Thursday, February 11, 2010

The First Date (Part 1 of 2)

There always seems to be a lot riding on the first date: how to look, what to say, what not to say, what to say just enough of but not too much, excitement, nervousness, etc. Often you’re trying to remember the other person…what was she like? What were her hobbies? What did I say that made her laugh?

These are fair questions and are not meant to imply that men forget who they meet but, as has happened to me, you can meet a girl on a wild, crazy night like New Years and it can take two weeks to make plans due to voicemail-to-text complications, plus the human memory gets hazy. This was the case with “Sandra.”

I chose our first date to be at Ma’Kai, a restaurant in Santa Monica, on a Tuesday night at 8:00p.m. However, the date started before I set foot in the lounge, it began the moment I got out of the shower to figure out what to wear. There’s this great mysticism that girls are the only ones that are indecisive when figuring out how to dress, but the truth is us guys do it too. The big difference is that we have far less options, and we have to deal with other factors like which articles of clothing have no detectable odor, are the least wrinkled or have not been worn within the last 24-48 hours.

How To Dress For a Date

NO T-shirts. A clean, fitted-collared shirt, jeans and shoes that cannot be described as “tennis” are all you need. And don’t forget an awesome jacket, I have one from Italy that is made of leather and besides making me feel like an extra in “The Fast and The Furious,” it is damn stylish.

As I sat in the lounge, I was clueless on what to do. I had arrived early and didn’t want to flirt with anyone else at the bar, call up a friend or find something to read, so I sat down at a table and ordered myself a drink, trying in vain to repress every thought in my crowded head on how the evening should or could go. This is a shining example of how NOT to think, but as I am always learning in my scant 24 years on this Earth, I am progressing in the right direction. I started dating when I was 18 as a freshmen at UCLA, and even at the time I knew my tactics were different from those around me.

To learn more about the shift from pre-college to post-college dating, lets hear from LA Dating Blog’s female correspondent, and a good friend of mine, Maka Shepard:

“When you role around to your mid-twenties, there's one thing that a lot of men need to realize: you are not in college anymore. It’s time to turn "hanging out" with a girl you're interested in to "going on a date" with her. Unfortunately, there's no more grabbing dinner in the cafeteria or killing time in a dorm hallway to get to know someone better. Now, I'm not saying you have to go pick her up, present her with a box of chocolates and then take her to dinner and movie. Dear god no. I would be totally put off if someone I just met did that."

Tangent: On my very first date, I did exactly that, minus the chocolates. During Fall of 2003, I met a cute Latin girl named Rosalinda in a sociology class. I took her out to Westwood to grab dinner at BJs and a “pizookie” for dessert, which is a giant cookie with ice cream. The date was going well, the conversation was fun, and up next was the movie, a charming romantic comedy I hand-selected…called “Something’s Gotta Give” ... about senior citizens.

Despite the terribly awkward movie choice, we had a grand ol’ time and a very wet makeout session in a parking lot. As I walked back to my dorm, absolutely giddy, I had learned two things:

- the area right below the palm where there are a lot of veins is VERY sensitive and when caressed in a dark theater can unleash odd moans that to my virgin ears were unfamiliar.

- I really need to study up on the target audience of a film before seeing it on a first date, as cool as it was to see Jack Nicholson as a grandpa gettin’ his game on with Diane Keaton.

Back to Miss Shepard:

“It’s important to distinguish that you are interested in her. It can sometimes be hard, no one likes rejection. But you must be clear that you would like to spend some one-on-one time with her. Perpetually inviting her along to hang with you AND your five closest friends sends mixed signals. So next time you'd like to see a girl again, ask her out for coffee. Which in girl speak really means "I'd like to see you again."

Excellent advice from the other side! Now back to the date.

After several text messages on how she was running late, I heard an exasperated “Hey Eric, I made it,” from somewhere behind me.

I turned around to see Sandra, an attractive, fair-skinned blonde with chocolate eyes, looking radiant in a stylish red sweater.

This is one of the great thrills of dating, that moment.

The night had officially begun.

The Art of Conversation

While there are no rules to dating or first dates, there is some great advice to be shared, and to that I turn to another friend, Demetrio, as he relates a juicy nugget on chit chatting, and being funny.

“On a first date it is much better to exchange funny, non-offensive stories than to interview the person, tell them your life story or how great or bad you're doing in your career. Focus on the positive and notice how you are feeling on the date. Feelings are contagious, so if you're nervous or bored that means your date is going through some wacky emotions too, but if you're both laughing and having a good time, you're on the right track.”

This philosophy applies to life as well, the idea that how you are feeling will influence your reality. People call it having a good “vibe” (if you’re from beachy Southern California) or “energy” that communicates that you are a fun, exciting person to be around. This is absolutely key if you want to attract women, have friends and charm everyone around you.

In our second post on The First Date, we’ll see how that night with Sandra went, introduce another first date experience, the importance of losing expectations and we’ll touch on the most thrilling type of date that ever existed: THE BLIND DATE