Smitten Kittens at the Café at Books & Books and Michy's

Love Bites is a regular column on Short Order. Find other installments here.

People, especially my recently divorced friends and those who have spent way too many nights picking pet fur out of their bellybuttons, always ask how I dig up men for my dating pool. The bottom line is this: I take every opportunity to tell the world I'm single. It's nothing to be ashamed of. My sex life is better than that of most married folks, and I get taken out on the town a few times each week. Besides, the more dates I go on, the more meals I get... though sometimes I am saddled with losers, like the guy I dined with in Tuesday's blog.

You might recall I begged the Dating Fairy to deliver a financially stable, Miami-based foodie with cooking skills, looks, and a brand-new Italian sports car as reward for my sacrifice. I'm happy to announce that not only did her magic work in record time, but also she delivered a guy who fits nearly all the qualifications! (I'll get him to The Collection sooner or later.)

Here's how the match occurred:

Stage 1: A nice-looking, obviously smitten-with-each-other couple flagged me over from the host stand at the Cafe at Books & Books, offering an empty seat at a communal table during a lunch rush. They found out I'm a fellow foodie and we swapped contact info while oohing and ahhing over our seafood salads and tropical iced teas.

Stage 2: The male half of aforementioned couple emailed me later that day to ask if I'm willing to be fixed up with a friend of his whom he described as "quite bright, hip, good-looking, great sense of humor," and "also tribe." (For you gentiles, tribe is a descriptor that translates to Jewish.) I agree.

Stage 3: Aforementioned tribesman emailed me using witty verbiage and wrote that I was described as an "attractive, interesting, witty woman (with good food smarts and tribe humor)." He then suggests perhaps I can look him up on Facebook to determine if I find him visually appealing.

Stage 4: Hmm, the guy's kinda cute. Sorta looks like Jon Stewart. And I notice we have ten mutual friends, so now I can probably surmise he isn't a psycho killer.

Stage 5: Once I affirmed via email that he's easy on the eyes and has full-time employment as an attorney (my standards are getting stricter with age), "Matlock" responds that I should call him. I politely decline, stating I'm old-fashioned and would rather wait for him to call. Soon a text message appears on my phone informing me he is "ready to go 20th-century style" with our communication. I reply, "Ooooh! A text! Should I send my avatar over for an interview?"

Stage 6: Surely realizing his chances of face-to-face contact are diminishing rapidly, he punches my digits. A fun, 30-minute conversation ensues, ending with an invitation to dinner a few nights later.

Then the courtship begins. And I'm already off to the races being my typical Riki self, controlling every step of the process:

"Yeah, uh, Matsuri sounds great, but I have to be at Michy's until 7 p.m., so could we just have dinner there instead? Some TV show called Meat & Potatoes asked me and Paula Niño to gush about Michelle Bernstein's short ribs for the cameras. Oh, you've never had them? Yeah, pretty damn divine, if you ask me. OK, so I'll see you there."

The clock strikes 7 and in walks Matlock, finding me in the middle of a full-on flirt fest with the show's host, Rahm Fama. As anyone can imagine, Fama was really charming and, heck, any man who really knows his way around meat is my kinda guy.

Not wanting to cock block, the celeb cut our conversation abruptly, but not until we Facebooked each other via iPhone. (A girl's gotta keep a few good ones in the hopper, right?) But then I turned my focus to the guy standing there with a full head of brown hair, hazel eyes, and an impish grin, lovingly gazing at me as I did Bernstein's glossy, tender, rich short ribs just moments before.

Yep, this was one smitten kitten. All I had to do was put a fork in him and he'd be done.

To be continued next week... and maybe a while after?

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Riki Altman