Playboy Magazine, 2001
by Corey Levitan
She was so far out of my league, she was playing a different sport. The girl dining at the next table had long black hair, perky breasts and the eyes of a jaguar. Souls have been bartered for less.
I was on a date with someone else. But even if I hadn't been, my natural inclination would be to gawk and do nothing. Instead of seizing moments like this, I seize DURING them. Besides, jaguar eyes was sitting with a pack of three equally gorgeous young friends, a kryptonite situation to even the Superman of pick-ups.
My friend Roy Silverberg was dating a Chinese woman and suggested that we double with one of her co-workers. Roy checked out my date beforehand. "Dude, she's hot," he assured me.
Blind dates are like carrying a rubber in your wallet. They're a good idea that never pays off. So I devised a code with Roy. If my date was as hot as he said, we'd take the girls to a nice sushi place. Otherwise, I'd suggest Lucky Cheng's.
Even a bad date can be salvaged by Lucky Cheng's, a New York City eatery where rude transvestites sing repulsive show tunes while serving cheap Chinese food. Everything about this dive is so loud that two people can go an entire dinner without completing a sentence.
When Roy and I picked up our dates, a stunning Asian girl opened the door to greet me. I could not believe my luck. She then walked over to kiss Roy. Right behind her was my date, who looked like Mr. Sulu from "Star Trek" in a skirt. I didn't even have to say it.
"Lucky Cheng's it is!" Roy announced.
"Dude, I'm sorry," he whispered, laughing, as we walked to his car. "I guess I didn't get that close a look at her." At my recommendation, he has since had Lasik surgery.
Even the 13 sakes I downed in desperate succession could not make Mr. Sulu attractive. But they had an unintended effect, as I discovered when the jaguar goddesses and their queen took the table next to ours.
Regular Corey would have said nothing. But I was now 13-sake Corey. I began strategizing a hit under Sulu's radar. (When you're on a date, you can't just ask the stranger next to you what her sign is.) I grabbed a matchbox and scribbled on the inside cover.
"Remember 'Titanic'?" it read. "I'm Leo, on your left. Meet me at the bar in five minutes." I discreetly asked our waiter, Ethel Merman in a bustier and garter belt, to deliver the note.
I had somehow tapped into the part of the male brain that works only when it's too late to matter. This is the place that tells you exactly what to say to the cop as you're reading the ticket on the drive home. Getting crocked was my key to this vast tactical warehouse.
I flashed queen jaguar a look after she read my message. She got up when I did, and her heels clicked behind me. Was she really RSVP'ing, or had coincidence placed me directly in her path to the ladies room? Was this actually happening to me, or was the next thing I was about to see my dead grandmother at the end of a tunnel?
Once at the bar, I suavely swiveled to face the truth. "Hi," I beamed, looking up four inches. "I'm Corey."
"Jessica," the Eyeful Tower answered, offering a finely manicured hand. She was 22 years old, 5'8" without heels, and modeled for Elite. She had moved to the Big Apple only six months before from San Antonio, Texas. I could not have ordered a more perfect girl from a catalog. And don't think I haven't tried.
Me, I'm 35 years old, 5'6" and remind people of David Spade without the fame or money. But the height difference didn't freak me out. I was 13 sakes tall. And a lofty woman is a short man's only shot at normal-sized offspring.
"Come downstairs," I said, grabbing her hand like Leo whisking Kate Winslet to the third-class section. "It's haunted down here."
The basement of Lucky Cheng's is an old bathhouse from the 1800s. One of the original tubs is still there, converted into an aquarium. Years ago I read about the resident ghosts, former patrons who allegedly died while bathing. Jessica and I peeked into old bathrooms and tried opening locked doors. Just because people are dead doesn't mean they can't help a guy get laid.
"Yes, I've heard whispers late at night," said the bartender, Cher with a pot belly and hairy arms. "I definitely detect a presence here."
Jessica was excited. The occult was her thing. I detected a presence in my Levi's.
"There was a reason I was supposed to meet you here," Jessica gushed. "You're the first guy I met who's open to this type of stuff." What followed was a damn burst of declarations about auras, shakras and crystals. I smiled and nodded. Whatever Jessica believed in, so did I. The loonier the girl, the more of a chance that she'll do anyone.
Because I was 13-sake Corey, I reached up and planted a kiss on Jessica's full red lips. Hard. She kissed back. "Ah, straight love," commented the hostess, Buddy Hackett in silk panties and a push-up bra.
"I'm on a bad blind date," I told Jessica. "I need to go back upstairs. But give me your number. Next time I'm in New York, we're going out." I left no room for her to say no or ask for my number instead.
I told Jessica that, although I live in L.A. now, I return to my hometown at least twice a month. It was a lie. I only come back for July 4th and New Year's, and whenever relatives die. But Jessica would probably have a boyfriend if I waited longer than two weeks to act. And I would cross the country naked on a llama for a date with a girl half as hot as she was.
She grabbed my cell phone and programmed in her number. The first available storage slot was #37. And let me tell you, I was psyched that I appeared to have 36 friends.
"That girl you with, she pretty girl," Mr. Sulu said when I returned. Roy had clued her into my escapade, after he grew bored of trying to explain what a transvestite was to two girls who hardly spoke English.
If you guys think the secret to meeting hot women is anything other than unabashed confidence, please send me a portion of the money I'm going to save you on sportscars, gym memberships and Rogaine.
My buddy Adam Glass is a Hollywood screenwriter who, like me, grew up about about 30 miles from Manhattan and 40 miles from good-looking. He had a similar experience at a party several years ago.
Adam flirted his eyebrows off with Jane, a beautiful blonde who came from money. But she was polite, nothing more. He downed several Buds for inspiration, then left the party when she did, hoping to score points during the walk.
"I asked her where she grew up and where she went to school," Adam says. "Out of nowhere, she turned around and said, 'Look, I just got out of a relationship.'" (This is female code for "I have already decided that I will never sleep with you, so stop.")
Adam lashed back, or at least the Budweiser did. "First of all, I was not hitting on you," he lied. "I was just trying to have a conversation. And to be honest with you, you're not my type." His assertiveness struck Jane like the jagged barrel of a broken bat hurling towards Mike Piazza.
"She apologized," Adam remembers. "She said she's used to getting hit on all the time. She and her friends were about to jump in a cab, and she invited me in." Adam shrugged them off, walking down to the subway.
"So I'm waiting for the train, and guess who comes running down?" he reports. Adam spent the rest of the weekend having sex with a beautiful blonde stranger in a penthouse overlooking Central Park.
Adam's bogus nonchalance was going to be hard to apply on my first date with Jessica, who had so much of the genuine article. After two weeks of phone tag, I was supposed to let her know when I got to New York and she'd "try to clear" her schedule.
"Just got in," I tried being cool on Jessica's voicemail, after having just flown 3,000 miles specifically to see her. "I'll call you again as soon as I have a free moment." I hung up fast, before sounding like John Favreau in "Swingers." On my bustling itinerary: renting a video with mom.
At the precise moment Julia Roberts decided to return to Hugh Grant in "Notting Hill," I got the phone call from Jessica. Operation "Wishin' Impossible" was on.
Where to go would be a problem. An Elite model lives on the hippest edge of hip. But I hadn't been a New Yorker in years. Any chic restaurant I name will have since become a dry cleaners. I've got the Manhattan of 1993 wired. So I entrusted dinner plans to Jessica.
I cabbed it to her luxury apartment. Stepping off the elevator, Jessica lit up the lobby. She wore a ravishing smile, purple velvet dress and tall black pumps. My attempt at looking good was a ridged white T-shirt from the Gap underneath my linen sportsjacket, the kind that cost $10 more than the non-ridged.
But I wore confidence, even if the top of my head did line up with the bottom of her neck. In order to revive my delusions of adequacy from Lucky Cheng's, I had downed a foamy six-pack en route. It was 13-sake Corey that my outrageously striking companion expected to see, after all.
In the cab we engaged in our first in-depth live conversation, and I found Jessica to be really nice. Well, come to think of it, she was a little selfish, spoiled and bitchy. But she was a model who didn't appear to think that sex with me was out of the question. So she was really nice.
Jessica's favorite restaurant, I learned, requires a pre-dining available-credit check with Mastercard. When I heard Greek, I was thinking gyros and souvlaki. But Milos was another kind of Greek to me. Jessica ordered lobster and Beluga. As a journalist, I didn't know what caviar looked like. My first job after college paid $13,500 a year.
I looked around for someone I knew. Anyone would do, but especially someone who used to pick on me in junior high for being 20 pounds lighter than his football uniform. Buy hemorrhoid ointment at Rite Aid and two former girlfriends will spot me. But on the most impressive night of my life, it was all tumbleweeds and cricket noises.
"This is an excellent vintage," the waiter said, cradling a $200 red. The guy looked like a member of 'N Sync, and he was fucking with me. He clearly felt that someone like him should be dating Jessica, not someone like me. I grabbed the wine list. I was still drunk enough to tap that brain center with the matchbox messages.
"I've tried that and find the bouquet a little acrid for my palate," I said, with a wine experience ranging from Boone's Farm in college to Manischewitz at Passover. "Instead, can you bring us the ...." My eyes raced to find the first $40 bottle.
I had gotten the best of J.C. the waiter. (Luckily, he hadn't challenged me to a dance-off.) Even so, the bill came to $315 which, after the $450 air fare, was starting to add up to a fairly shitty evening if I didn't get some. And so began my next lesson in dating a model. Once you get her to go out with you, only a third of the battle is won. The next third is defending yourself against jealous pricks while on the date. Your confidence will truly be put to the test before ever making it to the final third of the battle, back at her place.
After dinner Jessica and I walked into a cocktail party an acquaintance had invited me to. Every head turned, all eyes making the same inquiry: "So which is it -- is he loaded or is he hung?"
I walked off for two Chardonnays. When I got back Jessica was swarmed like a bug zapper for tall, muscular men. They not only refused to let me back near her, they did not even acknowledge my presence. If she'd do me, after all, she'd definitely do them. At least they were considerate enough to wait until I left her side before replacing me.
I found the guy who invited me to the party, and discovered his conversation to be nearly as gripping as a Post-It. As I focused like a Zen master on not looking in Jessica's direction, he was thrilled at how interested I finally was in hearing about his job on Wall Street. I downed my wine, my date's wine and went off for another.
The wait for Jessica to start noticing I had disappeared was so long that my credit nearly got good again. But my continued devotion to the confidence god would be rewarded. Jessica returned with glorious tales of all the jerks who tried to hit on her. "I didn't notice," I said. "I was just talking to..."
I had forgotten Gordon Gecko's name, and he was not about to step in and furnish it -- that is, unless it was one of those names that could be pronounced with jaw slackened and tongue dangling down to the chest. That was the effect Jessica tended to have on men who weren't confident. Not me.
Jessica wasn't in the mood for more small talk, anyway. Bushed, she suggested that we grab a cab. In the back seat, she grabbed more as we made out. Was this happening, I asked myself, or did I accidentally fall asleep and wake up in Matt Damon's life? The last time I fondled a model, it was a plastic T-Rex and I was in first grade.
While rummaging around my pocket, Jessica felt a cardboard box. This was not the embarrassing moment you're thinking it was. It was a disposable camera. "Oh, that," I said. "I was taking pictures with my friends before."
This was another in my intricate web of falsehoods. I only brought the camera to prove to my friends that this date was real and that it was indeed me that had been on it. I even advanced the camera a few frames, to elude suspicion, before I started snapping portraits from arm's length.
I want this story to end the same way you do -- with a sexually explicit tale about the Academy Award of my bachelorhood, the point after which I would have no problem settling down because dating could never get any better.
But I can only furnish brief flashbacks. Back at Jessica's, we glugged yet some more vino and looked at her modeling portfolio. She showed me her head shots, and I was well on the way to showing her one of mine.
But after the taste of toes, the next memory I have is (oh the humanity!) the sound of a vibrator. During the hundreds of subsequent fantasy trips I've taken back to those pink bedsheets in my mind, I make Jessica soar then sore. And I'm hoping that this is what indeed happened. But I must reluctantly admit the possibility that, in the actual moment, I experienced a deadlock of my erectoral college. I fear my brain wrote a check that my inebriated manhood could not cash.
Why is it that I can't admit this to my best friends, yet I have no problem relating it to millions of Playboy readers?
Here's what I learned. Alcohol helps you find the confidence to get a model to go out with you. It also works great when trying to keep her on the date with you. But drinking and diving makes for a hazardous combination.
By the way, gentlemen, I discovered another great place to meet eligible women: AA meetings.
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