The camera takes a first exposure of your physical self and a second of your energetic overlay.
I got a message the other day from a comedian who I thought was cute and smart three years ago when I met him after we did a comedy showcase together. Right after our initial meet, I then reached out saying if he ever wanted to hang, to let me know because I thought he was hilarious. I think I may have had a boyfriend then.
Wait, no. I was newly single. (I'm really not a cheater. I am, as a friend accurately assessed recently after I told her a few of my stories: "a whore in a relationship" -- not just a regular old whore. I'll take it!)
When I reached out to him three years ago, I thought The Comedian was kind and funny and quick and seemed to dig me a little. He was out of town, for a while, but for sure he said he would like to hang down the line.
Then, nothing. I pretty much forgot about him. Or maybe I asked him to another event at some point, as is my move. A plus-one is not a date, it's just a get-to-know-you situation. He declined, for the same out-of-town reason he had the initial time. OK, dude. I get it.
So when a Facebook message from The Comedian popped up the other day, he said that he was really enjoying all the stuff I was writing for XO, and he wondered if I might be willing to chat with him sometime about my process, which he deemed to be prolific. I knew he had written on some pilots and tours with big names -- so wasn't an open miker or a beginner, but more of a peer. Sure, I thought, uncertain as to his angle, but not all that enamored three years after the initial flirtation.
I guess my feeling was that if it took someone three years to reach out, with a bogus reason to boot (or maybe not bogus; I do give pretty awesome writing advice), this was probably something that I wouldn't really give too much of a shit about. I'd see him, and then, eh.
I made plans, and then canceled. He said he was flexible, and I looked at the text and again thought "eh." But the next day as I was rooting around in my cupboards trying to find the excellent book that my psychologist Dr. Henry Grayson wrote called "Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind," I landed on another book instead.
"Divine Intuition." Since, obviously, the universe was instructing me quite directly: I started reading it immediately. I love dumbass books like this. "The Secret." Wayne Dyer. All that horseshit. Said in the most loving way possible.
For whatever reason, I've found that by keeping an open mind while also recognizing the predatory nature of the self-help industry (on those who are pretty much addicted to seeking itself), the oeuvre has overall made a positive impact on my life.
Years ago, I literally just started testing things like "The Secret" out (as I might have if I were doing a science experiment), and when the results kept paying off again and again, I kept doing it more. My nutty schedule of late has prevented me from reading one of these hocus-pocus, all-you-have-to-do-is-believe-in-your-inner-wisdom books for quite some time, so unsurprisingly, this one fed my soul in a way that I didn't even realize that I needed. A few quotes inside the book that spoke to me in particular:
"Silence is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation." -- Father Thomas Keating
"Sometimes when we're waiting for God to speak, He's waiting for us to listen." -- Martha Bolton
"Intuitive knowledge is an illumination of the soul, whereby it beholds in the light of God those things which it pleases Him to reveal to us by a direct impression of divine clearness." -- Rene Descartes
"What is truth? A difficult question; but I have solved it for myself by saying that it is what 'the voice' within tells you." -- Mahatma Gandhi
"I have a sense of destiny as though my life was assigned to me by fate and had to be fulfilled. This gave me an inner security." -- C.G. Jung
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain
Like I said, it was nourishing.
As I was reading the book, I got different hunches. Let's call it "divine intuition." Why the fuck not. One was to call my mom. She said talking to her was just what she needed right then. I also decided to follow up with a writer who, it turned out, had an amazing story she's now putting together for me.
And another -- I felt like I should text The Comedian back -- and this time not cancel. "I'm free tonight if you want to swing by," I said. "Bring the traditional housewarming gift of paper towels."
The second part. That was because I needed paper towels.
He arrived a few hours later, and I was immediately attracted to him. He's tall and good looking, but I also think I have a more developed sense of good-people-dar now. And it was ding-ding-dinging. We took my dog Sam out for a walk and then came back to my place. I cleared off a chair for him to sit, and then eventually he said, "It's weird that we were right next to each other when we were walking the dog, and now we're like across the room," and with that, he sat next to me on my bed, which is kind of the heart of my apartment (and where I'm writing this right now).
The Comedian pet my dog -- and Sam was all about him -- and we talked about writing and comedy for three hours straight. I got the inkling that this was in fact a way in (which I didn't mind) and asked if he wanted to get dinner. He did. We went to a Thai restaurant around the corner.
I got his background over dumplings and pad Thai: He'd been doing comedy for a while now, and his family history and background included (similar to the majority of comics I've found, outside of say, Stephen Colbert) being an atheist. He went that way after actually reading the Bible. These are my people, I've come to realize. The atheists. They dig me. And I dig them back.
Oh shit. "The Secret."
Then he said at one point, "There's something I should tell you. When we met a few years back, I had immediately gotten into a relationship which I've been in for the last few years. So that's why I felt weird about hanging out. I'm not in a relationship any longer."
I laughed. "That's hilarious. So you just scrolled through all your prospects and thought: 'Hey what about this chick from three years ago.'"
"Yeah, exactly," he joked.
Then I said, before I lost the courage, because I hate fakeness and fucking around: "So do you think I'm cute and want to date me?"
"Yes," he said immediately. "Definitely. Just whenever I'm dealing with someone who is in my world and circle of people, I'm always careful because I don't want to be taken the wrong way in case the other person isn't interested."
I was beaming.
Then he said something about how it's so funny when people date that everything is so comfortable but then when they talk about the more intimate things it can get awkward. Being a fan of making things as extremely awkward as possible always, I jumped on this. "Really? OK, so tell me all your things now. Go."
"Well, I like black lingerie..." he started.
I started dying laughing. "Oh my God," I said. "I totally thought you meant, like, if you wanted to get married or have kids. That kind of intimate things."
"That right there," he said, "that exchange sums up every hacky joke about the differences between men and women ever. And to answer your question, Yes, I do think I want to get married and have kids. I'm kind of a relationship guy."
He paid for dinner, and we headed back to my place. "So do you want to see the XO office?" I asked since I needed to take Sam for a walk anyway.
"For sure," he said and we trotted up to 245 Fifth Avenue. Then when we got back to my place, we were quiet and awkward and it was like that scene in "Annie Hall" where they are talking, drinking wine outside, having an out-of-body experience observing themselves prattling on to each other about something, but neither one knows what the other is saying and the subtext is all about the sexual tension and what the other person is thinking.
He sat on my bed next to me and it was that buzzy moment of electricity between two people when the next moment is going to happen. It just is. He kissed me, and then he kissed me some more, and then he kissed me some more and then -- my dog tried to get in on the action, putting his face in between ours.
He gently took Sam into the bathroom where my dog shot him the saddest look on the planet and as we kissed on my bed, Sam yowled from the bathroom. And yowled. And yowled some more.
"I feel like we're making out at Michael Vick's apartment," he said. I laughed.
When he tried to unbutton my pants, I stopped him and said, "I'm not going to fuck you after a fucking writing advice non-date," I said, but I totally wanted to. But I didn't. Isn't that a nice story.
"If I didn't think we could actually date, I would probably fuck you," I added, because that makes sense.
Physically it felt different than it's felt in a while. I didn't want to play any stupid role or act out any bullshit, I just liked him. Like in an I-could-see-myself-dating-this-dude way.
When I kissed him goodbye, The Comedian asked, "What is your schedule like?"
I told him I work at home on Mondays and Thursdays and usually work about 10:30 to 6:30 at the office. (I think I said 10 to 6, but since I'm always late, I'm trying to prevent eye-rolling from anyone on staff.) He said, "Can you get together on Monday then, say around 9?" I was delighted. "Yes," I said. "That sounds great."
The next day as I was texting him, I told him that I might write about him, and would show him (as I do with people who I'm currently involved with) and that I wouldn't use his name, and then added, "But if we were to like really date -- like really actually date -- I don't like doing the whole keeping it on the down-low thing. I totally get why people do. I've just learned it's not for me."
"I wouldn't have asked to see you if I wasn't OK with that," he said.
And then The Comedian added: "All I ask is that you quadruple my cock size and use my pseudonym Aaron Sorkin."
I laughed out loud.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.