Theoretically, your presence should be enough on a date, but not always. It’s probably better to be somewhat overprepared rather than get caught in a tight situation. Over the course of my admittedly not humongous dating career, I have compiled a list of pocket-stuffers for the boy scout dating girl. No lightning bolts here, but don’t leave home without ’em.
1. A credit card. Yes, he’s supposed to be paying, but just in case, bring backup. You don’t want to spend the evening washing dishes to pay for your meal. On my second ever date, the guy patted his pocket and gave me a terrified look, declaring that he must have forgotten his wallet. I shrugged and pulled out my own, figuring that accidents do happen, though this was definitely a poor choice of accidents for a date. When I extracted my credit card and matter-of-factly reached for the bill, he informed me that, in fact, he was joking. I probably looked as incredulous as I felt. I also felt a drop stupid – I mean, was I supposed to figure he had to be kidding? And what exactly was he hoping to learn from that kind of prank? That I considered him enough of a schlemiel to believe him, or that I’m calm about mishaps, that I’m liberal with Daddy’s plastic, or that I share his endearing sense of humor? I still don’t know, but after that I considered a credit card a must-have item.
2. $20-$40 in cash, including a few small bills. This is a definitely a worst-case-scenario item. While I can’t think of too many situations where you’d require cash specifically, it is an almost guaranteed way out of most sticky positions, from muggers to unfriendly vending machines. If you should happen to be dating a guy who doesn’t offer to treat you to a drink, if you should happen to split a stiletto in a lady trap and need to get replacement slippers in Chinatown, or if you stop for a snack at a hot dog stand and he only has his credit card—cash is king.
3. A metrocard. In the very worst case scenario, when you find yourself slithering out the window during an ostensible bathroom break, you’re going to need a way home. Or if he slithers out the bathroom window, for that matter. (Hey, nobody’s perfect.) Or if he disappears during a blackout, is finally caught by the FBI, or winds up in the emergency room getting his stomach pumped (this last one, unfortunately, has occurred). A girl (or boy) should never leave herself (or himself) at the mercy of her (or his) date. They just don’t make ‘em the way they used to.
4. Directions to a good restaurant. Speaking of things being different than they used to be, some liberated men show up without destinations in mind. This happened to me three times in succession, sad but true. Now I have learned to be prepared with a location that I want to go to. Make it a good choice: out of the way, unfrequented or quiet, good menu, not extravagant (you might like him), and maybe even in a good neighborhood for walking (because you might like him).
5. A cell phone. I don’t actually carry one of these, but they’re very useful in a pinch. You can have a friend call with the sad news of your grandmother’s death, allowing you to regretfully cut the date short. Or if you get completely lost, you can call someone within reach of MapQuest for directions. This is not, admittedly, a likely scenario, since it is unlikely that a guy will let you give him directions, let alone call a girlfriend for them. This I learned the hard way one date; we were partway to Queens before I could convince him that he really wanted to go in the opposite direction. After that I decided to just get lost. It’s less frustrating, and not necessarily worse a dating venue than a lounge. But once you’re out of gas in Mystic, CT, you’re going to need a cell phone to call Chaverim (don’t they have a branch in Mystic?), so definitely bring one along.
6. Photo ID (driver’s license recommended). This is the sort of thing you should always carry around anyway, but definitely don’t leave it behind because you’re trusting someone else to orchestrate a flawless evening. ProfK has a story somewhere about a time she was compelled to take over the driving on a date, for the health and safety of herself and everyone on the road. Alternatively, you might get caught in an illegal immigrant roundup and have to prove your citizenship. OK, it’s an unlikely scenario where you’ll need it, but aren’t all bad date stories unlikely?
Bad date stories are splendid things after the fact, but you don’t want to be stuck in them for an unnecessarily lengthy amount of time. With a drop of prescience and the right things in your pocket, you can weather even the most unbelievable dates with some grip on your sanity.
Other items the Boy Scout dater will want to consider: