or whatever you call a five hour traffic jam on Santa Monica Blvd.
Sometime about thirty minutes into my 4 mile commute home, in between navigating different Spanish language radio stations and mentally reviewing the contents of my refrigerator, I felt an all too unfamiliar feeling. Someone was watching me. I was being followed: The man who I casually referred to as my boyfriend in random tweets and wrote long letters home about, just so happened to be tailgating me.
I considered slamming on my breaks, stopping short and causing a minor pile up. I would gladly have sacrificed my bumper for a little face time. I saw "Crash"--I know great romances can flare up on the side of the road. Then again, you never know what kind of temper someone has, or more importantly--what kind of insurance. The last thing I needed was GEICO on my case again after last month's misunderstanding. So I opted for more flirtatious behavior, with less risk of whiplash.
First, I showed my wild side. I spontaneously threw my shoes in the backseat, hoping he would see that as something a spontaneous girl does. Just tosses off her shoes because they've been constricting her free spirits and low arches all day. I then retrieved my shoes, because barefoot driving makes me nervous and is likely illegal. I laughed a great deal at something funny I said to myself. I banged my head on the steering wheel to show I had a sense of humor about depression. I turned my windshield wipers and flashers on and off to see if that might draw his attention toward me.
But whenever I looked behind me hoping to see a bemused smile or a thumbs-up, Rob Lowe just looked bored or else preoccupied. His shifty eyes and casual cigarette use made me doubt that he would ever be the kind of man to hold my hand in public, let alone on a red carpet.
Who was I to Robe Lowe, really? I looked at my own reflection in my side view mirror. Had I always looked like Didi Conn? Or just when I was disappointed by the fair-weather nature of love and life? I sighed. I was just one of the thousands of other people on the road trying to hide the fact we're texting on iPhones held between our knees, and stay under the speed limit, and still make it home in time for The Voice.
That wasn't a Buick Rob Lowe was driving after all; it was a Bentley. I am desperate for a lot of things, but one thing I won't do is lie to myself about who I am and what I want. Except at Starbucks, where I have many times made the mistake of ordering a double-shot vanilla latte, even though I know I can't trust myself on caffeine. If I can offer any unsolicited advice to single young ladies in my position, here's my two cents worth: never fall for someone who won't even signal when he's changing lanes.
At a stop light close to my house, I saw Rob Lowe turn away from me. But before he made a daring and unprotected left hand turn, I caught one last glimpse of him, flicking a cigarette butt out the window. I imagined he was on his way up to his house in the Hills, the land of champagne and crust less cucumber sandwiches.
And I returned to where I belonged, with the mass of other commuters pondering the meaning of our lives while stopped at a red light, staring out our tinted windows counting down the remaining minutes of daylight before we'll have to go to bed and wake up and do everything all over again.
*Not to be confused with Rob Lowe, the television star, or Dr. Robert Lowe, the famed orthopedic surgeon of South Florida.