The most common type of date in my life is the first date. I’ve been on a few second dates, a smattering of third dates and probably about six fourth dates. After the third date, you’re pretty much a couple, so number four and the rest don’t even count. They aren’t dates. They are relationship obligations. You’re pretty much just biding your time before a breakup or a wedding. It’s not that I go on a lot of first dates because I am incapable of being desirable, it’s that relationship success is rare for most people and every date could end up being the last one you go on.
Each of the three preliminary dates carries a different level of significance. The third date is where the couple decides on a long-term course of action. The second date tends to be the date where the proceedings venture toward the physical realm. You know you get along and there is some chemistry. Everything is a tad bit easier. Plus, the possibility of sexual gratification alone is enough to keep my eyes open during the second date. The second date is the most fun. The third date is the most important.
The first date, on the other hand, is the most perfunctory of the three. The chances of sex happening are fairly slim, though it is not uncommon. In most cases, the date is your first one-on-one activity with the other person. This means you are gong to spend a majority of your time asking the usual questions. “What do you do for a living?” “Where are you from?” “What’s your favorite TV show?” “Do you have any diseases or children I should be aware of?” “Do you mind if we split the check?”
When you’re like me and you have been single for quite awhile, you find yourself gradually losing the ability to ignore the routine. You notice patterns and symmetry, you mix up details of dates and it becomes harder to get to that vital second date. Long ago, I made a conscious decision to never allow my sex life to get dull, so I compiled a list of five simple ways to keep my head above water on the first date.
1. Don’t talk. Listen.
I hate telling the same story more than once. If I could bring a brief, five-page synopsis of my life up to that point to every first date, I’d be a lot less sick of my own voice. When I get trapped in a scenario where I have to recite my particulars I start to ramble, my voice gets quieter and my eyes wander. As such, I find it much easier to ask questions that give the other person room to elaborate. Take a moment to figure out what they’re interested in and then keep hitting that topic. There might be some fascinating tidbits in the stories they tell, plus you’ll have plenty of time to figure out the tip situation as they talk. The only snag is that the other person might be employing the same tactic, in which case your date will consist of two people asking each other questions for a few hours. This has happened to me before, and it’s like a sexual version of Plato’s Euthyphro. At the end, you’ll either sleep together or devise a delightful definition of piety that you can share with your friends.
2. Stay away from bars or restaurants with televisions.
Guys and gals! Do you love sports?!?!?!? You know, like baseball, basketball, soccer, mud wrestling, paintball, dog fighting, rollerball, etc? That’s great, so do I! You know what I like more than sports?! Sex! Do not sacrifice a night in bed with someone for a chance to catch a glimpse of the Laker game. It’s rude to display a lack of attentiveness, but it also makes it seem that you aren’t even romantically interested in your counterpart. Wait until they leave for the bathroom, at least. When they come back, pretend you were checking out the menu, but not the waiter/waitress.
3. Don’t get too drunk.
You will be tempted by liquor. Don’t pretend like you won’t progressively have more fun the drunker you get. You will. Things will get so fun. You won’t know what to do with all of that fun, at least not until you get home. It will dawn on you that you will have plenty of time to keep having ‘fun’ alone, because you just made a fool of yourself in front of a prospective mate. Try to make peace with the fact that first dates can be a bit boring, and don’t fill that void of amusement with seven gin & tonics. Have three instead.
4. Do not mention previous relationships.
Even a general quip about learning from your mistakes is a mistake. No one wants to know how ‘evolved’ you are on a first date. Save your sordid history of infidelity, sloth, narcissism, grifting and failed ‘get rich quick’ schemes for date number three. It’s called ‘breaking’ the ice, not shattering it.
5. Say your favorite movie is Twister.
Think about this one for a bit. Twister came out in 1996. I don’t even know a person who remembers a single plot detail from this movie, save for the part about there being a twister involved. I conducted a scientific study where I asked ten people to supply a quote from Twister, and the only response I got the whole day was “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” That’s from Jaws.
Twister is the favorite movie of a grand total of zero people on the planet. Despite that, it was a very popular film when it was released. You absolutely must say that Twister is your favorite movie. Your date will have no reason to quibble with your choice because they won’t remember if Twister was good or bad. They will also be so fascinated that anyone would list Twister as their favorite movie that they will be compelled to go out with you again, just to unwrap the enigma that is ‘The Person Who Loves Twister.’
By the way, be sure to make it clear that you are talking about the 1996 movie, Twister, starring Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, not the 1989 movie, Twister that featured Suzy Amis, Crispin Glover, Harry Dean Stanton and Dylan McDermott. Or, don’t. Maybe just let them be confused, and if they know the 1989 Twister, marry them immediately. That movie is hilarious!