A Good Date

After having a conversation earlier today where we discussed the concept of how many people actually go on fun dates on occasion versus people who have generally always experienced dating despair I’ve been thinking. And, I’ve realized that it isn’t so much that I’ve heard people say they went on good dates as much as I’ve observed it.

That is, I’ve seen them gazing fondly and mindlessly at someone in a state of semi-bliss. Or I’ve heard them describing a date with happy abandon afterward. Seen photos. I don’t know, somewhere I heard stories about people having fun dates and I got the impression that I was different than the norm in never having experienced that. Like, it was more normal to have actual fun.

Yet, as I finish that thought it occurs to me how suspicious some of those observations become upon further inspection. I’ve been plagued my whole life by “friends” who pretended to be innocent at times when they really were being mean. Could it be that some people consciously exaggerated their accounts to sound victorious and superior knowing how much I wanted a boyfriend when I didn’t have one in my youth. Or they were trying to trump me knowing how bad my dates had been? Mmm… It’s intriguing to me. Could some people have played up their happiness? Their…blissful gazes?

I doubt everyone lied. Truly. Some people really were that happy or that in love or both.

But…what comes to mind right now is a situation when I had a crush on someone who had a crush on me yet he chose to date someone else instead. It was one summer in college.

This other young lady was really into him and he dated her because of that (admittedly) and then they vaguely paused things (?) and he left for Vienna where his family lived and when he came back months later (to visit before returning home again) we hugged and he quickly looked at me and said, “We have unfinished business.” It was clear based on added non-verbals that he meant something different than just friendship. I wasn’t able to see him again and nothing ever happened but I guessed then that he had been hiding feelings for me months before while dating her… What were those dates like? She might have been having genuine fun as she seemed to think he adored her but what was he thinking and feeling? Who else did he have unfinished business with (ha!) or worse what if he really liked me?

Once I had someone ask me to a college dance in a very romantic way. I worked at the school library (as per usual) and he walked up to the desk and just asked me out. Very casually. He was like that though. He was not a very tall young man but he was very smart and very intense and his grandparents were intellectuals who (grandmother and grandfather) had both actually worked on the Manhattan Project. Anyway, he wrote me a lovely email afterwards and I decided to go with him even though at the time I was smitten by a young unmarried professor a lot of the female students swooned over. It was a dead end crush for me and I should have taken the date to the dance so much more seriously but my heart was elsewhere.

The date was a disaster. He made dinner and it was nice but we felt like friends more than anything and then afterwards my dress malfunctioned unbeknownst to me while we posed for photographs. I hope he didn’t keep those photos because I looked ridiculous in all of them. Sincerely.

At the dance itself I disappointed him with my lack of dancing skills which was bad considering he was one of the best dancers on campus. He was only mildly polite about it. Then I disappeared and later got a ride home with friends.

…Anyway, it’s hard to have fun on a date when your mind or heart are elsewhere. It’s also difficult to have fun when you feel uncertain or uncomfortable.

One of the most pleasant dates I’ve witnessed was between two people who were never likely to be together yet didn’t care. Didn’t care not out of cynicism or something similar but out of youth and immaturity and naïveté.

He was a spoiled but troubled young Millennial with a (mild) police record and she was a chaste, homeschooled Millennial who loved Rammstein. She looked at him with such reverence and he must have at least had a huge crush on her. In fact, his (eventual) first wife even looked like this young lady (I’m not the only one to think that). Anyway, they dated and she dated his older brother as well… And they all seemed to have fun. People worried about them while they were dating because they were dating because it looked like they would all get hurt in different ways. But none of them seemed particularly troubled by any of the drama. Not really anyway. Of course they all had loyal friends and loving families though so they all had something to run off to or someone to talk to when they felt bad. And again, they were young.

…The most fun I’ve ever had on an official date? It’s in retrospect but truly I think it’s the night I had dinner with Mark at a very old pub (dating back to the 1600’s or before) drank good ale, ate great food and then walked back to our hotel up a hill in the dark. We didn’t fight. We had fun. It felt nice. Not like a romantic date because we were more or less just on a vacation and we needed to eat and sleep but it was pleasant. Mark will be fun to travel with as a friend and co-parent overseas. He likes to keep busy but he’s a free-spirited traveler and I’m the same way. We’re not people who would go on a guided tour unless we absolutely had to.

Near our hotel.

Anyway, I wonder if it’s tragically normal or at least more normal than it should be to go on stressful or challenging dates. Maybe.