In the spring of 1989, having failed to make a love connection with the date or the TV show, I decided to call the guy I’d met at the Hard Rock Cafe, the original one in Beverly Center. When I had breaks during the selection and filming process for Chuck Woolery’s dating show, Pam and I hung out at the bar. My friend had come along for moral support, so she and the hot, long-haired bartender had lots of time to chat when I was across the street at the studio.
Over the course of the afternoon, the three of us had a great time with my adventure. Our bartender’s name was James. His long, blond hair was back in a ponytail that went past the middle of his back. Like many in L.A., his day job was just to pay the bills until he made it. He was a guitar player in a rock band. Before Pam and I left at the end of the day, he slid a drink napkin across the bar to me, saying, “Give me a call sometime. Well, unless you have a love connection.”
Our first phone call went well, and he asked if I’d go out with him. Living in the high desert of north L.A. County, where there wasn’t a whole lot to do. I offered to come south to the city for our date. Pam’s daughter and son-in-law lived in their starter home a few blocks off Century Boulevard, about five miles inland from Los Angeles International Airport. Pam and I regularly stayed with Tim and Brigitte, and she came too. I prepared to go out, wearing a black and white checked top, black miniskirt, sheer black nylons, and low black pumps.
As the four of us waited for James to arrive, I got really nervous. What the hell was I doing? And the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, there was an 80’s rock guitar player in black leather pants, boots, and jacket decked out with chains, crowned by his long, wavy hair unleashed. I invited him in. As I walked ahead of him into the family room where my friends were, I mouthed ‘oh my God!’ not sure yet if it was in a good way.
Pam and James said hello. I introduced Tim and Brigitte, and it was time to go. Surprised by his really old, blue beater, just because it didn’t scream rock ‘n roll, I climbed in and we headed toward the ocean.
He’d made reservations at a restaurant in Marina del Rey, so we headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway. The lobby of the seafood restaurant, right on the harbor, was busy. James checked in and went to use the restroom. While I waited, a man approached and asked me about the restaurant next door. I told him I didn’t know the name or type of food. When James returned to me, the guy burst out laughing. “I didn’t know you were dining here. I just thought you were a shitty waitress!” We laughed together, but this gives you an idea how the two of us were perceived by the folks in this swanky dining establishment.
As we enjoyed our delicious seafood, we visited easily. I asked James about his band. He was interested to hear how my Love Connection date and interaction with the show had been, having been a part of the start. I was uncertain about what we would do as the meal came to an end, but James had a plan. We were going to the nightclub next door.
James stood a few inches taller than six feet. As he walked through the restaurant, people turned to look. Was it the leather, the hair? He definitely had a presence. When we got to the dance club, the bouncers told James he wouldn’t be allowed in wearing his leather jacket. When he took it off, they said they couldn’t let him in wearing a t-shirt. I was good with leaving the upscale, uptight venue, but James talked with the guys and was eventually let in wearing his jacket. We found a table and James went for beers. When he returned, he asked, “Do you mind asking the DJ for some AC/DC? I tried but he won’t look my way.” No problem. I was able to catch the DJ’s eye and he was more than happy to play “Back in Black.” The dance floor filled and everyone rocked out!
Music was good; beers were cold and easy to drink. The two of us talked and laughed until last call and lights up. James ordered beers at last call, even though we had nearly full bottles on the table. When the music stopped and the club lit up, James stood up and slid his sleeves down over the beers. “One for the road!” he cheerfully announced and we headed to the car. Statute of limitations are expired, so I admit we drank on the way back to Tim and Brigitte’s.
Lights were out when we arrived, except the porchlight and low light in the kitchen. We quietly walked through to the family room. Sitting on the couch, James ran his hand down my leg, seriously snagging my hosiery. “Cool! The girls I usually go out with don’t wear these. They can usually drink me under the table, too.” We kissed for a while and he continued to shred my nylons with his rings. I think we both knew this wouldn’t be going anywhere, but it was definitely a fun adventure, including meeting at the Hard Rock, visiting through my Love Connection day, and then shaking up the folks in Marina del Rey! A kiss goodbye and James was gone.
However this Valentine’s Day finds you, I hope you feel loved. ❤