I would like to make a request…no, a plea to those persons asking other persons out on dates: You know that first dates suck. Can you please, please put some effort into trying to make the experience NOT SUCK?
Don't get me wrong. I realize it's not all your responsibility. Whether you are the asker or the askee, a first date is stressful, awkward, and just all-around wretched.
That said, as the asker, it is your responsibility to at least try to make it not horrible. You were the one who decided this was worth the risk after all. You looked at the other person and said "Yes. Yes that person is so potentially great that it would be worth putting myself through the torture of a first date to hopefully get to a second date [or whatever your endgame may be]."
Why the desperate plea with humanity? Well, I had a date last Sunday, with Mr. Note—who, no matter how hard I try to give him that nickname, just keeps ending up being referred to as Laundry Room Guy—and it was incredibly disappointing.
In case this is an issue of men not realizing the kind of effort an average woman puts into simply preparing for a date, let me clue you in to what I went through:
Thursday evening he asked me out, the same day I gave him my number, to meet up Sunday afternoon. I was working a trip for three days, finishing up Sunday morning with a red-eye that got into my home airport at 6:15 A.M.
I came home and made breakfast, took an extremely thorough bubble bath (an attempt to forget about the 2 medical emergencies and 1 major catering mishap I had had to deal with in the last 24 hours), and went to bed for 2 hours. I got up and caffeinated. A lot. I drank a lot of coffee. I drank a lot of coffee while I blow-dryed my hair, curled my hair, and styled my hair. I continued drinking more coffee while I put on my makeup. I drank coffee while I changed my mind countless times about 4 different outfits, all of which would ultimately end up being hidden underneath a jacket. I continued drinking coffee while my roommate talked me out of talking myself out of going on a date. Ultimately, the fact that I had gone to all the trouble of styling my hair ensured that I was not going to back out of this date. My hair looked good. I was not going to let it go to waste.
But the real reason? The real reason I went on that date was because there's always that chance that maybe this will actually surprise me and be a great time. I mean, this guy was cute enough to leave me a note telling me I'm beautiful. To quote Will Smith in Hitch,
"No woman wakes up saying 'God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today.'"
It is exactly that hope, the hope that maybe this time I'll get swept off my feet that keeps me going back in the ring, no matter how many times before I've been knocked down.
So imagine my surprise when I met Mr. Note outside our building, we began walking, I asked where we were going, and he shrugged.
Yeah. He didn't know. He hadn't thought that far ahead, even though he'd asked me out three days ago. We walked a few more steps, as my mind reeled with shock and disappointment and, yes, hurt, and he suggested getting a cup of coffee.
Well, you guys know how I feel about coffee. Obviously I agreed.
We walked past the nearest coffee shop and I said nothing, assuming he had a place in mind. Until he suddenly stopped and looked around, confused. "I could have sworn there was a coffee place here somewhere."
Sighing, I took control of the situation. "We just passed Intelligentsia three storefronts ago. Up ahead on the left there's Bow Truss, and if you want to keep on going down the lane, there's a Gas Light Coffee Roasters." Also within walking distance: New Wave Coffee or Starbucks. He had no opinion. "Well, I find Intelligentsia's coffee a little bitter, so let's do Bow Truss."
I later ascertained that he has in fact lived in our building exactly as long as I have. He has no excuse for not knowing where the nearest coffee place is, even if he doesn't regularly drink coffee. Keep in mind that he had three days after asking me out to think "Well, maybe we should get coffee. Isn't there a place on ___ Street? I'd better walk that way on my way home from work tonight to figure out exactly where it is."
Understand, reader, that that is all I am asking for here. I am not making crazy high demands of random 20-something men on a first date. I do not need expensive or elaborate or one-of-a-kind (not that I would protest any of those things). But I do need a tiny bit of effort. I need a little bit of thought and planning put into the date to say "Hey, I think you're somewhat worthwhile." I reserve the right to expect that from a date.
It's been another three days, and just when I was thinking I wouldn't have to reject him because it was clearly a mutual disappointment, he sent me a text asking me to dinner this week. I dare not imagine the "But what do you want to eat?" black hole that might ensue.
Before anyone jumps down my throat to demand I give him another chance, there were plenty of reasons that Mr. Note and I were not compatible. First and foremost being that he is too young for me and a smoker. I would have been hard-pressed to convince myself to go on a second date even if he hadn't conveyed that I wasn't worth any exertion or forethought.
Because for the record, that is the message this sent, no matter the actual feelings or intentions. Mr. Note made me feel undervalued and under-appreciated. I had agreed to spend some of my down time with him—time that I would have preferred to spend sleeping to recover from my red-eye work flight—and he hadn't even scoped out an ever-loving coffee shop.
I did not tell him this because as I have said before:
It is neither my desire nor my responsibility nor my right to try to teach every socially inept man in the world how to interact with women.
So, I said thank you but told him he was too young for me and I would hate to lead him on. So of course, after all of that, I still end up feeling like a heel. Awesome, subconscious. Thanks for that.
I will close this off with the same entreaty I opened with: For God's sake, put a little effort into dating. Make it more fun because right now it really sucks.