A few nights ago, I made the decision to remove my laptop from its permanent home next to my reading chair, and carry it to a too-cool-for-school coffee shop near my apartment. I thought a change of scenery might do me, and my productivity level, some good.
I was sipping a chai tea latte and enjoying some harmless people watching, when a young couple who were clearly on a first date sat down next to me. They started off with the usual banter about their jobs, their roommates, how they like/hate D.C.. The date seemed to be going really well, until they ended up talking about their favorite things (movies, restaurants, etc.).
“The Great Gatsby is my FAVORITE book. I’ve read it probably one hundred times,” the woman said with a flourish.
“I haven’t read that since highschool,” the man replied, “who was your favorite character?”
“Probably the guy with the house,” she said.
There was a pause in the previously free-flowing conversation.
The change in the air was instant and palpable. Where there had once been electricity, there was now stagnation. Watching them over the top of my computer screen, I could see the man’s mind working. “The guy with the house? Does she mean Gatsby…the title freaking character?” He took a long sip from his cup, and shifted in his seat.
“Well, what was it you liked about the book?” His tone was suddenly tentative, like a man walking through a minefield.
“The clothes,” she responded.
The date continued on, but the magic had clearly died. By the end, the two of them were sucking down their previously sipped drinks trying to get to the end of the date faster. It was sort of sad to watch their date go from promising to painful in such a short span of time.
Now, I don’t know this woman, and I certainly don’t know if she’s read The Great Gatsby 100 times, let alone once. But if she was pretending it was her favorite book to sound smarter or well-read, she needn’t have bothered. The guy was really into her until he got the sense that she was faking it.
I wonder what would’ve happened if she’d said Twilight or Hunger Games? Maybe he would have judged her, or maybe he would have found her honesty refreshing. The world will never know.
Witnessing this incident got me thinking about the biggest mistake that I’ve ever made on a first date. I thought about it for nearly an hour, and couldn’t think of any particularly troublesome behavior. Then, on my walk home, it hit me. The biggest mistake I ever made didn’t happen on the first date itself, it happened immediately after.
I’d gone to a nice bar for a drink with a man that I’d met through work. We had a good conversation. We shared a few laughs. And as I climbed in a cab to go home, I thought, “Wow. That was a pretty good date.”
So there I was, sitting in the back of a cab, driving past the Capitol, when I was suddenly hit with this deep feeling of loneliness. Moments before, I’d been thinking about what a great guy my date was and hoping I’d see him again. Then, in an instant, my post-date buzz was hijacked. It was like I took the souffle from the oven to soon and watched it deflate before my eyes.
I couldn’t shake the feeling, and so I did what I used to do when I got lonely: I text messaged my ex “just to say hi.” Like we were ever capable of a simple “Hello.” You can imagine how healthy that conversation was.
The guy called the next day, and we went on two more dates, but the spark had been snuffed out. The connection was gone. What was new and unspoiled felt tainted somehow by my shame, and I just couldn’t recapture that first date magic.
So let this be a lesson to you all, when you have a nice date with someone, revel in it for a minute. Don’t get lonely and dial your ex-boyfriend or go back to your apartment and start Googling baby names for your future children. Just take a breath, and bask in the glow of a nice first date.
So what’s the worst mistake that you’ve ever made on a first date?