Step 4 – The first date
Congratulations. You have isolated your type and matched the right words with the right woman. No blood has been shed and, as far as you know, nobody is after you. The spontaneous chat went splendidly. You even walked her to her car when she left with her friends. And you told her that you want to see her again. At this point, there is not much else you can say apart from, “I’d really like to see you again.” However, this is a stupid thing to say. You have consumed 17 beers and 12 shots and should not be saying anything at all. The mere fact that she is still talking to you is a miracle in itself.
The concept of dating has different connotations for different generations. For instance, if you are nine and the girl you have your eye on is seven, you are fairly limited in your options. You could take her for a walk, but it only takes around 53 seconds to circumnavigate the playground and there is not much you can accomplish in that short time. Later in life, yes. But not when you are nine.
When you reach 15, you might be lucky enough to have parents who allow you to date. As you walk out of the door with Julie tugging at her training bra, good old dad will say, with a twinkle in his eye, “No hitting beyond first base, son!” This is good news. When dad was 15, first base meant holding hands at the movies. He has no idea that first base has been upgraded to include free-range tongues and fingers. But this is not a book for kids. The dirty-minded little bastards have access to filth of their own kind.
Bryane, a straight friend of a gay nephew of my neighbour’s neighbour’s uncle, told me that he always takes his first dates to a restaurant. He said that next to soaking in a hot bath, women love to eat most of all. He said they are very like cats in that way. When I pointed out that cats hate water, he said that some of them love it. I asked him which ones and he described some kind of animal that sounded like a cross between a Mexican Hairless and a Pygmy Rhinoceros. I challenged him to prove that this animal even existed and he became defensive and quite hysterical. I ended up slapping him repeatedly just to calm him down. And also, I suppose, to punish him a little for making up such an outrageous story.
Where was I? Ah, yes. Restaurants. In my view, not an ideal venue for a first date. Eating is an intensely private affair and should be done either in complete isolation or with someone you have known for at least five years.
When it comes to feeding time, men are dogs by nature. Women are more like cheetahs. Teeth are bared at times like these, and you only have to watch your dog or cat to know that you don’t hang about when the fangs come out. Although most of us have learned not to growl and hiss while we eat, all we have really done is internalise these basic instincts.
Apart from the more obvious hazards, like ordering red wine with white meat or pink gin with green salad or blue sambuca with yellow rice, not to mention the old spinach in the teeth and spaghetti behind the ear, there are other dangers that lurk latently.
There are some men (me, for one) who cannot abide it when their partner starts feeding from the other person’s plate. It’s kind of cute the first time it happens, but when she finishes her food and then starts on yours on the pretext of wanting to taste a little of everything, that’s when I want to plunge my fork into her eye socket, pluck out her eyeball and say, “Chew on this, you greedy pig.”
Then there’s the matter of the bill. Way back in the olden days (2003), a man could quite confidently reach for the bill and, with a manly flourish, slap down his credit card or a wad of crisp notes while his date looked demurely the other way. It was to be expected. The man would pay. Not because he hoped for a quick poke on the first date, but because he earned more and it was the right thing to do. Happily, those days are gone.
Women no longer expect men to pay the bill. Well, some do. Mainly the feminists, oddly enough. They have not, however, progressed to the point where they offer to cover the bill. Probably because feminism doesn’t pay very well. At most, they insist on paying half. But more often than not, she snatches the bill away and performs lighting-fast calculations in her head in the apparent belief that the entire (male) management is conspiring to overcharge her. You would be surprised at the number of times they are right.
But what many women fail to realise is that after a romantic meal by candlelight, few men want to feel as if they are a member of the Hawks on a late-night forensic audit. And if she does find that an extra coffee has been added to the bill, my advice is to excuse yourself and walk rapidly to the toilets. Hide there until the screaming stops. For the next few hours you will be hearing a lot about “the principle of the thing”.
Forget the restaurant. Go and play mini golf on your first date. It’s safer and cheaper. And you get to let her win, which will count heavily in your favour when it comes to the possibility of a little first date action.
To be continued …