Take Me Out to the Museum

I had a bit of an epiphany a few dates ago.

It was when a guy suggested we go to a local museum. I’m new to the city, hadn’t been to the museum, but I knew it was nationally recognized. I was quite happy to let the date double as tourism.

So when the next guy showed up empty-handed—“Where do you want to go?”—I told him. I named a local tourist attraction that I was interested in seeing.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it indicates a huge departure from my former approach. I used to be hand-wringingly considerate. I didn’t want to spend a guy’s money, especially on a first date. So I’d tentatively recommend some local coffee shop or a cheap eatery. We’d get coffee, go for a walk, decide not to meet again, and I’d spend the rest of the night on the couch mourning my lost day.

There were plenty of places I would have rather gone. But wouldn’t that be… mercenary? Manipulative? Taking advantage? Seeing the  city on another man’s dime? Something about it felt wrong.

I did not mourn the guy’s lost day. If he wanted something better, he should have suggested it. That’s his prerogative as the one spending the money.

But once he asks, can he politely override my suggestion? Maybe he really would have loved something more interesting than coffee, but feels self-conscious suggesting it, because maybe I’m just a boring coffee date kind of girl.

Really, then, it’s for our mutual benefit that I suggest something just a little bit more interesting. And if my suggestions happen to follow a tourist’s itinerary, hitting all the big local attractions, well, who’s to care?

I don’t. That’s for sure.

Best Date Ever

Bad dates get all the fame. They’re the most fun to retell, and hamming them up is the best way to compensate for having experienced them. But good dates happen too. Even amazing dates. So today I’m going to focus on really good dates.

Obviously, the best dates are the ones where the company is joy. However, since “He was just an amazing guy” is not much to talk about (especially when he’s the one who got away), I’m going to focus on the more shallow features of a date.

In Search of

Urban scavenger hunt – fun! Also something I’d always wanted to try.  The experience was somewhat marred by the fact that I had to call it quits early for fear of losing my toes (it was cold out) and the fact that I kept finding the landmarks before him. (In one case: “Do you think it refers to the mosaic map that you’re standing on?” “Oh. Cool! How’d you see that?”) To his credit, he wasn’t the faintest bit perturbed by my scavenging skills (I shall forever respect him for that), and nor did he hesitate to head indoors when I conveyed the distress signal from my furthest digits.

Mistaken Identity

This might have qualified as a bad date if it had happened a few years earlier. But I got such a kick out of it that it makes the bottom of this list.

A very nice OOT gentleman, unfamiliar with local mating rituals, took me out to a Boro Park ice-cream store that shall remain nameless. The very friendly man behind the counter saw two single people of opposite gender visible, together, in public, and jumped to the logical conclusion.

“Mazal tov! When did you become engaged?”

“Um… We’re not…”

“Soon?”

“Well, actually…”

“Well, maybe soon anyway. Do you want to sample something?”

Meanwhile, in the front of the store, Good4’s friends watched, snickered, and texted her.

“I hear you had a good time on your date,” she greeted me when I got home.

Glorious Food

I’ve only been on two dates to high-end restaurants. The company was fine in one and offensive in another, but the presentation was always fantastic. When your food looks like a piece of elegant sculpture, and eating it becomes an exercise in artistic deconstruction, you can forget that the guy opposite you just corrected your grammar or checked his watch. You’re too busy trying to figure out if the green stick thingy is garnish or food or both, and if it’s not edible, how  can you move it out of your way without using your fingers?

When I came home from one of these dates, my father met me in the kitchen. “So, how was it?” he asked. “So beautifully turned out,” I gushed. “Elegant but thoughtful, well arranged, and delicious too!”

“Delicious?” his eyebrows quizzled. “Are we talking about the same thing here?”

“Oh, you want to know about the guy? I’m thrilled that I’ll never have to see him again. But the food! Wow!”

At Sea

On a small boat plowing its way through the waves. Wind in my hair. Dolphins leaping alongside us. Everything is wonderful when you have wind in your hair and dolphins nearby. Well, everything except your hair. I was truly horrified when I caught a glance in a mirror afterwards.

Sea Meets Sand

My favorite habitat is in bed under a down blanket surrounded by books and a laptop. But after that, I’d be happy in anything sufficiently wet. (Yes, sometimes I go splashing in rainstorms.)  So a date that includes wading in the surf searching for fossils was just up my creek. (Pun intended.)

Play a Little

It was late and dark. The weather was that invigorating Autumn crispiness that makes you want to run through fallen leaves and yellowing grassy hills for sheer joy of existence. Except there weren’t any, because we were in the urban jungle surrounded by monochromatic metal flora.

So instead we went to a playground and ran over the play structures, sliding down poles, slinging ourselves onto slides, and finally, panting, flinging ourselves into the swings, where we chatted for another hour until I couldn’t conceal my shivering any more.

 

Extreme Dating

Longest date I’ve been on – Also the hottest date. It was the summer. I wore a white trenchcoat over my clothes because I don’t like walking out all dressed up without a jacket. It was also on the assumption that we would get into a car and go someplace where we would sit in an air-conditioned atmosphere while sipping  iced drinks in perspiring glasses.

Instead, as we hit the sidewalk, he said, “So, where do we go?”

I offered him a few options: some local restaurants, a coffee shop, or a walk around the park. He said, “Sounds good. Which do you want to do?” Unwilling to stick my hands in his pockets when I’d only known him for 247 seconds, I suggested the walk. Of course, first we had to walk to the park, then around the lake, and then back, at which point I was hot, tired, irritated, and no longer reluctant to lighten his wallet. I marched us to the restaurant. We proceeded to converse about programming for another two hours.

When the shadchan called, she first apologized in advance and then asked me if I wanted to go out again. I always wonder when shadchanim do that. Does that mean they knew they set you up with a dud? Whose side are they on anyway?

Shortest date I’ve been on – It was probably a bad sign. He drove up to my door, checked the clock, and said, apologetically, “It was only an hour and 20 minutes, is that okay?” The best answer was probably not the one I gave: “Only an hour and 20 minutes? I didn’t notice.”

Most horrifying date I’ve been on – Watching my date beat a horse. Okay, it was a digital horse. We were at an arcade and there was a horse-racing game, and he projected that if using the crop a little bit improved the horse’s time a little bit, then using it a lot would improve the horse’s speed a lot… I watched in horror and squealing protest as he beat the living daylights out of our horse. He will forever remain in my mind as the animal abuser. Near miss, there.

Most boring date I’ve been on – a mini-golf center that thinks mini-golf means using a putter to gently tap a ball across a small green. No windmills, no bridges, no loop-de-loops, no fun. Conversation with the guy wasn’t scintillating either. We swapped dating stories the entire time. If you need to discuss other people’s bad dates to liven up your own, what does that say about things?

Funniest date I’ve been on –  I like to let the guy lead on dates. So when he suggested ice cream in Borough Park, I didn’t murmur a word of protest. The affable (and loud) guy behind the counter of Sprinkles wished us a hearty mazal tov upon our recent engagement, and when we explained that there hadn’t been one, he wished us an equally hearty mazal tov upon our impending engagement. We both waited to laugh until we were out the door, ice cream in hand. We spent the rest of the date running around the playground across the street. When I got home my sister said that she heard I’d had a good time – from her pack of friends hanging out at the ice cream store.