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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

No Shame Senior Year: Trials and tribulations of a first date

If romance and chivalry are dead, does that mean the date has gone with it? After a friend was asked out by an older guy a few weeks ago, I realized that I have not thought about a real, good old-fashioned date in what seems like ages.

In our college culture that is dominated by hooking up, meeting people at parties, in class or through friends, is there still room for the first date?

Macalester is not date-less. Since I have been promoting the courage to ask someone out lately, I figured it might be useful to bring up the subject of the first date. I have had a few over the years myself, ranging from exhilarating to less than ideal.

Coffee dates and study dates are probably the most common for the cheap college crowd. Studying of course offers the safeguard of actually studying when there are those awkward pauses in conversation, whereas a coffee shop has a certain intimacy. While good standbys, something a little more out of the ordinary can offer a better choice for a first date.

Trying something new can open you up to a new relationship and keep you from falling back onto preconceived notions. I think of a first date I had where I took a leap of faith with a guy I knew very little about and on the surface, had little in common with. I let him show me his idea of a fun night at Macalester, which included hanging out with most of the football team. Intimidated I surely was, but found that playing a few rounds of beer pong with him boosted my confidence and I ended up winning him over with a quite impressive final shot. If a date so beyond my comfort zone could be so enjoyable, certainly a second date was called for.

Not all first dates can be great. Dates are like job interviews in a way: you give it your best and it works out only a certain percentage of the time. One date, sophomore year, brought me literally to tears. The guy made me dinner, including pho, a Vietnamese soup I had never had before. I am one to try new things, as you have seen, and I love spicy food most of the time. However, being polite only went so far as I tried to eat this soup that made me eyes well up, my nose run, and my face turn red. After eating this, we finished the meal with chili-flavored lollipops. I decided that if I could not handle a meal with the guy, his romantic personality would probably be a little too intense as well.

There are instances where going too far out of one’s comfort zone can be troublesome. If you like a girl and she happens to be an art history major, it might not be the best idea to take her to an art museum and ask her the meaning of a Rothko. Conversely, I would not take a guy to an art gallery, unless I knew we shared that interest.

I find it best to have my first date alone with the person. This way we get more time to talk and are not distracted by other people (particularly that friend who tends to dominate conversation). Also, this way, all the shots are up to the two of us. One summer date going out to dinner ended with a lovely view of the Milwaukee skyline atop one of the city’s tallest parks, and it was because the night was up to my date and me. We could let our whims take us to new and exciting views.

Lastly, dates do not need to be large productions. In fact, over-thinking them often can bring about the end before a beginning exists. A friend of mine began a great relationship with a few dollar dumplings. Some of my best college dates have consisted of chilly fall walks to the river with more conversation than there is time. With few expectations, I have been surprised how quickly I could understand Einstein’s theory of relativity.

I am an optimist, sometimes so much so that I induce nausea in my friends. However, I hope that the date is not dead for Macalester students; perhaps it is just hibernating and needs to be reawakened by some courageous individuals. A date is the lowest form of commitment, and with so many other commitments in our lives, it might be the best way to meet a significant other. It means, “I might like you, but want to test that hypothesis by doing something together and seeing if I enjoy our time.” It attaches no strings like a relationship, and if it does not work out, it will result in less awkward campus interactions than a Friday night hookup. The rewards certainly outweigh the risk, even if those risks include some freakin’ spicy soup.

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