Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Story of us...why I love Wende Powell, Jimmy Choo & Las Vegas

edited to add actual pre-date questionaire-
The story of us begins with an ending...the ending of my friend Wende’s first marriage. On April 15, 2002 I offered to help my newly single pal by pre-screening potential men on J-Date. I planned to scan through the profiles within a 90 mile radius of her home in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. My vast J-date knowledge, savvy computer skills and horrible blind date experiences were sure to help my best friend, Wende. I was confident I would weed through the fakers and losers, and find her a halfway decent date. After all I was in sales- and clearly, I could sell her on the on-line dating concept and find a candidate that was worthy of the incredible Wende.

In my quest to select a suitable dating partner for her, I found one for me. Believe me, I was not seeking a Jewish boyfriend in Ohio, but when I stumbled upon Jeff’s hilarious profile, I could not help but laugh out loud. I sent him a short (no pun intended) message letting him know that I actually read his schtick and he was so funny I was keeping him for myself. Jeff wrote his dating profile much like he is in real life. No Bullshit, sarcastic and corny- but real. There were no long romantic walks on the beach for his first date (while living in Columbus, Ohio…duh!) and he made me giggle and smile, which was more than I could say for the other Jewish Men on the site. I was shocked when he e-mailed me back to thank me for reminding him of his profile. It seems that so many chicks were contacting him, that he forgot he even had a J-Date membership.(dripping with sarcasm) YIKES, I guess chatting it up with cyber-women was not his regular mode of business- he was obviously not a chronic Internet dater. Bonus? or Red Flag?

After a few witty e-mails back in forth Jeff asked if he could call me. He was over 40 and the idea of computer dating was relatively new, so he offered to take our friendship to a new level- the phone. I gave him my number and we gabbed every evening for an hour or so. He sounded nice, and I was impressed that he had full custody of two kids, worked, and managed to seem somewhat normal and relatively sane. During one of our phone calls Mitchell came into the room and Jeff did the right thing by asking me if he could call me back after his son was in bed. I was really impressed that he put the needs of his children before anything else and when Jeff asked if we could go out on a real date- face to face, I was happy to say, YES! My previous J-date success stories were more scarring than you can imagine, so I was due for some good luck.

Jeff lived in Columbus, and I lived in Kansas City, so arranging our first date was more complicated than meeting at the local corner restaurant. Jeff asked if I wanted to come to Columbus, or if he should travel to Kansas City- I did not care one way or the other, to me, it was just geography. With that in mind, he said, hmmmm- I have to give a keynote speech in Las Vegas next week, if I send you a plane ticket will you meet me for dinner in Vegas? I did not hesitate to say YES. He was glad that I agreed but asked me, “How do you know I am not an axe murderer?”- I said, I don’t know if you are or not, but you are going to have a rough time taking the axe on the plane. The next day he faxed me
a pre-date questionnaire form (double click the images to read the document Jeff sent me)to assure our date would go smoothly and a fed-ex envelope arrived with my first class ticket to Vegas. The rest was just geography and details.

I had to fess up to my parents that I had met someone on line and that I was flying to Las Vegas to meet him in person. This would have bugged the bajeezus out of most overprotective Jewish parents. However, my dad just asked for “this character’s name” and wished me good luck. Grandma Eichenwald who at the time was 92 years old had a different perspective. Instead of doom and gloom about meeting a stranger in Las Vegas she was totally supportive. She thought I was smart to choose Las Vegas because if I was meeting him in a casino he would be caught on tape if he tried any "funny business." I had never thought about that, but she was right, if I had vanished, he would have left a video trail. In the few minutes after I hung up with Grandma I called Jeff and let him know that my 92 Grandmother gave me her blessing to make the trip.

Jeff pulled out all the stops for our first date. He truly made it special by sending me on a first class ticket. {note: He later explained that he used frequent flier miles, and first class seats were the only ones available, but still- first class on a first date is a good sign} His program was at The Venetian and he offered to get me my own room. This was a nice way of letting me know that he was not just interested in “one thing” even if he really was just out for sex. The Venetian is a five star deluxe property and I had a hunch this was costing him a pretty penny. When I checked in the front desk showed me to the VIP check in since his client had upgraded his reservation, They gave me the room key and I found my way to the incredible, spacious Rialto suite. The hotel room was enormous- bigger than my cute Prairie Village house square footage wise, and it was appointed in beautiful fabrics and amenities. The plush bathroom was designed for a movie star! I immediately took a Jacuzzi bath and literally soaked in all the excitement. I got to thinking about how to handle myself if he arrived and was a moron. What if he was a good on paper and good on phone guy, but there was no chemistry? What if there was no spark in person? At that moment I had my exit strategy planned, and I wandered to the Jimmy Choo boutique to buy a pair of fabulous shoes. In my mind I knew that if the date was a bust, I would not be going home empty-handed. The shoes would be my dating prize even if my date was a loser.

Just before it was time for me to meet Jeff downstairs a huge, incredible bouquet of orchids and birds of paradise were delivered. The note said, thanks for taking a gamble on me- Love, Jeff. He was pulling out all the stops. I was convinced he was too good to be true. We had only been communicating for 13 days and I was sure he was unlike any of the other assholes I had met on line.

I blew out my hair- it was fluffy and perfect. I got a pedicure. I wore my killer Black, Gucci platform wedge sandals and a dab of Dolce & Gabanna perfume. My signature color Brown Sugar Chanel lipstick was freshly applied and I was ready to welcome this potential boyfriend with open arms. He arrived from the airport in a cab and he secretly parked behind a huge tour bus under the busy Venetian portico so that he could check me out before I could see him. I guess I passed his stringent visual critique because he walked over and introduced himself with a huge hug. We chit chatted our way through the lobby of The Venetian and went to dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Postrio. We began the evening with a glass of wine before our meal and we sat for hours enjoying each other’s company. At one point during our meal, I got up to use the ladies’ room. The couple next to us asked Jeff how long we had been married. He told them it was our first date and they did not believe him. Apparently this pair had always had a contest to see how could guess the correct relationship status of random strangers and the wife thought we had been married for more than 10 years. When I returned to the table the lady quickly asked me, “How long have you two been married?” I was flabbergasted, ugh- huh? married? This is our first date! We all laughed about it and went on about our business of enjoying our dinner. Looking back now, I realize this must have been an amazing evening because I have no recollection of the food. Hello??? I forgot what I had eaten that night? This does not ever happen to me, people. EVER! No matter what the event or how good-bad or otherwise, I always remember the food. Not this night though- I forgot all about the food at Postrio and I don't think it had anything to do with all the red wine.

I knew right then and there that Jeff was special to me. I discovered that he was not a chronic dater or game player. He owned a business where his brothers officed with him and their mother, Charlotte, worked part time. They all liked each other and for the most part they all got along well. No drama was a refreshing change for me. Over a bottle of red wine I explained how I made a career selling merchandise on eBay. Jeff was totally impressed and wanted to know everything about how I managed the business. Right after I went into great detail about buying low and selling high, profit margins, listing fees and making money in my sleep--he told me that he was falling in love with me. Apparently, EBITDA is sexy. I wondered if it was the fluffy hair, the Jimmy Choos or the fact that I produced my own revenue? I kept asking him all kinds or weird questions trying to figure out what was “wrong with him”- clearly there had to be something? Our first date was perfection.

The next day Jeff invited me to learn about what he did for a living. He asked me to watch him give a speech on low cost sales and marketing. He was the paid keynote speaker for a large group at an annual convention. Jeff did not know I had already seen him hard at work. Before I left for Las Vegas my father had googled searched, Jeff Slutsky. There were over 4000 entries and one was a link to a speech he had done years ago in front of a big audience. I had watched him from my computer screen in Kansas City and still agreed to go out with him. During our first date in Las Vegas he was speaking for the corporate employees of John Casablancas modeling agencies and their franchise owners. I sat in the very back row and listened as Jeff engaged the audience of former runway models. In hindsight, this was probably not the best venue for having a date in the back row. As he sheepishly flirted with the 6 foot tall ladies in the front row I am sure he was kicking himself for bringing a date to this gig. With a ballroom filled with beauties my J-date guy brought his own fan club: ME! As I watched him perform, a gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome Latin gentleman sat down next to me. He introduced himself by shaking my hand and looking me square in the eyes- “My Name is John Casablancas” he said in a sexy accented voice. I was trembling with excitement- the man discovered Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Iman for Chrissakes. He is a fashion legend- and I know fashion! Now more than ever I thought what a shitty time to have a date watching my every move from the front of the room. Forget the Lovely Latin Legend sitting beside me in the back row, my Hebrew Casanova was up on stage wooing me. Ohh la la- or ugh, ehhhh, make that Oy Vay!

After his speech Jeff and I strolled around the Venetian and I forced him to go back to the Jimmy Choo boutique. The manager knew about my on-line blind date and made me promise to bring him over if he turned out to be a decent guy. She needed proof for her own sense of Internet dating sanity. I guess living in Las Vegas made her skeptical of dating at all. Jeff gladly tagged along as I showed him off. I was wearing my lucky CHOO shoes the night we met and I still wear them on special occasions. They are the shoes that were my safety net way back then, and now they hold me tall and centered every time we go out as a married couple with SIX KIDS.

The story of us is a tale of hope and a journey of funny, silly, side-splitting moments strung together over time. It started at the end of one bad relationship (sorry WEN) and blossomed into a new and lasting one. I would have never guessed that I would find my beshert on a computer, or in Las Vegas, or that I would owe so much to Wende and Jimmy Choo. I thank them all the time for bringing me luck in Las Vegas. I went to Las Vegas and I hit the jackpot!


Anonymous said...

Helene, no need to be sorry! I'm thrilled for you and my own Besheret was not too far down the road! Everything works out for the best and the good news is that you and I are both happy. I love the fact that I get to be part of your story! Love to you and Jeff,

Jeff Slutsky said...

It was a great first date. I still can't believe you traded in Jimmy Choo for a Choo Choo Wagon. But after seven years I say I would do it all again in a heart beat. You are the prefect woman for me. Love, Jeff (your husband)

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