Lipstick & Chocolate


A chapter from my memoir, Hearts on the Line, the elusive search for love in the city of angels.

Something fun and light for the holiday season. Have some laughs at my expense with a chapter from my latest memoir, Hearts on the Line.

lipstick and chocolate

I always take time out for affirmations. They keep me centered, attract the right energy, and, I believe they change things. Well, what they change is me. I get peaceful inside and somehow it shows on my face. People then say or do things they might not have.
Gary shuts his cell phone and grabs me in a quick hug. “I just want to make sure everything is all right.”
The hug is totally awkward. lets the anger valve release a steam of righteous indignation.
“Gary,” I begin. “I need to tell you about something.”
He listens impassively as I talk about Lewis and simply says, “We don’t need him. I’ll take care of it.”
Okay. Good. I head back to my office. This is the thing about Gary. He often comes through, but you always feel like the fault line runs through your office, and things could start shaking at any second.
Tired and washed out. Is this really how a woman has to stay at the top of her game?
A tired washed out forty-plus woman who attracted a pervert who thought he could buy her participation in phone sex—that just can’t be me. I’m glamorous. Perky. Professional.
In my office, I turn to my aroma therapy candle, but the melted wax has smothered the flame. I’m too lazy or stunned or freaked or something to futz with it. Coffee? It’s cold. My dish of chocolates is empty. I look at the outline on the wall where my little fountain used to hang, a small pool of serenity that fell off in a minor earthquake and cracked. I have no plans to replace it.

I turn and catch a fragmented, ghostly reflection of myself in the glass-covered pictures on my other wall. The chocolate ganache wall—a color custom blended by a trendy decorator—reminds me of a window with a couple of panes missing. I display pictures of happy couples I’ve connected, but one picture was of an engagement party in Malibu which never led to a wedding. The client wanted the picture taken down. The couple honeymooning in Bellagio on Lake Como in Italy are now divorced after only two years of marriage. The man is with another dating agency, and so, I took their picture down, leaving gaps I haven’t bothered to fill. Maybe I’ve lost a bit of what made me fill my space with a certain...fresh optimism.

Surely, I’m not getting cynical. Not Miss Law-of-Attraction Queen of Positive Energy me.
Tired and washed out.
Oh, no you don’t. Back off, you creepy little voices of self-doubt. I distract myself with work and open my e-mail. A note from my
current least favorite client has come in. Marla,
I hope you don’t plan on charging me for the two setups you have made so far this month—Penny and Lydia. Let me make it crystal clear for you, here’s what I want—a woman other men notice when she walks into a room. Even 5 pounds overweight is a deal killer. From now on, consider looks to be 95% of what I am looking for. And another thing, I can’t believe the level of flakiness I’m seeing in the women you are supposedly screening through your supposedly exclusive matchmaking service. The no-shows are a blow to the self-confidence where none should exist. I’m a good-looking guy who makes good money and drives a Porsche. I have a hell of a lot to offer a woman. So far, my renewal with Exclusive Personal Search has been a waste of money and has led to a lot of unnecessary and undeserved frustration.
I demand to see photos before I waste any more time on another date with an average-looking plump gal.
Uuuhhh ....
Clarence Rogers is on his fourth membership renewal and has only managed to interest a woman in a second date twice in all of that time despite his self-proclaimed good looks. Not enough fairy dust in the old wand to work that kind of magic though. Clarence is a well off contractor who worked his way up from blue-collar labor. On his best behavior, he makes watching plaster set seem interesting. But he’s hardly ever on his best behavior. Penny and Lydia both weigh under 110, yet he’s bitching. And he knows the rules about seeing pictures.

During my first three or four years working here at Double D, I would have furrowed my lightly Botoxed brow over this note, cringed, written back with meek diplomacy and obsessed over finding someone for him. After so many years on the job and my give-me-a-flippin’-break attitude, I confess I’ve gotten a bit snarky.

Dear Clarence,
I understand perfectly the type of women you are hoping to be matched up with, however, you must realize that along with exquisite beauty comes a certain amount of flakiness in this town. The 9s and 10s that you are set on meeting have a lot of options. These lovely creatures are dating the Colin Farrells, George Clooneys, and Jude Laws of the world, jetting off to exotic destinations, or lying by the pool at the Playboy mansion. You are competing with the big boys, so don’t take the flakiness too personally.
As to the photos, I’ve explained that most of our women don’t want their pictures circulated to strangers, but ultimately, this is the boss’s decision and policy. I refer you to Gary on the matter. I’ll have some names for you soon.
Sincerely, Marla

Enough of that. I’ve gotta do something, gotta get out of here. I don’t have any appointments for about forty-five minutes. I tell Alana when I’ll be back and head out into the main lobby of the low-rise office building in which Double D takes up a quarter of the first floor.
I head off in the general