As y’all well know, I’m not too fond of dating. It’s not the guys I take issue with, but the actual process. The idea of a first date dinner sends a platoon of carnivorous butterflies to my stomach. What will we talk about? What if I get salad in my teeth? Nobody wants to date a mute green-toothed girl! I’m going to spend the rest of my life with cats, aren’t I? Well, eff. I better stock up on Benadryl.
It quickly devolves from there. Talking with my mom this weekend, however, I had an epiphany. Maybe dating wouldn’t be so painful, if we weren’t following society’s prescribed script. Who decided dinner and a movie were the perfect date? Dinner is a minefield of small talk and check dancing, while movies – movies! – are dark events where you’re not allowed to talk. Don’t even get me started on “just having drinks.” Bars are the noisiest places outside of yodeling competitions. If I wanted to shout about my family history, I’d do it in the privacy of a therapist’s office, thank you.
There has to be a better way. Naturally, I have a few suggestions…
- The Zoo – Seriously, y’all, if someone took me to a zoo on our first date, my ovaries would probably explode with lust. Is there anything so fun as walking about looking at animals? No, there isn’t. Plus! Animals are weird. They do ridiculous, awesome things, like sneeze. I dare you to have an awkward conversation at a zoo. There are just too many creatures to see and read about. If you’re sick of talking about your years as a mime, drop an animal knowledge bomb. (Did you know that polar bear livers contain toxic levels of Vitamin A? Arctic explorers learned that the hard way.) Also, zoos have portable food, like corn dogs and lemon ices, which pose less of a threat to your clothes than traditional date food. Who knows? You might start an eternal bond, based on your mutual love of fruit bats. (Yes, that is a fantasy of mine. Shut up.)
- Baseball Games – This could be any sporting match, but baseball is my ideal. Even if you’re not a sports person, this has the potential to be a good date. There are plenty of drunk people around to make fun of, if conversation lags, and it’s a fun, casual atmosphere. If you like your first dates on the scandalous side, there are also endless opportunities for double entendres – balls, bats, bases, hot dogs. Get your witty innuendos ready! Also, unlike a concert or a bar, the atmosphere is raucous but not too loud. You can have good conversation and impress your date with your mad heckling skills.
- Road Trips – It is a well-acknowledged fact that random road trips are the most fun thing ever. When I was an undergrad, my friends and I would routinely pile into the car for a journey to the fabled House of Pies or some small town pumpkin festival. I know a road trip sounds daunting for a first date, but trust me. You can play fun car games, instead of your average get-to-know you conversation, and end up at a really cool destination. Why not play an extended round of Throw John Mayer Off A Cliff (commonly known as: Screw-Marry-or-Kill) on your way to the World’s 2nd Largest Hockey Stick? Personally, I long to be whisked off for the two hour ride down to San Antonio Zoo (Again…bats!), with a stop for BBQ in Lockhart along the way. Maybe you’ve always wanted to see that semi-famous henge a county or two over? Get in the car!
- Ghost Tours – Whether you believe in the other side or not, ghost stories are still decidedly spooky. You don’t need a campfire to hear them either, since most cities now have ghost tour companies. A couple of tickets and you two lovebirds are taking a walking tour of your town, through the lens of its more murderous and spooky historical spots. Even if you’re not scared, it will be a good laugh and provide lots of fodder for post-ghost dinner conversation. Personally, I’m a giant chicken and would seriously accelerate the hand-holding timeline. So, that’s always fun.
- Museums – An afternoon spent at a museum always sounds delightful. Whether it’s filled with art, dinosaurs, or medical oddities, I’m in. (Really, let’s be honest, the weirder the better. Vienna’s Crime Museum, anyone?) Once again, the very destination provides you with endless conversational choices. Perhaps your date has a heretofore unknown passion for Egyptology? (Swoon.) This is also a great litmus test for hidden pretentious streaks. If your date launches into a pedantic lecture at every painting he sees, what do you think he’ll be like at the grocery store? Egads.
- Bonus Pick: The Masters – Alright, this one is pretty Grace-specific. If you know anyone who has a secret crush on this anonymous blogger, listen up. My ultimate fantasy date? The Masters. I am a huge golf fan. If a guy invited me along to be his date for the tournament, he’d have to be a convicted murderer for me not to say yes. It’s also a perfect first date! Sure, the tickets are impossible to get, but once you’re there it is both fun AND cheap. The food sold at Augusta remains in a strange limbo of 1970s pricing, there are tons of people to watch, and there’s the ever-present threat of being hit with a errant tee shot. Danger! Lovely scenery! Cheap food! Though, there is always the chance that Graeme McDowell and I will fall madly in love at first sight and I will run away to Northern Ireland with him. So, you know, fair warning.
These choices could still end in disaster, of course. I once went on a first date to a Renaissance Festival, which should have been really fun. Except…my date dressed, head-to-toe, like the Dread Pirate Roberts without warning me and refused to ride an elephant. After one too many swipes with his replica sword, it was clear I never wanted to see his – ahem – other sword. Still, I’d rather take my chances with the zoo than another night spent shouting how many siblings I have over the din of bad bar karaoke. Drunken bachelorette party attendees singing “Oops! I Did It Again” do not a romantic backdrop make.