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GOING OUT | SINGLE IN THE CITY

Nice prospects, except for the girlfriend factor

August 05, 2004|Laura Shin | Special to The Times

Most single people have a dating curse.

One of my friends always dates men who dump her and go on to find their future wives or at least a significant significant other. A bubbly blond friend is everybody's rebound girl.

I always attract men with girlfriends -- a fact they disclose when the only thing left to do is pucker up. One exception, the low-down dirtiest of them all, didn't even tell me. His girlfriend figured it out and called me a month after he and I started dating. Thank God for joint cellphone plans.

The others were a bit more honest. One guy told me he really wanted to kiss me, and then asked if he could just call his girlfriend first because they had discussed the subject of other liaisons just a few weeks ago, and he was sure she'd be OK if he kissed me just as long as he talked about it with her first -- he just needed a second.

Another guy became flirtatiously friendly with me over three months of e-mails, and right before we met in person, he sent me a message saying, "I'm sure I told you before, but I just wanted to mention again that ... "

I recently realized that the curse is more far-reaching than I had thought, and that I probably didn't notice many men who were taken with me, plus taken themselves.

One of my friends has a theory that when we die, there's a room we go to where we can see all the people who've had crushes on us. It could be like the arrival hall at the airport, where people hold up signs -- except these would proclaim their explanation for not revealing their crush. If recent events are any indication, I bet all the placards in my room would say, "Girlfriend."

It all started one morning at the tasting counter of the Silver Lake Trader Joe's, where I was sampling some scrambled eggs with chorizo when a lanky cashier walked up. He looked young enough to date my sister, who's 9 years younger than I am, and his facial hair was icky. He asked me, "How are the eggs?" But he might as well have said, "How are your eggs?"

When I walked up to pay, his line was open, so I took it. I'm sure he just said, "Did you find everything you were looking for today?" but somehow, I remember it more like, "Did you find the man you were looking for today, because if not, I think I'm it." When I paid, he said, "Thank you, Laura," reading my name from my card.

I vowed not to go back to that TJ's for a while, a plan helped along by the fact that I was going out of town to a resort and then to a friend's wedding. The wedding was in Arizona, in a town with a population 1/290th the size of Los Angeles County's population.

Who in the world comes here, I was thinking, when I suddenly saw a tall man with singular sideburns dressed in a suit looking right at me from across the room. It was the cashier from Trader Joe's.

When we finally were introduced, he pretended not to recognize me from just four days before, though his job at the grocery was mentioned. Of course, the reason for his presence at the wedding came as no surprise.

His girlfriend was in the wedding party.

*

Laura Shin can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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