There’s nothing quite like a first date.
By the time it rolls around, you’ve done some hard work. You’ve plowed through tons of prospective dates, weeding out the psychos, stalkers, and other undesirables. You came up with something clever and charming to say on the phone. You’ve found someone you have something in common with. (Given, the only thing you may have in common is that you were both at the same party, but that’s neither here nor there.) You find them interesting, at least. So interesting that you’re actually willing to spend a major part of your evening in their company.
You’re home free, right?
Sorry, Slick. Your work has just begun.
The first date is serious business, especially if you want a second date. Forget what they say about first impressions. That’s easy. Five minutes at a party at a friend’s house. Psssht! So you got the date. Anybody can do that. Now you’ve got to pull it off for a whole night. And there’s a lot that goes into it.
First off, you gotta clean yourself up. Hopefully, this is a no-brainer. If you actually show up for a date after an hour of racquetball or ditch-digging, I can’t help you. Stop reading now, and go stand in the corner.
Look, nobody wants to be seen out with Pigpen. So, you have to wash up, including behind the ears. You have to brush your teeth, the way the dentist showed you. You have to smell nice. And don’t forget to remove all unsightly body hair. Apparently, for either sex, it’s in vogue to be hairless. This can mean anything from shaving to plucking your eyebrows. But if you’re not removing some hair, you’re not trying hard enough. Overall, people, remember that you’re trying to impress, so try not to look like you just fell out of bed.
So, you’re all clean, and smooth as a baby’s bottom.
What do you wear? This is even tougher. You want to look casual, but not too casual. For example, unless you’re Jimmy Buffett, you really can’t get away with flip-flops on a first date. On the other hand, you want to look nice, but not like you’re trying to look nice. This means no ascots or smoking jackets. To throw another monkey wrench in the works, you want to be comfortable. Because, quite frankly, who wants to sit through dinner with the fidgety guy in the tie, or the gal whose shoes hurt the whole night? So, that leaves us with casually unplanned nice-looking but relaxed and comfortable. That’s easy enough, right?
Stop looking at me like that.
See what I mean? This IS tough, and you haven’t even left your house yet.
Speaking of which, where do you go on a first date? Good question. Movies are bad, unless accompanied by dinner. Why? Because all you do is sit in the dark for two hours, and if you try to talk, people throw things at you and shine flashlights in your faces. Concerts are bad, too, because you can’t hear what your date is saying. A walk is cool, especially in the spring or summer, but unless you’re walking to a restaurant, it can just make you seem cheap. By and large, your best bet is a meal of some sort. This is good for a few reasons:
- You can see what your date’s tastes are. I think we all know whether or not we want a Boston Market person, a Tavern on the Green person, or just someone in between.
- You can see how they interact with others. Sure, they’re all nice with you, but is he a jerk to the waiter? Is she rude to the valet parking guy? These are things you need to note, because they show up for you around date 5. Or worse, after you’re serious.
- You can talk when you want to, and stuff your face to avoid uncomfortable silences.
So anyhow, after hours of wardrobe changes, and meeting up with your date, you’re finally out. Now, you have to be yourself. Yeah, yourself. Now I’m not saying to tell her about winning the belchfest back in ’88 at your frat house. Or showing him your tattoo. There are some things folks need to be eased into. But don’t be phony. Don’t tell lies or make up stories. Sure, it makes you both seem terribly interesting. But if you two get serious, the truth will inevitably come out. And do you really want to lose someone because you told her you were abducted by aliens? On the other hand, do you really want to stay with someone who BELIEVED you?
By this point, you’re probably both nervous and sweaty and scared and unconsciously staring at each other. You may be wondering how you got yourself into this mess. You may be planning to escape when he or she goes to the bathroom, and just accept a life of living alone with cats, because dating is too hard.
So, what do you do? Relax. Sit back. This is supposed to be fun. Why? Because she doesn’t know why your friends call you Scooter. And he doesn’t know what your favorite movie is.
But if they didn’t want to, they wouldn’t be here.