Aug 22, 2010

Is It a Good Idea to Do the Traditional Date?

Rule #1: don't read weird shit on a first date.
Wow. Times have changed.

A recent New York Times article quoted an 1860 personals ad, of a man in want of a wife:
“The advertiser, a successful young business man of good education, polite manners and agreeable address, having recently amassed a fortune and safely invested the same, wishes to meet with a young lady or widow."
A woman in want of a husband read:
“A young lady, rather good looking, and of good address, desires the acquaintance of a gentleman of wealth (none other need apply), with a view to matrimony.”
Wow. Very direct. No co-habitation. No confusion about which gender holds the bank account and which gender wants the bank account. And no confusion about gender either.

And that was for straight people.

In 1860 gay men were not posting personals in the New York Times. Maybe they were getting hot and heavy on the battlefield, but I am sure the documentation for that is somewhere buried deep in the Civil War record books. I'm not sure what they were doing, but read this article from BNAP and email me.

Anyway. I digress.

Today things are not so simple. We live in tough economic times but people want their contacts to be sexy, not frugal. Whether you are gay, straight, queer, bi, transgendered, or curious, dating is a messy game. At least in 1860 you knew what you were getting into: eventual matrimony. In 2010, it's anyone's guess what our motives really are. First of all, you have to stop to think, who really dates anymore anyway? When you just want a date, the whole scene can be a bit tricky. Who pays what? Do you hold the door open? What is the modicum of respect required? Do you kiss on a first date? Do you make out? Do you go all the way? How specific are you supposed to be? How vague?

Is it all about getting into each other's pants?

While men may think only with their nether regions, women think with their nether regions too. Getting into each other's pants is somewhere on the horizon, but the rules of engagement are not always so clear. If you're a single parent, you tend to be blackballed more than if you were married. Plenty of guys go on dating sites and eliminate 99 percent of the dating pool. I knew a guy who was in his 50s and he would only date blond-hair blue eyed intelligent women in the 18-30 range. Guys tend to look down on girls "who put out" but do not expect girls to judge their promiscuous desires. Gay guys are branded as promiscuous (or are they?), skipping the dating scene all together, and heading for the bedroom. Or the broom closet. But this is all changing, it seems. More guys are getting into the dating scene. I'm not sure if it is a victory of the far right, but sexual liberation and "free love" seem to be losing out, and monogamy and paying for the meal seem to be cashing in.

While Justin Templet over at the Maroon wrote an amusing piece on the possible benefits of shacking up on the first date, most people, gay and straight, tend to consider sex on a first date as a good ride, but a death knell to a future relationship.

Fuck revolution. And getting stoned. It seems we may be going back to the 1860s after all.

What's a guy to do? I was born in the wrong century, I guess. Or decade.
 
So, I decided to post a personal ad the other day and try this whole dating thing to see what it was really all about. I didn't even know gay men COULD date. I thought all we did was sit around and watch True Blood. Or the Big C. Or watch that damn Liza Minelli concert re-run on Showtime.

I geared up my writing chops and fired out a résumé of sorts:
A gentleman with aspirations for collegiate studies (but no employment) seeks like-minded chap to eat an ice cream in Times Square and check out that new Angelina Jolie flick.

After about ten days on the world wide web, I finally received a reply:

Him: hey whats up
Me: sup
Him: I'm a broker.
Me: Cool. Im broke too.
Him: No. I work on wall street. :-/
Me: Ohh. Coool.
Him: Yeah. You're cute. Let's hang out.
Me: Ok.
Him: Here's my number 123-456-7890


We ended up seeing Salt. Ebert is right, by the way, "Jolie's character, Evelyn Salt, makes it look as though "Run Lola Run" was about walking."
 
Although, some dating experts will say, going to a movie on a first date is a bad idea, we had fun whispering our reactions to Jolie's Spiderman jumping abilities. I guess the Baader-Meinhoff documentary would have been rough on a first go-around, or Salo, I thought a Jolie flick was pretty good.

We also ate ice cream and looked at the Hudson River. How romantic.

Actually, what I found interesting was that our "first date" consisted mostly talking about what etiquette one should follow on a date. He said the person asking the other person out should pay for the meal or movie. I'm not so sure about that. I think going dutch is proper enough. He also said, people should take turns doing polite stuff like holding doors and brushing lint off of each others shirt collars. I tend to disagree. I'm sure as hell not going to open the door so some shmuck can feel all "my-knight-in-shining-armor-has-come" about me.

The dating experts also say:
They do say some positives: Be on time, be a good listener. Yaddayaddyadda. Sex advice on the web is as plentiful as porn and as varied as the editorial page.

The vibe

I guess it all comes down to what I call the vibe. Either you click or you don't. Don't fret about it. There are lots of girls and boys out there to meet. I do not judge anyone. At the end of the day, it is how you manage to play out the dating game.

Hey, my best date ever was a Mardi Gras parade back in '09. We never kissed. We never had babies. In fact we never dated. We became friends. So, be less anxious about the prescriptions and more open to the possibilities.

So get off your puritan ass and go make that personal advertisement. Just make it civil enough to attract more than a "sup" or a "looking" and make sure you have enough money to avoid asking him or her to foot the rest of the bill - that is, unless the rules change tomorrow and this blog post is out of date (pun intended).

Wow. Times have changed.

If you have any of your own dating experiences that seem to either converge or diverge on the traditional, let us know. See that comment link down below? Use it!


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