I sat staring at the space directly behind his head. I silently wondered if my eyes looked crossed because of it. What was he talking about again? His award he won from undergrad intramural wrestling? How he thinks babies are gross? My mind is fuzzy due to the excessive amount of alcohol I’ve imbibed on an empty stomach.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there: a first date.
You’re temporarily trapped and you can’t remember why you agreed to this initially. As your charming date rambles on about something banal, frequently talking over you when he or she actually asks you a question, you start to wonder nervously if you remembered to switch your laundry before you left your apartment. Mildew! Wasted water! What horror!
I suppose it’s difficult to avoid first dates altogether. It’s usually the precursor to a second or third date and potentially a great first kiss. But then I remember my college days in which dating consisted of kissing a cute stranger at a party and waking up the next day his girlfriend. Life was so much easier and slightly depressing then. Oh to (never) be eighteen again.
After I moved to Boston, I became notoriously good at going on first dates. I went on so many first dates that I had resolved to finally writing these ludicrous experiences down. I say ‘good’ in the sense of truly enjoying engaging with people, even when it involved crutches or Ed Hardy T-shirts. I valued human interaction so much, that I continued to say yes to the awkward moment at the end of the night: the obligatory and seemingly involuntary reaction of bar flies asking for my number. I was an equal opportunist risk taker with my pseudo-romantic extracurricular activities. Whoa, whoa, easy there-I’m merely talking about giving my number to hopefully non-psychotic/murderous people.
This leads me to my next question that comes up time and time again: what is proper first date etiquette? As a veteran first date participant and semi-functional adult, I will now force my incredibly impenetrable advice on you, in five simple rules.
1. If you drink, have at least one* adult beverage before leaving your house for said first date. You will automatically feel more relaxed and have the upper hand once you arrive. Your stories will automatically be funnier. Your cheeks will be at the becoming stage of flushed right before gin blossoms.
*sometimes having just one drink may be difficult, depending on your level of anxiety. One time my best friend drank an entire bottle of wine before, proceeded to drink another bottle on the date, and ended the night roundhouse kicking her date in the face. Depending on your level of flexibility , this may lead to a lawsuit.
2. Ask your date a lot of questions. Wildly enough, people love talking about themselves. If your date asks you a question, don’t answer it. Make some jokes and allude to a deeply modest level of life experience and intelligence you’d be willing to reveal IF asked on a second date. Don’t give it all away on the first date, friends.
3. Bring up polarizing topics like politics, religion, marriage, child rearing techniques, and neoliberalism. Wouldn’t you rather know you’re a good match intellectually and civically rather than being devastated later when you realize your new crush has no idea who Paul Krugman is? If your date claims to be neutral or ‘just not that into politics,’ move on and tell this person to grow up and get some opinions. Especially if you’ve both been drinking.
4. Order a cheeseburger for Christ’s sake. If you’re a vegetarian, order an entire plate of nachos and watch your date’s reaction carefully.
5.When the bill comes, slowly and playfully reach for your wallet. Move extra slowly, though, because obviously you have no intention of actually splitting the bill. This person asked you out, so he/she can impress you with picking up the bill this time. Smile a lot and say something akin to “are you sure? Oh, well, thanks so much. I wish I had ordered something less expensive!” All the while you’re clutching an inanimate object in your purse, unaware of the location of your wallet.
Now you’re ready and fully equipped with 5 golden rules to keep safely in your first date kit. The right person will find them intoxicating and will most likely ask you out for a second date, because, c’mon, you ordered the nachos and talked about the subprime mortgage crisis and its causes! You’re a keeper--and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Let the dating games begin.