I went on my first date when I was fourteen. I'm amazed my mother let me go on a date at fourteen, especially as Doctor Spock held that girls ought not to go on dates until they were sixteen. However, my mother's hands were tied by the historical fact that she had been invited to a formal dance when she was fourteen, and Grandma had let her go. She probably made her a dress, too.
This date was a parish youth group dance, and my date, whom I decided I didn't like as much while dancing with him to "Careless Whisper" (by Wham), kissed me on the cheek good-night. I thought this frighteningly forward and told all to my friends in the parish hall kitchen. They were underwhelmed and said it didn't count.
Anyway, that was my first date. It totally beat a friend of mine's first date, which was to her graduation formal, or as Americans would call it, the prom. Her date kept taking nips from a bottle all through dinner and generally behaved like a jackass. When the girl who had arranged this date for my friend demanded of the young man why he had behaved in such an appalling manner, he said that he had never been on a date with a virgin before and didn't know what to do.
I think I should have a "Worse Dates Ever" weekend, in which you all send me stories of the worse dates you ever had and the worst dates you ever heard of. This would be followed by a "Best Dates Ever" weekend, to cheer us all up and restore our faith in humanity.
Three of the best dates I ever went out on were with someone who liked going on dates with respectable women but didn't really want a serious girlfriend yet. He was a perfect gentleman, took me to great restaurants, and paid the tab. No stress, no more than air-kisses, mwah mwah, gentle flirtation, lovely.
But on one of these dates, the second one, my dress exploded.
It was a strapless dress, made of grey pinstripe, resembling businesswear, only sexy. And, once zipped up, it was tight. It had been a bargain, and halfway through dinner, as the zipper began to sneak down, I realized why. Somehow I managed to back away from the table before my dress fell off and found a waitress, who couldn't find a safety pin but brought me a straight pin. The straight pin worked but inperfectly, so I had to make another escape or two to the loo to adjust it.
I learned from this that one must always carry safety pins in one's handbag. ALWAYS!
Another great date tip, which I shared with a friend the other day, is that the way to keep your perfume going all night is to stick a Q-tip in the bottle and then poke it down the centre of your bra, with the perfumed end sticking out a bit. My friend said this was genius, and I said, "I don't think I will be mentioning at my vocations lecture at St. Andrews in February." But it is genius so, St. Andrews girls, take note now.
Also, if you are wearing fantastic high heeled shoes on your date (or anywhere), put a pair of cheap and skinny flats (like you can find at H&M) in your handbag. That way, once your date is gone, if you have to walk anywhere, you will be comfortable. (Also handy if, God forbid, you have to actually run away from your date.)
Finally, there are the date rules that everyone should know, and I will repeat here:
1. Always meet a blind date, an internet date or any man you don't know well in a public place.
2. Never ever let a man you don't know well into your house or flat.
3. Make sure your mobile (cell) phone is charged up and has enough money on it for emergency phone calls.
4. Carry emergency cab fare.
5. Carry an emergency credit card. I have a friend whose date ordered a huge meal, ate it, took off and didn't come back.
5. Tell someone (e.g. mother, best friend) the name of the man you are meeting and where you are meeting him and when you expect to be home.
6. If you are absolutely stuck for something to talk about, look at your date and say, "So tell me about yourself." If he, conversationally challenged, says "What do you want to know?" Say, "Well, I find it interesting that..." And fill in whatever it is that made you decide to go on a date with this guy in the first place. In general, men like to talk about themselves. So let them.
7. You don't have to kiss him if you don't want to. Seriously. Just don't. You don't have to do anything you don't want to except breathe, excrete, get sick, and, eventually, die. Human freedom is a wondrous thing.
8. If dating a suave, silver-tongued I'm-not-religious-but-I-am-spiritual man, look out on the Third Date. Don't go back to his place. Don't let him into yours. Be prepared to give The Speech over dinner. If you're a Catholic or Evangelical girl, you know the Speech I mean. Yep.