Last night I went on my first date, my first in 14 years. It may be another 14 years before I do it again. Don’t get me wrong— my date was intelligent, cute, funny, and possessed one of my favorite qualities: self-deprecation. This was especially impressive because he is a doctor. Correction: a surgeon. I think I should have started with a paper boy.
On my drive home, I replayed in my mind every excruciating moment. I had an overwhelming feeling that I had broken every dating rule ever written. So when I arrived home, I logged onto firstdate.com. I read in horror the long list of “dating don’ts.” Sure enough, I had unwittingly committed nearly every one. The only thing missing was my photo, hanging above the list like a wild-west wanted poster. In the 60-watt clarity of my desk lamp, each of the rules seemed so obvious:
1. Do not talk about your ex-spouse on a first date. Not only did I talk about my ex, I practically told his entire life story, starting from conception: his terrible childhood, his resultant baggage, his brilliant mind, and the fact that, although he is my ex, we’re still good friends and I love him. At this point, I’m sure my date was trying to figure out how long it would be before my ex and I were back together…unless he was too busy looking for the restaurant’s emergency exit. Thankfully, I left out the part about my ex having intimacy issues and all that that implies. How I managed to contain this part of the story, I have no idea. I must have actually let my date speak. Or, perhaps seeing where I was going with this storyline, he was kind enough to interrupt me.
2. Do not mention sex on a first date. Well, technically, I did not break this rule, as I believe this actually means you’re not supposed to mention that you’d like to have sex on the first date. But here’s the rub (at least figuratively): since my job involves learning about teens and their everyday challenges, when my date asked what my research shows, I could have mentioned peer pressure, drinking or drugs. But no, I had the uncommon good sense to talk about the recent trend of girls giving boys oral sex as routinely as those of us from decades past used to French kiss. Only I didn’t say “oral sex,” I said “blow jobs.” Talk about polite dinner conversation! According to firstdate.com, this is grounds for an immediate end to any date, unless you’re actually offering said blow job. To be fair, my date did not seem put off and, in fact, said he had heard about this trend. Still, I don’t think I scored any extra points in the lady-like department when I tried back-pedaling, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for oral sex.” What in the world was he supposed to make of that?
3. Do not mention the date’s ex on a first date. I don’t know how we got on this one, but in fact, both of my date’s exes were mentioned. Unlike me, he was smart enough to give abbreviated versions. At least I was able to reign in my journalistic tendency to ask 100 questions in 60 seconds. One point for me. Not nearly enough to make up for my failing score.
4. Ladies should not drink beer on a first date. Not only did I order and drink a beer, I explained to my date that the café we were patronizing used to carry a fabulous beer that is no longer available due to the fact that the brewery – which had been owned by a woman, no less — was recently shut down, and I was terribly disappointed because it was one of the best-tasting beers I had ever had and if I could, I would buy that brewery. Yes, I actually said that, and without a breath, just like it reads here. At which point my date said, naturally, “Oh, you really know your beers.” I don’t think he meant it as a compliment.