Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 – 7pm? Maybe 8…
I don’t remember if I bought anything new to wear, but I know whatever I was wearing that night I ran it by Angela first. Exchanging direct messages, snapping selfies…twenty-six hundred miles apart, this was no way for a forty-five year old man to act, debating my outfit, looking for approval from someone I’ve never met in person, yet there I was. Anymore, I ran everything about my attire past Angela if I was going out in public looking to impress. Shit, I just wanted to look presentable. A midwest boy in a west coast world. I’d better look the part and fake the rest, right? Half untucked graphic t-shirt, sport coat and black denim pants, Nike skater shoes (I haven’t skated a day in my life)…black socks.
The ride over took forty minutes to go what seemed like ten miles. Everywhere in L.A. is between forty minutes and four hours apart by car apparently. My driver was from Afghanistan, and we talked the entire ride – about school, his home, family. It’s a treasure to learn about someone from somewhere you’ve never been or don’t know anything about.
Harlowe is on Santa Monica Boulevard. Yeah, the song runs through my head too when I hear that name. Another song is what prompted me to ask her (no, not Angela) for a quintessential Hollywood bar where we could meet for a drink. Harlowe is not a Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel. What it is though, is a well appointed neighborhood bar, with no pretense, good food and a 1930’s vibe.
There are black leather chairs right by the entrance and that’s where you would have found me, were you there, seated in one of those chairs, leg crossed on top of my knee, vaguely looking at my phone, waiting.
“I’m here” or something like that, popped up in my notifications.
Looking up, I saw her standing there.
“She’s really tall” was my first impression.
That was the last simple thought I would have about her in my lifetime. After that I was in trouble. I just didn’t know it yet.
We had been talking casually for a few weeks prior on social media. I was traveling for work in southern California so we decided to meet in person. If you look at the photos of Harlowe, “our table” is about the fourth one from the back wall on the right side as you enter. It’s near the second column from the back. Facing each other, we had a couple drinks and a bite to eat. The steak frites were excellent by the way, I hadn’t eaten all day seemingly. And she had mac and cheese. We talked non-stop for three hours. We talked about music, work, family, life…joked about it being karaoke night (every Tuesday and no, we didn’t sing)…honestly I don’t remember it all because I was mentally trying in vain to record in my mind her sideway glances and the way her lips formed words. She was exactly how I imagined her to be. By time eleven came around my mind caught up with reality and I knew I was, yeah, I was in trouble.
The air was mist turning to rain outside as we walked out, blue and green lighting bounding above the city. She waited with me on the sidewalk until my ride showed up. I played it cool with a simple hug; we were just friends after all and said “goodnight, I had an awesome time“. I think I smiled the entire trip back to my hotel, replaying the night over and over in my head.
Yeah. I was in trouble.
Eighteen days later I’d be back…
P.S. this site has no affiliation whatsoever with the West Hollywood bar of the same name