Don’t date a man who won’t eat your cookies.
I added this dating proverb to my never-allow-this-type-of-man-to-touch-you-again bible I keep enshrined on my computer. My holy collection of guidelines had expanded impressively because the warnings I distilled from my latest catastrophe of coupledom were heavy and spicy.
In addition to the typical breakup mirepoix, this split stew included a dash of a dismantled cohabitation; a dollop of a failed engagement; and the juice of a canceled wedding. I was brimming with heartburn, gassy humiliation and regret — the onset of which occurred during our first date.
I had just turned 30. I had wanted to taper off my it’s-sexy-to-be-busy corporate lawyer life and make time to date men I could introduce to my mother without her eye-rolling and teeth-sucking, so I moved back to Los Angeles from New York City. I’d heard unremarkable stories of dating in L.A. from my girlfriends. However, I considered myself lucky that I caught the attention of someone with potential so soon.
That someone was an old acquaintance from college. We’d reconnected at a friend’s wedding, and we had a lot in common. In addition to sharing a love for local rap music containing smooth G-funk beats, we liked drinking brown liquor that makes your voice hoarse the next day, and we also shared a sense of importance, which I found attractive. Phillip had an important job in the tech industry and degrees from important institutions (Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania). And he was ready to move back to L.A. (also his hometown) to start building a family.
I wanted him to be “the one” and was willing to allow him to rise to the occasion. I wouldn’t say I was physically attracted to him. I was seduced by the laughter we produced together. I found his sense of humor and familiarity very titillating.
“I got us tickets for the Street Food Cinema at Exposition Park,” he said. “Tonight, they’re showing ‘Purple Rain.’ You’ve never seen it, right?”
I hadn’t seen the Prince film but knew the song well. We were cruising through West Adams and already en route when he finally spilled the details for our first date.
He’d been planning the surprise date for weeks and had even flown from the Bay Area to take me out. I was impressed by the thought he put into the plans.
We crooned and grooved to familiar sounds from KJLH as he made a left turn from Jefferson Boulevard onto Figueroa Street. The smell of chocolate and sugar filled the air inside the car. I glanced back in the direction of its source: a small cardboard box, tied shut with a crisscross lace bow. Its contents? Baked goods from Milk Jar Cookies.
I grimaced but kept my mouth shut. When he picked me up from my apartment in Miracle Mile, I had given him the cookies as a first-date gift, a thank-you for making me feel lucky and important. I was disappointed when he placed the box in the backseat of the car without looking inside. He had told me that he loved freshly baked cookies, and I believed him.
We pulled into the visitors parking lot of Exposition Park and exited the car. We were surrounded by people donning their best “Purple Rain” regalia and Prince costumes in memoriam of His Royal Badness. It had been about a month since Prince’s death.
I began to fix myself, pulling at the hem of my black, off-the-shoulder bodycon dress and securing the laces on my black leather Chucks. I noticed I too was dressed in mourning.
We first visited Exposition Park’s various attractions, exchanging frisky repartee along the way. We admired a showcase of West Coast hip-hop photography at the California African American Museum. We grazed through the rose garden, which was, at that time of the year, a dry plot of thorny bushes. We attempted to enter the Natural History Museum but were dismissed by the flash of a security guard’s palm, as it was near closing hours.
Instead, we picked up the cooler bag of movie concession accoutrements from the car, then made our way to a central space in the viewing area. He left the box of cookies behind.
“I’ll eat them later,” he told me when I asked why he didn’t bring them. My chest tightened with irritation. Again, I kept my mouth shut.
We settled onto our blankets, popped some Prosecco and talked smack about Carmen Electra as she sobbed through her speech introducing the cult classic. After the movie, we prolonged the evening by having a night cap of hookah at Lotus on Flower before ending the night at my place.
“How were the cookies?” I asked the next day.
Because he had left them in the car overnight, they had hardened, he said. “I don’t really like hard cookies, so I gave them to my parents. I appreciate the gesture, though.”
I didn’t feel appreciated. I was enraged, but I hid it. I continued to rage against my discomfort in silence. I left it all buried deep within my bubbling belly and burning heart until I imploded four years later. That’s when he disclosed he was, and always has been, a cheater. He had waited until the month before he proposed to me to finally take a crack at monogamy.
When he admitted to his monthly dalliances, I was shocked, devastated, angry and scared. He confessed at the behest of our couples therapist after he’d already moved into my home and five months before our destination wedding date. We were finished once I heard his confession, but it took some time (a little more than a year) for me to completely untangle my life and self from his.
The warnings were there from the beginning. I turned my back on the signs and allowed my attachment to “importance” to matter more. The overlooked cookies from Milk Jar foreshadowed our outcome. I hadn’t been ready to see the truth in their prophecy.
Updated proverb: If you give a man cookies and he treats your treats like unwanted leftovers, he’s signaling his intentions. So be prepared to speak up about it or to walk away. Your cookies deserve better.
The author is a writer and attorney living in Inglewood. Find more of her work at greenpoop.substack.com. She’s on Twitter and Instagram: @greenpoopluver.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email [email protected] You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.
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