Sometime in the early ’80’s, I yielded to peer pressure and signed up to be a selecting bachelor on an installment of the Other Café’s squirrely version of “The Dating Game.” My wardrobe being quite nondescript, I decided that my stage debut called for some new threads to step up my game. So, a few days before the show, I emerged from Macy’s Tiger Shop with a stylish new shirt in bold, purple and black stripes with marine accents — sort of hip, new wave meets cool bowling shirt. It looked great with jeans and would sizzle beneath the Other Cafe stage lights, I figured.
The big night: The house lights dimmed, I left my seat in the audience, perched myself upon the bachelor’s stool onstage — and came face to face with the host for the evening, the amazing and uniquely formidable Jane Dornacker. She sized me up, her eyes twinkled in anticipation, and then she turned to the audience and bellowed: “How many couches had to die in order to make THAT shirt?!” Yikes – my imagined Dating Game experience did not include that introduction! (Far beneath the audience laughter, I heard a tiny voice in my head squeaking, “But my groovy new shirt doesn’t look anything LIKE couch upholstery.” Then I flashed darkly upon comedian Lorenzo’s bit about the legendary Filipino comic Joey Keeno, whose masterful way of dealing with a persistent heckler was to jump offstage and stab him. If I were to playfully stab Jane with that butter knife from that table in the first row, not too deeply but enough to draw blood and get her attention, would anybody get it?)
Anyway, by the time my round was over, I fortunately had managed NOT to select Bachelorette #3 (a silky falsetto-voiced Steve Berman, the power-hitting left fielder from Bob’s softball team). Instead, I wound up with a buxom and utterly delightful member of the Screaming Memes, a local performance art group. Some time later, she and I went on our (unchaperoned!) lunch date at the Ramp, my sofa shirt went to the Goodwill, and I returned to a life of quiet desperation.