Jewish Journal

The First Step

by Adam Gilad

January 22, 2004 | 7:00 pm

First let's do the numbers: It's been about four days that I've been single. I was married at 23 and stayed that way for 17 years. I've just met a charming and articulate woman at a party and stumbled through an uncharming and inarticulate request for her phone number.

And wonder of wonders, she gave it to me.

Now all I had to do was call her for a date.

The only thing is, I haven't been on a date in 18 years. And back then I was still in college. What job experience did I have for this? At 20 I was able to get away with pouring Campbell's Mushroom Soup over a chicken and serving it in low light as a gourmet offering. On the upper end of things, all-night meanderings, spinning dreams and visions of unfolding lives in the drizzle of the haunted streets of Jerusalem. But nothing like a proper, well, you know, date. Like with another woman.

The first thing I did was buy a car. This seemed reasonable. I wasn't going to cruise into Singleland in the family minivan, after all, and the tiny Civic I settled for when I didn't have to think about appearances just didn't seem to cut it. So I bought the Campbell's Mushroom Soup of cars -- used and passable if I drove it in low light.

Then I had to come up with somewhere to drive it. Now, here's where fatherhood came in handy. One job skill I did pick up during 10 years of kid weekends was a mastery of events calendars. The secret to happy children is get 'em up and get 'em out. When my older son was a toddler in San Francisco, we'd go to an ethnic fair or outdoor jazzfest practically every weekend. They were always colorful, jampacked and bubbling with the self-congratulatory virtuousness of multiculturalism.

Moving to Los Angeles, I would ferret out things like celebrations of fuzzily defined neighborhoods only to discover barren industrial streets sporting one empty bouncy room and a bad clown/magician (are there good ones?). I learned that people here had pools. And big screens. Street fests scared them so, they stayed home.

I scoured my trusty sources and found an outdoor concert -- Handel's Water Music downtown. Ooh, classy. And um, free. That was a good start, but it seemed bare. I got working. Handel was born in Halle, which is in a quirky and sparse northern German wine-growing area, so I found a Halle-grown varietal, bought a Trader Joe's backpack with plastic wine glasses and plates, some pâté and crackers. Not just crackers, mind you, but "water crackers," intending to maintain the Water Music theme. I knew we'd be hungry and realized we'd be in walking distance of the thematically consistent Water Grill, so I made reservations there, too.

I was thrilled. I had Aristotelian consistencies of place and time. I had motifs and leitmotifs. I had a soundtrack. This was just like writing a movie treatment. Not only as a father, but as a writer, I did have relevant skills after all.

The date itself? It went off on schedule, if overbudget. She was astonished, and maybe a little frightened by all the preproduction I had put in. And when we made it back to her place and she presented me with a reasonably seductive front-porch line, I gave her a dutiful kiss on the cheek and headed back for the Campbell's Soupmobile.

She was very nice, and smelled good, too, but it wasn't going to lead to marriage, so I figured I'd better just go (I know, I still had a lot to learn about dating -- stay tuned).

Driving home, I realized something (do I sound like Carrie Bradshaw yet?). In some ways, I had taken myself out for a date. I had to prove, not to someone else, but to myself, that I was dateworthy. I was considerate, we talked easily, laughed, shared our stories. Counting the car, I had only spent a few thousand dollars on the evening and so all in all, I felt it was a success.

I could date. It may not sound like a lot to you veterans, but to me it was as soothing as, well, cool water on a hot L.A. night.

Adam Gilad is a writer, producer and is CEO of Rogue Direct, LLP. He can be reached at adamgilad@yahoo.com.

Tracker Pixel for Entry


We welcome your feedback.

Privacy Policy
Your information will not be shared or sold without your consent. Get all the details.

Terms of Service
JewishJournal.com has rules for its commenting community.Get all the details.

JewishJournal.com reserves the right to use your comment in our weekly print publication.