There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned date. A meeting of hopeful minds, two could-be lovers unwinding over a mid-priced meal. The wine flows like lava and the conversation is bottomless, like an order of breadsticks from the fine Italian eatery Olive Garden (be still, my heart!). Yes, a date is like a lemon – bright and… acidic? And… I guess it sort of stings when it squirts in your eye without warning. I think I’m doing this wrong; the point is, when you go on dates, I want you to think of a lemon. A lemon can be one of two things: a refreshing garnish for your cocktail, or a defective person. (By defective person, I mean you. We are talking about you.)
How might a sane and rational woman, a lady, morph from someone worthy of courtship into part of a family whose members are left to rot on suburban lawns? It’s simple. You get sauced, and all of the promises you made to yourself before embarking on your evening of merriment fly out of the window along with your dignity (or your undergarments, depending on the hour).
Don’t get all doe-eyed on me, sister. Magazines, television, films, music videos, your grandmother, your mother, your younger sister who somehow managed to get married before you, your friends who have more sex than you do, that one blog you pretend not to read because it has a cutesy title that screams YOU’RE NOT 21 ANYMORE BUT YOU’D LIKE TO BE? READ ON, the unmarried woman who owns the cafe that charges four dollars for a twelve-ounce iced coffee, are you serious, that is way too expensive, and your disapproving landlady have been telling you since you were pushed out of your mother’s gently-used-but-married vagina: there are things you just don’t speak of on dates.
I see you’re recalling something. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but could it be you’re remembering how you found yourself discussing your last relationship while you were on a date? You tip-toed around it, avoiding it all night like a wine spill or expelling gas, but it happened anyway, didn’t it? Your date volleyed back, sharing something equally innocuous about their last relationship, and you thought, “Okay, this doesn’t seem like the end of the world. Are we doing this right now? We’re doing this right now! Adult-like!” Then one of you maturely changed the subject, segueing into other topics of relevance, like the Woody Allen film neither of you have seen or particularly care about seeing, or the couple beside you who is desperately attempting to resuscitate one another, with tongue, dear god, do people still make out like that in public? That is simply boorish, we would never do such a thing, we discuss our past relationships with flourished hand gestures and knowing head nods and we move on when appropriate and god, I hope we are the disgusting making out couple an hour from now.
How many times must Cosmopolitan, Kate Hudson, and Grandma Ninny tell you that you do not discuss your escape from indentured servitude until Date Three, at least? Grandma Ninny was married sixteen times, did you know that? She knows what she’s talking about. You are not allowed to be vulnerable, drunk, yourself, or honest while on a date. If that worked, fishermen would sit at the edge of their boats murmuring, “Fish – I just, tried my hardest, you know? It’s been so long since I’ve been fishing, and the last fish I caught gave me food poisoning and I’m… I’m scared, fishies. Please jump in my boat.” Do you see fishermen doing that? No. They trick the fish by giving it something tasty, and when the fish shows it’s hooked, it’s ripped from the water and is left to flop about, suffering until it can no longer fight for air and then it dies. Let’s not even get into what they do with the body afterward. Do you see where I’m going with this?
And another thing. Stop talking about your job. Your date does not want you to be financially independent, have interests, teach them things, or give them any insight whatsoever into worlds they’ve never known firsthand due to their contrasting life experience. Your job is insignificant, just like your middle name and your credit score. Bleh – boring. No one wants to talk about your accomplishments that have, in no way, shape or form molded you into the person you are. Really, the way you pass the time for over sixty hours a week is of no consequence.
Do not show up on a date and discuss how stressed out you are by your career. This is totally rational advice, you are totally rational, that is why you are never stressed out about your career. Rational. Reality. You are a reasonable, realistic, rational person who is never stressed out. You are an exclamation point. You are fun. Whenever you are about to say something related to your job, replace it with something fun like, “I’m having so much fun,” or, “This bar stool is fun.” People like fun, people do not like careers.
Lastly, do not speak of the things you’ve read. Reading is intimidating. Telling someone you’re a reader is like telling someone you’re a brain surgeon. “I just finished the new Jennifer Egan and successfully performed a hemicraniectomy. What’s the last book you’ve read / brain surgery you’ve performed?”
No, you must pretend not to read, and you must especially pretend not to read articles that tell you how to behave on dates. People want to date a freethinker who, in spite of themselves, will act with conviction and not in accordance with what society markets as acceptable dating behavior. No, no one wants to date that person, the one whose actions are dictated by embittered, neurotic writers. It’s best you don’t mention it.