Dating and Personal Ads

SEXUAL IDENTITY – PREFERENCES

Sex is complicated and probably always has been. And sexual choices that are out of the ordinary invoke fears that may still result in bloodshed and serious consequences, like the shooting in the gay nightclub in Orlando. Add to those fears,  the laws and consequences of choices that have made the choice of the proper public bathroom an issue. It will probably take other incidents and lots of public information and introspection for us to accept our differences. Despite the tragedies, I think we are making progress because people have dared to come “out” and talk about their differences, like Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlin Jenner.

Currently, thanks to Caitlin Jenner, once known as Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, we might wonder who we really are and whether we’re happy with the physical gender we were born with. The conversation is out in the open and I’m sure we’ll discover all sorts of fascinating facts as the years roll on.

What was it that inspired me to write Melaynie’s Masquerade, my historical fiction about a young woman who masquerades as a captain’s boy to sail to the Caribbean with Captain Francis Drake in the 16th century? Women have pretended to be men and vice versa through the ages.

I had my own unique experience in the dating world when I met a man who enjoyed dressing up as a woman. Though his ad in the Singles Register newspaper hadn’t mentioned he liked costume parties, I didn’t know his preferences, initially. He had sounded very congenial on the phone, and I decided to meet him at his home. When he changed into his gear—a French maid’s outfit, high heels, and a blond wig, the show was on. Eventually he was attired in a white negligee while we played Trivial Pursuit and watched the Lakers game, and he wanted me to give him makeup tips!

I wrote about my experience and submitted it to Playgirl magazine years ago. It was refused so I turned that story and another experience into a small Ebook that is for sale on Amazon: Weird Dates and Strange Fates 

My book on Amazon.

My book on Amazon.

Here’s a sample from one of the stories:

A Single Gal’s Guide to Cross-Dressing

The man who answered the door was friendly and natural as he guided her into his house. Proudly telling her he had inherited the home from his uncle, he suggested they take a little tour. A typical one-story postwar 1950s home, it had nothing imaginative in its design, inside or out, but she pretended to be impressed. He led her through a step-down, rectangular living room and then outside to a concrete atrium whose only amenity was a hot tub and a few cheap and fading lounge chairs. Occasionally touching her elbow, he told her of plans to make a few changes here and there and asked her opinion. When he took her into his small square bedroom, she noted a white lacy negligee hanging over a closet door and beneath it, four-inch black spike heels.

“How do you like my new negligee?” he asked.

“It’s beautiful,” she responded evenly, wondering what revelations might come next.

“My wife liked me to wear lingerie to bed. Now I can’t sleep without it.”

She could tell he was watching and listening carefully for her reactions. So far she was accepting all of it as if it were all perfectly normal.

Back in the living room he showed her some photos of a recent costume party. “How do you like these? You see, here I am in my French maid’s costume.” He handed her the photo.

“Mmmm.” She didn’t know what to say as she looked down at the photo, which gave her time to compose herself. She was too startled after the negligee reference to take in the photo’s details.

DATING IN MODERN TIMES

Online dating, or should I say, dating aps, etc. are alive and well these days. I suppose some couples still meet each other at parties, weddings, grocery stores and social events, but searching the Internet, especially through dating aps,  is probably the easiest method and gives searchers the most information. Like advertising, however, the “truth” can be a scam…or as the old saying goes, “Let the buyer beware.” I’ve had some fascinating adventures in the dating world, which brings to mind another saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” The previews of the two stories below are absolutely true–I wrote them when the experiences were fresh in my mind. The first one was submitted to Playgirl magazine but rejected. I always thought they may have felt it was too bizarre since the incident happened before the Internet revealed the dating world can be awfully peculiar and eccentric. I met the subjects of these stories through ads in the Singles Register, a now defunct Southern California newspaper.

My book on Amazon.

My book on Amazon.

Weird Dates and Strange Fates#1

Here are two excerpts from my Kindle Single book on Amazon: Weird Dates and Strange Fates

http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

A Single Gal’s Guide to Cross-Dressing

The man who answered the door was friendly and natural as he guided her into his house. Proudly telling her he had inherited the home from his uncle, he suggested they take a little tour. A typical one-story postwar 1950s home, it had nothing imaginative in its design, inside or out, but she pretended to be impressed. He led her through a step-down, rectangular living room and then outside to a concrete atrium whose only amenity was a hot tub and a few cheap and fading lounge chairs. Occasionally touching her elbow, he told her of plans to make a few changes here and there and asked her opinion. When he took her into his small square bedroom, she noted a white lacy negligee hanging over a closet door and beneath it, four-inch black spike heels.
“How do you like my new negligee?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” she responded evenly, wondering what revelations might come next.
“My wife liked me to wear lingerie to bed. Now I can’t sleep without it.”
She could tell he was watching and listening carefully for her reactions. So far she was accepting all of it as if it were all perfectly normal.
Back in the living room he showed her some photos of a recent costume party. “How do you like these? You see, here I am in my French maid’s costume.” He handed her the photo.
“Mmmm.” She didn’t know what to say as she looked down at the photo, which gave her time to compose herself. She was too startled after the negligee reference to take in the photo’s details.

The Dark Side

When the letter returned with no forwarding address a week later, I was tempted to drive to his apartment. Derek’s daughter lived across the street, but I didn’t know the address or remember the daughter’s last name. I had an odd feeling of apprehension as I pondered what could have happened and searched my memory for little details that might indicate what to do next. Had I missed some important minutiae about him in all these months? How well did I really know him? I reflected, as my mind raced with a slew of possibilities.
Derek had meant too much to me to let the matter drop. He couldn’t have just left, I reasoned. What of all his obligations, his children, his friends? He filled his life with so many people and duties; surely someone would have the answers.
I called the office again, remembering that Derek’s best friend, Tom, worked in the same building. Tom told me he couldn’t talk in the office; he would call me at home. His comment piqued my curiosity. What would he tell me that was so secret?
The following evening he telephoned, eager to share the story.
“You remember that Derek went back to Boston to spend Christmas with his aging parents. He said he probably wouldn’t be seeing them again. I just assumed he meant because they were getting older. Then Derek ended up talking to me for three hours after our office party the Friday before New Year’s. He usually scooted out of there right after work, no matter what.”
Tom continued, “Derek didn’t show up for work the Tuesday after the New Year holiday. When he didn’t come on Wednesday, I called his daughter, Susan. Susan hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, she said, but there was a letter from him on her desk. She said she’d check on things and call me back. When she called back a half hour later, she was hysterical.”

To read what happens in both stories, check out my Amazon link http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud or just look up Victoria Giraud’s author page on Amazon.

NO GUARANTEES IN ROMANCE

A sucker for imaginative writing, I’ve learned that what you see, hear or read is open to interpretation. Since I’m usually open-minded and not averse to taking a chance, I’ve had a few adventures with the personal ads. Before the Internet, there was the Singles Register newspaper in Southern California, and it was probably easier to stretch the truth then since there were no photos or Google to investigate the potential date. The dating game is much the same, however.  I answered an ad from a man who called himself a handsome, talented writer of energy and spirit. Poetically, he claimed that trumpets would blare and cymbals would crash when he met the right woman. When we talked on the phone (before the onslaught of texts and Email), he told me he lived in Redondo Beach and had a view of the Pacific Ocean. He was the proud owner of some unusual decorations, like a six-foot hand-carved Polynesian alligator, but his prized possessions were a line drawing by Picasso and a Spanish bullfighter’s cape.

romance

When we met, I discovered he was much older than I’d thought (he hadn’t admitted his age). He had difficulty walking, was hunchbacked and had prostrate problems. He was complimentary and joked that he wasn’t expecting Dolly Parton. I took that as a compliment–I was in shorts and a low-cut blouse. His beach apartment balcony did have an ocean view, but only if you leaned over and squinted through the buildings in front of his. The treasured wooden alligator was a tight squeeze in his little home, but it was one of the few mementoes that had survived five marriages and lots of alimony.

Turned out he was a child psychiatrist, a rival of the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock of Baby and Child Care fame. My blind date had written five books and claimed he’d coined the term “parenting.” I did find a couple of his books in my local library afterward.

He bought lunch after showing me all his treasures, but his conversation was a litany of complaints about all his former wives. It was obvious he was looking for someone to take care of him and listen to all his misery. I wondered why I’d spent so much time listening to him. Was I too polite or just not savvy enough yet? At that time I had only been single for a few years.

The most daring experience I had answering the ads was choosing to accept a free trip to New Orleans to meet an Israeli biochemistry professor at Tulane University. He had read my ad and didn’t care that we were geographically challenged. We had had several interesting phone conversations and after he’d seen my photo, he was convinced I was the one a psychic had said was perfect for him. (It was odd that a science professor was even visiting a pyschic–maybe New Orleans’ spirit side was getting to him). He made good money, evidently, and paid for everything. I felt he sounded trustworthy and I’d never been to the “Big Easy.” One of my girlfriends thought I was out of my mind, but agreed to keep an eye on my kids.

The professor was fairly recently divorced and had come to the States to forget his troubles with his former wife, an eccentric woman who had custody of their children and had remained in Israel. He was very polite for the most part as he told me his sad story, and showed me around some of New Orleans’ hot spots. By the second day he realized he’d made a mistake and wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship. I left a day early, a bit wiser. I knew I would laugh about these experiences, and I am still amused. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The only thing that hurt was rejection.

It seems my own psychic reading from a few years before was coming true. She had told me I would not leave any stone unturned in life. I hadn’t found the right stone yet, apparently.

THE DUBAI DEBACLE—WAS SHE CATFISHED?

Anne was looking forward to meeting her Romeo in person when he returned from his Dubai construction job; in the meantime she enjoyed all his long and loving Emails. Bill was initially impressed with exotic Dubai, but the project was turning out to be more difficult than he had planned for. He took a few of his own men and hired local labor, which turned out to be a mistake. The locals were not skilled, but he was stuck with them. He was making it work, he wrote, and promised her a nice souvenir.

Bill-Dubai

 

Injured

 

 

 

 

 

 

About a week after he’d started his project, Anne received several photos of a man on a gurney being given oxygen as paramedics were wheeling him from an emergency vehicle to a hospital. Bill sent her a long letter explaining that a horrible accident had happened during the construction, and he had been in a coma for several days. Bill had his laptop with him, and he managed to send her all the tragic information. There had been serious injuries, he said, and one death. According to his written explanation, Bill’s men had completed the first floor of the showroom and the second floor had been hoisted above it and was being lowered to fit onto some pillars. The floor was lowered unevenly, apparently, so it crashed onto the first floor and struck several workers, including Bill. Men were seriously hurt on the first floor, and those above working on lowering the upper floor plummeted onto the first floor. It was the worst accident he’d ever had, Bill wrote, and he was very sad that one of the local workers had been killed and two of his own men critically injured.  He had suffered a terrible head injury, was in great pain, and had hurt his left leg, but he thanked God he was alive. Anne was amazed he had managed to give her such a detailed description, but imagined that he needed to share his anguish with a sympathetic woman.

Bill’s long Email indicated he felt dreadful and also responsible as a result of the accident, especially since the local workers had no medical insurance. Nevertheless, he told her not to worry, it would all work out. He sent photos of himself being taken by paramedics into the hospital; the paramedics had documented their work and made sure he got the proof as well.

According to Bill, the main issue in Dubai was having money, particularly in regard to foreigners. Hospital care was very costly. Bill explained his situation to Anne in detail: he had brought a good amount of cash but hadn’t counted on this accident or a missing piece of equipment that had to be rebought when he’d arrived. The American embassy couldn’t help financially, even if he did have money in the U.S.; they would only fly him home. Having a serious accident in a foreign country was very challenging, and the extreme pain from his head injury didn’t help matters. The doctors had told him he needed surgery for the head injury but the estimated $10,000 cost needed to be paid in advance. Bill had used up most of the funds he’d brought and couldn’t access his stateside bank account, which was locked. He had gotten in touch with his mother, and asked Anne if she could help in any way. He was scared and desperate and praying for help.

Anne answered right away and explained that she didn’t have the funds or credit that could help him, even in a small way. She wrote him several times afterward encouraging him in his struggles and hoping things worked out well. She didn’t receive an answer for over a week and assumed no news is good news.

When she finally got an Email, it was very brief and the message was in italics. “My surgery has been done and it was successful. I am feeling so much better now, but still going to be in the hospital till I fully recover…Thank you for everything.”

She guessed the message might have been written by his mother; it didn’t sound like Bill at all. Although Anne wrote friendly Emails to him several times in the next few weeks to ask about his health, he never replied. What had happened to all those loving words and enthusiasm—he had even called himself “Your Man” shortly before all the communication stopped.

It had been quite a saga but it had seemed very real to her. She had heard about men who scammed (now known as catfished) women (or the reverse) with lots of attention and love on Emails. She hadn’t imagined it would happen to her. Besides, she had a difficult time believing he’d gone to all that trouble just to deceive her.

This story, which took place over a year ago, is true. It was my adventure, and I will always wonder what was real.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 

WAS HE FOR REAL? A ROMANCE OR NOT?

Anne had been divorced for many years, but hadn’t given up the idea of having a steady man in her life, a relationship that would provide companionship and love. Over the years she’d met many men and had enjoyed the experiences; most of them had been positive but none had clicked.

RomanceGrphic

Trying the Match online site, she received an answer to her ad from a man named Bill, who apparently lived in the same city. Since she felt comfortable with his overtures, they soon corresponded on Email, which was easier and more personal than going through the Match mail. She was surprised at his quick enthusiasm and openness about his history. Half American and half Canadian, Bill had been happily married for 25 years, but tragedy struck when his wife died of breast cancer, and not long afterward, his grown daughter died in a car accident, leaving behind her preteen daughters for Bill’s Canadian mother to raise. It was a sad story, but his letters revealed a man who had dealt with his sorrow and wanted to move on with his life since he had been single a long time.

Bill’s Emails were consistent and some were very long and full of information. He owned a house and several vehicles, and had a lot of interests: camping, hiking, fishing, traveling, and gardening. He claimed he was a Christian and even taught Sunday School at a neighborhood church. Photos of Bill in a kitchen area with his granddaughters impressed Anne. With his light hair, fair complexion and strong muscular body, he looked trustworthy and fun. The photos showed him clowning around with his two young granddaughters; all of them were making funny faces. She thought he looked Dutch or German.

He told her his business as a licensed building engineer took him all over the world and was the same work his dad had pursued. When Bill was young, his family had even lived for a few years in Turkey. He was tired of the business travel and ready to settle down but had one last building assignment in Dubai before he could retire. It was supposed to be a fairly easy three-week job to build a prefabricated showroom for a car company. He even sent her a copy of the signed contract as proof.

Serious about his romantic pursuit, shortly after the correspondence started, he sent Anne a questionnaire asking 23 questions. Some of the questions were: Was her heart 100% ready for a new relationship, would she enjoy life as part of a couple, was she considerate and thoughtful, did she exercise regularly, did she have pets, did she enjoy cooking, was she patient, was she romantic, had she ever been unfaithful to a partner, and how did she feel about him.

He starting calling her sweetheart and was full of compliments. There were “no roses as lovely as your words,” “nothing moves me like you do,” “you’re my light in the darkness,” “I love you with my body, soul and mind.” Anne was his “angel,” a “miracle.” He claimed he was honest and not a deceiver; he was following his heart.

Because the job in Dubai had come together so fast and he had to get ready to fly there, Bill only had time to make one phone call to Anne. It wasn’t a long call because the connection wasn’t a good one for her. She thought he sounded like he was Dutch or South African, which corresponded to her perceptions of his photos. He Emailed to apologize for the phone static and would solve it when he returned. He had heard her voice very clearly, he said.

 

This true story will be continued on Sunday’s blog.

 

IMAGINATION OR EXAGGERATION?

A sucker for imaginative writing, I’ve learned that what you see, hear or read is open to interpretation. Since I’m usually open-minded and not averse to taking a chance, I’ve had a few adventures with the personal ads. Before the Internet, there was the Singles Register newspaper in Southern California, and it was probably easier to stretch the truth then since there were no photos. I answered an ad from a man who called himself a handsome, talented writer of energy and spirit. Poetically, he claimed that trumpets would blare and cymbals would crash when he met the right woman. When we talked on the phone (before the onslaught of Email), he told me he lived in Redondo Beach and had a view of the Pacific Ocean. He was the proud owner of some unusual decorations, like a six-foot hand-carved Polynesian alligator, but his prized possessions were a line drawing by Picasso and a Spanish bullfighter’s cape.

RomanceGrphic

When we met, I discovered he was much older than I’d thought (he hadn’t admitted his age). He had difficulty walking, was hunchbacked and had prostrate problems. He told me he wasn’t expecting Dolly Parton, and I took that as a compliment–I was in shorts and a low-cut blouse. His beach apartment balcony did have an ocean view, but only if you leaned over and squinted through the buildings in front of his. The treasured wooden alligator was a tight squeeze in his little home, but it was one of the few mementoes that had survived five marriages and lots of alimony.

Turned out he was a child psychiatrist, a rival of the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock of Baby and Child Care fame. My blind date had written five books and claimed he’d coined the term “parenting.” I did find a couple of his books in my local library afterward.

He bought lunch after showing me all his treasures, but his conversation was a litany of complaints about all his former wives. He was looking for someone to take care of him and listen to all his misery. I wondered why I’d spent so much time listening to him. Was I too polite or just not savvy enough yet?

The most daring experience I had with the ads was flying to New Orleans to meet an Israeli biochemistry professor at Tulane University. He had read my ad and didn’t care that we were geographically challenged. We had had several interesting phone conversations and after he’d seen my photo, he was convinced I was the one a psychic had said was perfect for him. He made good money, evidently, and wanted to fly me to New Orleans for a weekend. I felt he sounded trustworthy and I’d never been to the “Big Easy.” One of my girlfriends thought I was out of my mind, but agreed to keep an eye on my kids.

The professor was fairly recently divorced and had come to the States to forget his troubles with his former wife, who had custody of their children and had remained in Israel. He was polite for the most part and did show me around New Orleans, but after he’d shared all his anguish with me, he soon realized he’d made a mistake and wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship. I left a day early, unharmed and a bit wiser. I knew I would laugh about these experiences, and I still am amused.

It seems my psychic reading from a few years before was coming true. She had told me I would not leave any stone unturned in life. I hadn’t found the right stone yet, apparently.

SINGLES ADS — SAME PLOYS FOR AN OLD GAME

Creative writing serves all sorts of purposes: love letters, poetry, personal ads. Call it personal advertising. I would imagine personal ads in one form or another have been around for  many hundreds of years. Roman graffiti might have attracted some young swain to a woman looking for love or money. I enjoyed Jimmy Stewart in the 1940 classic movie The Shop Around the Corner, which centered on a personal ad and anonymous mail.

In the 80s there was a widely distributed Southern California paper that focused on personal ads, aptly called the Singles Register. Local newspapers and the L.A. Times also carried personal ads. Compared to Match.com, eHarmony and countless others, this was the Dark Ages. Nowadays the online dating sites are complicated and a thriving, pushy business. Everything is marketing!

I felt like a pioneer in the single’s revolution of personal ads; none of my divorced friends had tried it. I did persuade a few to go a local bar and dance spot that featured a live band and lots of available men (or guys who didn’t wear their wedding bands). One friend met her future husband there. I found some great dance partners.

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Newly divorced, I was ready to explore the single life. The Singles Register was readily available and had hundreds of ads from all over LA. The ads had some things in common with the more modern ads of today, but lacked the bells and whistles of graphics, photos, tapes, etc. A man or woman with an imagination and willingness to create an enticing ad could have a field day exploring Love or Lust. Things weren’t as threatening in those days before AIDS sprang into full life.

In my ads I mentioned I enjoyed walks on the beach, candlelight dinners, great conversations, good movies, and the like when those descriptions were a lot fresher. This type of ad is totally passé at this point, but then so are newspapers. The method of contact was also old-fashioned. The respondent was required to send a letter, and those letters could be flowery and clever or very simple. Just analyzing the handwriting gave a clue about personality.

I’ve always appreciated creativity and good writing, but I soon learned that the “buyer” must beware; not everything or every person was as advertised. And photos weren’t necessarily current or very representative of the person. Oddly heartening, however, was the fact that advertisers often believed what they wrote about themselves. They actually did see themselves as looking younger, having all their hair and a great body. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I’m still single and the ads are full of some of the same claims–no surprise!

One of my early experiences was meeting a man in his twenties, much too young for my taste but I admired his enthusiastic and creative letters, and his persistence. When we graduated to long telephone conversations, I was impressed. New at the game, I was curious and had always enjoyed interviewing people for my newspaper column. He knew I was almost 20 years older and kept claiming he wasn’t after a “mother” type; he truly liked older women. I decided to meet him at the Boardwalk restaurant at Venice Beach, a fun place to people watch at least. I coaxed my daughter to come; at 19, she was closer to his age.

Some “relationships” are better served at a distance. Letters (those missives that come through snail mail) and even phone calls leave more room for fantasy. My earnest knight wasn’t unattractive but our age difference was awkward. Besides, I didn’t feel he had the self-confidence to take me out and I wasn’t attracted to him. We had an awkward lunch and I never heard from him again. My daughter handled it well and we had some giggles as we drove home.

My most amazing date was the man who loved costume parties. And then there was the older man who said he coined the word “parenting.” I may resurrect those stories in the future or check out my book: Weird Dates and Strange Fates on Amazon. The link is in the top right corner of this page.

 

WEIRD DATES — TRUE STORIES

I love chronicling my real life adventures on my bi-weekly blog, but I also like to publicize the books and stories I’ve written. All of them are based on my life, even though I’ve changed the character names for the most part. Being single provides lots of dating experiences.  It’s such a popular topic that the Los Angeles Times is publishing a true story every week in their special Saturday section.

Below are two excerpts from my Kindle Single book on Amazon: Weird Dates and Strange Fates

A Single Gal’s Guide to Cross-Dressing

The man who answered the door was friendly and natural as he guided her into his house. Proudly telling her he had inherited the home from his uncle, he suggested they take a little tour. A typical one-story postwar 1950s home, it had nothing imaginative in its design, inside or out, but she pretended to be impressed. He led her through a step-down, rectangular living room and then outside to a concrete atrium whose only amenity was a hot tub and a few cheap and fading lounge chairs. Occasionally touching her elbow, he told her of plans to make a few changes here and there and asked her opinion. When he took her into his small square bedroom, she noticed a white lacy negligee hanging over a closet door and beneath it black spike heels.
“How do you like my new negligee?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” she responded evenly, wondering what revelations might come next.
“My wife liked me to wear lingerie to bed. Now I can’t sleep without it.”
She could tell he was watching and listening carefully for her reactions. So far she was accepting all of it as if it were all perfectly normal.
Back in the living room he showed her some photos of a recent costume party. “How do you like these? You see, here I am in my French maid’s costume.” He handed her the photo.
“Mmmm.” She didn’t know what to say as she looked down at the photo, which gave her time to compose herself. She was too startled after the negligee reference to take in the photo’s details.

The Dark Side

When the letter returned with no forwarding address a week later, I was tempted to drive to his apartment. Derek’s daughter lived across the street, but I didn’t know the address or remember the daughter’s last name. I had an odd feeling of apprehension as I pondered what could have happened and searched my memory for little details that might indicate what to do next. Had I missed some important minutiae about him in all these months? How well did I really know him? I reflected, as my mind raced with a slew of possibilities.
Derek had meant too much to me to let the matter drop. He couldn’t have just left, I reasoned. What of all his obligations, his children, his friends? He filled his life with so many people and duties; surely someone would have the answers.
I called the office again, remembering that Derek’s best friend, Tom, worked in the same building. Tom told me he couldn’t talk in the office; he would call me at home. His comment piqued my curiosity. What would he tell me that was so secret?
The following evening he telephoned, eager to share the story.
“You remember that Derek went back to Boston to spend Christmas with his aging parents. He said he probably wouldn’t be seeing them again. I just assumed he meant because they were getting older. Then Derek ended up talking to me for three hours after our office party the Friday before New Year’s. He usually scooted out of there right after work, no matter what.”
Tom continued, “Derek didn’t show up for work the Tuesday after the New Year holiday. When he didn’t come on Wednesday, I called his daughter, Susan. Susan hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, she said, but there was a letter from him on her desk. She said she’d check on things and call me back. When she called back a half hour later, she was hysterical.”

To read what happens in both stories, check out my Amazon link or just look up Victoria Giraud’s author page on Amazon.

THE SINGLES SCENE in SO CAL By Victoria Giraud

Is it the sunset of your life or a new beginning? 

I find it difficult to believe in “till death do us part.” The phrase was a part of my marriage vows, but 16 years later the marriage was over and I was nowhere near old age and so far had no deadly diseases. After I’d mourned the death of my marriage for about a year and realized that joint custody of my two children meant I had more freedom than I’d had in a long time, I decided it was time to explore the LA singles scene.

Bonnie, a younger single friend who was a guy magnet (blond and petite, what do you expect?) persuaded me to go to a local spot with lots of singles and live music. The 19th Hole was at the golf course but it was quite a swinging place after 8 p.m., and the crowd was mostly 35 and older. One of my first lessons: Just because he isn’t wearing a ring doesn’t mean he’s single. Lesson two: Everybody looks better and younger in dim lighting and after a couple of drinks. It works both ways; I’ll always remember a very young man, about 21, who was enchanted with me. I wasn’t ready to rob the cradle but was very flattered with the attention.

Dancing to live rock n’ roll made me feel very young again, almost as if I didn’t have children. There were some very good dancers among the patrons, and I considered myself a talented, enthusiastic dancer with lots of stamina. The music was too loud for intelligent conversation for the most part, unless you leaned in closely, waited for a band break or went outside.

The atmosphere was smoky; it was a few years before California banned smoking. Non-smokers were used to being in the minority. When I got home, I’d hang my stinky clothes outside and put baby powder on my hair to absorb the odor. Washing my hair was a complicated operation if I wanted a good night’s sleep.

Not far from the 19th Hole was a bar/restaurant with a thriving business and their Happy Hour featured tasty free appetizers. The lighting and lower noise level made it easier to make contact, whether you wanted a friend, a lover or to hear what the opposite sex had to say. Many of the same people showed up every Friday evening and the age range varied from 21 to 75 or so, an amazing combination. Occasionally, after 9 p.m., they would even have live music.

Although I loved dancing, a good conversation and lots of laughter were main attractions for me at this popular place. Besides observing the crowded scene, I made new friends and had many talks over politics, religion, books, relationships, etc. I met Dick Griffith, a charming former New York ad man (shades of TV’s current “Mad Men”) who had been a technical advisor in Africa for the ABC-TV series American Sportsman. A white-haired older gentleman, he loved to wear a loose colorful jacket that featured wild African animals and a wristwatch with a silver elephant surrounding the watch face. He amused his friends with his African adventures and the variety of famous and infamous people he’d known over the years.

Several years later I edited two books for Dick: Adam’s Horn, an adventure story set in Africa about the time of Idi Amin, and In the Hearts of Famous Hunters: a series of his personal interviews with hunters like Roy Rogers, astronaut Wally Schirra, ace jet pilot Chuck Yeager and LA Times publisher Otis Chandler.  When Dick’s book was published, we had a book party at this restaurant, and actor Robert Stack, one of the famous hunters interviewed, came to celebrate. I got to hug Stack and even had a photo taken, but never saw it.  One of Dick’s friends liked to call the actor Old Novocaine Lips since Stack usually looked so serious on TV or in movies. For this occasion, however, the actor managed a few grins.

Helping Dick edit his books was the seed that resulted in my many years of editing books of all kinds, something I still love to do.

The ocean may wash away the heart but you can draw a new one.

PERSONAL ADS — NOTHING NEW! By Victoria Giraud

When I first got divorced, more years ago than I care to count, exploring the dating scene was fascinating, even in the days it was done through personal ads in newspapers. Los Angeles had a thriving paper devoted to personal ads: The Singles Register. Meeting men through old-fashioned letter writing was a great way to begin. The same lies were exchanged then as they are nowadays online.

A sucker for imaginative writing, I learned a few lessons about truth or fiction when I answered an ad from a man who called himself handsome and a talented writer of energy and spirit. His ad claimed that trumpets would blare and cymbals would crash when he met the right woman. When we talked, he told me in a deep, sexy voice he lived in Redondo Beach and had a view of the Pacific Ocean. He owned some unusual decorations, like a six-foot long, hand-carved Polynesian alligator, but his prized possessions were a line drawing by Picasso and a Spanish bullfighter’s cape.

When I met him, I discovered he was much older than I’d thought (he hadn’t admitted his age). He had difficulty walking, was hunchbacked and had prostrate problems. He told me he wasn’t expecting Dolly Parton, and I took that as a compliment–I was in shorts and a low-cut blouse. His beach apartment balcony had an ocean view if you leaned over and squinted through the buildings in front of his. The treasured wooden alligator made walking difficult, but it was one of the few mementoes that had survived five marriages and lots of alimony.

Turned out he was a child psychiatrist, a rival of the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock of Baby and Child Care fame. My date had written five books and claimed he’d coined the term “parenting.” I did find a couple of his books in my local library afterward.

He bought lunch after showing me all his treasures, but it was a litany of his complaints about all his former wives. About thirty years older than I was at the time, he was looking for someone to take care of him and listen to all his misery. I wondered why I’d spent so much time listening to him. Was I too polite or just not savvy enough yet? I went home early and never heard from him again.

The most daring experience I had was flying to New Orleans to meet an Israeli biochemistry professor at Tulane University. He had read my ad and didn’t care that we were geographically challenged. We had several interesting conversations and after he’d seen my photo, he was convinced I was the one a psychic had said was perfect for him. He made good money, evidently, and wanted to fly me to New Orleans for a weekend. I felt he sounded trustworthy and I’d never been to the “Big Easy.” One of my girlfriends thought I was out of my mind, but agreed to keep an eye on my kids.

The professor was fairly recently divorced and had come to the States to forget his troubles with his former wife, who had custody of their children and had remained in Israel. He was polite for the most part and did show me around New Orleans, but after he’d shared all his anguish with me, he soon realized he’d made a mistake and wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship. I left a day early.

It seems my psychic reading of a few years before was coming true. This woman had told me that I would not leave any stone unturned in life. I hadn’t found the right stone yet, apparently.

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