Being a 26-year-old dating novice is scary. Not that I had never been on a date before, but I had been in a relationship since college, meaning that the majority of my previous dating experience included watching a girl from across a bar full of underage coeds, waiting until about 3:45 and then finally offering to buy her a shot immediately before last call. Ah, the romance.
Then I graduated and spent the next four years in a relationship. Suddenly single after all this time, I was reluctant to go on any date at all, let alone a blind date. I mean, there was no such thing as text messaging the last time I went on a date. When a friend laid it out to me like that, it was like my father asking me where you put the postage on an email. Clearly I hadn’t thought this through.
But due to factors like peer pressure and getting drunk beforehand, I decided to do it. I won’t recount the story of how the whole thing came about (it involves a convoluted series of Cyrano de Bergerac–style emails and a lot of Googling), but come date-day I met “Brooke” (not her real name*) at a dimly lit bar downtown. I got there first, sat at a table and watched as a seemingly endless line of solo girls poured into the bar, each more uninviting than the next. It was like Russian roulette, the click of the front door opening signaling my possible death (yes, death) every five minutes. It’s not that I am shallow, it’s just that these girls were unattractive, and being on a blind date with an unattractive person isn’t like judging a book by its cover it’s more like judging a painting by its cover. Because for the ten crucial seconds it takes for the person to get from the door to your table, looks are all you’ve got. If they don’t grab you right away, there’s nothing to fall back on. If you like the coloring and composition, though, you’ll stand a bit longer, and then you’ll really start to see the painting, and become interested in its depth, its history, etc., and then you’ll read the book . . . about the painting? I don’t know, I lost the metaphor. But basically I’m shallow, whatever.
Luckily, Brooke was attractive. And sane. So halfway through the night, I, while in the bathroom, texted my friend John (who was my “out” should things have gone poorly): “it’s cool, she’s hot.” The night went better than expected (better than a solid 98% of all blind dates not conducted on a sound stage). And I learned a very important lesson in the process: Despite social, technological or geopolitical advances, dating will always be the same as long as scotch exists. Maybe it’s not catchy enough for a t-shirt, but it’s about as comforting as it gets.
* I figured I’d call her Brooke because when I was young my older sister would trick me into playing “Sweet Valley High” with her and her friends by telling me that we were playing “The Hardy Boys.” I should have caught on when all the crimes we investigated involved cheerleading and Tiffany’s new party dress, but regardless, I was always “Chad” and my make believe girlfriend was “Brooke.” And just remembering this now leaves me amazed not only that I can get a date at all, but that I can survive without a daily regimen of prescription medications.
“And Then Things Got Back to Normal”
“And Then I Stole My Friend’s Xanax From Her Purse When She Wasn’t Looking”