I've spent thousands of words in the space of this column
talking about all the things that irritate or confuse or annoy me when it comes to dating.
On top of my general gripes with what is Wrong with dating, dates and the whole dating scene, I've thoroughly plumbed the depths of my own depravity, trying to suss out what is perhaps Wrong with me, and fully explored what is Wrong with you.
Based on my columns and your comments and emails, we're all a bunch of sauce donkeys who like kinky sex and assplay
But today I'm going to paint a picture of the perfect date.
I don't want perfection, nor do I strive for it, but I think it could be a helpful exercise to look at what I would deem an ideal situation, from how we meet to our first date. Perhaps we'll find out I'm hopeless or unrealistic or simple in my desires and tastes.
I've never really thought about exactly what I'm looking for, I've only known when I haven't found it.
But I think this is what it looks like ...
How We Meet
Let's start out with how we don't meet, and that's online. This is not a knock on anyone who uses Match.com or eHarmony or Nerve or the Onion or J-Date or FarmerLove or Robots-Seeking-Robots or any other site out there. I've briefly perused those two-dimensional police lineups. It's not for me. I get why it could be for someone else, but in a perfect situation, we don't meet that way.
We meet at the grocery store. Or maybe a bookstore. Or, knowing me, a bar. But it's face to face, a moment of shared laughter, both of us agreeing the cashier in aisle nine is tweaking on meth, or we both reach for the same book (obscure-but-awesome "We," or oh my God are you reaching for "Blood Meridian" you violence-loving freak!), or we meet at that glorious glowing oracle the juke box, where starting conversation is as easy as mocking or agreeing with what's being chosen. (Billy Joel's "Allentown"? Well, OK, strange lady, ruin the night for everyone ha ha, just joking, hi my name's [Redacted], let me buy you a shot of musical taste, kidding again, how's a Pabst sound?)The Setup
The point is we met out there
, in the world, in a moment of luck and randomness, a chance encounter between two people who, had they done one thing differently during the course of the day, might never have met. An answered phone call, a missed subway, an extra 10 minutes for pube maintenance. The point is, no matter how mundane the circumstance of this meeting, the miracle is that it happened at all.
I say I'm going to call you after we exchange numbers, but why create the extra step? I ask you out then and there. We find a day that works, and I suggest a spot it turns out we both like. (It was a gamble on my part, but you were game.) We agree to meet there, on that date and at that time, as if cell phones and emails didn't exist. You like the old-fashioned idea of making a plan and simply meeting there without all the electronic hubbub.
I'm nervous. I wait for you at the bar. You get there -- a few minutes past the time we had settled on -- and I ask you what you want. Whatever it is, it's not a vodka tonic.
The conversation is a wide-ranging, willy-nilly free-for-all that keeps us both laughing. We tackle topics based on the natural current of context and circumstance; maybe there was a subway situation that held you up involving a sick mariachi player that triggers a double helix of narratives between us. Maybe our saddest mariachi stories. I tell you about the time I was alone at a restaurant in Mexico and some mariachis went from table to table, smiling and laughing, until they got to my table, saw the place setting for one, and swept right passed me. You laugh. You have a good laugh. This is typically when I get super-nervous, speed drink, and tell you I'm Trouble, but not tonight.
I ask if you want to just eat here, they have a menu after all. You say why not. That's sort of your First Date war cry: Why not? We sit down, and the waitress comes over. You're sweet to her. Do we want appetizers? Why not?
The waitress recommends the olive tapenade. You choose a bread-and-cheese plate and ask if I'd like to split a bottle of white wine. You're killing it, just killing it.
What are you like? You're open and relaxed and have perspective. You are not building this up like some super-important moment; therefore, even if you're slightly disappointed with me in some way, you're not showing it. You're happy to be enjoying some wine and food.
I think this is a key thing here: You're happy.
It has nothing to do with me or our date. You're the type of person who realizes, Hey, I actually have it pretty good in life
, and you enjoy yourself. There's always going to be some subconscious calculations going on -- it's a natural human instinct to draw quick conclusions and make personality outlines of the people we meet, but this isn't about my being the perfect guy for you. This is about being out and having fun, period. I am not everything you ever dreamed of, and you are not a quadri-lingual French-Creole demigoddess with green eyes who shares an extensive pot addiction with me. But you are great, and being with you is fun.
Dessert? You say we really shouldn't, but ... ha ha why not
? We order the pot de crème. The check comes and you say we're splitting it. I say it's not necessary. You say no, we're splitting it. I relent.
I walk you to the subway / your apartment / your next stop on the evening. We walk slowly and have already begun finding our conversational grooves. It comes easy. Everything feels really good. We exchange a chaste kiss. When I look back after 10 paces or so, do I catch you looking back, too? Nope. This isn't a movie. But your hair is swaying and I can somehow tell that you're smiling.
Do I email or text or call you? I mull this for an hour or so and decide I'll call. A few days later I do.
You don't pick up.
I never hear from you again.
It was the perfect date, for me. Sometimes, however, even that's not enough.
But at the moment that I realize, I'm never going to see this girl again
, do I regret one moment of our date? Nope. I may not have been what you were looking for, but you were pretty close to what it is I want.
At this moment, I know that all I have to do is find the You who likes me, too.
I meet my friends at a bar.
[Redacted] Guy is the resident Single Guy writer for Lemondrop. In eighth grade, he was supposed to read "The Scarlet Letter" but figured he could just watch the Demi Moore movie version instead. Unfortunately, he was so high that he accidentally rented "Striptease" and -- instead of a book report -- penned a 13-page indictment of the policies of Burt Reynolds' fictional congressman, David Dilbeck. He got a B+. He lives in New York.
You can send him hate mail and love letters here, and follow him on Twitter.