Sunday, September 26, 2010

Awkward

I went to the Arclight this week, the only cinema in LA as far as I’m concerned in my …is it snobbishness or curmudgeonly-ness? OK I do love the vintage movie houses like the Vista et. al. l but I digress. I went to the Arclight and while waiting for my friend in the lobby, I saw what can best be described as a former acquaintance walk in. He hadn’t changed much in the six years since I’d last seen him. Still tall and mostly bald, still somewhat sheepish, with an awkward walk. I could see by the emblazoned sweatshirt he wore that he was working on one of the new cable shows this year. I turned to see if he’d see me and wondered how to greet him.

We met when I was at film school and he was a featured speaker as a writer who had a successful film out. It was actually he and his brother – his hunky, fit, charming brother. After their lecture I plowed down the stairs of the lecture hall in my forthright, still-unjaded way and marched right up to them. I figured it would be smart to make a connection with a working writer and it would be an added bonus if I could date a cute one.

Sadly, the cute one was mobbed so I ended up connecting with the awkward one who was eager to have someone be interested in him. He was very sweet and we agreed to meet up the next week. Excellent, I thought, I have my first connection in Hollywood! It would have been fabulous if it had been romantic too but I was contented to have a new friend. Besides, maybe there was a way I could get to his brother…

So we had drinks that week. He creeped me out when he did an awkward lean-in at the end of the evening. I avoided the smooch and tried to make it as gently clear as I could that this was not like that. It seemed fine. We hung out a few times with other family friends, and in other social settings but the brother was never around. Maybe Awkward wasn’t so bad. He was smart and funny. He was kind and a little eccentric. His looks left me cold as did his lack of charisma but maybe I’d be OK with that if I looked a little deeper.

At this point it became clear that their writing team was as imbalanced as their looks. The cute brother had been hired on a show and assigned a feature script. Awkward continued to have his pitches turned down and lived off old family money. It also became clear that he thought this was more than just a friendly writer mentoring situation. The details are fuzzy now as it’s been so long but I seem to recall he tried to kiss me again and my firm no sent him scurrying. It seemed there was no friendship possible on his end without romantic attachments and on my end there was none possible with.

I knew I’d hurt him even though I thought I’d been clear on that first “date”. Well at least clear-ish. Maybe a part of me knew he was only continuing to talk to me because I was young and cute and looked up to him. Maybe I knew he hoped this would go somewhere romantic. Who are we kidding, I was only talking to him for mentorship and business connections. I hadn’t even written my first script yet! I suppose it was a case of mutual using and we both walked away unsatisfied.

After my last exit following that awkward kiss attempt, I never heard from him again. His humiliation over the rejection apparently precluded any possible continued friendship. I was sad to lose my one connection in a town where it’s all who you know and I knew nobody. But it was a good lesson learned: I’m not up to the challenge of toying with men’s hearts to get what I want. I just can’t fake it.

When he walked into the Arclight, I was the only other person standing in the lobby so it’s not possible that he didn’t see me. However, six years is a long time. My hair is different, my clothes are different. Maybe he didn’t recognize me. I thought for a second about going over to him, catching up, seeing how he was. But then I stopped. If he’d been so hurt, he may not have relished being faced with me. I decided to leave well enough alone. He did his awkward walk toward his theatre. I watched him go and hoped his new series gets picked up.

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