I’m a bona fide foodie. A Bon Apetit-subscribing, tasting-menu-ordering, nose-up-to-leftovers, chef-following food snob. This, dare I say, narrows my dating pool.
I resent being asked to pick the restaurant for a first date. Perhaps the guy is trying to be nice and letting me pick whatever I want. Maybe he doesn’t really care where we go. But it reads a bit lazy to me. I mean if you can’t even pick a restaurant for our first meet, you might turn into one of those men who moves in and then never does the dishes.
But let’s play this out for a minute and assume that I agree to such an arrangement. The normal variables are at play — what type of food, which neighborhood, etc., but in addition to those, there are others considerations which make things tricky. Like how much does he want to spend? What if what I consider a reasonable sum to pay for a meal, he considers a fortune?
Then there’s a matter of taste. Like the time I took a potential beau to my favorite sushi spot. He looked uncomfortable at first. I wondered if it was nerves… maybe a bad day…. Then when my food arrives, he calls it “Nasty,” and launches into a rant about how crazy it is to eat uncooked food. I can understand if you don’t like sushi (not really, but to each his own). That’s generally why there’s a whole side of the menu with COOKED options. And you, Mr. Attack Something So Bluntly Even Though You’ve Never Tried It — lose my number.
But let’s move on — another new friend joined me at a decent steak place. He was excited about my choice, appropriately complimented my great taste. We had good starter convo with lighthearted banter and unforced laughs. When the food arrived, he asked for ketchup. For a $50 steak. Seriously, you just ordered your steak well done and then asked for ketchup? If you wanted some juicy flavor, why did you ask them to burn the steak? I move on.
With those incidents, I feel my point is made: it’s much safer to let the guy choose the restaurant.
Yet somehow, that hasn’t always worked out so great either. Like one time, an interesting gentleman did a great job planning in advance. He asked what kind of food I liked, and we discovered that we both loved Indian food. Can’t go wrong with a good curry. And, usually Indian restaurants offer a great — and not too loud — atmosphere.
The night arrives and he takes me to a Jamaican restaurant. I know you must be asking — just like I was — how that is even remotely related to Indian? I KNOW!What’s worse, I am NOT a fan of Jamaican restaurants. The servers act like they’re doing you a favor for stopping to take your order. And worse still, the restaurant is usually out of what I want to order. Why is it on the menu if you never have it?! Luckily, the drinks are usually good. So I had some red-colored, sweet Koolaid-like concoction which certainly helped me make the most of things. Later when I whined to a girlfriend about the strange mixup, she explains that by Indian, he thought I meant West Indian. I’m still confused.
How about the fellow who picked the place where he loves the chicken wings. Enthusiasm is a beautiful thing. And I love it even more when people have favorite spots where they get the best treatment because they’re there so often. Yet watching you pick apart a chicken wing with sauce-covered fingers isn’t quite the way I wanted to get to know you.
The runner-up is the man who took me to Dallas BBQ where we had to yell at each other across the table. And again with the friggin’ chicken wings! And isn’t BBQs pretty much like going to Applebee’s at this point? Very hard to take you seriously, sir.
I now think I have the solution: no more meals on first dates. A coffee meetup is the new ideal. It’s short. It’s simple. There’s no sauce involved. Appropriate food temperature is usually not an issue (don’t play with me barista). And generally, no utensils or need for a toothpick, so it would be difficult to for bad table manners to emerge.
And, it’s a quick date, so if I find someone with some deep-seated resentment against cappuccino, I can escape in ten minutes tops.