Eric Z – Los Angeles
Photo by Joshua Plotke
I like Eric right away for the most shallow of reasons—he’s got a New York accent and he dresses like my father did: Jeans,tucked in polo shirt, tassel loafers with colored socks. East Coast preppy. My father died 20 years ago, but sometimes little things can trigger my emotional memory and I find myself missing him out of nowhere. This was one of those times.
Eric went to MIT and worked for years at Mobil Chemical as a chemical engineer. When he said it, I got a weird feeling in my stomach. How could a guy who reminded me of my dad work for a corporation making atomic weapons that kill puppies and babies? Granted, I should probably educate myself a bit on how chemistry works, but still… it sounded evil. I pressed him, like any good journalist would. And I got to the source of the truth. He made plastic foam for meat trays and egg cartons. Probably evil egg cartons, but I couldn’t be sure, so I moved on.
“Great engineers are tinkerers at heart, and I was more interested in the business side of things. So I went back to business school at Harvard. I said the only place I think I’d want to live that I haven’t been is the San Francisco Bay Area. So when I graduated, that’s where I went. I was in Silicon Valley back in the early ’80’s. This was rock-and-roll heaven. There were always more positions than there were people.” After a few misses, he worked for Sun Microsoft Systems from the mid-80s to 1999. “I came [to Los Angeles] to sell in 1988.” After 13 years, he grew bored and took some other sales jobs. Now he does a few small consulting projects. “But the women shouldn’t worry they have another guy who’s out of work. I don’t have a rent check to worry about or a car payment to make.”
He’s had a few long-term relationships, but they didn’t work out. At 58, “let me be the first to tell you it’s no fun being single and alone. This was not my grand plan. Part of the challenge for me here in L.A. is I don’t meet many women here that have enough East Coast umph behind them. They’re not sharp enough, quick enough, [or] wordly enough. [The] entertainment industry has a lot of New Yorkers here, but I’m not in the entertainment industry. Not even close. I’m looking for a woman who has some substance, a life of her own, a career, interests, [and she] brings something to the table that fascinates me. A woman also needs to be attractive and fit. I’m not talking model good looks, but she has to place some importance on it. I workout four or five days a week. I’m vegetarian. I think you just feel better when you’re healthy, and I think it just comes across.”
Eric’s favorite thing to do is play golf on Sundays and go to Mulberry’s pizza on Friday nights. “I still think of myself as a New Yorker, even though I haven’t lived in New York in 40 years. I sit at the counter, eat a slice, and read the Post.” He smiles and laughs about it. The guys who work there, he says, “tease the heck out of me.
“I did a lot of traveling when I worked for Sun. The travel part of it per se is just miserable. It’s just more of a hassle — and again I want someone to do it with. I’ve been to a lot of places. It’s not as much fun alone. I’d much rather have a traveling companion.”
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