Reba and I have been watching this Mormon Bachelorette thing lately. Apparently this Mormon gal, Aubrey, tried out for the real Bachelor and received a callback, but decided it was a waste of time because she wants to meet and marry a Mormon guy. So she and a few friends started this little Mormon Bachelorette thing where they film a bunch of dudes taking her on dates and then it goes to the next round, and I’m not sure what happens after that. I have three thoughts so far.
1. Kyle (date number 12) is my favorite so far. Great guy. I dare you to absorb that great-natured smile of his and to walk away without a piece of hear heart missing. Go ahead, try. (and it doesn’t hurt that I LOVE that song playing throughout Kyle’s date. Can someone give me the title of that puppy?)
2. I don’t understand who’s filming these dates. The camara man can’t be getting paid, so that means he’s participating in the awfulness that is most first dates, every night, for hours and hours, for free, without any of the potential upside the daters themselves receive for enduring the ritual. And it doesn’t seem like a robot camera man either, because you don’t have the jerky movements or hydraulics noises you get with a robot filming something, so I don’t know.
3. I have a message for the people of Southern California: Stop wearing Ed Hardy gear. T-shirts with skulls and flames and whatever else on them are not cool, unless you’re trying to be funny. They are super, super geeky. T-shirts with skulls on them that cost 60 or more dollars are even geekier.
Anyway, it’s been fun watching the Mormon Bachelorette. Not sure why. Probably because I’m a human and all humans are voyeurs at heart. For those of us who have been married for a few years of more, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to date. We watch NBC’s Bachelor and see that dating is lots of drama and romance and crazy people and cleavage. But you probably don’t remember experiencing those things in your dating life (except the cleavage, for those of you who dated at UVSC. Hey-oh!) But you watch the Mormon Bachelorette and you remember what dating is really all about: Two well-intentioned people sharing five fairly-to-extremely awkward hours together.
Everyone inherits different skills from their parents, right? My folks aren’t great at pranks or auto mechanics or dancing, and they don’t care about being up with the latest Sommerset fashion (Davis learned to dress like a Sommerset prep all on his own, just like Ryan learned to dress like a blind Slovenian orphan all on his own) and they weren’t the best at buying really cool gifts to give our friends at their birthday parties (Calculator. True story; ask Davis), but one of the many things they were/are very good at is making conversation. So at a relatively early age we all (introverts and extroverts alike) learned how to engage people in conversation with some success. So just like the people who are amazed at me for the various ways in which I’m clueless or incompetent, I’m always shocked at how bad people can be at…talking…to other people. This is the first problem with dating. Many people just don’t know how to chat.
The next problem is that most folks accept the convention that a date has to be a four or five hour deal on a weekend night. Or maybe that’s just a Mormon thing, I’m not sure (do we have any non-Mormon readers here? I know of AT LEAST one. If any of you are out there, please tell us if this is just a Mormon thing). You mark off a Friday or Saturday night and do dinner and then do something else for a few hours after dinner. So even for two world-class chatters who hit it off, this is just a painfully long time to make small talk with someone you don’t know (Most of us can’t even talk to someone we DO know that long, unless, you know, you’re both girls). You might both be miserable and would both be thrilled if the other said “You know what, I’m not feeling it with you.” Or “I honestly just have nothing else to say to you for now. How about we call it a night?” but no one is courageous enough do go through with it.
One day, a couple years into my college dating career, I had an epiphany: “I don’t have to do five hour, fifty dollar first dates anymore.” So I did what should have been obvious to me much earlier, and what should be obvious to every other dater: I started doing one-hour dates. I would either do lunch, or I would take them to get hot chocolate or desert somewhere on a school/work night, scheduling the date at 9 pm, which imposed a natural cut-off point an hour or so later. This changed my life. Made dating endurable and even fun. My first date with Reba was a weeknight hot chocolate date. Her belly was warmed by the hot chocolate I paid for with my own money, just as her heart was warmed by my tender, passionate small talk.
Blind dating is an evil empire all on its own, so I think I’m going to save that for its own post, but oh brother.
So my dating message to the world is three fold.
1. Do hour-long dates.
2. Fellas, whatever you decide to do at the end of the date on the door step will be fine, so long as you execute it with total confidence and jungle-cat efficiency. If you’re a hug guy, then you just go right in there, you give that woman a hug she’ll never forget, then walk away. If you’re a kiss guy or a wave guy, same deal. Don’t stall, just get it done, smile and say “thanks again. I had a great time. Talk to you later.” Then turn around and walk away. But don’t waffle. Don’t do the awkward dance of going in with slow, hesitant movements that are working their way up to a hug or half hug or kiss or whatever; movements which adapt every second depending on your reading of her physical response to your unreadable weirdness. And don’t stand there with your hands in your pockets saying “So, I guess, well…” Take your destiny into your own hands, man! You’re fore fathers conquered land, sea, and space, so start acting like it!
3. Learn to ask people questions about their lives beyond “So what’s your major/job?” If this doesn’t come naturally to you, do what Davis once discovered a roommate doing; write some questions and talking points on a 3×5 card (Another true story. “How many siblings?” “Like your job?” “hobbies?” “War on terror.”). So sad and funny. But so sweet.
I’m glad I’m not dating anymore.
(P.S. if anyone can find and email me the video of Lane’s conversation with his blind date in Better Off Dead so that I can use it in my blind date post, I’ll be in your debt.)