When I met Dan I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. An L.A. native, I’ve waded through a sea of the city’s most promising players. I’ve had my heart marred by the son of a Middle Eastern mogul, been duped by a handful of Hollywood’s finest college dropouts and have made painstakingly boring conversation with USC Marshall School of Business’ best and brightest. I learned that it is imperative to stay safely buckled in the L.A. love scene. Among brainless Manhattan Beach surfer boys and 22-year-old billionaires, defensive emotional driving is a must — slow down for speed bumps, no sharp turns, and for God’s sake keep your eyes on the road. But my goal this semester at USC was to let loose and ride shotgun. So prompted by giddy sorority girls and the thrill of going out on a Thursday night, I accepted a random invitation to a fraternity date dash, threw on my schoolgirl-themed outfit and tried to throw off the caution that had become my second nature. Are you a veteran of L.A.'s current dating scene? We want to publish your story The token L.A. vibes were dripping off of my date from the moment I greeted him. I tried to keep an open mind, but my life of late left no room for spontaneity or whim. My mom was in the hospital battling cancer and my family was tearing at the seams. My tolerance was low for small talk, a slew of vodka Red Bulls and a meaningless hookup. My date was nowhere to be found on the party bus heading from In-N-Out back to the fraternity house. I felt my caution and cynicism returning. My night of riding shotgun seemed to be ending in cardiac arrest. Time of death: 9:44 p.m. Then I glanced up. My eyes met his. I noticed his khakis and an earnest openness on his pale face. I felt an odd tug on my closed heart. “Hi, who are you?” The words flew out of my mouth. “I’m Dan.” His sincere smile screamed “East Coast.” The bus took a sharp turn and my body slid toward his. He was quick and smart. His wit matched mine and his slight Boston accent was music to my ears. More L.A. Affairs columns Our connection was palpable. The hours flew by as we chatted about everything — the magic of Katsuya’s corn crunch roll, the emergence of a Los Angeles NFL team, grand