It's not every day you see a guy you dated on prime time network television.
That day happened for me not too long ago. It was already an unusual evening because, for some reason, Wine Guy had actually ceded the remote control to me. This meant I could actually identify what was on before I changed the channel.
That was when I saw him. The blond, wispy hair and receding hairline. The tan, boyish face contrasting with the conservative suit and tie. It was definitely him - the DA.
In all honesty, I wasn't surprised to see him on television. In fact, I knew he was going to be featured on a major network news magazine program within the first hour of meeting him.
It was last summer and I was with a small group of girls at a popular dive bar celebrating a co-worker/friend's last day on the job. This was pre-blog and when I was on a dating rampage. It was kind of second full time job. Everywhere I went I was on the lookout, which only made the advice I kept getting from people even more annoying, "He'll come along at just the moment when you aren't looking for it." Whatever. That is the lamest piece of advice I've ever heard. If you say, "don't look at this thing in my hand, " what's the first thing you are going to do? Look at it of course....
So we're at the dive bar and I'm just buzzed enough to crave a cigarette (this habit being the last remnant from my six years in New York City). I leave my non-smoking friends and head to the patio to see who I can bum off of (only real smokers own their own cigarettes, dontcha know?). As I'm sitting on a stool puffing away and riding my buzz, I notice the table I'm sort of sitting at has a pile of opened presents on it and a group of about 5 or 6 very happy people.
They were an odd bunch, mostly because they just didn't fit together. A couple of middle aged women, a dad-looking guy wearing a polo shirt, two gruff mustachioed men, and the thin-haired blond mentioned earlier. They seemed friendly enough. I was buzzed enough. The blond guy was cute enough. So I ventured to step in...
"Is it someone's birthday?" I ask the blond guy, nodding towards the pile of gifts on the table.
He turned to me still laughing from the last exchange with his friends, "No, uh...." his smile fades into a nervous grimace when he notices that it's a girl talking to him. I can tell that, underneath that buzz, he's shy. That's always a refreshing thing to see - especially in a dive bar.
"No, it's actually a...well, really we're uh....celebrating a court case. We just convicted someone today."
My eyes lit up. "Really? Are you guys jurors then?" We're not far from the court house and, having never made it past the main corral during jury duty, I'm fascinated to know what it's like to actually get picked for a jury.
"No, no. Well, actually those three people are jurors," he points to the middle aged women and the dad-type. As he continues, I can see his face redden. "I'm a District Attorney and those two guys, " pointing to the gruff gentlemen who are listening in on us with far too much interest, "they're the cops who investigated the case."
At this point, I'm already deciding how to retell this story to our grandchildren. I'm a bit of a closet True Crime junkie (Law & Order too if you recall). Sometimes my interest borders on creepy, I must admit. Lots of American Justice, Cold Case Files (not Cold Case the TV show - big difference), City Confidential, Power, Privilege and Justice (Dominick Dunne), etc. You know those shows no girl who lives alone in a basement apartment where no one can hear her should ever watch. If this guy is telling the truth (he is), than I just met a man who could keep me entertained for the rest of my life.
We chat more and he answers all my over eager questions. He seemed pleased when I told him I had heard about the case. Apparently I wasn't the only one, since one major primetime news program (I use the term "news" lightly here) had taped the entire trial and planned on dedicating a program to the case to air sometime in the coming year.
The DA also tells me that he doesn't own a TV and has never heard of the show that's taping him. Since I am in the TV business, I find it incredibly refreshing that he doesn't know a damn thing about it.When I tell him this particular program is a very highly rated show and that this is "kind of a big deal," he seems genuinely alarmed. Especially when I tell him people will most definitely recognize him on the street. This is a really small town and locals don't get an hour program featuring them very often.
I can tell he's far more drunk than he realizes and by now I have learned that the jurors and the cops all adore him. They were clearly won over by his modest charm and genuine personality as they watched him over those weeks in the courtroom. I got the distinct feeling they all shared something pretty important. Like they all lived through - and survived - the same real-life drama.
They were all also very aware of his single status. Over the 45 minutes or so that we talked, they each took a separate opportunity to tell me what a great guy he was, how hard he worked to convict the killer, and how his shyness means that he doesn't work it with the ladies like he should.
This was a pretty damn good "meet cute" I must say. But the whole shy thing became annoyingly true when I told the DA I had to make my way back to my friends before they got concerned and he didn't ask for my number. Just said, "Oh, OK. Bye. Nice to meet you."
By the time I got back to my table, I was a little giddy but also worried that he would leave before we had a chance to exchange information. I talked it over with my friends (none of whom are single and found the whole thing just a little amusing). They encouraged me to go back over there and hand him my card.
I stood up, took a deep breath, turned around to walk back to the patio and on the way, bumped head-on into the two cops. They were more than happy to see me since what they were doing was coming to get me. See, they knew the DA liked me and was kicking himself for not asking for my number. So they took it upon themselves to make it happen for the shy guy. After they told me this, I held up my hand to show them the business card resting in my palm, ready for the hand off to the DA.
They marched me back to the patio (was this a pick-up or an arrest?). When we got to the table, the DAs back was turned to us. They brusquely turned him around and said, "Here she is!"
The jurors and the cops were laughing, the middle aged women were mouthing "he's a great guy" with overly exaggerrated thumbs up signs and gestures. It was terrifically embarrassing and funny and just plain ridiculous. Basically it was 8th grade for grown ups (two of whom had badges and guns).
"Here, " I shoved my card in the DAs hand. " You should give me a call."
"I, I...will. I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow -- you can imagine I need one. Anyway, I'll be back in three weeks and I promise I'll call you."
Why are the promising ones always heading out of town when you first meet them?! I said, "I hope you do. OK, I better go," the audience was getting very worked up and my friends had wandered over and were now snapping flash pictures of this terribly awkward exchange.
I thought our connection was pretty strong and that I would hear from him. But after three weeks plus two days without a call, I lost patience. I needed to get this thing moving if we were going to share this story with our grandchildren!
Being a DA in the news recently, I quickly figured out his email address and popped him a "breezy" checking-in email. Oh, and I attached one of the excruciatingly awkward photos from my friend's camera --just as a "reminder" in case he dared to forget how he met me.
My office phone rang within 30 seconds. We had a date set by the time I hung up 5 minutes later.
Judging by the fact that I am writing this story after having blabbed on and on about Wine Guy these last 4 months, you can guess that things didn't quite work out with the DA. Not only did they not work out, they never even got past Date #1.
He was perfectly nice, though far shorter than I imagined (I guess I'd missed that important detail since one or both of us had been sitting the entire time we interacted at the bar). But once the small talk was out of the way, there wasn't much to say. OK, I had plenty of questions to ask him about his job - which I did. As entertaining as that was for me, I can't imagine he particularly enjoyed being interviewed (interrogated) by a girl with a slightly twisted fascination with true crime stories.
Let's just say I wasn't surprised - or disappointed -- when I never heard a word from him again. Where was that grandchild-inspiring connection I felt so strongly just a few weeks earlier?
So back to the couch with Wine Guy. As I watched the highlights of the DA's closing argument on my TV screen, I suddenly felt that vivid connection again. That spark deep in the pit of my stomach. I recognized the feeling instantly. It's exactly how I feel when Bill Kurtis introduces me to another ghastly crime in some Midwestern town.
It wasn't the short, blond DA I connected with. It was the prospect of a commercial-free true crime show whenever I wanted!
I wish it was that easy to explain to Wine Guy. Upon seeing the DA on screen ( I had been quietly keeping an eye out for the program all these months) I couldn't help but excitedly blurt out the story of my stunted romance with the DA. I'm sure Wine Guy mistook my enthusiasm for "the one that got away" nostalgia. Hopefully he'll read this and believe me once and for all.
Now, I wonder if Bill Kurtis is single?