By A.J. Llewellyn
There are so few sure ways of making a buck these days but living 60% in Los Angeles, I have discovered an unpleasant truth. Selling relationship advice is the easiest way to lure in suckers...kind of like selling snake oil, only a lot less messy.
Last night - why oh why can I not say 'no' to my friends?? - one of my best gals, Suzy, called me. She had paid a ridiculous $200 for a relationship seminar. It was for her and another friend who bailed at the last minute.
"Please come with me," Suzy wailed down the phone.
"No can do," I told her cheerfully. "I'm in my pajamas."
"You are not, you big liar," she retorted. "I am sitting outside your house. I just saw you walking down the street with your dog!"
So I went to fill in for her friend. I'm so easy Suzy knew the promise of cake and cookies would get me into her car.
"Where are the cookies?" I demanded as she roared along Franklin Canyon.
"At the seminar." She waved her hand loosely.
It surprised me the seminar would be in the Hollywood Hills, surprised me further it was at some lady's house.
"And you paid her how much?" I asked again.
Suzy pretended to ignore me, turning up the volume on her new Sarah Brightman CD. I'm sorry, but somebody needs to tell Sarah she cannot hit those high notes. I was in pain by the time we arrived.
The house was tucked onto a quiet side street off Beachwood. Signs posted everywhere of missing cats and gods indicated stupid people let their poor pets become din-din for the neigborhood coyotes. It was chilly and people tumbled out of their vehicles, anxious to get inside.
I did a head count. Twenty women and two gay best friends, one of which of course, was unfortunately, me.
There were cookies on a plate on the coffee table. I noticed them and tasted them first. Not bad. The mini red velvet cupcakes were delicious, even though the plate was removed from my possessive grip after I downed three of them.
So the seminar hostess had a nice house, a demented cat that bit people's ankles and around the living room, people sat, feet hoisted several inches off the ground and the hostess, whose eyes were a bit...off, finally took the hint and shut the hissing, snarling kitty in the bedroom. For two hours, I, like everyone else ignored the disturbing, feral growls coming from that room. I wondered what the cat was doing in there.
Where is a good exorcist when you need one?
But back to selling love...or is it sex? Or is it after all, snake oil?
The hostess had some good, sound advice about making eye contact, but since her eyes were, as I said, so odd, I wondered how she made eye contact with anybody.
Turns out one of them is glass.
We spent the better part of the evening listening to her tales of woe, of an abusive husband etc. I wondered what gave her the authority to sell relationship happiness when she lived alone with a demonically-possessed cat.
I stole a glance at Suzy, who was still staring at her with the kind of hopefulness that breaks a friend's heart. She wanted to be believe there was something to be gained from this other than another "Only in L.A." story.
Of course, she didn't learn anything about where to go to meet somebody to love, got nothing but the well-worn advice about don't talk about your relationship disasters on your first date, don't get drunk and don't sleep with a guy ten seconds after you meet him.
As we mercifully poured out of the house, we bonded with a bunch of really wonderful people who all want the same things in life and we drove off, caravan-style to La Poubelle at the bottom of the hill.
We all made fun of the evening...even though a non-refundable $100 a person for false hope is outrageous in today's economy. As we drank some really great red Tuscan wine, Suzy hit on an idea that I think really rocks.
Wine tasting evenings and champagne mixers.
"That woman is making a lot of money and selling...air," Suzy said to me as we drove home. "My parties will be fun. You must come too, A.J."
Of course, I can see what's going to happen. She'll lure me there with cakes and cookies...and I will have yet another "Only in L.A." story.