Saturday, January 23, 2010

A (Very) Brief Heterosexual Dating History


I don’t suppose many of you remember The Dating Game or Love Connection? Those cheesy game show with the live studio audience and the over-the-top one-liners? Those contestants asking flirtatious questions and describe steamy dates?

the dating game

This series is dedicated to the six women I went on dates with. It is only now that I understand why things were not meant to work out with any of them. I suppose a lot of us view dating as a hit-and-miss game where we instantly click and move, in proper fashion, onto our happily ever afters.

In reality, though, we learn different lessons from these go-nowhere dates. Camera:   DCS560C Serial #: K560C-01363 Width:    2008 Height:   3040 Date:  5/21/01 Time:   16:06:56 DCS5XX Image FW Ver:   3.2.3 TIFF Image Look:   Product Sharpening Requested: No Tagged Counter:    [15394] ISO Speed:  80 Aperture:  f3.2 Shutter:  1/80 Max Aperture:  f2.8 Min Aperture:  f32 Exposure Mode:  Manual (M) Compensation:  +0.0 Flash Compensation:  +0.0 Meter Mode:  Partial Flash Mode:  No flash Drive Mode:  Single Focus Mode:  Manual Focus Point:  --o-- Focal Length (mm):  115 White balance: Custom Time: 16:06:56.268

Bachelorette #1: Rachel

Height: 5’6”
Hair: Sandy blonde
Eyes: Blue
Talent: Concert piano
Random Fact: Cole pulled on her earlobe in first grade and he scared her so much she didn’t speak to her for eight years.

The Date:

“Would you like to go to the dance next Saturday?”

That’s as abruptly and unexpectedly as my plunge into datedom began. It wasn’t me asking the question, but rather Rachel. Perhaps the most timid person I’ve met in my life was asking me out.

It was in the hall after the last class of the day, which we had together. We put up our chairs and turned off our keyboards as the bell rang, dismissing us from Music Theory. It was my senior year of high school and dating was the last thing on my mind.

I suppose I thought it might be fun, but it seemed like more effort than it was worth. (The irony now haunts me). Rachel, Cole’s piano rival, really caught me off guard. I’d managed to go halfway through my senior year without going on a single date and here I was about to bring an end to that streak—one which I was almost proud of.

Rachel’s timid nature (much like my own at the time) was a force I could not overcome. Cliché as it might sound, she really did have puppy dog eyes and I couldn’t really so no to her.

“Sure,” I said with a little uncertainty clanging around in my throat.

She explained the details. The group we’d be going with, the pre-date and post-date plans, and we were set.

Spotting the unintended ambush, my best friend at the time, Nate, straggled a bit to talk to me afterwards. “So you’re going to Sadie Hawkins with Rachel, eh?”

“Yeah. I’m not really sure what that means, but I’m sure it will be fun.”

“Don’t be worried,” he reassured me. “Really. Getting asked out makes things so much easier. You don’t have to plan. You don’t have to stress. You’ve just got to enjoy the ride and say thank you a lot.”

My father offered similar advice:

“Have a great time. Don’t stress. I know you won’t get into any trouble.”

At 5 pm sharp, she arrived at my doorstep. I stepped out in my first tux ever with a turquoise bow tie and greeted her. Timid as field mice, whenever our skin touched or our eyes would make contact, we immediately jerked away. There on my doorstep, she nervously pinned on my cream-colored carnation boutonniere.

carnation boutonniere Following a potluck dinner with fifteen other couples, we went to the dance. I was so nervous. The ritual of taking pictures, dancing, and possibly kissing seemed so foreign.

Pictures were a breeze. We lined up, coupled up, looked at the camera and smiled. It was as simple as that.

Breathe! I told myself. What if she likes me? What am I supposed to do then? This is not anything to worry about.

But it was. I hadn’t danced since the stake production of The Music Man in 6th grade. I didn’t know any of the music being played. I didn’t really understand how anybody could enjoy this kind of experience.

She was patient. She’d been through this ritual a few times and understood why I might be nervous.

“This is my first time,” I explained.

She reassured me (like so many others), “It’s nothing to worry about. It just takes a little practice.”

She put my hands on her waist and on her shoulder and instructed me in the basic step and the box step. We stuck with that most of the night. Still, I managed to step on her feet multiple times per dance.

It was interesting to see her so confident in my presence, making her the most reassuring teacher I could have had that first attempt at a date. My neuroses kept me from conceiving the night as anything more than a disastrous experiment.

As our night came to an end and we found ourselves on my porch, I was pleased to find that (contrary to the expectations instilled in me by movies and television) a goodnight kiss was not expected, and a simple hug between friends sealed the night as an overall positive experience.

The next morning, before church, my parents asked how the night went and I told them it was fun.

“Why don’t you ask out Rachel, then? Sort of return the favor,” my father said.

“I don’t think so. I don’t want anything serious.”

The Lesson: The only way to learn is facing uncertainty head on.

End, Part 1


Lightning Baltimore said...

My first ever "date" was a Sadie Hawkins Dance, as well, also in 12th grade. I put it in quotes, though, as it wasn't much of anything.

I picked her up at her house and we went to the dance, which was held in the front hallway of our school. The music was provided by some lousy cover band. I distinctly remember them somehow adding a beat to AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," changing it from a good song for dancing to an utter mess.

She didn't wanna dance. She didn't wanna talk. Well, all my attempts at engaging her in conversation were failures.

After it ended, we drove to her house and watched Saturday Night Live, then I went home.

The highlight of the evening (not counting it finally ending) was seeing Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band on SNL. I knew the name but had never heard any music. That shit was freaky!

In case you never found out, Sadie Hawkins was a character in the comic strip Li'l Abner. She was 35, single and frantic to find a man, so they had a foot race with Sadie chasing the eligible men of the town; whomever she caught would have to marry her. Apparently, the first Sadie Hawkins Dances in real life took place on college campuses across the USA in 1939.

Lightning Baltimore said...

Uh, Ethan, what would Ryan say about that?

Anonymous said...

Hmm interesting I still have never had date like that

glad you had fun though

Ben said...

"The Lesson: The only way to learn is facing uncertainty head on."

I really felt that on my recent date.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Mr. HCl: I really didn't know where Sadie Hawkins came from, but that does make a lot of sense.

The dance I spoke of was in the school gym. I don't have a memory for the songs that played, but boy do I remember the conversation and it was limited.

@Ethan: Thanks. There are more stories to come.

@boskers: We'll have to discuss your recent date. I'll keep my eye out for you.

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