I have never been one for romance. I have never mapped out the perfect wedding or scribbled a list of names for my kids. When it comes to men, I am notorious for being unemotional, realistic and hard to manipulate. I date often. Have sex more often. And have no grandiose fantasies about where relationships are heading. Other than another week or two of fun.
And then I met the Ninja.
My older sister was in town from New York to produce a photo shoot. I was hanging out with her on set, enjoying the crafty and flirting with the models, when a strikingly beautiful Asian man walked onto the cyc.
He was 5 feet eleven inches, lean, muscular, with jet-black hair flopping in front of his beautiful almond-shaped, deep-brown eyes. His lips were splendidly pouty. His skin smooth. And he was wearing a Ninja costume.
A smitten, giggly wardrobe girl ran out and put black gloves on the Ninja’s perfectly groomed yet masculine hands and pulled a black mask over the Ninja’s flawless face. All I could see of him now were his eyes peering out of the small holes. And I was sure he was looking directly at me and right into my soul.
The Ninja leapt into the air as the camera clicked. He flipped off the walls. Twirled around, kicking and chopping effortlessly. Then a props guy handed him polished nunchucks and a glistening sword. The Ninja handled both with ease and grace, as if the weapons were an extension of his ridiculously strong yet delicate body.
I stood completely still, watching the extraordinary movements of the Ninja. And was convinced he was watching me.
While the photo assistants tinkered with the lights, I grabbed my sister’s arm and said, “I think the Ninja and I are having a vibe.” Being the supportive older sister that she is, she snapped back with, “Oh please, every woman on this set thinks she is having a vibe with him. He is amazing.”
I believed her, gave up on my Ninja crush, and retreated to the Red Vines.
At the end of the shoot, as my sister was packing up, I noticed the Ninja loitering. I asked him if he needed help with something. And he said, “What are you doing for dinner tonight?”
I was stunned but quickly recovered with a, “Nothing, why?”
“Do you want to have dinner with me?”
As I drove to a nearby restaurant with him, I frantically texted my sister. “Going to dinner with ninja!!! Told you there was a vibe!”
Over sushi and sake, I learned that the Ninja is a stunt man who started training in martial arts as a young boy. Although he is an expert in Japanese fighting styles, he is actually Korean-American. I learned he owns his own house in the Valley, and once the new driveway is finished, his parents will move in with him. Which is traditional in Korean families.
I sat across from him, half listening, half seeing my future. I would learn to speak Korean — even though I barely got through my required two years of Spanish in college — because it’s important that I be able to communicate with my in-laws. I would live with him and his parents. Even though I have always thought men who still live with Mom are a disaster, I understood that for him it’s tradition. I would learn to cook Korean food. I can’t even cook chicken, but I would learn to make kimchi. For him.
Then my cell phone rang and he exclaimed, “You have a Knight Rider ring! I loved Knight Rider.” And I knew this was unequivocally meant to be. He was so different from me, and yet we shared so much. As he hugged me goodbye I was thinking about exotic names for our yet-to-be-born, beautiful mixed children.
On our second date the Ninja made self-deprecating jokes about Asian stereotypes. I thought, How can a man who is so exceptional also be so humble? We laughed. We flirted. We played pool. He flipped the cue around with the ease of a samurai sword. I was elated.
As he dropped me off we briefly spoke about past relationships and what we were looking for in the future. I was able to keep my marriage plans to myself, but I did say that I was not interested in a one-night stand. He agreed. And then he ?kissed me.
Ten minutes later we were naked in my bed. It was everything a person would expect from a Ninja. Skill. Precision. Stamina. Usually at this point I would be thrilled for the guy to leave, but I wanted my Ninja to stay forever. His lithe body wrapped around mine all night. Cuddling. Spooning. Basking in the amazing future to come. But he had to get home because his grandmother was coming over the next morning. Awww, I thought. What a good guy. I fell asleep with the excitement of dropping my cynical guard and believing this was the beginning of an amazing relationship.
I never heard from him again.
The irony is, I would have slept with him anyway. He didn’t need to charm the pants off me. He didn’t need to pull the ancient, mythic mind trick of convincing me he was my soul mate. He didn’t need to pretend to be humble and caring and tender. But Ninjas are trained in the art of war. And as we all know, love and war are similar in that there are no rules. He showed up, stealthily attacked and gracefully vanished. Plain and simple, I got played. But at least I got played by a Ninja.