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FILE UNDER: WRITTEN BY XANDER

This week's column was inspired by A) Valentine's Day and B) Monday night's LATE SHOW appearance of the always winsome Kate Hudson. I loved the easy camaraderie and infectious chemistry that Dave had with Kate. Letterman sometimes gets a bad rap but I really think many of his most memorable moments have been with members of the fairer sex.

Dave is always dashing, gallant, and a true gentleman, in the old fashioned sense of the word. A class act. In the following column, I hope to demonstrate the right ways to compose yourself on Valentines Day (Dave's way) and the wrong way (me).

Learn and take notes:

Forget Paris. The midwest is the best place to be disgustingly in love, the reason being it's so freakingly cold outside. Huddling with one's prospective mate is coupled with some kind of instinctual survival of the body not wanting to freeze to death. This makes canoodling that much more sexy.

With that in mind, I jumped at the chance to try the new phenomenon known as Speed Dating. You see, in my "real" life, I write a kooky little lifestyles column for my local rag. Now, this is truly a remarkable feat for a person with no recognizable lifestyle. So, in order to get a better feel for the whole singles scene, I will be dipping my tootsies into that shark laden pool we call participatory journalism.

For those of you who haven't heard of Speed Dating, the premise is simple. Everyone wants to meet their signicant other in a rainstorm of swirling roses, complete with golden promises of Happily Ever After in a glorious Walt Disney-too-dreamily-earnest-to-be-ironic Technicolor style.

But, hey, who has the time?

If the secret of real estate is location, location, location, the secret of speed dating is volume, volume, volume. In a roomful of sixty like minded individuals, speed dating gives you the potential of hooking up with your intended for at least eight minutes at a time.

Speed dating introduces the concept of the job interview into the mating ritual. And if truth be told, I kinda suck at job interviews. I have told I am somewhat of an acquired taste. You can't really get a fair sampling of the inner Xander in a mere eight minutes. By the time you read this, I will already be a veteran of my first exposure to the speed dating phenomenon. But for the past week, I've been honing up on my social skills and deciding how I should present myself to the ladies.

I think it's time for a little visualization exercise.

I wish there was a way to let me know and stop me from saying or doing something majorly stupid. When I was a kid, there were these short animated inserts that they would stick between commercials on Saturday morning TV called 'Time for Timer.' In these segments, this blobby little guy, complete with moustache, top hat, and cane, would do a peppy high kicking dance while singing about the times "when your get-up-and-go has got up and went" do you still "hanker for a hunk of, a slab or slice or chunk of, do you hanker for a hunk of cheese."

So, whenever I feel the onset of stupidity coming over me, I'll try to visualize this blobby little guy, doing a peppy high step, scream "MISTAKE!", and then bitchsmack me on the ass with his little cane.

To wit:

PROSPECTIVE SQUEEZE: So, um, it's Alex, is it? Tell me what you do for a living?
ME: I'm a Rockin' Scenester, BAY-BEE!!!

"Mistake!" THHWWWAAACK!!!

ME: I mean, I'm in plastics.

PROSPECTIVE SQUEEZE: If you could change places with anyone in history or in fiction, who would it be?
ME: Queen Latifah in LIVING SINGLE. I mean who can't identify with a big boned gal makin' it in the magazine biz.

"Mistake!" THHWWWAAACK!!!

ME: I meant to say, um, Mahatma Gandhi.

PROSPECTIVE SQUEEZE: So, what kind of music are you into?
ME: A lot of eighties thrash punk music. You know, like Killer Pussy. "Teenage enema nurses in bondage." "Pocket Pool". (singing) "Mama's little baby plays pocket pool, pocket pool/Mama's little angel is a pocket pool man."

"Mistake!" THHWWWAAACK!!!

ME: Joni Mitchell. Ow! Lots of Joni Mitchell.

PROSPECTIVE SQUEEZE: On the long running series, THE SIMPSONS, who is your favorite character?
ME: It's a tie. I can't decide between Hans Moleman and that unibrowed baby.

"Mistake!' THHWWWAAACK!!!

ME: My dear, to be perfectly honest, I seldom watch television. Just CNN and, of course, Letterman.

SCORE!!! A LOVE CONNECTION!

Now, it's finally dawned on me. I could have just as easily put the lessons learned from David Letterman to work for me. He's cool, suave, confident, and very much, the gentleman.

Some of my favorite Letterman Leading Ladies:

JULIA ROBERTS: A True Movie Star with all of the positive and negative connotations. My favorite Julia movies are NOTTING HILL and MY BEST FRIENDS WEDDING. And I think I know why. In these movies, Julia had the strong support of Hugh Grant, Cameron Diaz, and Rupert Everett. I'm afraid two hours of just Julia is way too much. She make for a pretty rich dessert. Her time with Dave (usually two segments at the most) is just the right length.

DREW BARRYMORE: Her birthday present to Dave. 'Nuf said. Drew grew up watching Dave and so has a combination of naughty schoolgirl crush and abashed respect for the guy. This completely flummoxes Dave. His discomfort always makes for must see TV.

MARY TYLER MOORE: I love the way she insists on calling him 'David'-just like his mom. I remember reading in her autobiography that calling him 'Dave' seemed too informal (and ironic) for such a serious guy.

BONNIE HUNT: On the other hand, I dig the way Bonnie calls Dave "Honey". There's just a very special and natural give and take between the two of them. It's a completely midwestern thing.

ISABELLA ROSSELLINI: Ah, EEEESABELLAA ROSSELIIINNII! She's been on the big show countless times. She's written books, made several movies, appeared on TV frequently. But, for the life of me, I can only remember BLUE VELVET. I think Dave is probably the same way. I truly feel she's his ideal woman. Here is a woman who is intelligent, ambitious, beautiful, sexy, and completely modest about all of these assets. She represents both Old Hollywood Glamour and Post War European Decadence. The next time she's on, check out how smitten Dave appears to be.

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