LA Tales: Dinner with Mike

Last month I took a trainer. I woke up early in the morning three days a week and went to the gym to be worked out by a man that knows what he's doing. I've never had one of these people help me before, these 'trainers', and I thought it was about time that I tried one out, if only for the sake of having said I've had one.

My trainer's name is Mike. He's 54, he's single, he's big, he's Italian, he smokes a ton of weed, and he's loud and everyone always knows where he is. In a one sentence description, that's him.

And he just got dumped by his 'old-lady', which is referring to his girlfriend, not his Mom, which was confusing at first. So his 'old-lady' moved in with him after two weeks of knowing him, they felt strongly for one another, you see, and she moved out three months after that first meeting. I suppose the feelings weren't as strong as they first thought.

Mike was crushed. He needed to get out of his house and he asked me to dinner one Saturday night. Guys' night out.

I wanted to be a good friend to my new trainer, and going to dinner would be that, so I agreed. It was a friendly gesture and I didn't have any plans so let's go see what happens, roll the dice, snake eyes, yahtzee.

We arranged the dinner for a Saturday night in Venice, at a place called Hal's. I got there a little early and parked behind the restaurant. It was a cold drive over because I never put the sides up on my jeep and the nights out here get windy and chilly. And even though he made a reservation, I looked around the restaurant when I got in and didn't think we'd need one, it wasn't full.

I made my way to the bar, ordered a vodka tonic and paid in cash for once. I felt efficient. Then I stood there.

Mike walks in a few minutes later. I recognized him, but I didn't. He didn't look like the guy from the gym. He was wearing an assortment of odd things. He had a long black trench coat on, black shirt, black pants, two silver hoop earrings in his left ear and silver bracelets and blingy watches and things like that. He also had on pointy white cowboy boots.

He was looking all over the place. Then he saw me and came over and we exchanged handshake pleasantries. I had on a white vneck and this cool jacket with a sewn in sweatshirt and hoodie, which is reasonable fashion, I thought, but Mike glanced at me sideways and I was suddenly self-aware.

I think he was high or hopped up on something. His eyes settled on me for a second at a time and then kept moving, as did his arms and legs. Always touching his nose, too. I was starting to deduce conclusions and that's a bad habit of mine because that leads to JudgementVille and I'd rather stay in NaiveTown where the weather is warm and people always mean well.

As I mentioned, we had a reservation that we didn't need so we sat down pretty quickly. He insisted on the seat with his back to the wall, said it was an Italian thing. I told him I heard that it was also a Military preference, he didn't seem to hear it, he was busy looking around, you know.

The next thing to happen was that a gentleman waiter reached over his shoulder to fill his water. Mike didn't like this, flinched quite a bit, and grabbed the man's hand firmly at the wrist. The man was surprised and Mike told him to never reach over his shoulder again. Mike was shaken and upset. The man backed away and never filled our waters again. I looked at my watch, we hadn't ordered appetizers yet.

Mike doesn't drink, he took a diet coke. I just stuck with my vodka tonic I got from the bar. I figured I'd ride this one out awhile longer. Mike told me his car was out front and that it looked like a rocket ship. I don't know how I responded.

Dinner lasted the right length. Sometimes dinners don't. Some dinners linger and then drag. This one didn't. Mike is full of stories, mainly of him handling business. He handles his business well, I guess, and really gets it done. He told me he collected 25 large from a guy one time. He wore a suit to the man's house at 3 in the morning, kicked in the door and held a wooden baseball bat to his neck. He wanted 10 large right then, and then another 15 in the morning.

Apparently the man paid, because Mike was proud of the way he handled his business.

At one point in dinner, Mike spotted the hostess, who was wearing an impossibly small number, legs like pillars and a firm big backside, and Mike gets her attention with a little whistle-type noise. She turned to look at Mike and he narrowed his eyes and told her she had a great body. She must not have heard because she didn't respond and walked away. Mike ignored her and kept talking.

A few minutes later Mike told me that the hostess should have been happier to have him whistle at her. I agreed.

Sometimes I'd rather just agree.

Dinner was done but Mike wasn't. He wanted to hang out with me somewhere else. We decided on a place down the street, actually on Main street in Santa Monica, called The Victorian. Kind of reminds me of one of my all-time favorite places, The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. Mike wanted to drive me in his rocket ship. I thanked him but declined. He had it parked right in front because he doesn't trust valet guys. We were to meet at the Victorian in 10 minutes.

Once we arrived at the Victorian and stood around for a few minutes, Mike confessed to me that he felt old there. This made me very aware of actually how young this bar was, and it was a young crowd, and so I felt sorry for us, even though Mike is quite a bit older than me. Some girls were looking at his white cowboy boots and double hoop silver earrings. I think I picked a bad place to bring Mike.

So, Mike said bye to me and went home. I stayed awhile longer, sipping the last of my drink and looking around.

There were lots of guys around and not many girls and then all of the sudden, a whole gaggle of women walked in and all of the guys straightened up. I did, too, just a bit, but only not be outdone by the other men, then I realized what I did and I slouched again and sipped a tiny sip.

A few girls came up to me and played little flirty games, which I like to play on occasion so I played them back. These two girls in particular sure were silly and it was one of their birthdays, the one from Kentucky. The other one, she would touch me on the arm when a guy walked by and say 'there goes your boyfriend.' I found this flirty game quite odd and an interesting tactic in talking to a stranger.

But I was tired and ready for bed. I said goodbye to my new friends and I left. Mike texted me sometime when I was driving home and the text read 'be safe bro drive careful dude we rocked it kick ass time bro.'

I think he was right. We did rock it.