People worry a lot about the first date. They try on different outfits, prepare topics of conversation, shave hair off preposterous parts of their body – all to make a good impression. Gotta kill on the first date. Gotta sweep ’em off their feet. Gotta strike while the iron is hot. Blah Blah Blah. First dates are for chumps. Anyone can make a good first impression – it’s the second one that really matters.
Recently I took a perfectly delightful woman out for a first date. We had, I will say without qualification, a great time. We had drinks – only two of course – but she was genuinely hilarious. She made fun of the other patrons in a playful but inspired way, struck up a bizarre friendship with our 80 year-old waitress, she even poked fun at several of my more obvious absurdities. I have trained myself to not care about promising first dates, but on this one I allowed myself a glimmer of optimism. She was cute, she was funny, and she was smart. That’s The Big 3. The only person I’ve ever seen with The Big Four is Angela Lansbury – but the difference in our ages is too big to overcome. (And yes, the Big Fourth attribute is having starred in a television show about an elderly crime novelist who solved mysteries on the side.) So the first date was great. Wanna guess how the second one went?
Lousy. Of course it went lousy. You didn’t actually need to guess, did you? Truthfully, the date was fine, but the things that don’t present themselves, the facts make two people entirely incompatible, they don’t show up on a first date. On a second date, as you pass into three hours of actually, you know, knowing each other, that’s when the shit becomes real friggin’ evident. Shit like her fondness for the phrase “wackadoodle.” Or her legitimate terror when a dog tried to lick her jeans. Or what can only be described as a startling disregard for the merits of oral hygiene. Was this date a disaster? Not especially, we just weren’t right for each other. I’m sure she could list off a few things I did that drove her crazy (endless discussion of Angela Lansbury, for instance), things that she also had no idea of after our first date.
So, to keep things simple, I’ve drawn up a little schedule of what we should all be asking ourselves during the first three dates. It’s simple, it’s pragmatic, and, as always, it’s utter genius. Ready?
Date #1: Is this person tolerable?
Date #2: Is this person likable?
Date #3: Will this person let me have sex with them?
That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Don’t jump ahead, don’t try to finish assignments you’re not ready for yet. Just do what can reasonably be done at the moment. Because you can’t really know when you first meet someone whether there’ll be something there. You’re taking in too much other information. What’s up with their accent? Why don’t their shoes have any laces in them? Why is there fifty dollars missing from my wallet? To consider the potential of loving – or even especially liking – someone at first sight is just preposterous. I’m not sure it really happens. In movies, sure, especially if that someone is the coolest vampire in your high school, but otherwise – not so much.
So look, friends, don’t worry about romance on date number one. So many people do it, get all worked up, then email me and ask for advice. “I really thought we had a really good night. But I’m not sure if there was a spark. I mean, she smiled a lot, and let me pay for the drinks, but… I don’t know!!! I hope there was a spark! Do you think there was a spark?!” The answer is, I don’t have any fucking idea. And neither do you. In my case, it’s because I don’t particularly care. But in your case, it’s because there’s no way of knowing. If you had a good time, ask them out again and see if you can have a better one. That’s all you need to worry about right now.
I say all this in an effort to take the pressure off. A first date is the easiest date to have. No pressure, no expectations, let’s just see if we can get along. Date number two is when things get more difficult. Critical thought is going on, tough questions are being asked. Chances are, if you pass the second date hurdle, you’re gonna have a good many more. That’s the real decision maker. Unless of course you fuck up date number three. That’s when people start taking off their shirts, and hell if I know what to do in that predicament. But worry about it then. Let the first date be the first date. OK? OK.