MASTER CLASS: The First Date

A little over a week ago I met a male friend of mine for a bottle wine. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year. We had a lot of catching-up to do, to say the least. After our usual discourse on business and real estate matters and all of the countries he’s traveled to; he’ll always ask about my love-life.  Ugh.

“Well,  I’ve been on quite a few Happy Hours dates…”

My friend chuckles asking, “Have you had a c-o-n-v-e-r-s-a-t-i-o-n with these men before you meet them?”

“Of course! Obviously more than just one conversation. And texting.”

Shaking his head, “Heather, Heather, Heather.”

“Yes?”

“Look, if a guy likes you—if he really wants to get to know you—he doesn’t ask you, Heather Bise, to meet for a coffee or drinks. He requests to take YOU to dinner. Hell, three years ago when we met, after talking to you for five minutes, I knew you’re a woman to have dinner with.  I don’t even think it was seven minutes in when I interrupted that charming Cleveland-banter of yours, asking if you’d like to have dinner the following evening. Right?”

“Yeah. Actually, it was one of the best pick-up lines I had ever heard,” pausing to lower my voice to sound-like my male friend, with a bit of a playa’ bravado, “I NEED to know you, REALLY KNOW YOU. Let me take you to dinner tomorrow night.” I laugh.

He laughs: “Damn, I could’ve done so much better than that! Jesus, now I know why you have such lousy luck with men.  You’ll go out with anyone…for coffee!  And pay their mortgage too!” (not really)

My retort, “Hmmm, I wouldn’t say that. I’m just practical, down to Earth. Open-minded.”

“You are, but there’s so much more to you than that practical Heather. You’re priceless, in a very good way. You need to embrace that…”

To tell you the truth, I thought my friend was completely off base, giving me too much credit for being some “special woman,” putting me on some kind of pedestal or whatever.  Then, days later I started thinking, really thinking.  He was right, in a way. When I looked at all of the men I’ve dated—those who I had dinner with on the first date, whether they blossomed into long romances or fizzled into friendships, the majority of them are still in my life–as friends who I admire, and I’m pretty sure they respect me too. I think of them with fondness. They’re good memories—those dinner dates.  The guys I just had coffee with or met for drinks:  Some of them blossomed into relationships—and those didn’t necessarily end well, and for the most part, they’re not part of my life at all anymore.  I don’t even think of them, fondly or otherwise. It was “just coffee” or “just drinks” and some turned into “just a relationship,” and I usually picked-up the tab. And I don’t really have time for just that, anymore.

Then I asked myself what happened to courtship and sharing a meal on that first date: Was it the Recession? The Internet? Smartphones? Online dating? The acceptable era of hook-ups? Female Equality? Social media?  I don’t have a clue, but now I see The Light, so to speak.

There is something magical that happens when you go to dinner with someone who you are beginning to know.  I like the ceremony of dining with someone and there’s so much you learn about a person-of-interest when you share a meal (accompanied by wine) with them. And for the most part, we wear nicer clothes when dinner is involved; we look our best—because a meal is involved. It’s respectable; we value it and somehow we actually value the other person’s time more too.

You just don’t get the same vibe from someone when you just meet to drink, munching on bar-bites with televisions in the background, or just having a cup of coffee, wearing jeans. It’s too casual. Don’t get me wrong, I love casual and I’m always down for drinking at a dive-bar; but that should come later in the relationship, not the first date.  I mean, if I had to impress a client on that first day of showing properties, I definitely wouldn’t take her to some random “happy hour” place, in between appointments. I’d step-it up, big time, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll even get a sale out of it. Yet, I still continue to court my customers and future clients, anyway.  So, why should I settle for “just coffee” or “just drinks” on a first date…

Finally, before my male friend and I parted ways, he said, “Heather, promise me that you will never go out with a man unless he takes you to dinner on the first date. And he has to be the one to suggest dinner—NOT you. And stop paying—let someone court you.”  (Yeah, he knows me)

Today, I can make that promise to my friend. I get it…and bit more than he intended.

And, I feel that every woman deserves dinner on the first date. We’d all be bit more choosey if we went back to that old-fashion courtship. It’s a nice foundation for whatever the future holds…romance or friendship or possibly both.  I can embrace that.

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