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Episode Guide

Episode 13:
“Mystery Date”

Anna Nicole and her millionaire blind date dine on beef from a real cow and take a ride on a fake bull, in a romantic night on the town that undeniably rates a score of "A.1."
(Aired November 3, 2002)

The Anna Nicole Show

From the beginning, critics have screeched about The Anna Nicole Show being an excruciating and uncomfortable ordeal to watch. I've always said that was complete nonsense. But in all honesty, I have to admit that even I found the big season finale somewhat of a painful experience. The whole blind date disaster was a bit too much for me. I wasn't that I was embarrassed by Anna Nicole's behavior, and it wasn't that her date was such a hopeless dork. It wasn't even that I was jealous of him. No, the problem was that this guy -- aside from the millionaire executive part -- reminded me way too much of myself.

The Anna Nicole Show The show starts with a recap of the dating service interview shown last episode, with Millionaires Club matchmaker Patti promising to fix Anna Nicole up with the perfect man. Then we meet Claude Dauman. The 38-year-old New York native is the president of Matrix Innovations, Inc., an Internet company that sells swimwear online. Claude kind of resembles a cross between Bill Gates and Jerry Springer, with a dash of the young Woody Allen thrown in. As required for all men using the Millionaires Club service, he is quite loaded. Claude tells us Patti offered to introduce him to a special lady, and he was very excited when he found out who Patti had in mind for him.

I think Patti's got some 'splaining to do.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Claude calls Anna Nicole on his cell phone and they set a date for that evening. Instead of jumping right to Claude showing up at her doorstep, we get to watch Claude's elaborate preparations on the day of the date. "I haven't been going out on too many dates," Claude confesses. "I don't think I have exactly the right stuff for tonight." So he goes to buy a tailored designer outfit, some Cristal champagne, and a dozen roses and a corsage. Claude seems pretty neurotic about making sure everything is just so. He agonizes over what to write in the card with the flowers, reasoning that it would be premature to sign it "With love," and finally settling on "Cheers, Claude." Fretting over the length of his shirt sleeves, he whispers proudly to his tailor, "I have a date tonight with Anna Nicole Smith!" Sure, he's obsessing like a ninny and puffed up with self-importance, but bless his heart, I would be acting just the same.

Meanwhile, we see Anna Nicole undergoing her own intensive prep-work ceremonies. She calls out the heavy artillery, getting Angie to do her make-up and Guy to do her hair, no holds barred. "Somebody go get me a pickle!" Anna Nicole hollers. Howard brings in the coveted pickles, even though we don't see him. In fact, Howard is almost entirely absent from this episode, which appropriately underscores Howard's need to step aside and let his client bring another man into her life. Anna Nicole chows down on the pickles while her attendants keep laboring frantically to beautify her. In all the time Angie has spent doing make-up for her snack-loving pal, I wonder if she has learned always to save the lipstick application for last.

Claude arrives at the Smith residence in his white stretch limo at 7:00 p.m. sharp, and laden with flowers and gifts he knocks on her door. After a sadistically placed commercial break, Anna Nicole tells us she heard him out there, but "decided to let him sweat a little bit." Even though she's been out of action for a while, she obviously hasn't forgotten how to manipulate the living hell out of a man.

"I became a little bit apprehensive," Claude says. "I was concerned that maybe Bobby Trendy had everybody held hostage in there." His attempts at humor are all as feeble as this one, I'm afraid.

Anna Nicole finally opens the door and there is an awkward exchange of greetings. Claude seems absolutely flummoxed by her presence. "You know, as beautiful as you look on the show, you even look more beautiful in person," he gushes. And with good reason. Angie and Guy have done a bang-up job with her, and her face looks like a china doll's, flawless and radiant.

"When you see Anna Nicole in person," Claude tells us later, "she looks... unreasonably breathtaking." That is the guy's best choice of words in the whole episode. I know if I ever saw her face-to-face made up like that, I would collapse into a simpering, brainless mess.

Claude presents Anna Nicole with her flowers and a bag of gourmet doggie treats for Sugar Pie. Claude starts rambling on about the ingredients of the canine cupcakes and stuff, which he could certainly have saved for conversation later in the evening. He'd be better off keeping his attention on the woman he's just met instead of her dog. But again, I understand if his mental faculties were temporarily out of whack.

Anna Nicole is touched by his thoughtfulness toward Sugar Pie, though, and she turns to take the gifts to the kitchen. Claude get left standing at the door, too polite to invite himself inside. He just stands there alone gazing at the home's interior with a big grin. He turns to his cameraman and says, "She looks beautiful!"

And what does she think of him? "My first impression was he was small," Anna Nicole tells us. "He wasn't the teddy bear picture that I had in my head that was supposed to be coming over." Indeed he is not. Claude claims to be 5' 11", the same height she is, but considering that she must outweigh him by a good 50 pounds, she seems to dwarf him. Anna Nicole told Patti she wanted a big man whose arms she could run and jump into. Such a move would probably squash poor Claude.

During the ride to dinner, Claude tells Anna Nicole about the ritzy Japanese steakhouse he has selected. "They have the greatest beef that they bring in from this one part of the world, it's called washu beef," he says, "and it's really just phenomenal. I think you'll really enjoy it."

Anna Nicole cautiously asks, "It's the meat that they send in from a cow? Or is it from some other...?"

Claude laughs and assures her that it is from a cow. I guess when you're from Texas you might naturally be suspicious of beef that gets flown in from another country. Who knows what those foreigners might try to pull on you?

Looking out the window of the limo, Anna Nicole remarks, "I thought there was going to be a storm and there wasn't." Her tone implies that she's disappointed, and she must enjoy hearing a thunderstorm.

"I made some calls," Claude replies. Wow, he manages to be arrogant, witless, and oblivious to what she really meant, all at the same time. Way to go, dude!

As they near the restaurant, Anna Nicole looks out and says, "So this is it?" And what she sees is a Sizzler.

"Oh no! That would be horrible!" Claude sputters, chuckling with dismay. "No, it's nothing at all like this!"

"Just makin' sure," she says mischievously, rolling her eyes. I'm pretty sure she had twigged onto his showy pretensions by that point, and she was only fucking with him. Anna Nicole sometimes exhibits a wry sense of humor that people confuse with her more prevalent ditziness.

The couple arrives at the New Otani Hotel and Garden in L.A.'s Little Tokyo area. Going up to the Garden Grill restaurant, Claude observes with smug satisfaction, "This obviously is a private VIP elevator." Man, why does he have to work so hard to prove he's Mr. Moneybags? Anna Nicole knows you're from the Millionaires Club, so just give it a rest.

The Anna Nicole Show When they are seated in their exclusive private dining room, Anna Nicole finds the surroundings familiar. "Oh, this is fun!" she says. "This is like in Vegas where they have the..." And she makes "chop chop" motions with her hand. Like a kid on a prom date, Claude spouts every cliche associated with Japanese hibachi restaurants: it's dinner and a show, it's dangerous with all those knives flying around, no one's lost a finger yet, blah blah blah. I have to wonder, is Claude so out of touch with common folk that he thinks a Japanese steakhouse where they cook the food in front of you is an eccentric and unusual spectacle known only to the rich?

After they settle in and the chef starts making their dinner, Anna Nicole takes the initiative in exploring their prospective compatibility. "So what made you wanna out with me?" she asks in a self-deprecating manner, as if no sane man would be interested in someone so notorious.

"How could I not want to go out with you is the question!" Claude gallantly replies. "That was easy!" But the subtext Anna Nicole is clearly trying to get at is why she should want to go out with him. The answers there don't come as easily. Anna Nicole starts hitting the sake in a possible bid to make the evening go smoother.

Once their washu beef is served, Anna Nicole launches the most priceless moment of the date. She leans over to Claude and whispers, "Do you think they'd be really insulted if I asked for some A.1. sauce?"

Claude does a fine job of maintaining his composure even though he must be flabbergasted to the bone. The idea of taking this luxurious imported delicacy and smothering it in loathsome, bourgeois steak sauce has to be anathema to his blue-blooded sensibilities. But his first concern is to be a gentlemen and impress his glamorous companion, at any cost. So he courageously sucks it up and asks the chef if they can trouble him for some -- egad! -- A.1. sauce.

"Oh, sure!" the chef says accommodatingly. "We'll have to go to the market and buy one," he adds.

Cut to Anna Nicole contentedly dabbing her steak in a little dish of A.1. You've got to admire a woman who knows how to get what she wants. I bet Claude was thinking the Sizzler wouldn't have been such a ridiculous choice, after all. He babbles about what it takes to be a successful model, and how the greatest models have a special quality that comes from within, and how she definitely has it. Anna Nicole just kind of blows off the compliment, like she's thinking, "Yeah, whatever."

There is a long, cavernous silence, unbroken by background music. "It's very quiet here, isn't it?" Anna Nicole ignores him. She must be bored out of her mind. She starts vacantly pushing dishes around on the table, and Claude turns it into an impromptu hockey game.

"Oh, Anna Nicole, a brilliant move!" Claude cheers, rousing a momentary smile out of her. "Anna Nicole, you are a champion!"

Time for a little sidebar here. A lot of viewers have commented on Claude's annoying habit of calling her "Anna Nicole" instead of just "Anna." Of course, I have that same annoying habit myself. In a 1995 AOL chat I asked her what she preferred to be called, and she said, "Everybody calls me Anna. I prefer Anna Nicole." So ever since than I haven't called her Anna. But I do agree, it gets aggravating to hear Claude saying "Anna Nicole" over and over. I think he just says her name too often, and it would be irritating even if he just used the short version. Nonetheless, this practice of his was another element that caused me to identify with Claude, and thus helped make me a little depressed about myself.

I don't know what plans Claude had in mind for after dinner, but Anna Nicole decides she's got to take control of the situation. "So do you want to go do some bull riding?" she asks. You know damn good and well Claude did not relish the idea, but he says he would love to. On the way out of the restaurant, Anna Nicole talks to the camera while Claude is away settling the check or in the john.

"The food was good," she says, looking a bit tipsy. "I have to say the food was good. The sake was good. I'm gonna need more sake for this guy." Then she busts out laughing.

Back in the limo, Claude and Anna Nicole crack open a bottle of Cristal, and then she suffers yet another of her patented pickle cravings. I'm surprised she doesn't carry a jar of pickles in her purse. Claude handles the situation impressively, getting the driver to turn around and stop at a nearby deli that has "great pickles." He may be a nerd, but this guy is able to manage Anna Nicole's kooky impulses like a champ. Definite style points there.

During the pickle feast, Claude remembers to tell Anna Nicole he used to be an actor. There's no Claude Dauman listed on the IMDb, so he must not have been much more than an extra. "I actually did a scene with Tom Hanks when I was younger," he boasts.

"Oh, really?" Anna Nicole says without batting an eye. "I had two wet dreams about Tom Hanks. I have no idea why." That's my girl!

They arrive at the Saddle Ranch on Sunset Strip, where Claude is in for an eye-opening experience. "We got to the rowdy cowboy bar, and obviously the Japanese dinner didn't do its trick," he laments.

"As soon as we got inside," Anna Nicole says, "I ordered me some real food." And a server brings her a big heap of barbecued beef ribs and mashed potatoes. "Damn!" she proclaims with approval.

After they're done with dinner #2, it's time for Anna Nicole to get Claude on the mechanical bull. "Anna challenged my manhood," he reports. "By golly, I was going to ride that bull, and I was going to stay on that bull."

Claude saddles up, and to his credit, the little rich boy manages to hang on for the first round. I'm sure they only had it on greenhorn speed, but he does a commendable job, and even pulls off a decent tough-guy face at the end. Then they crank up the bull another notch, and it's not long till Claude's ass is on the mat.

The Anna Nicole Show Then Claude is amazed to see his date come out for her own turn in the saddle. She must not have told him that she intended to ride the bull herself, but considering her background he shouldn't have been entirely surprised. The crowd goes wild when Anna Nicole tackles the bucking hunk of metal with fine Houston form, but the ride is brief. I think the big problem is that her silky black slacks just slide ride off the saddle, and she would no doubt fare much better wearing jeans. Undaunted, Anna Nicole climbs back on and gets thrown off a second time. What a woman.

After that, it's midnight and Anna Nicole asks Claude to take her home. She must be getting more comfortable with him, because she drops her decorum and yells at the limo driver ("Let's go! Take me home!") in the familiar manner that she yells at Howard and Kimmie. She asks Claude if she can lay her head in his lap, feeling drowsy.

"I would love that," he says. "It would be my honor and privilege and pleasure." You're telling me, buddy. She lies down face up, but somehow ends up face down in his lap. E! has been using this shot in titillating promos to suggest that she was performing fellatio, but I knew there would be a more innocent context. Soon she passes out.

"Anna Nicole, where are you?" Claude says, giggling at the unforeseeable predicament of having his celebrity date fall unconscious with her face in his lap. "There's definitely a pulse and Anna Nicole is warm."

But he gets her home safe and sound, and tells her he'd love to do it again. She agrees, but given her blood alcohol level, I don't think that verbal contract is legally binding. She gives him a couple of little kisses and bids him "Ciao bella!" Sobered up later, each of them offers a postmortem assessment on the evening:

Claude: "Even though the date did get off to a slightly rocky start, I think it really warmed up a lot, and I really would love to see Anna Nicole again."

Anna Nicole: "All in all, I have to say it was a good date."

And that's the end of that. Will we see Claude again next season? I doubt it, but then again, he acquitted himself well with the A.1. test, the pickle test, and the bull-riding test, so maybe his spunk and determination was enough to redeem his geeky shortcomings.

As I said at the outset, the date was initially painful for me to watch because I identified so strongly with Claude. I was really rooting for him, but cringing every time he did something goofy -- especially when it was something like I might do. But on subsequent viewings, it really doesn't bother me anymore. Now I can focus more on Anna Nicole's point of view, and the hilarious ways she asserts herself. The contrast between Claude's sedate high-dollar restaurant and Anna Nicole's raucous honky-tonk bar could not have been written in a more dramatically satisfying fashion.

I think she offers Claude a valuable lesson about wealth: it's not about showing off and struggling to impress people, it's about being able to do exactly what you want to do. If that means eating a $100 steak with A.1. sauce, then so be it.

The first season wraps on a strange note, as Anna Nicole comes to her front door to discover a musclebound oaf working out on some kind of Nordic Track equipment. "Anna, I'm gonna get you in shape!" he announces in a professional wrestler bellow. (Since this commentary was first written, I have learned that this guy is an notorious infomercial huckster named Tony Little, and his absurd fitness device is called the Gazelle Freestyle Elite.) Dear Lord, it looks like this buffoon may be our replacement for Bobby Trendy in the new season. Let's hope not.

Until next time, Anna Nicole fans, so long for now!

Anna Nicole Says...
"I haven't been on a date in over a few years, but I f***ed this guy for three weeks."
"I wanted to be a ballerina but my feet were too big."
"I love Marilyn Monroe. She's just... she's the s**t."
On drinking sake: "Does this stuff creep up on you or what?"
"What kind of place serves you steak that doesn't bring you A.1. sauce?"
"Everything always happens to me. Me, me, me! Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Anna, Anna, Anna!"
"It's time for y'all to get outta here, 'cause I gotta eat. Go on! Bye! Bye, Channel E!"

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