These have been strange days here at the Cathy Guisewite Dating Agency.
Ever since an article I wrote about the the creator of the Cathy cartoon strip appeared in View on May 7, the phones have not stopped ringing. Guys from all over Southern California professing to be crazy about Cathy are pining for, requesting and occasionally even groveling for introductions to Guisewite.
It's gotten to the point where it's tempting to leave the following message on the answering machine:
If you're calling to ask me to fix you up with Cathy Guisewite, you should know that half of the eligible producers, doctors, screenwriters, attorneys and former De Lorean salesmen in town have already inquired about that same favor. If you still want to jump into the pool--which is beginning to look more like a lottery--please write to Guisewite at Universal Press Syndicate, 4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo . 64112. Incidentally, in case you ever get to meet her, her name is pronounced GUYS-White, not GEESE-White.
Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled when my stories are of service to people. But a dating service?
In the last few days, for instance, requests/pleas have been received from:
--A real estate broker who says he was the college roommate of a noted film producer/director.
--A screenwriter who claims to have written a screenplay currently being filmed with a major comedian-actor.
--An attorney who thought that sending flowers and later candy might help his cause. It didn't make sense that a professional whose fees are billed in dollars-per-minute would drive all the way downtown--twice--to personally deliver flowers and candy. The first time I wasn't around and he left a half-dozen carnations with his calling card. Then, a few days later, we met face to face. He proffered a bag of M&M's (with the price tag still on it). Turns out he was extremely handsome and, no doubt, wanted me to pass along that information to Guisewite along with his name and phone number.
--A guest conductor of a local symphony orchestra who invited Guisewite to hear him perform.
--Numerous producers who were so quick to insist they had a hot business proposition for Guisewite that I automatically began asking them "Does this mean you want to date her, too?" The responses to that question were generally affirmative, as in "How'd you know that?"
--Assorted other men who, when advised to write Guisewite through her syndicate, begged and pleaded that they not be lumped in with "all the other jerks who come in over the transom."
It soon became apparent that these responses amounted to a commentary on what lengths today's men are willing to travel in order to meet an unquestionably attractive, undeniably wealthy, clearly famous 36-year-old woman leading a semi-reclusive life from the top of Laurel Canyon without the right person to share it. Or so they believe.
I couldn't resist the temptation. I took notes.
Listen to the words from the man who said he was a famous film producer/director's college roommate (and who later gave permission to be quoted):
"Hello. . . . Just from a pure literary point of view I wanted to congratulate you on that article. . . . I actually called for a kind of selfish reason. I can't believe I had the courage to do this (a recurrent theme). I got the impression from reading your article that Cathy is not madly in love with anybody. . . . You can tell her I've written a book . . . . It's based on my experiences with a thousand women, a Woody Allenish kind of thing . . . .
"I'm kind of an eligible guy. . . . She's the one in the center of that photograph, isn't she? (Cathy was photographed with her dog and a life-size Cathy doll). . . . I also have a character reference in case she wants to check me out. (Caller mentions name of a Times editor, another recurring theme.) I just sold my house that wasn't far from Cathy's. Now I'm in the Marina. . . ."
The caller went on to summarize his previous career in show business:
"I've been a ventriloquist and puppeteer since I was 12. If she had grown up in the San Fernando Valley, I probably would have performed at her birthday party or for her Girl Scout Troop . . . . You can tell her I'm a young, cute, Charles Grodin type. . . . If she's worried about me being after her money, she can have me sign a prenuptial agreement. The (his name) empire is well-off."
Most of Guisewite's other would-be suitors were more succinct. One even composed what sounded like a verbal personal ad on the spot: "I'm been married, but I've been divorced about five years. I'm a successful attorney in Santa Monica. Attractive. Slim. In good physical condition and a good artist, too."
Of course, there were also a few of the more standard calls. Offers to have her give speeches and host events. One writer, working on a magazine article on celebrity comfort food, wanted to ask Guisewite what food both she and Cathy consumed when they felt insecure and a little depressed.
Depressed? Guisewite? How could any single woman in her right mind be in the dumps with so many guys falling all over themselves just for an introduction to her?
When Guisewite heard about the response to the article, she claimed the clamor was highly unusual. And then she just laughed, volunteering nothing.
Remember how her house was ultra-tidy, despite the fact that her cartoon character uses her dresser drawers to warehouse used panty-hose containers? And remember how thin Guisewite was, despite the fact that she claimed to still "use food to solve every problem--the difference (between herself and Cathy) is that Cathy will eat an entire cheesecake whereas I'll eat only half of one."
I'm starting to suspect that though Guisewite claims to be lagging behind Cathy in the dating game, that may just be a useful comedic exaggeration. Maybe she's already got a slew of guys chomping at the bit. Or maybe she just didn't want me to quote her again.