I probably would have noticed that buttoning a shirt all the way up when you’re not wearing a tie was uncool, even before I read this Slate.com article. But unfortunately, the article–about the author being mistaken for a mentally disabled person due to her buttoning habits–was still fresh in my mind when I walked into the cafe where I was to meet my online date for the first time. “A fully buttoned shirt is the universal costume symbol for special,” I remembered as I walked toward the gawky guy with the totally fastened white shirt.
To complete the impression, he greeted me at a volume usually reserved for sporting events, or in his case, math competitions. Yes, he was an example of the alternate definition of a fully buttoned shirt: supernerd. I suddenly remembered why I like speed dating so much. Even if you’re on a coffee date, it’s pretty hard to escape in under 10 minutes. (In the U.S., at least. In Italy, where everyone drinks espresso standing up at a bar, I once went on an awkwardly short date with an Algerian drug dealer. Remind me to tell you that story someday.) But this date, which dragged on for a whole hour, was further proof that sometimes 4 seconds of talking to someone can tell you more about your compatibility than 4 pages of email.