A man with a plan

I recently read an advice column that recommended choosing one go-to location for all your first dates to avoid the awkward “Uh, I don’t know, what do you want to do?” conversation that can follow someone agreeing to go out with you. The idea has some merit, but for a girl who firstdates (yes, I’m declaring that a verb) as much as me, things could start to get embarrassing with the wait staff. Still, the expert was totally correct about the importance of a plan for your date. But I’ve never seen anyone take it quite as far as this suitor of an SDG reader:

“I went on a date with a guy who, within the first five minutes of the date, handed me a sheet of paper with an outline of how our date would go,” she reports. “It included time slots for ‘ice breaker conversation’ and ‘holding hands during film.’ The last line of the (extensive) outline said: AND THEN…”

So did she run for the hills (after carefully putting away the agenda for later mocking)? Nope! Not only did she fully complete the outline, including the ellipsis, she went back for more. “I ended up dating the guy for ten months,” she said.

The high season

I feel like an accountant in the springtime. No, it’s not that I’m surrounded by men in short-sleeved dress shirts. (A fashion aside: guys, just don’t do it. Sexy=sleeves.) It’s that my busy season just ended. For me of course, speed dating is a lifestyle, but for the rest of the world, it seems to be a mid-February marketing gimmick. A few of the options I came across in the run-up to the April 15 of the dating world:

  • Regular old speed dating, but with a special holiday angle. “Nobody wants to be alone on Valentine’s Day,” the invitation began. Cheery, isn’t it?
  • Unlike speed dating marketers, ski area PR people know what they’re doing. A reader let me know about one chairlift speed dating event, and then a Google search revealed several more. One resort was promoting that its lift had a history of “proposals for marriage and other perhaps less permanent relationships” (maybe that explains the tree strewn with bras) while another pointed out that anyone who marries a liftie gets a free season pass. I was ready to sign up, until I remembered what I look like when I ski: from far away, glamorous and graceful; up close, bright red and covered in snot.
  • I guess some people don’t worry about such superficial things. Or maybe some Kiwis look their best when upside-down and screaming in terror. Yes, on Valentine’s Day, I caught a news clip about people who were speed dating while bungee jumping in New Zealand.
  • I don’t think my grandmother would have approved of that kind of dating (nice girls don’t bungee jump!), but this next event might have been the payoff for all the money she invested in my higher education. An email from my grad school invited me to come to a bar on a recent night to buy a doctor. No more cruising medical conferences or golf courses– just plop down your money and take away the medical, dental or veterinary student of your choice.

Sadly, I already had plans for the night, and I couldn’t think of a diplomatic way to cancel on my date. “I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well. I need to buy, I mean see, a doctor?”  Oh well, there’s always next year.

Sidewalk shopping

Valentine’s Day can drive people to do crazy things: buy sappy cards and ugly jewelry, eat massive quantities of chocolate, or attend embarrassing singles events. You can guess which of these I opted for this year.

Actually, since they were handing out boxes of candy to any women brave enough to attend the “Mile of Meet,” I knocked off two options at once.

That box of chocolate was the last good surprise of our evening. But I have to admit I wasn’t really all that surprised when my friends and I arrived outside the specified bar and found that the “Mile” was actually more like a city block. Still, it was probably the geographically longest dating event I’ve ever attended. The cops had even blocked off parking so that the desperate single men of the Philadelphia area could line themselves up on the street for review by the single women, who filed past in a slightly less awkward line of their own.

But that’ll never work, you’re thinking– how will you remember which guys you want to talk to at the mixer afterwards? Don’t worry, the organizers thought of that obstacle, so they helpfully supplied the men with large numbers to wear around their necks, as in a mugshot. And the women had clipboards on which to write down their “shopping list” (no, really, that’s what was printed at the top of it).

The organizers also had an answer for those overly demanding people who want to know something about their date other than his appearance and how low he’s willing to sink to get a date (yes, I’m talking to you, guy holding up a $10 bill next to your number). The men had filled out profiles before lining up, which were then available in binders for the women to review.

Liked the looks of number 69? Just elbow the other women out of the way to grab the 50-75 binder, look up his page, and you’ve got all the information you need: his name, contact info, occupation, age. (Which was a key issue– a lot of my shopping list turned out to be in their early 20s, probably because I was trying so hard to stay away from the sizable Baby Boomer contingent, whose presence inspired a conversation among my friends about when one is too old for cheesy singles events. “If I’m still here in ten years, shoot me or lock me in the house with my cats” was the general consensus.)

The men’s profiles also listed their favorite restaurants. Among the responses were a lot of nice, high-end places, but also Burger King and Wawa. (Suddenly, Olive Garden sounded appealing.) And, finally, they were given one sentence to describe themselves. There was the usual range of comments from illiterate to clever and charming, but my absolute favorite– for sheer incongruity– was the guy who wrote, “I embrace all that is wholesome.”

Ah, yes, that’s why I came here, too.