So you know those quaint little swan boats that grace the likes of Penn’s Landing (and seemingly romantic locales worldwide)? In theory, they’re great. You stroll along the dock, sigh wistfully and hope your date gets the hint (or that he just suggests it himself, as was the case with Date #3). You step gingerly towards the craft and pause as the swan boat bobs up and down but your date offers you his hand (at least he’s supposed to. Date #3 did not, but I have a theory on this—two actually. The first is that I think I give off a seafaring, hyper feminist, no-I-don’t-need-your-hand sort of vibe. The second is that Date #3 knows I used to row crew, and having rowed himself, he also knows I’m capable of stepping into a swan boat).
Either way, once you’re situated, paddle boats are a romance waiting to happen: the soft slap of the water upon the bows of the boats tied alongside the dock, the distant rain clouds, the nearly empty harbor, just perfect for a first… cardiovascular workout.
And no, I’m not talking the fun sort of cardiovascular workout. I’m talking about shortness of breath, burning thighs and the entirely unpleasant ordeal of—God forbid! — perspiration. Although Match.com doesn’t say anything on the subject of first date perspiration (or second date perspiration, for that matter), I’m pretty sure it’s not allowed.
I used to think punting was the most inefficient form of propulsion ever invented but having spent fifteen minutes in a swan boat I’ve since changed my mind. The honor belongs to the paddle boat. And there’s nothing even remotely romantic about trying to cover up the fact that ten minutes of peddling has left you completely out of breath (perhaps the next time I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical at Planet Fitness, I should actually, you know, work out instead of just watching Dr. Phil and congratulating myself on being less dysfunctional than his guests, which is what I usually during my 30 minutes on the elliptical at Planet Fitness).
My second date with Date #3 started out well enough. We met for a coffee at Chapterhouse, a delightfully trendy coffee shop on 9th and Bainbridge. As we order our iced latte (him) and iced Mexican chocolate (me), I can’t help but notice how many equally delightful and trendy men the shop contains, including a slew of med students typing away on their laptops. “I’ll come here the next time I manage to get off match.com!” I promise myself, thinking it might be nice to actually get back to working on my manuscript someday and maybe land myself a date with a med student in the process. But then Date #3 pulls out his wallet, pays for our drinks and I remember, “Oh yeah, I’m already on a date with a med student!”
After we finish our drinks, I turn to my particular med student and ask, “Where to?” He proffers two suggestions. The first (“I was thinking we could buy some fresh bread, some cheese and some tomatoes and have a little picnic in the park”) demonstrates spontaneity, a love of the outdoors and concern for our nutritional well being. It also shows that Date #3 actually listened to everything (or at least almost everything) I told him on our first date, including my belief that I could sustain myself entirely upon baguettes and cheese.
The second choice (“Or we could go down to Penn’s Landing and rent a swan boat”) demonstrates Date #3’s romantic side (or rather his ability to appeal to my romantic side, especially as I’d already completed the requisite wistful sighing on the subject of swan boats during our first date).
And so we forego the baguettes for the swan boats and decide to drink sangria for dinner. Date #3, being a mere two years my senior, isn’t quite suave enough to walk me home (nor does he call to make sure I’ve arrived unscathed, so I’ve got to give it to the older men when it comes to post-date etiquette). But nor is he too sophisticated to challenge me to a moonlight race on the slides of the Three Bear Park swing set, so stay tuned, folks, because the jury’s still out on this one.