Sometimes you get a sign from above, a big red hand that says, "Stop -- Don't Walk."
Such was the case one recent Friday night when I was standing on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Boulevard. I had gone to see the band Treat & Berent at the Crooked Bar. The show had been a jazz-pop blowout, but as for meeting any female knockouts -- well, it had been a shutout. So I headed back to my parking spot across Sunset.
As I waited for the light to change, a white Jetta packed with five pretty women in their early 20s pulled up. The window rolled down. Without a word, a blond stuck out her arm and handed me a yellow rose.
"For me?" I said, as if there was anyone else within 20 feet. And as I grabbed the long stem, smiled and offered a thank-you, the car zipped around the corner, never to be seen again.
So I did what any guy would do: I tried to find another young lovely to give the rose to.
My first stop was the Virgin Megastore, and given the name of the place I should have known that would be a wash. I hung around Buzz Coffee. I wandered outside the movies. After 45 minutes, no dice. I drove home with the rose wilting on the front seat.
But it reminded me of a crosswalk encounter two years ago that led to my first date after nearly a decade of marriage.
Imagine being newly divorced at 32 and going to your first club concert. That was me, as I parked across the street from the Troubadour in December 2000. The headliners were the scandalously overlooked Boston garage rockers Buffalo Tom. Rather than jaywalk, I headed to the crosswalk 20 yards away. And that's where I met a woman we'll call the Pedestrian, who was anything but. I can't recall what we talked about, but the connection was instantaneous, so that by the time we reached the box office, my friends who were waiting there thought I had brought along a date.
Over the show's din, I learned that the Pedestrian had worked in Hollywood, but that she had gotten a bellyful of the film industry's attitude and had switched to promoting bands via the Internet. At evening's end, we parted ways in the same crosswalk in which we'd met.
Our first planned meeting a few days later in Santa Monica lasted eight hours, but I think she spent more time flirting with the waiter and talking on her cell phone than she did with me.
On my first date in 10 years, I had no idea when to cut it off. A second date was considerably shorter but went just as badly.
Later, out of some perverse curiosity, I Googled her and saw that a woman of the same distinctive name had worked as a personal assistant to a star and had become ensnared in a dispute between the celebrity and her ex-boyfriend -- to the point that she had to testify in court.
Of course, it could have just been a coincidence; I know of a lot of Scott Sandells out there, including a billionaire. Still, the situation unsettled me. After a couple of my calls and e-mails went unreturned, I gradually let go of the idea of seeing her again.
So maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that my latest crosswalk encounter was fleeting and anonymous.
Scott Sandell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.