Dinner is the worst possible first date. You have to wear something that looks good both sitting down and standing up. You have to avoid disaster items like spaghetti and French onion soup (and while I rarely order either of these, it’s the principle that matters).
You also have to spend the entire evening looking at your date. And worst of all, you have to spend the entire evening talking to your date. And if you run out of things to talk about half way through the appetizers, you’re out of luck.
Hence the reason I prefer dates that revolve around acts of silent contemplation, such as concerts or art museums. This way, if you find yourself in the midst of an awkward pause you can just pretend you’re having a “moment.” And such moments (“Don’t talk to me! Can’t you see I’m contemplating Vivaldi here!”) garner instant sophistication.
But the dinner date has no such distractions. In fact, the dinner date is, depending on the restaurant, a recipe for disaster.
Thus convinced, it was with great trepidation that I slipped into my BCBG trousers last night and prepared to meet Date #2. Fortunately, the powers that be over at Match.com have an entire website devoted to the first date, including appropriate conversation topics. I already knew that marriage, children and past relationships should be avoided at all cost but thanks to the Yentas, I’ve since learned that pets are forbidden as well.
I’m not really sure why you can’t talk about pets. Personally, I like to know if a guy’s a dog lover or not, but not wanting to be a spoilsport, I headed over to the Royal Tavern and rehearsed my repertoire of appropriate first date conversation topics (Europe. Religion. Embarrassing tales from the front lines of online dating).
Unfortunately, I’ve yet to master the art of arriving fashionably late and since I live within walking distance of the Royal Tavern, I got there about ten minutes early. Date #2 was nowhere to be seen so I circled the block once, twice, a third time—actually I decided against circling the block for a third time. In the off chance that Date #2 was just around the corner, I didn’t want him to see me walking around in circles (Match.com doesn’t say anything on the subject of circling but I’m pretty the Yentas would advise against it).
Eventually it occurred to me that a normal person would just go inside the restaurant to wait for their date. Taking a deep breath, I reached for the door and stepped inside. I scanned the room, totally confident, but recognizing no one, I proceeded to spend the next five minutes cowering in the corner and cursing myself for being so prompt (I will not be making this same mistake with Date #4).
At 6:30 on the nose, Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome (aka Date #2) stepped through the door. He apologized profusely (evidently he’d been killing time outside as well), kissed me on the cheek and escorted me to a table in the corner. It was a one cheek kiss, which threw me for a bit of a loop, but I managed to recover my ground and avoided talking about pets all evening.
We talked of electrical circuits and constellations instead (in addition to Europe, religion and embarrassing tales from the front lines). Even though I was a bit lost when it came to the electrical circuits (only because I was on my second glass of wine and not because engineering talk is always over my head), Date #2 was completely charming. As a result, I’ve changed my opinion on the dinner date. As it turns out, the dinner date can be perfectly lovely, especially if Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome walks you home.