Earlier in the week I posted a somewhat depressing (although wholly truthful) account of my thirty-sixth birthday and everything I am going through right now.
But for now, I feel like I have to write a quick pick-me-up. Another birthday story. A goodie.
On my birthday (last week), it also happened to be #tbt a.k.a. Throwback Thursday. I don’t normally participate in this activity (as all of my childhood photos reside at my rents house in another state), but I thought I would participate this particular week, it being my bday and all.
I picstitched my most favorite bdays of all time: 21st (Rhodos Island, Greece), 30th (My Ryan Gosling Encounter and Subsequent Date), and my 35th (Koh Samui, Thailand).
Naturally, everyone wanted to hear about the Gos.
I didn’t really want to post a full account of my interaction with Ryan on my blog, as this is a quite public site, but I didn’t really know how to post a story in FB without it being in notes, or being one of those obnoxiously long posts. So regular readers, and people familiar with this story, I’m sorry. But I am a storyteller, and this is one of my most favorite stories, and cherished memories of all time.
To the rest of you… enjoy… and prepare to be jealous 🙂
2007 – 30th BIRTHDAY
It was my 30th birthday coming up. And I really wanted it to be all about the Stars. I thought of this whole Hollywood theme. Come Meet the Stars on my 30th Birthday! What I really meant was… camping. On Catalina Island. I thought it was phenomenal. Get 25-40 people together, on an island, hang out at the campfire, stare at the stars. But then I went out there. And it was expensive and a long trip for just one night. So I scratched that idea.
Instead, I started searching for a restaurant. I’ll do a nice dinner. A prefixe menu, and I’ll just treat all my friends. I just want them there. In LA, birthday dinners can add up, and I didn’t want that to keep people from coming- I didn’t want gifts either- I just wanted them there.
I figured half the people wouldn’t come, so I started looking for reservations for 25. This may seem like an easy task, but when you’re 30 and footing your own bday bill, it wasn’t so easy. Asia de Cuba wanted an $8000 minimum. What!!?? Others required $3000 deposits. I couldn’t believe it. So I went onto Chowhound and searched the boards for a nice spot for 25. What I found was a Moroccan restaurant in Beverly Hills- the entire restaurant would seat exactly 25.
Site unseen, I called and was able to speak with the head Chef and owner, Ben, about my birthday request (this is starting to sound like a Yelp review lol). He said it was not a problem to rent out the entire place. There would be no deposit needed, no minimums. No problem on the prefixe. It was all so easy, and he was as pleasant as could be. The restaurant, by the way, is called Tagine, and still churns out marvelous, delicious and artfully presented authentic Moroccan cuisine daily.
I invited my parents, my best friend from high school, friends from college, from work. Half of the 50 or so people rsvp’d yes. My bff from high school was the only person in Seattle at the time who flew down for the occasion. It ended up being about 25 people – exactly the number of people that could be seated.
DAY OF THE DINNER
I had printed on the invitations 730pm, even though my reservation was for 8pm, expecting people to show up late, and miraculously, everyone was on time. Since the restaurant was so small, there were still patrons in the dining room. I walked back to the kitchen and asked for Chef Ben. I told him everyone was already here, and asked, “shall we wait outside?” He told me not to worry, he would have everyone cleared out within 10 minutes.
As I smiled at Ben I noticed others in the kitchen… one of them being Ryan Gosling?
Now, back in 2007 (this was six years ago) I didn’t have Lasik so I wasn’t sure if my eyesight was fooling me or not. I came outside and told the group, the restaurant would be ready for us shortly, and I think I may have seen Ryan Gosling in the kitchen, but wasn’t sure? Then someone mentioned that he was an owner for the restaurant (which at the time, I didn’t realize. I just wanted a place without a deposit. :))
Ben opened the door and we entered the dimly lit room. As I walked in, a couple of gift bags in hand, Ryan greeted me and introduced himself. “May I take your bags?” he asked.
“Where?” I asked stupidly. Like the Gos was gonna steal my gifts.
“Just over there, ” he smiled.
Now I was confused. What the what? Chef Ben asked me to come to the kitchen. He explained that his wait staff was double booked and at a catering event for the evening. He didn’t have any other staff available, so was it alright if Ryan and his friend Zach were our servers? They stood there awaiting my answer. I looked at the two of them and asked, “are you guys any good? Because this is my 30th birthday, and I only get one chance at this.” Yes, they would be, they promised.
So here he was, Oscar-nominated, Noah from The Notebook, and his bff, serving us dinner all night, taking away our plates, filling up our Sangria, adjusting the music and the temperature. Ryan knew that I was the head honch and checked in regularly to make sure my birthday was going along smoothly.
At one point my friend Angie pulled me in to the bathroom so we could silently scream out our excited nerves that this was actually happening on my birthday.
The courses came and went, each more and more delicious, until the final course- baklava, was set to be delivered. Instead, out came a smiling (and singing) Ryan with a birthday cake.
Before I blew out the candles, I asked the group, “who brought the cake?” Silence. Crickets. Finally, a girlfriend of mine pointed to Ryan and simply said, “he did.”
I looked over at him with a smile, and said, “thank you,” and blew out the candles.
I went back to the kitchen and said to him, “seriously, thank you, you didn’t have to do that.”
To which he simply replied, “what’s birthday without a cake?”
It turns out, he had asked one of my friends, “who brought the cake?” and she said “sh%^, no one.” She offered to run to the store, and he told her to stay and enjoy the meal and he would sneak out. He hopped on over to Bristol Farms and bought two cakes (after calling into the restuarant and confirming with my friend my favorite kind of cake), one for prettiness with pink candles, and one for eating (an ice cream cake).
He couldn’t believe no one brought the cake, and I told him that I planned the party because I didn’t want anyone to stress and I wanted everyone to literally show up and hang out.
As we wrapped up the meal, I handed out goodie bags to everyone- including the waitstaff- that I had prepared the night before. When I went back to the kitchen to give the goodie bags, I got a chance to talk more with Ryan. He was very easy going, and just as gorgeous as you all imagine him to be, even in his scruffy beard and t-shirt.
At the end of the conversation, he asked if I would like to go to dinner with him.
I “thought about it” for second, and said, “sure, why not.” He wrote his number on a card and gave to me. I had a quizzical look on my face. “Huh?” I asked.
He said to call him when I wanted to go out. I told him that was in backwards world, and in my world, the boy calls me to coordinate. So I gave him my number. I left with my friends that night on cloud nine. After all, it’s not every day you get asked out by the Gos.
Ryan waited the obligatory three days to call me. In the meantime, I had developed a stomach pain, and couldn’t figure out what it was. Obviously it was nerves, but at the time I seriously thought something was wrong with me. I went to the doc and he said I either had gas or a tapeworm. I would have to poo in a bucket to know for sure, and avoid all spicy foods. For real.
So Ryan called and left a message. I called back and we spoke for a bit on the phone, he had been sick for the past few days, but would I like to go to dinner and a movie? I said yes. He said he would meet me at the theater and we’d go to dinner from there. I then told him that I would prefer that he pick me up. So he did.
Ryan picked me up in his Prius. I asked him how he liked it as I had been wanting one for some time. He told me all about going from an SUV to a Prius and having a dog to transport around. So we chatted about our pooches. Then he asked if I had a preference in food- and I said, “I can’t have anything spicy.”
He asked if I didn’t like spicy food, which I told him, “I do, but um, see there may be a tapeworm situation going on.”
He laughed and said, “poop in bucket?” Now I was laughing. What a doll.
We went to Laemmle theater on Sunset as he wanted to see a film called Paris, Je T’Aime. I told him I was game… I had taken seven years of french and it looked interesting. We walked into the lobby and only one person recognized him and said something. He had his arm around me as we walked in, ordered popcorn, and we took seats in the back row (his choice).
He told me more about his childhood, about the film we were about to see, the people he knew in it and why he admired them. The more I spoke with him, the more I felt like I was speaking to an old man, an old, old soul. He spoke as though he were someone’s grandfather, somehow transported into a hot man body and charming young face.
We watched the movie together. Sometimes holding hands, sometimes not. Sometimes touching knees, sometimes not. He commented on a lot of the film… which I think may be par for the course for going to a movie with any industry person… but it wasn’t annoying, it was interesting, and delightful, and made the viewing a lot different from ones in my past.
We walked out of the theater hand-in-hand back to the car, and off to a french-Canadian restaurant in the SilverLake area.
We were the only two in the restaurant, and I let him do all the ordering. Wine, poutine, pasta, beef. We chatted about our lives, and experiences. He told me about his time in Uganda, about Darfur. He asked me about going to college, about working for Corporate America. He told me that he felt intimidated by the fact I went to college. I told him, “everyone has a path in life, and it’s not necessarily the same as someone else’s. I think you are on the right path- you have nothing to worry about. But if you ever want to go back, you always can.”
It was a sweet, lovely evening. He drove me home around midnight and walked me to my door. Then he kissed me goodnight. And yes, it was as amazing as you would think. And no, I did not invite him in… although in hindsight it would have been fun to do that, back then, I was still too much of a good girl. Instead we got back into the Prius and had a nice lil’ make out in my driveway.
He was leaving the next day for Philadelphia, then DC then a million other places. I was leaving for Toronto (randomly for work). So, I left the ball in his court- a ball which never bounced back. I never heard from or saw him again.
I saw Chef Ben a few times since then. The first time I saw him, soon after my date, he said, “I heard about your date.”
I asked what he had heard, and he said Ryan said that it was “beautiful.” I told him I hadn’t heard from him again, so it must not have been all that “beautiful”, but it was ok, as I had the feeling that I was “too good” for him. Not like I was better than him, but just too good of a girl- not damaged/rebel enough. Not needing fixing. Ben agreed with that, and also mentioned that I was the first girl to go out with him after Rachel McAdams (which, by the way, he and Rachel would eventually get back together after our date for a short time, then break up for good).
I still talk with Chef Ben from time to time, and have been back to Tagine many times. I still love the food there. Ryan is now dating Eva Mendes, and I haven’t seen him since, but Ben has filled me in on various bits of info every time I see him.
I may have only been on one date with Ryan Gosling, but it was a good one. It was one of my most favorite birthdays of all time, and something I will think about and smile for the remainder of my life. And for the record… I didn’t have a tapeworm.