Cafe Stella ****/*****3932 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
It was a Friday night, and a little past 8pm. I was pacing my living room. My eyes quivered with a wavering confidence. I was fearful, to be honest. Was this is actually going to happen?
“Are we going to do this? Can I DO this?” I asked aloud. And no, I wasn’t talking to myself. I wasn’t alone. My one and only hetero-dapper-bro-male-partner-in-crime Dan W. was sitting on one my of ruddy crimson couches crafting a perfectly rolled joint. With a final lick he held it up.
“Alex, calm down. Smoke this.”
I shook my head. I didn’t think a joint was a good idea…
Probably one minute later: I took an extreme-sized hit from the joint, my eyes going wide, and exhaling with a series of terrible, frightening coughs. My usual way of smoking.
“Are you going to be okay?” Dan asked.
“No.” I wheezed.
So what was all this anxiety about? Well, people. It’s called drama. And probably drama that I built up in my own head because at the time I had nothing better to do. But the facts are facts, I was screwed over (and not in the good way), by a dude, and this was my chance to confront him.
This dude happened to work down the street from me at Cafe Stella, one of the more lively spots at the Silver Lake junction. Even knowing he was a couple blocks away, working, hitting on other more attractive (but probably far less wittier men) made my IBS flare up like a late-day thunderstorm in the American South. And Dan and I were going to eat dinner there. Of course, you’d think that a good, logical friend would dissuade me from such a course of action, but Dan was completely supportive (and probably for the entertainment value).
“We don’t have to go! Let’s not go!” I shouted suddenly, thinking about the awkwardness of running into someone that had been diddling you for months and then decided to stop returning your texts and phone calls. And I mean complete radio silence, as if he’d passed away in some biking accident (AND YES, I know I sound psychotic but at the time that’s how I was feeling and it SUCKED, and I’m over it now, which is why I can catalogue this whole ordeal quite clearly and hilariously).
“Uh, yes we do.”
“Why? Because I need to run at this head-on, confront my feelings by occupying the same space that he does while pretending to be fine?!?!” I almost screamed.
“No, because I’m hungry and I want some escargot.” Dan whistled.
Ugh, fucking Dan. Always eating some liver, some snails, beef brain, human hearts or what have you. He takes on in-n-out cheeseburgers as starter courses and slurps down martinis like it’s rainwater in the desert. If anyone dies first from cardiac arrest, it’s this guy.
But whatever we all have our THINGS to deal with. And more importantly, this is the guy that’s been there for me through thick and thin — states of internet insanity, death, bouts of wailing in his office, escapades at East Side parties where we stole a bunch of wine from people we didn’t know, burying things in the desert, and we’re the first to tell the other that maybe we’ve “packed on a few pounds in the face”. There’s no one better than Dan. 1 part entourage and 1 part Buster Keaton, the kid is a genius, and if he doesn’t make my career I’ll kill him myself.
But enough about him, WHAT ABOUT ME AND THIS BULLSHIT STUPID GUY. As Dan and I made the stroll up Santa Monica where it dumps out onto Sunset Blvd (for some reason the Junction is a “big deal” although it’s really nothing to write home about unless you want to see an orgy of alt bros unicycling aroundwhile sipping Americanos and high-waisted jorts-wearing bimbos fawning over them) I rehashed to Dan the story for probably the hundredth time. I had met (we’ll call him “Joe”) Joe at Stella when I was drinking a negroni and looking for a cigarette one night last spring. He had one. I smoked it. We exchanged numbers. He was hot. Great. In this day and age, meeting anyone IRL first is kind of weird and exciting, so I was naturally intrigued.
After a series of texts, a date, a makeout thing, another date, more making out, another date, some other stuff, date, more other stuff, before I knew it had been a couple months. Nothing was official and nothing was spoken of but clearly this would be going somewhere right? WELL first warning sign I should have taken note of (but didn’t in my delusional phase of actually LIKING someone for the first time in a while) was the age-old “let’s take things slow.” OKAY, so if anyone ever tells you this, and again I was new to the whole “he doesn’t like you but won’t tell you straight up” game, RUN AWAY. Especially if you have feelings out in front. Just pack it in, get out, and wish for the best.
But I didn’t do that, instead there were party run-ins, more hang outs, more scenarios where it clearly was ending up in some sort of union. But as you know, that didn’t happen. So there we were pretending like this was some mid-season episode during the second-year run of my yet to be produced TV series documenting my life, and hiking over to this forsaken restaurant to stake my claim as being A.OK with everything. Strong. Valiant. Whatever. Obviously, I was about to have a panic attack. I think there was even a point before entering, where I grabbed Dan by his jacket collar and PULLED him close.
“Alex, let go of me.”
“I’m FREAKING out!”
Dan grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me to my senses.
“Get a HOLD of yourself, damn it!”
As I tried to calm myself down, we entered the establishment. I think I was wearing a porkpie hat. WHAT A DUMB IDEA. I PROBABLY LOOKED LIKE AN IDIOT.
The space was slam-packed as it usually is on a Friday night. Walking in, it’s as if you’ve been transported into a bustling eatery in the French countryside — lights hang from the ceiling, old wooden french doors, massive portraits of dead people hanging on the walls and other crap. But I wasn’t paying attention, I was scanning the room for this sinewy, handsome fuck-face. But I didn’t see him.
We were seated in a secluded side room that over-looked the dining patio. Some sad couple was sitting next to us, but we were separated by a rather large window, like they were zoo animals. They glumly ate their mussels and french fries. Our server came up, a lovely girl. But knowing what I heard about Stella from other frequenters of the french spot, the service is notoriously awful. God, I couldn’t wait to give the place a shitty review. MUAHAHAHA.
We quickly ordered martinis then got to ordering grub — Dan took the lead here. He swore to me that I would like escargot, so we went for that, the tuna tartare, and then finishing it off with the moules frittes — all to share (WE WERE ON A BUDGET OKAY).
Getting our martinis quite fast (which was shocking) and also receiving helpful advice from our serving lady about what wine would pair well with our order (i think we opted for a sauvignon blanc, but my memory remains foggy) I was still on the lookout for that piece of shit.
Dan was too busy to notice my anxiety because he was studying the couple beyond the glass next to us. They were both on their phones not talking to each other and finishing their meal.
“Jesus, can you imagine? I would hate to be in a relationship like that…” Dan laughed. I stared at them. They DID look depressed. I could only feel sorry for them… until I saw the guy had like flap-pocket jeans and then I decided they deserved all the unhappiness. And then Dan and I both pulled our phones out and probably tweeted about it.
The tartare came out just after the snails. And while the tuna was a wonderful way to cleanse the garlic-y awesomeness of the invertebrates, I cannot believe I hadn’t done escargot earlier in life.
It is buttery and perfect to mop up with some french bread. I completely forgot that I was even nervous about anything. When the server came back to check on us, we mentioned the weird couple nearby. She giggled and leaned in.
“Those people were so fuckin’ weird. First off, they didn’t speak once. Secondly, they ordered the mussels right? And they DUMPED the fries into the sauce. Then when they ate all the fries, they ordered MORE fries and put them in the sauce AGAIN.”
Dan and I chuckled before looking seriously into each other’s eyes.
“We’ll probably do the same thing.” I stated.
“Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea” Dan piped in.
“Well whatever floats your boat.” Our waitress departed probably thinking we were classless idiots. And to her credit, she’s mostly right.
Because floated our boats we did! When those mussels came out, we doused that shit with the french fries and went to town.
Sucking up every bit of food, by the time the dust had cleared, our stomachs inflated, and kind of drunk, I completely forgot about the whole reason I came here. Critical revenge. But not only was Joe not there, and not working that night, but Cafe Stella actually provided a fantastic meal, so it was kinda like cafe STELLAR. HEYO. and GOD DAMNIT.
As we left the restaurant, I kicked at the rocks on the pavement. I couldn’t help but feel a little bummed about A) not getting a chance to see this dude in the flesh and maybe throw a drink at him and get escorted out but more importantly B) my review couldn’t be as delightfully scathing as I’d hoped.
But this just parallels life and my situation. Sometimes, things just don’t end up the way you hoped. Am I still bitter about the whole thing? A little and I am a Scorpio, and I have a shit-list that I will unveil on my tombstone, but there were lessons learned and a story to tell.
It’s about respect and it’s about honesty. And this is something that everyone can adopt in their lives so they’re not complete dickheads. If you screw around with someone for a good chunk of time, chances are feelings are involved. Communication is key, and even more important is telling the truth. It’s hard to do. I’m not saying it’s easy when I have to let someone down, but if it isn’t right, it’s your responsibility to be real about what you desire and what you don’t. Or else, you’re just (for a lack of a better word) a coward. AND you’re doing that other person a favor.
One day on the internet, I looked up “emotionally unavailable” and the “signs” of this condition were shockingly accurate in this instance regarding this dude and his actions. Now, whether “emotionally unavailable” is a buzz term or something made up by bloggers to write about is beyond me, but it was all there — how could I have not seen it before? I was blinded by his beard and tattoos most likely. Ultimately, while I’d like to play the blame game, I think it’s always important to know what you’re playing with and what you have on your side. I pride myself on my observation skills and they just didn’t come through this time around.
Regardless, this guy didn’t like me, he probably thought that he could do better, and that’s okay too — God knows there are many people out there looking for many different things, and I’m sure I don’t check some of those boxes. But please, please, if you take away anything from this, just know, you can’t get time back. Money is money, things are things, but time won’t ever come around again. So don’t waste yours or anyone else’s… and go eat some fucking snails when you get the chance because those little shits were tasty.
Au Revoir, babes.
and seriously though, who can resist this?