When I first moved to Hollywood, I was ready to date. Everyone.
I am in a new city. Big city. New chapter. New men. Lets do this thing.
I dated the rock band musician with flowing hair and bottles of empty whiskey in his living room; the depressed writer with handmade suspenders; the poor but romantic actor; the brilliant chemist with no social skills; the graduate student who enjoyed bossing me around, but took me to play mini golf so I never said anything.
I know the extremities of dates all too well: The grandiose and the ugly. From a Malibu waterfall picnic to eating only sautéed vegetables in a dive bar for dinner.
I have paid for plenty of first date dinners. I have left in the middle of dinner. I have been stood up. I've stood the person up. I have been left for another woman during the date. I have dated alcoholics and taken a taxi home. I've been asked to be someone's girlfriend after one date. I've had men tell me they are just dating right now but can't get serious because they just got a girl pregnant. I've had a man tell me that I should drop some acid and go to Coachella so that I would stop being such a control freak. I agreed, entirely.
And my favorite: A date show up with a festive bouquet made out of a pine tree branches, red velvet ribbon, star stickers, and lots of glitter. How he got into my gated apartment building, I still do not know.
In the game of dating, I consider myself well-seasoned. Extremely marinaded. Wise. Gandalf (may he rest in peace).
"Whitney. You need to date a rich man."
Many of my girlfriends, acquaintances, and so forth (women and men) say this phrase as if it is the cure-all to courting. Yes, lack of finances are often the core reason for divorce, arguments, and whatever other relationship-related issues. But I had yet to experience dating a man with a lot of money. I actually never thought about it.
"You keep dating losers. Weirdos. Boys. I think you do it just because it makes a great story."
I sometimes think they are right about the last part of that sentence.
I often have compare-and-contrast conversations with other women about our dating experiences. They usually go something like this:
"So, he flew me to Boston, where we stayed in a five-star hotel for five days. Ordered room service every morning. Went on a steak, seafood, and duck fondue dinner every night. And then he flew me back. And I had flowers at my door the moment I arrived home. And diamonds. And a maid. And a puppy. Sorry, two puppies. How was your date?"
"He got us hot dogs."
A few months ago, I decided to take my friends' advice and only date rich men. In other words, men who could throw cash around like the bills are empty candy wrappers.
I had a blast.
A self-made millionaire took me on an extravagant dining rendezvous around Hollywood, ordering expensive cocktails and top-cut meats and exotic cheeses. Although I was very constipated for the next three days, I was also a princess.
He opened all the doors for me. He ordered for me. He stared into my eyes while I spoke about my disinterest in loud music concerts- which means he was definitely listening. We laughed over bottles of French wine that I can't properly pronounce. He told wild stories about his world travels, one of which included a dolphin. He threw cash on the table without looking at how much he put down. He slapped his knee and laughed like he owned the world. All of the worlds. And all of the things in the worlds.
I went on a date with a successful filmmaker who discussed the symbolism hidden in Darren Aronofsky films while stirring his bourbon on the rocks. And chuckled when I reached for my purse to help pay. "Please. That will not be happening tonight."
The roster continues:
A business man who wore excellent bowties.
Another business man who owned boats.
Some random old man gave me freshwater pearls.
Lots of wallets. Money clips. Heavy, black credit cards. Lots of me not-paying. Three weeks of money-centric behavior. I was getting dizzy, in a good way.
Please understand: A man with a well-paying job and/or a fat bank account is certainly nice. Really, truly - it's great. However, three weeks into my Rich Man adventure, I started noticing that a flashy income show couldn't hide everything. I realized that I was ignoring red flags merely because I had a filet mignon in my face. I overlooked the arrogance, the patronizing comments, the staring at the waitress' cleavage for an uncomfortable amount of time as she took the dinner order.
The millionaire made horrible comments about women. The filmmaker lied about his age by fifteen years. The business man was on his phone most of the time.
The reasons why I continued dating the musician, writer, actor and so forth are just as pathetic as the reasoning behind dating rich men. Because a person keeps a book of Pablo Neruda poetry on their bathroom counter does not make up for the fact that he is verbally abusive. A Javiar Bardem look-alike is awfully perfect - but not when they are a sexist. A gorgeous car, condo, and cash flow can only do so much if the person is, well, a jerk.
In the meantime, I am making my own money. Just as I was before. And I can buy my own duck fondue. I don't even like duck fondue. I like nachos. So I will buy those. And display my cash on the restaurant table, slap both my knees really hard, throw my hands in the air with lots of power, and say "Who wants to count it!?"