Congratulations! You’ve made it! Against the odds you’ve traversed the gauntlet of New York dating. You’ve survived the challenges of the infamously sketchy First Date, commando-rolled into the Second Date, excelled at Sex With A New Partner and now you’re about to embark into the treacherous landscapes of the Third and Fourth Date.
You’re right there with your arsenal of weapons (the way you flutter your eyelashes, your stories from backpacking across Europe, your ability to laugh on cue) slung across your back. You’re on the brink of the abyss, staring out to the horizon beyond, mentally preparing yourself for the pitfalls ahead. But you’re confident—you’ve made it through the toughest part and thus far are relatively unscathed. The rest is easy… Right?
So you take a running leap off the edge, plummeting gracefully, arms outstretched to expertly break the wind gushing up from under you as you fall. At the bottom you find yourself in a cluttered urban setting, and as you gather your bearings a man in a suit rushes past you, bumping into your shoulder defiantly. He glares back at you menacingly before disappearing into the throng of busy people on the street. You’re calm and unperturbed as you hold the invisible wound where he ran into you and survey your surroundings. You are alert, aware of everything; the air pulses electric.
You see a path open in the crowd and you dexterously maneuver yourself into it—you’re being pulled along by the swelling tide of bodies now. Suddenly, the sea of people parts before you, and you find yourself standing in a concrete clearing in front of a movie theater, or maybe it’s a restaurant or a gallery; the building before you is burred in your vision, irrelevant. All you can see is the beaming face of the person standing before it—your Third Date.
You start moving towards each other, it already feels semi-habitual, and as the space between you becomes smaller you grow more confident in your adeptness—you have mastered the Art Of Dating. But then something happens. The smallest of incidents, so minuscule you barely see it coming; you aren’t expecting it and it takes you completely by surprise (the most powerful tool at the disposal of your enemy). You never expected something so innocuous would bring everything you worked so hard for crashing down in a clanging cacophony around you.
You’re face to face with your Third Date when it happens. You lurch towards each other and the same momentary doubt seizes upon you both, and suddenly you’re both angling towards each other blindly. No one has a game plan, and you crash together as awkwardly as two children high on sugar spinning around while screaming with their eyes closed.
In the split second before your faces mash together, Third Date decides to go for the lips—but it’s too late, you’re already going for the cheek. What ensues is a muddle of noses, sweaty lips and someone getting poked in the eye. In the best-case scenario you’re the one who gets poked—an injured party can escape the embarrassment of a cringe-inducing hello.
You both focus on the eye. Is It OK? Let Me See. Anything to draw attention away from the moment you just had, a moment that you’re both going to think of through the movie/during dinner/while you look at art. You’ve both been disarmed by the dastardly Greeting Kiss, and the feeling will pervade the rest of your date, haunting you both when you part ways and until your next meeting.
Maybe you will laugh it off together. Maybe you’ll just ignore it. Either way, you won’t discuss what you should do next time, if there is a next time. And when/if that time does come, you’ll approach it cautiously. This time you’ll be on your back foot. You’ll develop new skills for avoiding kissing Fourth Date on the nose while Fourth Date somehow accidentally kisses your eyebrow. You’ll use Extended Arm to hold Fourth Date in place and at a safe distance, allowing you to place your Greeting Kiss wherever you please.
You lament your hubris as you balk at this new obstacle. Who did you think you were? The All Mighty Conqueror Of Dating? You gaze out to the horizon now with a different perspective. Now the woods grow darker as the hidden menace festers, amassing its allies (including The First ‘We’ Drop, ‘Facebook Relationship Status’ and ‘Meeting The Parents’), strategically infiltrating your Subsequent Dates to foil your Quest For Love.
But you go forth boldly with Fourth Date. And as you approach Fourth Date your fingers quiver over your holster, ready to draw out Extended Arm if necessary. This time, you’re ready for war. “So, Greeting Kiss,” you mutter under your breath, “we meet again.”