The first thing that Patti asked me prior to my appearance on The Millionaire Matchmaker was, "What are you looking for? What qualities do you like and dislike?" I said that I like guys who are younger, late 20's or 30's, who have a bit of an edge. People with their own sense of style are good; no popped collars and Dockers, please. An artistic bent scores points, and an appreciation of irony, dark humor, and the absurd is essential. As for dislikes, I said that drama queens and psychos need not apply and that drug and alcohol issues are unwelcome.
At a mixer held in a chic club, Patti assembled a pool of six candidates from which I would choose one for the big date. She decided to streamline the selection process by scheduling six, ten-minute "mini dates" back-to-back. Being charming for sixty minutes without a break was more exhausting than I would have thought; I hope I pulled it off.
None of the guys was a perfect match. Most were understandably nervous and therefore didn't say much. As for physical attraction, only one was a home run: Jimmy, the 26-year- old NYU grad student. Unfortunately, he appeared to be petrified and hardly said a word.
So I chose Rhett. He was the most enthusiastic and expressive of the six and our conversation was lively and effortless. As for looks, he wasn't exactly my type, but I didn't find him unattractive.
After Patti announced my selection of Rhett, she asked everyone at the mixer to mingle. Rhett then approached and asked why he had been my first choice. I said that I found him to be the most well-rounded person and the one with the best personality. He informed me that the other candidates and he had wagered that I would choose Jimmy because of his striking good looks. I told him that Jimmy had been my second choice because, while I found him very attractive physically, looks alone are insufficient to sustain a relationship. I said that having someone you can talk to is most important. He seemed happy with my explanation.
Near the end of the mixer, Rhett whispered something to me. I don't remember exactly what he said but it contained a fairly crude sexual reference. Whatever he said struck me as inappropriate yet I immediately excused it, attributing it to first-date jitters. In retrospect, I realize that the remark foreshadowed the drama that was to come.
Our date began with a private cooking lesson with renowned chef Nils Noren. When Nils held up a bowl containing quail eggs, Rhett blurted out, "They look like testicles!" When Nils held up a bottle containing a thick, white, coconut cream sauce, Rhett squealed, "Oh my, did you make all of that yourself?" I remember rolling my eyes at that point as I realized that I was on a date with an adolescent trapped in a 35 year old man's body who, incidentally, had accessorized for our date with a backward-facing baseball cap.
Before the cooking lesson had ended I knew that romance wasn't in the cards yet I felt that all was not lost. I still believed that friendship was a possibility. Rhett seemed (and still seems) like a friendly, goodhearted person, and infantile friends can be amusing.
I still believe that friendship might have been the outcome of our date but for the excellent wine that Rhett and I had been drinking all evening. As everyone knows, there are good drunks and bad drunks. I don't drink often but friends tell me that, when I do, I'm a very good drunk. I never get nasty or morose when I drink; on the contrary, I become quite happy and sociable. Not so, Rhett.
About halfway through dinner, Rhett's demeanor suddenly changed. As if on cue, his puppy-like exuberance vanished. His voice grew louder, his speech less precise. Most striking, however, was the sudden darkness of his mood. Clearly, he was troubled by the realization that our first date was likely to be our last. He turned nasty.
Soon, Rhett began hurling insults at me. He criticized my haircut and my clothes. He said that I lacked passion. When I tried to comfort him by putting my arm on his shoulder, he reacted violently, shouting "Oh, now you touch me! I've been trying to get you to touch me all night!"
Oy vey! as my grandmother used to say.
Of course, I wasn't the least bit offended by Rhett's tirade. I knew that Jekyll was now Hyde and, as I watched his meltdown, I felt sad that this decent guy who had simply had too much to drink would eventually suffer the humiliation of having to watch this scene along with a few million other people around the world.
Not satisfied with hurling insults, Rhett ended the date with a flourish by hurling the contents of his water glass in my face. I had thought to respond, "Honey, perhaps we should try seeing other people," but instead hastily took my leave. Rhett was too trashed to appreciate the humor and, besides, I knew that the next thing he was likely to hurl in my direction was a slightly used gourmet dinner.