Random Observation/Comment #162: Relationships start in the weirdest ways, such as sparking a conversation over common interests in Live Action Role Playing (LARP-ing), or helping an old lady cross the street who has a beautiful granddaughter. I hope my last first-date involves an interesting story that can only be invented by this crazy world of probability. Maybe we would meet while donating blood on Valentine’s Day, and I would have a charmingly playful conversation with her in the seat next to me. I’d pick up the pink glove she accidentally left behind and try to organize a mingle event with hopes that she would attend. Unfortunately, I would act awkward and be the regional manager of a Paper Company in Pennsylvania, but it would be like a modern-day Cinderella (The Office reference, btw – I wouldn’t expect my Mom and Dad to get it).
First dates have become more of a sport for the new generation of teenagers. It’s understandable to invest the time and effort to get to know someone you may (or, most probably, may not) spend the rest of your life with, but some people feed on the thrill of meeting a new person and talking about themselves. It’s shouldn’t be the idea of buying dinner and sleeping with them; there needs to be a mutual attraction and you should genuinely want to find out more about the other person. In many cases, it’s similar to an interview, but hopefully the other person isn’t mentally checking off boxes (they probably are).
These first dates (where you gauge whether or not this person is psychotic or just slightly mental) are crucial for both parties. This is a mating ritual; and like all mating rituals, it requires an extra effort to show the best of your personality. However you choose to bulk your chest and “strut your stuff” is completely up to you, but hopefully this entry can, at the very least, help by parting some advice on the location and activities for this business. Although I have countless ideas for NYC, I will focus on London.
As I mentioned in earlier entries, I tend to judge the potential of the city I visit by the number of date-trips I can imagine from a few walkthroughs. London (in good weather) has surprised me with a large number of beautiful scenes and romantic walks that serve as a wonderful backdrop to a stimulating conversation. Needless to say, many of the first dates I prefer involve a level of audible communication. Although Broadway shows (if you’re rich), the movie theater (if you’re not as rich), and free underground concerts (if you’re poor or you’re just into that scene) can be great ideas for dates, I’ve found that they do not offer enough aural room to get to know the other person. If I spent the bulk of my money on such activities for first dates, my wallet would be inhabited by cartoon moths and dollar bill ghosts with wings accompanied by depressing violin solos. Instead, I rather invest my money in food. As a side note: Call me old fashion, but I was just brought up with the idea that no matter how much of a poor college student this guy is, he must pay for the dinner (In my fantasy world, the girl does not make a big deal out of me paying dinner, but offers to pay for dessert or buy me a drink later).
Keep in mind that this idea of a first date focuses on optimum conversation time. I would suggest the movie thing if the awkward silences occur too often. In the case where the silences are just unbearably painful to imagine in third person, the relationship will probably be an epic failure anyway. I’m a firm believer in some sort of chemistry that requires more than just getting lost in each other’s eyes for hours at a time. As just some basic advice on conversation topics, try to avoid stressful areas like repetitive work (unless they love their job) and focus more on hobbies and goals. Everyone has some sort of goal in their life, and you’d be surprised at how many stories people have about almost everything. I’ll leave the details of sweet-talking for another entry – good luck.
Just to clarify: my definition of a date is when only two people are participating in an activity together with knowledge that they are (mutually) interested in each other. I don’t count “dinner with 8 people where I’m talking to her most of the time” a date. That is all pre-date status, and I leave the technique of seeing the signs and asking this girl out, for another time.
Anyway, the dates I suggest will fit the following general outline: walk around towards a planned destination, attend the activity, have dinner at a decent place, have dessert at another place, and walk the girl home. Note that the main dependency of these dates is the weather, but I will offer alternatives.
- A stroll along the Southern Thames River – On a Thursday, Friday, or weekend, meet for lunch in Borough market near the London Bridge station. The day plan is to walk around the Tate Modern and then along the Southern part of the Thames towards the London Eye. This is a bit of a long walk, so get some soup or coffee at “Eat” or any other poshy looking place along the path is fine. I would suggest timing the walk around Buckingham Palace to see the sun start setting around 5PM. The sight from the London Eye is beautiful when the overcast is perfect. Since the girl (or me) has a camera, take your time with a few pictures and walk at a slower pace. Benches along the waterway offer a beautiful view and ample time for the “stretch to put your arm around her” move (don’t accidentally knock her out with your elbow). I don’t have many suggestions for dinner, but I’m sure there’s a “Yelp London edition” somewhere. The night walk back along the Southern Thames is romantically filled with beautiful lights hung on the trees or reflecting off the water.
- A stroll along the Northern Thames River – Start near Tower Bridge on the East and walk West through the Old City of London towards Trafalgar Square. For less walking, start near the Monument stop and then walk West through the narrow streets. I’m not sure about the romance factor, but pubs actually offer a nice selection of lunches. Usually dates lean towards afternoons, so this probably won’t be an issue. To reach Trafalgar Square near the National Gallery, you will pass St Paul’s Cathedral. The lazy can just take the tube and walk the National Gallery. Before dinner, walk around Covent Garden. I would suggest trying a place in Brick Lane for some Indian curry for dinner, but that lasting taste may not be ideal (Be prepared with gum?). If Brick Lane is a little far, Piccadilly Circus is always a great choice at night. It’s the Times Square of London and really adds to the atmosphere.
- Regent’s Park and Wax Museum – Start with the wax museum and spend the day taking pictures with these celebrities. The common “dry hump every wax figure” is a great way to loosen up the atmosphere – pictures and hilarity ensue. The afternoon, I would spend strolling Regents Park and maybe Regents zoo. Zoos are such fantastic dating locations (besides the random putrid smells). Everybody has a favorite animal, so I’m sure you’ll find at least a smile somewhere. I actually found a great place around Regents Park for dinner called the Sea Shell of Lison Grove. The fish and chips there are the best I’ve had in my life. Since it is a local favorite, it gets very crowded around 6:30PM so I would suggest arriving at 6.
- Hyde Park and Museum area – Depending on the type of girl, she may or may not appreciate walking around museums all day. Also, depending on your topics of interesting conversations, this museum idea could be just painful to watch. Regardless, I will suggest an early afternoon at the science museum and a late afternoon stroll through Hyde Park. The science museum was specifically chosen for some of the neon lit areas. In addition, the different toys in the cases really bring back memories and stories about our younger years. Just seeing the old Atari video game console in the window sparked a more playful personality. This open conversation about the little things triumphs the barrage of interview questions.
Walking through this city alone made me sigh a few times and think about old relationships. I didn’t really know what to do with myself except enjoy the present scenery and hope that I will, one day, be able to share this moment with someone else besides my camera. I imagine these places will just give an overall new feeling and context for each location. Sigh. At least there’s something to look forward to.
I have many more ideas, but I think this is a good start. This entry is getting too long anyway…
~See Lemons A Little Lonely