Confessions of an Aspiring Kept Man: Is That a Cucumber in Your Shopping Cart?
I have a friend, Andrew, who lives in Paris. Every day, Andrew wakes up at 11, stretches, and prepares himself a leisurely cup of tea followed by a four-course breakfast — fruit, bread and cheese, yogurt and, finally, a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee and a piece of chocolate. By the time he finishes his morning routine, it’s well into afternoon and he’s ready to go out. Sometimes he strolls the boulevards and back alleys of Montmartre, snapping photographs. Other times, he treats himself to a massage. He tries to take in at least one film a day.
Photo by Mark Mauer
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When he’s not in Paris, Andrew travels the world: sometimes weekend trips to Holland or Spain, sometimes monthlong journeys to Cambodia, Vietnam or Australia.
Also read Zen and the Art of Cougar Hunting By Gendy Alimurung
Andrew doesn’t pay for most of his travels. Andrew doesn’t pay for his food. Andrew doesn’t pay for his rent. Andrew doesn’t pay for his massages. Andrew doesn’t even pay for toilet paper. He has a beautiful, successful young French girlfriend to pay his bills.
Andrew is a kept man.
I’ve been thinking about Andrew and his situation a lot recently, and a nagging question has begun rattling around my brain — how can I be more like Andrew?
Andrew and his girlfriend are very much in love — an arrangement I’m not particularly adept at. I’ve gone that route twice, with similar results. The first time, I endured three years of monogamy in New Orleans — a city where indulging in Caligulan excess is as simple as dangling a 5 cent set of Chinese-made plastic jewelry in someone’s face.
Everyone has his breaking point. Things ended badly.
The second time around, love set my car on fire. Well, love didn’t do it — we think it was my girlfriend’s girlfriend. Long story, but that one didn’t work out either.
If I can’t handle a relationship where trust, caring and mutual appreciation are the only prerequisites, tacking on the task of finding myself a monied young woman of international intrigue strikes me as far too much to ask for.
No, if I’m to achieve a life of leisurely Parisian mornings and afternoon massages, without working for it, of course, I’ll have to become someone’s pretty piece of meat. Someone rich, middle-aged and a little desperate. In other words, I need a cougar.
But where to find such a woman?
My first thought: Orange County. Show up at the Newport Yacht Club in an ascot, a nautical blue blazer and loose-fitting white pants — a young Thurston Howell III, as it were, looking for my Lovey. (Thurston, I maintain, was a kept man. I think he was a street thug who mugged and stripped a drunken Kennedy, forged a Harvard diploma, clenched his asshole as tight as he could and crashed a Radcliffe cotillion. Lovey, gin-sipping heiress that she was, fell for his act.) Then I reconsider. I’m a scruffy, degenerate Semite. I do happen to come from New England, but I’m far too Jewy to get any Ronald Reagan–doting, Orange County yacht-club cougar to fall for my Boston Brahmin act. On top of that, I could practically pay for my own massage for what it costs to drive down there.
Scratch Orange County.
Where, within reasonable distance, could I become cougar bait?
“The Mountain,” one of L.A. Weekly’s interns told me. “It’s a hiking trail where all the old Hollywood power brokers go to hunt young men.”
Tempting, but if I’m going to have random public sex, it’s not going to be with an old lady (or old dude, for that matter; this is Hollywood after all) — especially in the unkind daylight. If spontaneous sex is to be had, it’s going to be around last call in the bathroom of a UCLA sports bar, with a doe-eyed brunette named Tina or Emma.
Besides, I’m not looking for a one-time thing — I want plane tickets.
So, aside from “the Mountain,” where does one go to get spoiled? When I ask around, time and time again, the same answer surfaces: upscale grocery stores.
Easy enough. There’s a Whole Foods up the street from me in Glendale. My neighborhood is certainly stocked with its share of Lexus-driving Armenian and Filipina hotties. After seeing Pinay weather goddess Elita Loresca on a recent cover of this very publication, I find the latter option particularly appealing.
I envision myself meeting the wealthy former mistress of a lumpia baron —like Elita, but tack on a decade. Elita-Plus-10 spent her glory years waiting for said lumpia baron to ditch the wife. After enduring 15 years of sweet, beautiful lies, Elita-Plus-10 finally realized she was being strung along. She left the guy, taking with her a healthy lump of hush money. Now, she’s shopping for organic cheese at Whole Foods, waiting, cash in hand, for a scruffy, young writer to help her rekindle her lost youth.
Did I mention she looks like Elita?
I arrive at Whole Foods on a Wednesday, shortly before noon, and immediately set up camp near the expensive cheeses. A disappointing half-hour later, a realization sinks in: Filipina mistresses don’t shop at Whole Foods — at least not the one in Glendale. Either that, or they don’t like cheese. And I can’t seem to find a lumpia aisle.
As far as the Armenian ladies go, most are toting a minimum of two kids. And I’m dubious about the ones who are there alone. Paranoia grips me. “These women probably have husbands,” I think to myself — “large, hairy husbands.” This is all too close to home.
A new location is in order — and perhaps a new strategy. Westside-bound, I head to Gelson’s in Pacific Palisades to employ the Eric “Otter” Stratton maneuver from Animal House. This entails storming the produce section, grabbing the largest cucumber you can find, spotting the woman of your choice, and politely telling her, “Mine’s bigger” when she grabs her own cucumber. When she gasps and begins fishing in her purse for mace, you point to your vegetable and tell her, “My cucumber, I mean, it’s bigger.”
She smiles and laughs off your joke, but her subliminal curiosity has been stoked. Visions of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the Shiva Linga dance through her suddenly active mind. She’s gotta know, is it really bigger?
Hey, it worked on Dean Wormer’s wife.
I step through the automatic double doors and am pleasantly surprised by what I see. Several attractive older blondes in sundresses roam the aisles — not a child in sight.
My initial excitement, however, soon gives way to a cavemanlike state of Darwinian competition. I’m not the only one checking out the scene. To my right, a stable of teenage bag boys are scanning the room. The registers are busy, but not a single one of them is loading carts. They wait in silence, their beady red eyes ceaselessly probing.
I grab a cart and immediately head toward the cucumbers. When I get there, to my dismay, a stock boy is lording over the section, individually placing a supply of about 8,000 cucumbers on the shelves, one by one by one. I hover behind him for about 15 minutes, but though he’s stocked enough cucumbers to feed all of Calcutta, he doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
“Can I help you?” he finally asks me with a wry smile — one that tells me all I need to know. “I’ve seen Animal House,” it says. “Dean Wormer’s wife is mine.”
Humbled, I sidle off to try the fancy-cheese aisle, but again, another stock boy with a post-Armageddon-sized supply of food and a smug grin has set up shop.
Meanwhile, the Chef Boyardee display is practically bare. These grocery kids are smart little bastards. This is going to be harder than I thought.
I roam the grocery floor like a madman, scanning the carts of my potential sugar mommas. Suddenly, everywhere I look, all I see are wedding rings and diapers. Frustration grows.
Finally, 45 minutes and a still-empty cart later, I see her in the checkout line — tight jeans, wavy brown hair, black tank top. She looks like Sheryl Crow and carries herself with a similar, confident air. No wedding ring. No diapers. American Express Platinum card. Cucumber and fancy cheese in the cart!
The perfect woman.
I grab a can of mango juice and head to the line next to hers. If all works out, we’ll check out at about the same time and meet at the door on the way out. I try in vain to make eye contact.
As both of us edge to the front of our respective lines, suddenly, to my horror, a blond bag boy — who hasn’t moved since I entered the store — detaches himself from the wall and makes his way over to “Sheryl’s” rapidly filling cart.
“Can I help you with that, ma’am?” he asks, grinning like a head-injury victim. She agrees, and after helping the cashier pack the remaining bags, he strides out the door, Sheryl at his side, heading toward her car — a silver convertible.
That little fucker.
I grab my mango juice and head back to my car, alone and dejected, visions of Paris dissolving into Gelson’s scorched parking lot. Cougar hunting, I realize, is thankless, competitive labor. I’d be better off coal mining.
I hop in my car and turn on the radio to drown out my failure. The weather report comes on. “Hot and sunny, highs in the upper 80s.” My thoughts drift back to our fair-island weather maiden Elita Loresca.
Elita — if you’re out there — you, me, Paris. How ’bout it? Andrew says the weather is fascinating this time of year.
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