Photo by BigStock/BAZA Production
Thinking back as far as I can, I believe my first “real” date took place when I was 16, on Valentine’s Day. I hadn’t realized the coincidental calendar commitment I had made at the time. My mistake.
This date required planning: I needed to borrow a car, not only for the date itself, but I couldn’t show up empty handed—my pre-planning phase would involve a trip to the mall. I needed to make dinner arrangements and I needed to find a movie for us watch after dinner.
I remember carefully curating my outfit—and not wearing it to school that day to avoid the hallway roasting it would have garnered. I doubled back to my mom’s house after school and changed into my ruffled, purple button-up and some too-baggy khakis. King of romance.
Driving my stepdad’s Honda Accord, I picked up my date and we had dinner in the restaurant at the local ski resort. It’s where we met; home turf. After dinner, we made our way to the theater, where I bought a pair of tickets to A Beautiful Mind. Before the movie, we exchanged gifts in the parking lot. Curve by Liz Claiborne for them, and a plate of baked goods for me. And a mounting migraine.
Halfway through the movie I left the theater. I didn’t anything; I just bolted. I had reached the nausea phase of the migraine cycle quicker than usual, so I had to go on the offensive. Eight minutes after abandoning my date in the theater, I abandoned my dinner in the parking lot.
Gum, new parking spot, composure.
I re-joined my date in the theater and watched the remaining 30 minutes of the film. They were a great sport about everything; I never had to explain myself. I always wondered if they noticed the car was in a different parking space than it was before the movie started. I don’t recall a second date.
Next came school dances and dates with work or school crushes. My early dating days preceded internet-assisted dating, so what you saw is what you got. Lots of mall trips and lake walks with people I already knew. Dozens of bags of popcorn—whose leftovers often lingered longer than my feelings did—accompanied the myriad of mindless movies I sat through in the pursuit of love. I saw Wedding Crashers twice.
I’ll package up my 18 years of dating experience into a single sentence: don’t start a relationship in the winter. It’s too cold to be standing around, waiting to be buzzed-into a building, or walking to an obscure parking spot to accommodate those super exclusive dinner reservations. Nothing says fancy like a cold-induced stutter for the ride home.
The good news is that we survived another one. Your life might look different than it did when winter set its hooks in months back, but we’ve reached our annual reset—we’re on spring’s doorstep. The world around us is slowly coming back to life—begging us to come back to it.
It’s dating season.