Bit-Playing the Field
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Bit-Playing the Field

Bit-Playing the Field

Dating in Hollywood is hard, especially when you feel like you're just a "bit player."

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It's challenging enough when a singles haunt is littered with other nameless guys who have the same goal. But unlike most other cities, in Los Angeles we occasionally face a more daunting challenge. As did I on a recent visit to the Windows Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

Seated at the bar, on a date and nursing a cocktail, was a non-nameless guy -- an A-list movie star. As recognizable as Waldo in a crowd shot. A guy who appeals to women's imaginations.

Instantly, I reverted from star to bit player in my own mental movie, with all eyes glued on the actual star. Mine were semi-pasted, not glued. To stare felt like a cliche. To occasionally glance while pretending I wasn't felt like a cliche. Luckily the star rendered me invisible.

I always felt a twinge of pity for the unrecognizable shlubs in close proximity to 12-year-old Ronald Reagan or Marlon Brando in their class photos. Of course, neither guy was famous yet, so in effect all of them were unrecognizable shlubs. A level playing field. But at the Four Seasons Hotel Windows Lounge, I was transported back to my school days when the cool kids appeared larger than life, like celebrities. They always got the girls, like celebrities. And the uncool kids sneaked envious glances their way. When's the last time a bit player got the girl?

I was transported back to my school days when the cool kids appeared larger than life, like celebrities. When's the last time a bit player got the girl?

After some state-of-the-art fading into the background, I did an about-face. Once again, I auditioned myself for the lead in my own mental movie. What made me, of all people, worthy of the role over Mr. A-list hotshot? If I could temporarily delude myself into believing that my attributes trumped his, my newfound confidence could resonate with the few women not thinking about a guy who they think they know from his one appearance on Oprah. What did I have that he might not?

I can have an intimate conversation without needing someone to write my dialogue. OK, he can too, I'm guessing. But I wouldn't call my version "improv."

When I assure my leading lady she isn't fat, her first thought won't be, "How do I know he's not acting?"

Not only that, she will never suffer the humiliation of watching me laugh it up with some other woman all in a day's work. And when I come home and laugh with her, her first thought won't be, "How do I know he's not acting?"

Speaking of looks, how do mine compete with my famous competitor's? I can at least revel in this: People magazine will never replace me with a new "sexiest man alive." And when my lady visits the video store, she won't be haunted by reminders of how much younger and cuter I used to look.

When I take her to a trendy restaurant, our food will be hotter, because our table will be closer to the kitchen.

Most important, if we split up, she'll never have to hear "The Tonight Show" audience go, "Awwww."

Brimming with the bravado these revelations inspired, I actually met a woman who wound up paying me more attention than Mr. Movie Star, instilling in me actual confidence.

It was confidence enough to entertain, if not the masses, this notion: Maybe we Everymen are inherently more interesting than movie stars. Why else would they seek roles that portray Everymen more often than roles that portray other movie stars? We may want to be them. But maybe, just maybe, they want to be us.

Published: August 4, 2007


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