It was a dark and stormy night and many couples gathered in the lounge of the Brooklyn Marriott…
It’s a seven word opening made famous by Snoopy, but written by a chap named Bulwer-Lytton (poor fella). The Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest is a celebration of the fact that it is probably the worst opening line for a novel in the history of literature.
Bulwer-Lytton had nothing on daters when it comes to bad lines, though. Most opening lines in dates are something like “I parked over there,” or “So…” or “Where to?” which can’t really get that bad. The good stuff usually gets said as the evening wanes and the conversation gets stilted and the daters desperate. When they’ve stirred the ice in their glass too many times, when they’ve already casually glanced at all the paintings, when they’ve covered everyone’s siblings and summer camp history, then the brain turns to slush and the tongue slips.
Once while dating an exceedingly reticent guy, I got tired of dragging the conversation along and resolved not to say another word until he did. He seemed perfectly ok with the lack of conversation anyway. He was looking around the room, glancing at people and items, smiling when something was nice or funny. I sipped complacently at my water and waited for him to notice that he was on a date and not at the 3D theater. “I like eavesdropping,” he finally explained. “People have the most interesting conversations.” I suppose that was my cue to just stop trying.
Then there was the friend who told me that a guy announced on their first date, “I got my stomach stapled.” Her response? “Um… that’s nice?” Well what do you answer to that?
One guy asked me, “Do your friends make fun of you?” An interesting question at any time from anyone. In this case, the context was my use of the word “dang” as an invective. Did that mean he’d prefer a “damn”? A bit shocking for a forever learner, but hey, I’ll know for next time. (He should hear the imprecations of maidels too aidel to use “dang.” Now those can get strange.)
And let’s not forget the egotistical dater who, when gently asked by his date if he wanted to know anything about her, answered, “No, not really.”
Or the guy who took his date to a lounge with a number of Renaissance-style paintings, and, after glancing around, casually wondered, “What’s with all the naked ladies?” The poor bais yaakov girl choked her Sprite back into the glass, and that kind of started things off wrong.
But there’s a definite grand prize winner among the stories I’ve heard. It was probably just a slip up, but that doesn’t make it any less disconcerting a line to hear on a first date. One guy asked a friend, a mere half-hour after they met, “So, what school do you want to send our kids to?”