Yesterday's appeal has had interesting and fruitful results although I was a tad taken aback at Mark's combox, which was not likely to win hearts and minds among the orthodoxy testers and other men who approach a date as though it were a high school debating competition.
To be honest, I don't remember going on a date with an orthodoxy tester since high school. And it was in high school that I announced I would never go on a date with a guy who couldn't name three Roman emperors. Adolescence is arrogance, and it hasn't occurred to me to trot out my classical litmus test in years.
Yes, it seems that the college-age are more likely to "hang out" than to go on real, cut-and-dried dates, but a date is most likely when you meet another Over-25 in a formal circumstance or over a dating website. People with 9-5 jobs or serious deadlines don't have many opportunities for deconstructed hanging-out slacker playtime.
The last good first date I remember being on--"good" meaning that it led to a second date--was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As you may have read in my book, it came about because after a month or so of waiting for the cute German physicist to ask me out for coffee, I asked him why he didn't ask me out for coffee. So he asked me out for coffee.
Coffee was in the cafe he suggested, and all I remember about the cafe was that that it was chic in that comfortable Cambridge way I loved so much. I also remember going intentionally into light, funny and yet not so talkative mode. I asked about Van Der Graaf generators. (Don't ask. It's one of the two physics things I knew about.) Volker complained about the German tax office. I called an end to coffee after an hour and a half or so, and Volker walked me to my bus stop.
(The second date was dinner at an Italian restaurant, and the third date involved a tour of the physics lab which was a million times cooler than the physics labs on "The Big Bang Theory" because it was (A) real and (B) Harvard.)
The last bad first date I remember in any detail was some months after Volker broke up with me (the beast!), and I was back in Toronto, teaching ESL to private clients. One of them, a lively Korean girl, insisted on sending me on a blind date at a cafe with a university lecturer she called George, Professor. This was a complete disaster for I was inclined to talk about theology (why?) and George, Professor was Greek Orthodox. Although he didn't seem to know much theology, he found it necessary to inform me that Catholicism was definitely second banana to Greek Orthodoxy. The conversation ground to a halt when I asked "Why?"
Aha! So I have been on a date with an orthodoxy tester, although really that was more of a case of Religious Dialogue Going Horribly Wrong. And I suspect the situation was my fault, for allowing any mention of theology even though at the time I was on leave from my doctoral studies in theology. Theology is just not a good topic for a first date.
I recommend swotting up on whatever else Mr First Date is interested in and asking him intelligent questions about it. Really, the important thing is to keep it light and not to spill your guts about really personal stuff, and asking men questions so that they can talk about stuff they like that is a good way of doing that.
This, though, reminds me of the legendary Strong, Silent Type, and I am wondering what a first date with a Strong, Silent Type would be like. Obviously the classic conversation-over-coffee would not be ideal unless you have the ability to sit across from a silent man over a cup of coffee without feeling rattled or bored. But surely even the Strong and Silent Man has some thoughts that he would put into words, if only you could find the the magic word to open the subterranean cave of his mysterious mind.
You: What a charming cafe!
You: And what a nice waitress. I can't place her accent, though. Minnesota?
You (desperately): I think this cream jug shaped like a cow is very witty.
Him: They got the spots wrong.
Him: They got the spots wrong. It's shaped like a Jersey cow, but it's spotted like a Holstein.
You: You know about cows?
You (hastily): I mean, why do you know about cows?
Him: Well, my grandparents had cows, and I uster help them out. They had Jerseys and Holsteins and some Black Angus and... [Etc., etc., ad infinitum until he is done and sits back happily, flushed with pleasure at all this bovine reminiscence.]
You: That sounds great, but I'm a little afraid of cows.
Him: There's nothing to be afraid of. I'll show you some.