As a True Romantic, I have trouble with Washington in the late spring. The cherry blossoms wilt into being just plain trees, and yesterday's heartthrob turns back into just another GS-17.
To escape The Washington Syndrome, sometimes you've just got to get out of town.
So, I aksed myself, "Can a young Washington career woman find Romance and Adventure with a madcap New York male?
I zipped up to the Big Apple to find out.
As I winged out of National and up into the blue spring skies, I thought about the qualities for The Man of My Dreams: strong, yet tender; exciting, yet stable; involved with his high-level creative work, but with loads of time for romantic candlelit dinners a deux, weekends at country inns, tennis, riding, meandering through galleries on Sunday afternoons . . . someone who is involved in ideas, loves history, literature and great food, has a piquant yet dry sense of humor, doesn't take himself too seriously - and is a free spirit. Uninhibited. Loving. And incredibly sexy.
Spring is a season of reawakenings, new beginnings . . . romance. Spring brings out our longings for something special: passion, love-cross-the-room-at-first-sight, dreams of plunging into a delicious red pool of madness. Even in this post-liberation era, the lust for True Romance smolders in us all.
So how does one leap out of the limiting Washington world of three-piece suits to find that big-game hunter? Or the glamorous movie producer? Or a sensitive, world-famous photographer? Or a rock record executive?
In short, how can you meet the man or woman of a least some of your fantasies?
Fly to New York and meet Abby Hirsch, a pizzazzy publicist who eventually plans to bring her zany matchmaking operation to Washington. She's added fizz to such clients as Alka Seltzer, Jacqueline Susann and Rod McKuen and now promises to put some oomph into tired love lives.
Hirsch is a romantic headhunter who started The Godmothers Ltd. to bring together the famours and the yet-to-be discovered special people who have a daring spirit, a taste for adventure, a yen for romance, but who simply don't have much time to explore.
Her clients range from trendy literati one might find at Elaine's, to faces behind the gossip columns, to those who might be there tomorrow. That could mean you!
"This is not a marriage service," she warns. "It's lovely lark, with certain serious undertones. It's really for adult, intelligent, successful people who are so absorbed in thier careers that they literally don't have time to meet new kinds of people."
As society grows more mobile and complex, it's hard to find institutions that shore up the basic needs of individuals. Custom once dictated he ways of love, courtship and marriage. Men and women met in thier neighborhoods, in towns, in college, at church socials. They married, had babies and rarely strayed from the network of family and friends.
Today, people of marriageable - or mateable - ages are scattered about, quite alone. It's harder than ever for a good woman and a good man to find one another. That's where the Godmothers might help.
"We don't appeal to the hopeless romantic, but to hopeful ones," says Hirsch, who offers her "unerring instinct" as the one ingredient makes hers different from other dating services. "I can sort out what people really want from what they say they want."
One client, an international industrialist, told Hirsch that he was tired of working all day, then going to cocktail parties at night where all he heard was shoptalk and chit-chat.
"I have a cleaner for my clothes, a shoemaker for my shoes, a shrink for my head all experts," he said. "Why shouldn't I use your expertise to find me a woman?"
When a potential client calls, Hirsch conducts a one-hour interview over white wine or Perrier and elegant little sandwiches. At this point, she sometimes returns checks, firmly but politely. A plumber from the Bronx who lumbers in wearing a polyester undershirt just won't do. A writer working as a plumber so he can finish his novel just might.
She then delves into the psyches, probing, asking questions designed with the help of a psychoanalyst to elicit not only murmurs of longing hearts, but hard facts about who you are and what you're really looking for: "Describe your last three successful relationships-why and how they worked . . ."
Afterwards, she makes the match from the pool of 150 (and growing) Godmother clients, and the vast store of adventurous frinds and acquaintances acquired during her ten years as a publicist in New York and Los Angeles.
"Even my most sophisticated friends are fascinated that they might meet the love of their life in this offbeat fashion. After all, things like falling in love happen when you least expect them . . ."
"I can't guarantee that everyone will fall madly in love on their first date, and move in together the next day, but I can guarantee that each person is very special, a person who is ready for Romance, and someone who is open toe experiencing just about anything."
And to a New York man, a Washington Career Woman is rare indeed.
Clients get three dates for the initial $250 fee.
Hirsch claims to have received 1,500 calls since she opened the doors in December. She's negotiating for a TV series based on the idea and is entertaining two book offers. By June, she plans to have branches in Los Angeles and Washington.
"After all, New York women are fascinated by the very Washington men you deal with every day. Politicians, lawyers and journalists are very sexy," she says.
But does it work?
I RECITED my specifications for the Ideal Man to Ms. Hirsch. She didn't blink. Not even one of those "Are you kidding? If there were one like that, he'd be mine!" looks I've seen in the eyes of so many women. She said several good men - all with those ideal qualities in varying proportions - would be easy to find.
"How about a rock'n roll record executive?" she asked.
I know nothing about hard rock and disco. The last rock record I purchased was the original album of "Hair."
"Why not?" I said.
He was six feet tall, slender and had reddish brown hair, a disco record executive from one of the giant New York record companies. At various times he'd been a disc jockey, a steeplechase rider, the manager of his family's string of gourmet restaurants in England.
He appeared at the door with a flourish and a handful of tickets for the rock event in New York that evening.
He'd gone to The Godmothers, he said, because he was tired of dating gorgeous "scarecrow-brained" New York models, and because the frentic and absorbing record business didn't allow him time to meet people outside the world of rock stars and hype.
It was evening for roaming. We roamed to a chic East Side Italian restaurant. We roamed through the New York bar scene, laughing and giggling from P.J. Clark's to the Oak Bar at the Plaza. I learned, that evening, what the high life on the fast track of the multibillion-dollar record business was like . . .
Not exactly . . . But fascinated. He had spark and a sense of the absurd and was special - quite out of the ordinary. Definitely a good pick on Hirsch's part.
WOULD you believe this: an eminent scientist who, at the pinnacle of his profession, has a personal astrologer with whom he consults on all important events in his life, including the "birth" of his cars?
In his late 30s, he was dark and had a sensitive, brooding quality. He teaches at a renowned university in New York and has lived abroad, for years at a stretch, doing scientific research.
It was a brillant spring afternoon, and as we wandered through the Village to lunch he told me a bit about himself.
His hobby: collecting Lamborghinis. He keeps one in Losg Angeles, one in Rome and one in Vienna.
He told me about his belief in forces man cannot calculate or explain, hence his passionate belief in astrology. He is a risk-taker, a gambler - but one with a system. With a combination of scientific calculation and the stars, he spends part of his time traveling around the world to casinos, alone, silent - and always a winner.
"Any male with a macho hangup would probably not have the spirit to do this kind of thing" he said, referring to his going to The Godmothers. "Men - and the counter-part woman - like me, who are paying their money and taking their chances, are apt to be the more adventuresome, less traditionally structured type of person. Nothing venture, nothing gained."
He seemed soft, yet strong, unconventional in many ways, a wanderer. Yet, he had an essential feeling of stability. Very, very different. After all, how many people are walking, living paradoxes: a scientist who lives his life in concert with the stars?
THE CHRISTMAS-tree king was tall, with sandy blond hair and a reddish mustache.He mused as we strolled down Park Avenue into the midafternoon sunlight, "You know I did this on a dare - my best friend gave me The Godmothers for my birthday. But it makes a lot of sense . . . I've had problems meeting people, being new to the city, and this takes the edge off it all. It's fun, not to be taken too seriously, but has some serious potential, if you know what I mean."
Although he was a lawyer, he was actually an entrepreneur. He'd lived in San Francisco for several years, and messed around in the law and in the electronics business. Recently, he'd acquired one of the largest Christmas-tree farms in the country.
In the shadows of an elegant New York literary watering hole, we chatted about our respective lives, how up until now his had been mostly all work. He'd recently sold the business he'd been dabbling into another company for millions.
"I believe in action," he continued. "I like to make things happen in my life. I don't wait for them to come to me.
"I've almost been married four times but I backed out, each time, at the last minute," he said. "But my wandering days are over. I've come to realize that all my good fortune isn't worth a damn unless I have someone to share it with."
I SAT alone, waiting for him in the Algonquin bar. It was late afternoon and the ghosts of the famed Round Table seemed to float just above the smoke and noise of cocktail hour. Suddenly, a tall, elegant man wearing a fire-engine-red tie appeared at the table. It was he: literary lion, Southern gentleman. And unabashed lover of women.
"Women are terrific," he said, sipping a white, hold the ice. I believe that a woman can and should do everything a man does but it took me two marriages and many years to learn that lesson, believe me."
As we walked through the spring dusk to his Tudor cottage just off the East River, around the corner from Katherine Hepburn's place, he talked of growing up in the Old South, an impetuous first marriage, his lucky escape from a career as a foreign service officer by landing a job as a book agent.
But he succeeded where Willie Loman failed. From a start in Washington, he climbed his way to the top of the New York heap. By 33, he was the publisher of many magazines. He had fancy duplex of overlooking Central Park, a house in the Hamptons, homes abroad, the company Gulfstream and then thud!
He was unceremoniously dunped whne his principles didn't suit the man with the money.
He gave up his wordly goods - including the girlfriend who viewed instant poverty as hardly chic - and started to rebuild his life. He now runs a New York publishing house.
We found ourselves in the wine cellar of an intimate French restaurant around the corner from his house. Candles flickered in wine bottles as we talked into the night.
At 38, he's been there, and back. Worldly wise, yet not weary - "One should never lose the capacity to be delighted and surprised" - his compelling charm adn wit has served as a weapon against the vagaries of life.
"Hell, I love meeting women any way I can, especially in unconventional ways. Relationships between men and women are anything but based on convention anyway, if one really gets into it; it's totally irrational and passionate, and if you try to understand it rationally, you'll never really know it."
He went on, "You remember what Plato said about men and women - that orginally they were one being. Since they were split into two, their main drive has been to couple together again."
He grinned a sexy crooked grin. A shock of white hair fell over his right eye.
Enchanting, a bit unnerving, yet funny and cuddly - and a survivor.
And, as they all were, just the thing to jar a True Romantic into believing again.
"After all," says Hirsch, "romance is making a real comeback. In this age of science and technology, we all need a little magic in our lives." CAPTION: Pictures 1 and 2, no caption