How I Met "Julie" On The Dating Game
The Dating Game: The answer for my dismal dating life.
My dating life was, to say the least, dismal. Okay, I can add to ‘dismal,’ horrible, frustrating and a part of my life that I do not talk about. To anyone. I am too ashamed of how many times I played the game, went by the rules, respected the girls I wanted to ask out for a date, only to meet with, “Uh, I forgot. I got a doctor’s appointment on that date,” a girl would say without batting an eyelash. She must have thought I didn’t know much for in my hometown, Hamilton, Alabama, the only doctor you can see is in the emergency room at our hospital, Northwest Mississippi Medical Center - Hamilton Branch.
Then, after that rejection, I would ‘get on the horse again,’ charge forward, meet another pretty girl and ask her out and then hear, “Date? Oh, my religious belief will not allow me to date men,” that was the best rejection line ever. And I had done my homework on this girl. She was a devout Baptist. And that part of her rejection, “ . . .will not allow me to date MEN,” that floored me. Oh, you were allowed to date women? Right? If you dated women in Hamilton (in my day), you would be treated as a social outcast. That was, I give her credit, a great line to turn me down.
A teenage guy has only so much patience before he resorts to ‘playing hardball’ in the dating arena. I asked my pal, the now-late, Ronald Smotherman, also of Hamilton, to set me up on a (gulp!) blind date! Just the term blind date creates sudden fear in a teenager guy’s heart. He visualizes a girl who has to wear a paper bag as to not run off her suitors. And she is vehemently-opposed to wearing deodorant. That’s what hearing ‘blind date’ does to a young man looking for love and companionship.
And honestly, that ONE blind date I had with a girl from a small town about an hour from Hamilton, Alabama wasn’t that bad. Her name was Gail. She was young, pretty, and very talkative. Rondal and his date, Gail’s aunt Janet, Gail and I, went to Gail’s house for some refreshments. The iced tea was fabulous. Then Gail did something that blew my mind (we said that a lot in the early 70’s), she brought out her Barbie and Ken board game and asked us all to play. What could me do, but play? Gail was happy at having so many people in her house at one time. That was a good memory, probably the best of the three good dating memories that I have. Gail, I found out later, has a great job working for a local dentist in Hamilton, my hometown. My teeth are alright.
You know, and I am talking to the guys now, after one rejection after another, a teenage guy, even with the dark sided blind date device, can look for easier and much more effective ways to get a date with a pretty girl. That’s why at this point of my life, age 57, in the year 2011, I wish now that I had applied to appear on The Dating Game, the super-hot hit of the sixties. Yeah, man. I would have racked up major points with the smoking-hot babes that appeared on that show.
I have to ask this question, so pardon my utter-anguish and frustrated emotions, “Hey, Jim Lange, host of the Dating Game, where were you when I needed you?” There. I feel better now. It’s true what some people say, “Screaming out your primal fears can relieve you of stress, worry, and make you feel like a normal man.”
Do you recall viewing The Dating Game? This was one of my favorite shows besides Batman, starring Adam West as Batman, and Burt Ward as Robin. The Dating Game had it all--nice, modern set, hip bachelors who talked cool, pretty bachelorettes, and the coolest host on the ABC Network, Jim Lange. I have often wished (out of pure envy) that I was like Lange in every way. I guarantee that if one, I had been born like Jim Lange, my single life would not have been in shambles, and two, if I had been a guest on The Dating Game, I would have won a date with the pretty bachelorette with ease.
I mean, if you watched how the show operated, you will agree that it wasn’t rocket science. You had cool host, Jim Lange, in leisure suit, sometimes a Nehru jacket, those cool, gold-rimmed glasses, and that lazy, laid-back smile that could have won him any political contest if he had chosen to run, one pretty girl looking for a date with a handsome dude and three semi-handsome dudes looking for love with a swinging single girl. How hard could it be?
The bachelors were separated by a petition on the right while the pretty girl sat in a chair on your left and asked her sometimes-loaded questions like, “Bachelor number two, if I were an ice cream cone, what would you do to me?” And I think you know what these swift-thinking single guys responded to this question that delighted the studio audience. And on the particular show where a girl really asked this question, a carefree bachelor really answered this question--embarrassing the pretty girl while Jim Lange, just smiled that easy smile, looked cool, and said nothing.
As far as preparation for The Dating Game, I only had three problems: one, buying a cool, modern suit of clothes. I had three clothing stores in Hamilton, Alabama--Rye’s Clothing For Men; Sanderson’s, and Thompson’s Menswear. I would have chosen Rye’s Clothing For Men for their fine collection of purple shirts and multi-colored tricot shirts with collars that were worn over the collar of the leisure suit. Two, either riding a Greyhound to Burbank, California where The Dating Game was taped, or hiring someone to drive me to Burbank since my dad was so over-protective of me as well as the family car. And three, if I did hire a driver, that meant raising plenty of cash to buy gas for the trip, but in those days, gas was not priceless like it is today in 2011, so that wasn’t much of a problem.
I was sometimes a nervous teenage guy, so I would have to overcome my nerves by letting a meditation expert teach me how to have inner-peace, but since the Beatles had the meditation guru from India all to themselves, that left me out in the cold. I hated like everything to take nerve pills and since I didn’t drink alcohol, I had no choice but to just grit my teeth, that I would brush with Colgate, our family toothpaste (because four out of five dentists recommended Colgate), to keep my teeth white for my potential-date with the pretty Burbank girl, and just bear my cross of nerves even if it meant letting people see me sweat from fear. I mean, I had never set foot out of Alabama in that timeframe, so what did people expect, me to come off as “joe cool?” Not a chance. I was as rural as the sticks that were all around our home. I even ate the occasional cornbread, beans, and cream corn from our garden. I was a “rural rube” trying hard to be cool. That was it in a nutshell. And if you are from a foreign country, or another state, and haven’t witnessed a “rural rube” such as myself, just picture Tennessee Ernie Ford when he made his appearances on The I Love Lucy shows and then you will understand how I acted and looked.
Upon my arrival in Burbank, California, I would have made my way to the Information Desk to find out where the set was where The Dating Game was taped. I wasn’t completely stupid. I could fake my way around. Some. Enough to be convincing. I would then adjust my brown leisure suit with white, tricot shirt with the collar over the collar of the leisure suit, see if the fake gold necklaces around my neck were okay, and then seek out cool, laid-back, Jim Lange. I figured that if I were really good to Jim, (I would have called him Jim to make fast-friends with him), the show’s producers would not give me a hard time for being from a rural area in Alabama.
Uh, oh, Before I met Lange, I would have noticed a scuff on my black leather patent zip-up boots for me. I would have cleaned that off immediately for I was then, and am now, a stickler for order. Then a stagehand or ABC page, a girl working her way through law school, would have smiled and taken me to meet Jim Lange. On the way to meet Lange, the page, “Julie,” and I would have chatted briefly about why she is only working at ABC long enough to get through law school. “Julie,” quickly noticing my slow, rural thinking, would have shown compassion for me and simply giggled softly as we came upon THE dressing room of cool, always-smiling, Jim Lange.
Lange, after hearing “Julie” knock on his dressing room door, would have “Tony,” his hairdresser answer, “Who is it?” Then “Julie,” in her professional, ABC tone would answer, “Julie,” and a rube, I mean, male contestant, Kenneth Avery!” Silence. More silence. “Julie” would look worried at no one answering. “Oh, come on in, “Julie,” “Tony,” would say. He didn’t answer immediately for he was in mid-comb of Jim Lange’s super-cool hair.
Lange would slowly turn himself around in the chair that rotates, hold out his hand while smiling that cool smile and softly say, “Ken, uh, far out to meet ya’ First time in the big city?” then he would gently laugh to himself, adjust his gold-rimmed glasses and just smile at me.
“Yes, this is my first time to be in Burbank, Jim,” I would say with confidence.
“Did you say, Jim?” Did you?” “Tony,” would snap in surprise--dropping his comb to the floor while Jim continued to smile that cool, laid-back smile.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I apologize, Mr. Lange,” I would reply before any more damage was done. “Tony,” who now had recovered emotionally, picked up his comb, just continued to comb Lange’s super-cool hair that I envied for looking so smooth and nice. You see, teenage guys in Hamilton, Alabama, were forbidden to wear their hair over their ears or down on their necks for fear of being labeled a “hippy troublemaker,” who employers in our town wouldn’t hire. Older merchants didn’t trust teen guys with long hair. Long hair spelled one thing to these older merchants in Hamilton: Communism, The Red Menace. They must do their part in keeping Hamilton, Alabama free of Marxism and Stalin’s Communist ideas on government.
Jim, still smiling that cool, laid-back smile, then would have told me the rules of the game--where to go, where to sit, that general stuff. I would now be feeling more at ease at Jim Lange now talking more friendly to me after my verbal blunder at calling him “Jim,” when we first met. I would have understood this shock. After all, he was an icon in Hollywood; a fixture among game show hosts, a man who’s face meant the show he was running was a guaranteed-success. Jim did have his standards.
After I was seated with two other losers, okay, bachelors, “Bobby,” and “Lenny,” we sat, made small talk, and found ways that we could undermine each other once the taping started for The Dating Game. I would have used my country cunning like a diamond back rattlesnake, I would have waited patiently for just the right moment, then strike with a comment that would not only make the girl contestant fall madly in love with me sigh-unseen, but stun “Bobby” and “Lenny” so bad that they would only be able to stutter words when asked questions by the pretty girl.
The pretty girl would say, “Bachelor number one, what is your favorite food?” Before “Bobby” could form his mouth to answer, I would, in my diamond back rattler fashion, say, “dog food!” Then the pretty girl would turn her nose up at Jim, who was still smiling that cool, laid-back smile while “Bobby” tried to ride out the waves of laughter from the studio audience. “Lenny” was now looking worried at how I would attack him.
Now the pretty girl, settled down, would ask (“Lenny”), “Bachelor number two, briefly describe for me, your mother,” Then again, I’d pounce like a diamond back rattlesnake and say, “satan’s sister!” the studio audience would now be literally rolling in the aisles, producers of The Dating Game would be throwing down the program logs, headphones, and laughing hard as they could. Some producers would ask someone behind the stage area, “Why doesn’t this Kenneth Avery have his own comedy show? Can you tell me that?” “Bobby” was having his turn to laugh at a crest-fallen “Lenny,” and me, who was cool, laid-back, like Jim Lange, ready to field the pretty girl’s last question. Oh she has already culled out “Bobby” and “Lenny” for “their’ doofus answers, now she sits back, smiles and asks, “Bachelor number three, (me), describe for me, what is your idea of an ideal date?” Then it would be time for me to roll. Time for action. Let my smooth, silken words do the work for me.
“Well now, “Julie,” I can sense by your beautiful angelic voice that you are a “10” and Bo Derrick cannot stand you for your natural beauty, so my idea of an ideal date, which is not an idea, but a reality, is for me to arrive in my Lincoln Continental limousine at your luxurious apartment being driven by “Max,” my driver, and after I get out, I make sure that my appearance is perfect for special ladies like YOU deserve the best. Then when you answer your door, I present you with two dozen red roses, a 24-carat diamond bracelet to just say, “thank you,” for just letting me have this date with you--I feel so unworthy.
I take you to the finest, most-expensive restaurant in Burbank, then after a nice dinner with the finest champagne of course, then we would hit the dance clubs to dance the night away. Then “Max,” who has been waiting in our limo, would take us to Pesmo Beach so we could walk hand-in-hand together, barefoot in the moonlight and chat about YOU, for you are yourself, an interesting story. I am just remorseful that I haven’t anything interesting to say to you about my life.
Then we have breakfast at an all-night, out-of-the-way restaurant and spend the day snuggling, holding hands, talking, NO television, just you and I savoring each moment that the Almighty gives to us. That’s my ideal date, “Julie,” babe,” I would say, smile like a wise fox and wait for her response.
By now, as I answering “Julie’s” question, both “Bobby” and “Lenny” are in shock, suspended animation if you will, at my expertise at handling myself in such a manner at my tender age of seventeen. Even Jim Lange, who until now, has not shown an emotion at all, but smiled that cool, laid-back smile and kept his cool, modern-clothes intact and free of wrinkles, has taken off his gold-rimmed glasses and standing still with his mouth wide open also in amazement at my perfect answer to “Julie,” who is now on her knees--begging Jim to just end this for “Bobby” and “Lenny,” and let her leave with me and not do that throwing of a kiss thing that was done at the end of each show for “Julie” wants me. Bad. That is obvious to the overwhelmed live studio audience who swears that I am Jay North, (Dennis The Menace star), in disguise.
Would this really be how it was on my one-time appearance on The Dating Game?
Well, I cannot go into that many intimate details, but I can tell you this, “Living in Burbank with my wife, “Julie” and our two children, “David,” and “Susie,” is like paradise on earth."