"The Doberman Dates"
"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." - Plato
Ah, Randi. Randi of the smoldering eyes and skin that's marble smooth. Randi, in whose black hair a man could lose his way. A cyclone of a woman, that Randi. And one magical night in 1972 Randi chose me.
She picked me out of at least 200 desperate L.A. singles who had paid good money to jam into a bad restaurant and yell their hopes and dreams at each other. It started with a nod, followed by a compliment about my smile, delivered in a voice whose every syllable aroused. Randi's praise migrated to my eyes and, after we swapped a few sentences, my brain. "Ivy League," she purred when I answered the "what college" question, and her exquisite fingers touched my hand. Wesleyan is not an Ivy League school, but before I could correct her, Randi said that she, too, had been expensively educated.
She invited me to dinner at her home the following Friday night. She wanted to try out her gourmet cooking. Now, I knew this exquisite creature and I could harmonize our lives, and I spent the week dreaming of the white-hot passion that awaited me.
Friday. The night was drizzly, perfect for a quiet dinner in Randi's apartment. But she had not put out any hors d'oeuvres. Worse yet, her kitchen looked spotless, with no indication of a meal in progress. Randi steered me into a bedroom whose purple walls matched her bedspread. "There," she said, and pointed to at least a dozen diplomas hanging over a stainless-steel headboard. She was expensively educated, all right, at one-week academic wonders like Perpetual Savings and Loan's Seminar on Financial Institutions, the Bellefontaine Academy for Wealth Accumulation, The Culinary Institute of the Arts, and the Summertime School for the Humanities. I said I was impressed, while my eyes traveled from her stiletto heels to the mirrors on her ceiling.
Randi squeezed my hand. "I'd like to see a movie first," she said, and added that a theater was close by. On its one screen was "The Doberman Gang," the immortal, unforgettable yawn (I mean yarn) about a dog trainer who taught Doberman Pinschers to rob banks. Each canine got the name of a famous outlaw. Bonnie. Clyde. Baby Face Nelson. Pretty Boy Floyd. Dillinger. Someone booed when it was over. I would have joined him but was too focused on my hunger pangs. I had skipped lunch in anticipation of Randi's gourmet cooking.
We drove back to Randi's apartment complex and spent 10 minutes hunting for a parking space. It was raining hard now, but she wanted to show me the grounds, especially the recreation room where, it just so happened, there was a crowd. "Oh, a party," she said without sounding surprised. "Let's go in for a minute." Before I could answer, Randi passed through the sliding glass doors. As I followed her, some bruiser in an open shirt with a gold charm hanging on his hairy chest demanded $10. That's ten 1972 dollars. "Guys pay," he said, in a tone of voice you would reserve for an imbecile. I lingered at the door, wondering if Randi would return before this brute shoved me out into the rain.
When she reappeared, she held a half-eaten French dip sandwich from which juice dribbled to the floor.
Randi asked, "Don't you want to stay?"
I stammered, "I thought we were going ..."
"I want to go to the party," she interrupted. "We can say good night here." Flakes of French dip clung to the hand that Randi thrust forward. "Good night, young man." All sensuality had vanished from her face, like vitamins going out of stale orange juice. Seconds later, Randi was gone.
My landlord served a free brunch every Sunday. At least 10 of us were gorging ourselves on bagels, lox and cream cheese. Someone asked what I had done over the weekend. Randi was worth a story if nothing else, but after three sentences there was an echo: League." "Ivy League." "Dinner." "Dinner." "Mirrors." "Mirrors." "Diplomas." "Diplomas."
It wasn't an echo. The words kept coming after I paused. "Bad movie." "Party." "Ten dollars." Someone at the coffee urn across the room was describing to another group of my neighbors what had occurred on his date the night before.
"Excuse me," I asked the owner of that voice. "Were you out with a girl named Randi?"
Indeed he was. Jonathan had been treated to Randi's world of purple walls, diplomas and mirrors. Like me, he had not been treated to her cooking. Instead - you guessed it - she wanted to see "The Doberman Gang."
Jonathan had gone home without his supper. I respected him because he too had refused to pay the $10 entry fee for the rec-room party, and I conceded that Randi must have preferred him over me, because Cornell - his alma mater - actually belongs to the Ivy League.
Thanks to our shared experience with Randi, Jonathan and I became fast friends. We palled around L.A., made some investments together and double dated with women who actually did want to eat when darkness fell. Ten years later, I danced at his wedding.
Although it's been more than 30 years since we met her, Jonathan and I confess to a lingering admiration for Randi. She was special. Anyone who can sit through "The Doberman Gang" two nights in a row has to possess some unique quality that sets her apart from the rest of us. Woof.