Saturday, April 23, 2011

Death to the Coffee Date.

The thing about dating is, you get into a rut. Into a routine. First dates start to follow the same pattern: keep it casual, meet for a coffee at a random coffee shop, chat informally, the end. It gets to become so familiar that, well, you get bored, even if the person sitting across from you changes.

I get it, I do. The whole "meet and greet" coffee date is not high-stakes. You don't have to shell out a lot of money or time to meet someone you might despise. You don't have to dress up, or bring flowers, or spend more than an hour in a relative stranger's company. But - why can't a first date be high stakes? How much can you impress over a cappuccino? My experience has been, it's limited.

I meet a lot of pleasant men on these coffee dates. But no one who sets my heart a-flutter over my mug, you know?

Take the Mathematician, for instance. I met him online a few months ago and we traded emails. He was funny, witty, self-deprecating, intelligent - he checked all the boxes, from a correspondence perspective. We lost a little bit of momentum over the past month or so, but he got back in touch and insisted that we meet up soon, for coffee. And we did, yesterday.

He was perfectly nice. Well dressed, in jeans and a Lacoste golf shirt. He was pleasant and polite, if a little restrained and shy. Where was the witty self-deprecation of his emails? Partly, I think it's because it would have seemed odd for him to get too raucous at Starbucks at 3 in the afternoon, you know? I suspect there might be a really fun party boy under the polite veneer, but darned if I could see it.

And so the verdict was...meh. His choice of date really didn't fit the personality I had suspected he had, but he had chosen the perfectly safe, perfectly acceptable "first date" location. And as a result, I only got the Coffee Shop Edition of the Mathematician, and I could kind of care less if I see him again.

So - what's wrong with high stakes? Let's take a cooking class, or go to a comedy night, anything other than sitting politely facing each other at a too-small table, over too-big coffees. Show me your crazy, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get a second date.

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