DATES OF GLORY: Guest columnist Sarah Gim of the blog The Delicious Life says first dates are all about the food (on your plate and not on you, preferably). If you really want to make an impression, Paul Nakayama offers a fantasy scenario worthy of an SNL skit.
ISSUE: Summer 2011
DEPT: The Awful Truth
STORY: Paul Nakayama and Sarah Gim
PHOTO: Audrey Cho
I never understood why there was such a stigma associated with first dates, since it’s always the second date that stresses me out. See, if you’ve gotten to the second date, that means you did well on your first go. Now you’ve set an expectation of some sort. Now you’ve got to live up to that expectation, and the idea of failing — that is stressful. And the third date? The third date, which means you’ve invested something more that just a wink or an email, gives you a lot to lose. Just thinking about third dates gets me so worked up I almost pass out before getting there.
See, second and third dates are the stressful ones. First dates are nothing because you only have to think about it as “food.” As long as you remember that you’re just sharing a meal, something you do with other people at least once a day (unless you’re a total loner) and as long as you keep a few general principles in mind, you’ll be fine. This applies to the ladies and the gents, though in reality, it has more to do with who is asking out whom. I’m assuming that the guy is asking the girl out only because that’s the only experience I’ve had.
1. Pick a Place.
Does it seem obvi- ous to say “pick a place?” Of course it does. It. Is. That. Obvious. And yet so many times in my own experience, I end up having to go through The Se- quence. You know, that dreaded sequence of questions that starts with “Where would you like to go?” The sequence volleys back and forth with variations of the same question until I’m so exasperated in the end that I’m pretty sure I’d like to go to my favorite sushi bar with my three best girlfriends instead of you.
First of all, the question is the equivalent of an essay question on your final exam. Remember in your freshman year in college how you decided not to take English lit because you heard all the exams were essay questions? It’s the same type of thing.
Second of all, there is no second of all. Just don’t ask me where I want to go. I don’t know where I’d like to go. Or maybe I do, but I don’t want to tell you. I want you to take charge. I want you to take the time and effort to pick the place. Don’t worry about whether I’ll like the place you picked. If you pick it and tell me and I don’t like it, I’ll steer you away from it. I might not like the Italian trattoria up the street (because I’m on a lo-carb diet for this date), but I do like being able to say no. If you’re worried about which place, pick two or three places and give me the option.
I always aced those multiple choice tests.
2. Order Something Delicious.
Does this seem obvious, too? It is. Sometimes the most obvious things are the things we forget (and require a food bloggers’ reminder).
Order something delicious. Something you will want to eat. Something that you will not have to complain to me, or God forbid, to the restaurant, about. Something delicious that will be a good topic of conversation, because it’s always good to talk about delicious, positive things that make us both smile. You look better when you smile. So do I.
Order something delicious, but don’t order for me. You showed me you were a man when you took charge and picked the place, but don’t be a dictator. And don’t order a salad. Salads are great for when we’ve been dating for seven months and both need to be on a diet to lose our “relationship weight,” but on the first date, order something meaty and substantial that doesn’t make me wonder if you care more about your girlish figure than your girl.
Make sure your food is delicious, but also make sure it’s neat. Burgers are delicious, yes, but it’s probably better to order something that requires utensils so you don’t spill on yourself or have to lick your fingers.
I’m a modern woman. I have an advanced degree. I run my own business. I might make more money than you. But none of that matters. You’re the guy. You should pay. Period.
If I asked you out or if I offer to pay, refuse. Don’t let me win. Pay for the meal and let me get the next one.
On our second date.
I was talking with my teenage nephew today, giving him girl advice. It’s a world of difference between dating in your teens and dating after you’ve reached your social half-life. When I was younger, I took the safe route; I wanted to avoid embarrassment however possible. Being in my 30s is a different story, and being safe is being boring is being single. After some careful thinking, I decided to take what I’ve learned in screenwriting and apply it to this issue’s topic: “How to Kick Ass on a First Date with Movie Magic!”
This is the set-up, as in the part of the movie when we start to learn what makes you uniquely you, or better yet, what makes your date tick. Now, I rec- ommend a bit of underhandedness here. Wherever you may be, restaurant, bar, whatever, tip an employee to pop in a CD for you. What CD you ask? The soundtrack from Up, of course. Your date will start feeling sentimental and tender, not knowing why. Of course, we’ll know it’s Michael Giacchino’s fairy magic at work. All of his music tugs at the heartstrings like he made a deal with the Devil. If I’m getting teary just thinking about it, imagine your date.
This is where all the trailer material comes from. Some of the usual gim- micks include singing a song for your date in front of everyone or pretending to have an amazing orgasm while eating your food. Either way, you want to make it something quirky and memo- rable so you stand out from all the other boring companions your date may have met before you. If you have the dough, personally I like staging fake bus accidents involving children that you can then proceed to save. It works every time I imagine trying it.
It’s also important to have an antagonist in the story, for contrast to make you look like the shoe-in vote for a better date. Find one of your date’s exes and invite him to your date location. This might require a little white lie, such as telling him your date wants to get back together or that you have compromising photos of him. The flavor is up to you. Naturally, he’ll approach you and your date. Your date will most likely ask what the hell he’s doing there. Make sure to jump in and speak on the ex’s behalf before he points a finger at you. At this point, the ex may get violent, but that’s great! That’s what you want. That will help supplant your image over the ex in your date’s memory.
This is where it all comes together. You defeat the villain and take everything you learned prior to this moment to win over the girl.
I’m sure you, like any good movie- based dater, will have a support team standing by, like your best friend who’s secretly in love with you. They’re the secret sauce. Since the ex is going to be confused as it is, accuse him of being a creepy stalker and maybe quote a few proverbs, inciting him into attacking you. Your support team will take him down with a tranquilizer gun while you pretend to apply the Vulcan Death Grip.
Next, your support team would have heard everything your date said previously and prepared a treat for her that you take all the credit for. For ex- ample, say your date mentioned that she’s always wanted to visit Australia. Well, you would lead your date to a limousine that your support team will have filled with kangaroos and koalas. Boom. Instant love.
Finally, should this all fail, that’s OK. Your support team will declare their love for you and you’ll kiss each other while a Giacchino score crescendos.
Now, I realize this is a lot of work for a first date, but you know what they say about love — it’s complicated.
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