AKA The moment in time where two people meet and judge each other ferociously against a mental checklist. Everyone does it. Judging, that is, because if the checklist isn’t fulfilled, there will be no second or third date, or marriage.
That’s ultimately what the First Date is determining. Are we compatible? Because obviously a two-hour conversation over a meal, or drinks, or coffee is enough to let me know if I’ve found the person I will tie the knot with.
Actually that last part is true.
And while I’m determining other things (like if I’m sexually attracted to the person sitting across from me), it’s marriage that’s the most terrifying part of a first date. Some guys want to know right off the bat, “Are you looking for a long-term relationship?” If I waffle, it looks like I’m noncommittal. If I’m gung-ho, it looks like I’m ready to find the nearest ordained minister. WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER that says: I am invested in my relationships for the long haul, and I’m willing to consider marriage if everything works out?
If everything works out.
Maybe that is the answer.
Every once in awhile I emerge from my happy little world and I enter the Dating Scene, which really represents the busiest hour in an investor firm on Wall Street. You know the scene: every one’s yelling over each other and in another language that seems to make sense to someone and no one, and they’re all running around, grabbing stuff, pointing, yelling, nobody looks happy, and then they collapse.
Despite the gruesome leave-no-prisoners foray, I get out there. I’m the one you never see in the afore-mentioned scene, because I’ve usually found refuge under someone’s desk, but at least I’m out there, right? Right.
I went on a first date not too long ago - a blind first date. Blind in that we’d never met in person, just chatted a bit on the Internets, the World Wide Web.
I have to force myself to do this. Trust me. And on most occasions the only reason I don’t cancel is because I’m telling myself:
“You. Don’t. Back. Out. Of. Shit. You are committed. YOU WILL KEEP YOUR WORD, YOUNG LADY.”
So then it becomes a business meeting (or at least that’s what I tell myself), an interview.
“You’re gonna go interview this guy, it’s a business meeting. You are the master of conversing with strangers. In. Talk, talk, talk. Out. Done.”
So brutal, but so true.
Also, my friends won’t let me back out.
“Just goooo! You never know what might happen. Do this for you.”
So I thought it might be fun to recount some of my most memorable first dates. Here they are, in no particular order or time sequence. If you and I have been on a first date and you’re reading this - don’t worry. No names used.
The one where I introduced myself as him:
Blind date in the purest sense, and I said in front of the restaurant, “Hello, my name is Billy.” And he said, “No, you’re Holly. I’m Billy.”
Lunch went on to be lovely.
The one where the limo picked us up:
A limo picked us up at his house and took us to get more of his friends before we went to a fancy dinner and then a concert at a country bar. The group dynamic was so fun.
I fell asleep in the limo on the way home.
The one I don’t remember:
It wasn’t until I was reading my old blog that I remembered my hairdresser giving me her son’s number, I called him, we went out with some of my friends. He got drunk, and I don’t remember any of it. How that happens - I don’t know.
The one where I ate a foot-long veggie sub:
In my defense, it’s like a salad on bread. No cheese, and only a smidgen of light mayo. This was also the one where I chose a restaurant (my favorite) and it happened to be CLOSED that day, so we ended up at a sandwich shop and their furnace had stopped working. So while I wolfed down my foot-long, we froze our asses off.
Side note: I used to be self-conscious about eating on the First Date. “He’s totally counting my carbs.” I got over that. Let’s enjoy food together.
The one where I multitasked:
In an act of dating laziness, I went through a phase where I’d facilitate phone dates. This guy talked for about 48 minutes straight and all about how he hated his job and most of his life. The redeeming factor of this date is that I was able to walk the dogs, sweep my floor, dice a couple pineapples, and encourage him (through my own journey) to get happy. When I could get a word in edgewise, that is.
The one about going postal:
I judged this poor bloke for his repetitive use of the word “fuck” within the first five minutes of introducing ourselves at the coffee shop. I’m not morally or otherwise opposed to that word in appropriate situations - stubbing a toe, missing a deadline, BREAKING NEWS, dramatic effect, but not the first date.
Also, he said:
“I carry two nightsticks. I don’t carry a gun in public because I’m afraid I might go postal.”
The one where he was inspired:
Another phone date, and he was cutely appreciative of my work, what I do, etc. It was endearing.
The one where he asked if I like men:
That was awkward. My mind was screaming: “NO, I’M HERE BECAUSE I LIKE WASTING TWO HOURS ON A SATURDAY!!” and externally I was laughing.
He’s also the one who wanted to touch my hair.
First Dates are stupid. They’re clunky, they’re designed for you to have an excuse to write off the other person, and they’re awkward. The men’s hands are usually trembling as they’re trying to grasp their coffee cup, and I’m hurrying to engage him in a conversation (with my Mad Journalism Skills) to put him at ease, which means we (meaning he) talks endlessly about something I don’t care about (I.e. motorcycles), so then I become bored, but I’m pretending to be interested (it’s a learned skill), and when I do start to talk about something I’m interested in, I’m observing body language and adjusting my dialogue based on the subconscious cues he’s giving me.
It’s all very complex and exhausting.
What’s my solution?
For the love of Cupid, erase the dynamic of a first date. Do something FUN, and at the very least, if it still fails, we’ll have a cool experience under our belts.