It started to occur to me that the greatest indicator of compatibility was food and drink.
This was reinforced when I unexpectedly walked into the famous chicken episode of Portlandia. My date — a high strung, West Side Los Angeles mommy — actually interrogated the waiter because she wanted to know where the chicken was sourced from. Not whether it was organic. Where it was sourced from! As in the name of the farm, feed, etc. She only ate organic food without exception, and would not eat protein under any circumstance without knowing the source. And this took place at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica, California — a farm to table restaurant known for healthy food! Needless to say, there would be no plate sharing since my duck's origin could not be verified. I made the case that it was feeding on pond fish and krill before it was gunned down over Colorado. But that could not be confirmed and was rejected in short order.
When the bill came she pretended not to notice and only offered to split it when the waiter was walking away with my credit card. As if I were supposed to go running down the aisle through oncoming busboy traffic and announce in front of every other couple: "Wait! My date decided to split the check!" Now one might assume that my generosity resulted in a lift back to my hotel which was only 6 blocks away. Mais non! "Are you going to order an Uber now?" she asked as the valet pulled her car up.
Funny thing is that she sent a note the next day wanting to get together again. Really?
More supporting evidence for the food and drink barometer occurred on the other coast, at Bar Almond lunch in New York. Before the waiter had a chance to hand out menus, my date announced that she had called ahead and ordered a vegan meal, like diet restricted people did on airplanes in the 1990s. Honestly, I didn't know what a vegan was until recently. The vegetarians I knew all ate fish so I assumed vegans were vegetarians that didn't eat fish. WRONG! Vegans are vegetarians that have renounced the human diet, including: butter, cheese, milk, eggs, and honey. It's basically the same diet as chipmunks.
Just as our conversation got off the ground, the food arrived. My vegan friend made a face and commandeered the waiter back to the kitchen with her plate. Her steamed vegetable medley, it seemed, was too bland for her liking. I had to politely watch my cheeseburger go cold while the kitchen worked some magic on her limp veggies, most likely soaking them in butter, and then blasting them with monosodium glutamate.
Now that vegans discovered that I was a perfectly content carnivore, they stalked me relentlessly. I say that half kidding because I did match with a statistically improbable number of vegans. Most never bothered to tell me they were human food restricted until after we met. "Men won't swipe right if they find out you're vegan" they confessed. — "Ya think?"
On a few occasions I was forced into an emergency venue change in search of vegan friendly menus. To my chagrin, hours of restaurant research washed away like sand castles in a hurricane. As a guy, I can't emphasize enough how tedious and time-consuming it is to organize dates. While my work phone was ringing off the hook with clients in crisis mode, I would be bouncing between OpenTable, Google Maps, and Yelp trying to find a spot that would likely have a few bar seats available during the busy after work rush, with a decent food option in the event that things went well. Women for their part, just had to show up at the designated location and then time their bathroom break to coincide with the check arrival. Nice gig!
The vegan restaurant ritual always involved the following proud announcement upon arrival at the maitre d' stand: "can you tell the chef I'm ve-gan?" Strong accent on the first syllable — always! I did the math on this. Three meals a day times years of eating together equaled thousands of challenging food episodes. I concluded that vegans should date vegans.
Not that I was totally absolved by avoiding vegans.
One non-vegan turned out to be kosher and wasn't sure if barramundi was a kosher fish. She had to stop mid-order, pull out her cell phone and refer to an ultra-orthodox web site which specialized in this kind of dietary expertise. But at least she ate, unlike the woman I met at Felidia, supposedly for drinks and appetizers, who only ordered a diet coke. I had to scarf down a chicken dinner and half bottle of wine in front of her because I was starving and alcohol deprived. The least she could have done was order some ravioli and then vomit it up in the bathroom. Just to be social.
Then there was the successful Wall Streeter — successful as in a keypad locked closet for her handbag collection — who traveled around the world and spoke several languages. We met for drinks and appetizers and she ordered a glass of Pinot and the cev-itch. She clearly meant ceviche and admitted she didn't know what it was and had never tried it. I was impressed with her adventurous ordering and gave her foodie points for trying something new! Regrettably, I had to revoke those points minutes later as she scolded the waiter: "I ordered a glass of Pinot! Why did you bring me red wine? I wanted Pinot Grigio!" Over the course of our cocktail hour she only had a few forced sips of her replaced beverage while I guzzled 2 glasses of Astral tequila. If I had a red card on me I would have shown it to her and sent her off.
Then just when I thought I'd never share an enjoyable meal with a woman again, the ultimate irony occurred. I met an absolute sweetheart of a woman at Gracias Madre, a restaurant on Melrose in West Hollywood. My date strategy was wine and guacamole at the lovely garden bar, and then dinner down the street at Cecconi's — if I liked her. Upon arriving, there were 2 revelations: 1) She was awesome, and 2) Gracias Madre was a vegan restaurant masquerading as a high end Mexican eatery.
We got along famously from the get go, as if we'd known each other for years. With primo outdoor bar seats on a beautiful summer evening we made a team decision to segue from guacamole to vegan dinners and forgo the fabulous, shallow, incredibly entertaining scene that is Cecconi's. Vegan tacos, vegan crab cakes and vegan enchiladas arrived. On best behavior, I promised myself not to complain.
Halfway through her first taco she looked at me and said "not bad, but how much better would this be with real meat?"
I nodded but didn't say a word. We gazed at each other, fixedly and intently, a sensuous stare until it almost became uncomfortable. "You're staring at me" I said. "You're staring at me," she retorted. "I'm pretty sure you stared first!" I insisted. Then I leaned over and kissed her on the mouth. And she kissed me back. One hour after meeting, two carnivore foodies bonded over vegan tacos. It was truly the ultimate irony.
In good health, wine, and tequila,
I'd like to have my orgasm standing at the bar!