By Linda Yellin
Author of The Last Blind Date
When I was in high school, blind dates scared me. (Actually all dates scared me, but especially dates with strangers). My favorite thing to do would be go to a movie— a long movie—so I wouldn’t have to make conversation beyond “Pass the popcorn.” Afterward the date and I could go for a burger and I’d have something to talk about: The Movie.
In time I evolved past the point where I worried that I wouldn’t have anything to say to a guy. I even moved past “What if he doesn’t like me?” to “What if I don’t like him?” And first dates, blind or otherwise, became more varied. As I look back on these forays into love —and I am thrilled, yes thrilled, to be looking back and no longer dating. I was terrible at it. Really terrible. I thank my husband every day for marrying me. I realize there are definitely Good Ideas for first dates and Bad Ideas. These are a few of the bad ones, with the caveat that they’re being served up by someone who hated dating.
1) Avoid any activity that involves danger. This includes anything requiring large four-legged animals, fast engines, surfboards, speed bikes, roller skates or mountain ranges. You want your date going home with you—not a paramedic.
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2) Avoid any activity that produces sweat. Some days there just isn’t enough deodorant in the world to offset that dreamy walk through a conservatory (good for orchids, bad for armpits); crowded dance floor; beachside cookout; or office softball game. There’s just no way, no how, that seepage beneath your shirtsleeves will make a good impression. An impression, yes. A good one, no. Bowling might be okay if you’re not too athletic, but only if you have the kind of butt you want to show off. And Bikram yoga? Bad idea. Bad bad bad. Under any circumstances.
3) Don’t do anything that will highlight your flaws. Everyone has a personality blemish or two and eventually you have to own up to them. That’s when you get to say, “I’m loved despite my flaws!” But before then, keep the bad news to yourself. Let your new date get suckered into, I mean, fall in love with, your finer qualities first so by the time they learn you talk through the Philharmonic or cheat during Scrabble or pick fights in bars, it’s too late. They can’t live without you. Which is why my friend Annabelle never went out again with the guy who was so cheap, rather than order juice at their first—and last—date, he squeezed a ketchup packet into a glass of cold water.
4) Weddings are not appropriate getting-to-know-you date settings. You walk into a wedding with someone, anyone—even the parking lot attendant—and every other guest you’ve ever met in your entire life will want to know if “you two are next?” There’s something about weddings that makes everybody else in the room want anyone without a ring on their finger to promptly fall in love. How embarrassing to be asked, “So how long have you two lovebirds been dating?” and have to answer: “Twenty minutes.” The only thing worse is being seated at the Singles Table. Which is why you might want to bring a date you know.
5) Any idea you’ve ever seen on Millionaire Matchmaker (a show I happen to love) is a stupid idea. Pole-dancing. Weightlifting. Hauling junk. Couples massages. There’s a reason those millionaires need to hire someone to help them find dates. And there’s a reason I’m always thinking “Whoa… it doesn’t matter how much money you have, buddy…”
The more I think about it, a movie followed by a burger might be the way to go. But not an X-rated movie. That’s another thing to avoid. “I loved that scene where Mickey Rourke did that thing with his tongue,” can make for awkward conversation.