Fair warning folks: this post is going to be as clichéd as the title and is about nothing that one hasn’t read before. Nonetheless, I want to travel the road frequently travelled, maybe, as a reinstatement that every new relationship brings with it, a new freshness and with that comes the rhetorical butterflies and the age-old question: What to do on a first date?
First Dates can result in two potentially crucial outcomes and accordingly, I categorise a first date as falling into two distinct buckets:
- The all important meeting process whereby a Could Be Girlfriend becomes a Would Be Girlfriend and then (fingers crossed!), the Girlfriend; or
- The all important meeting process whereby a Could Be Girlfriend ends up being just a Friend (much to your chagrin).
Therefore, the pressure that a First Date results in is fairly significant. And this predicament becomes even more difficult to resolve when you are in the initial stages of getting to know your date.
We met through a common friend and our initial exchange consisted of very ambiguous monosyllables of, “arrey’s”, “hmmm’s”, “okay’s” and “super’s”. But once I got to know her a bit more, I realised much to my delight that she could talk nineteen to a dozen. I learnt that despite my initial impressions of her being the quiet girl next door, she had strong opinions and was not afraid to express it. She was also extremely passionate about humanitarian and social causes. A natural born player, she was gifted with an incredible ability to spin yarns and soon enough, she had wrapped me up with her words. I would come back from work and she would regale and refresh me with her chatter. There were stories about her travel misadventures, her culinary skills, her colleagues and friends, her future plans and even more random ones about a chimp (which she never really finished).
I don’t recall which one of us asked the other for a date first. This is how I remember it: I asked her if she thought this would go anywhere and she replied “Well, let me put it this way. I may feel like eating chocolate ice-cream right this moment. But I don’t know if I will really like it, when I do finally have it”. So a date was planned to test the waters.
The only catch was that we lived in different cities. So after much plotting and planning to arrange business meetings in her city…we decided to meet for dinner. However, my date left it to me to pick the venue with the ultimate dare: “surprise me”. Being an out-of-towner, the Times Good Food Guide and my friends were summoned immediately. But from merely having to decide on a restaurant, suddenly I was faced with many more choices than I had been prepared for.
- Go all out and be super romantic and over the top on the first date?
- Keep the date low key and under-stated instead to avoid undue pressure?
- Consider ambience as a deciding factor? Outdoors or indoors?
- Dress-up for the date or play it cool and casual instead?
- Get your date flowers or chocolates? Or nothing?
- Discuss exes on your date? Or talk about current crushes?
- Keep the conversation light and fluffy or have a heavy duty conversation?
- Make plans for the future (fun road trip plans)?
- Insist on paying or split the cheque or let her pay?
- Drop her home post the date?
- Be the first to kiss her goodnight and be the first to message or call them after the date?
So for those of you, who wonder if the butterflies in your stomach on your first date appear because of the onslaught of raging hormones on seeing your hot date, think again. It’s because of all these questions fluttering in your mind.
My very own First Date Crisis Management Committee of course had differing views on all these questions. After much deliberations, three bookings were made (in super fancy, semi-fancy and regular categories) in restaurants across the city. The final choice would be made depending on what felt right at the nth hour. It was decided that following my arrival in Bombay where I was to meet her, I would take the next day off to make preparations for the night and the necessary appointments were made at the salon in Bombay.
The evening before our date I woke up at four in the morning to catch an early flight to Bombay. I had meetings all day till 10PM. I had just about finished dinner and got into my hotel bed in Colaba when my phone rang at 11PM. It was her. We chatted for about 10-15 minutes, when all of a sudden she decided she wanted to meet that very night instead. It was quite crazy considering we were both dead tired and at the other ends of the city. Most importantly, I was having a super bad hair day with my hair all oily and frizzy, my eyes puffy, my lip gloss mysteriously missing and I had not had a manicure or pedicure in over three weeks. In other words, I looked like crap. But it was too tempting to not meet when we were in the same city. So I jumped out of bed, hailed a cab and rushed across town to meet her in Bandra.
And there she was, standing outside her building, in a yellow t-shirt and jeans, all bright and shiny. It was past midnight and we walked across to the only coffee shop that was open at that hour. The streets were filthy and deserted. An odd dog was barking on the street. There was absolutely nothing romantic about this escapade. All the elaborate preparations of our first date had gone to waste. Yet surprisingly, none of it mattered.
What mattered was that she was there with me. And even though she was tired, there was a twinkle in her eyes and a huge smile on her face. We talked about everything and nothing in particular. In the end, I didn’t even know whether my date liked the chocolate ice-cream that was offered to her or not. But just as we were parting and exchanging goodbye kisses, she accidentally kissed me on the lips and there in my dirty cab, I happened to taste a very exotic strawberry ice-cream for the first time. And boy, I could so grow to love this flavour. She breezily left, probably unaware of what had just transpired, But for the first time that evening, my heart fluttered and there were butterflies in my stomach. The kind you read about in books. And this time it wasn’t out of nerves or stress or anything scary like that. It was an overwhelmingly good feeling. And it made me incredibly happy. I think this is what they call, post First Date Flutters.