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Avril Brown Presents:


“It’s a date.”
“It’s an interview, not a date.”
“Gwen, first dates are interviews.”

Interviews, emotional upheavals, level five disasters; first dates can be many things. What a first date should be, at least, is FUN. You never get belly squirmies quite like the ones associated with first dates. So why waste those squirmies on a typical dinner and a movie? Do something different, something unique. This way, if your date turns out to be a dud, you can still have yourself a good time.

One fantastic first date I went on was a trip to Dave and Buster’s. I had never been to this slightly-cheesy-yet-still-rocking bar/arcade before, and it’d been ages since I played any kind of video game. We played a car racing game, which I sucked at, then an interactive boxing game, where you have to physically duck to avoid being hit (I ducked at the wrong times and consistently overextended my right hook). The guy I was with happens to be a Green Beret in our United States Army, so needless to say he pretty much dominated the marksman games. I kept hitting the pedestrians. ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ followed (best done without a beer in one’s hand), as did a snowmobile racing game, which ironically enough, I kicked his ass at, despite never having been on one myself. We enjoyed the good natured competition until they closed, then continued the date over drinks and a peek at The Editing Room, a rather hilarious website that posts abridged scripts of various movies.

Another guy I dated put a different twist on the ‘dinner date.’ This wasn’t a first date, but it still bears mentioning for the sheer genius of it. I’m not very good at making decisions, so instead of asking me where I wanted to have dinner, he gave me three envelopes and told me to open one. He put the name of his three favorite restaurants in the cards and decorated with them pretty stickers. Included with each card was a piece of chocolate. So I picked the restaurant without an extraneous effort on my part, and I got a tasty surprise.

A few years ago, the guy I was seeing at the time took me to Cedar Point for the weekend. For those who live outside the Midwest, Cedar Point is an amusement park in Ohio, complete with some of the best roller coasters around. We chatted and soaked up some rays while waiting in line for thrillers like Mantis, Raptor and Millennium Force. Cotton candy and three hundred foot drops, now THAT was a fun date.

As far as I’m concerned, some dating ideas never go out of style. I count miniature golf amongst those timeless few. A bike ride along the beach, weather and geographically permitting, is another one. Outdoor dates can be such a blast, even when you live in Chicago during the winter. Snowball fights are a great way to get some exercise and feel the joy of snow down your neck. I would recommend against aiming for the face, however. You might be kissing that later, and you don’t want lumps where there should be no lumps. A trip to your favorite comic shop is always a win-win situation. If you have a fellow geek for a date, you can learn what they’re interested in and get more fodder for cool conversations. If your date doesn’t share your nerdy love, you can at least get some shopping done.

What you should be doing on your date, in addition to having fun, is talking. Conversation is key. You’re supposed to want to know things about your date. If you don’t want to know, then it probably should be your last date. Ask interesting questions, like: “Where have you always wanted to travel?” or “What was the best meal you’ve ever had?” Really listen to the answers, and learn. Don’t interrupt. That is partly my own pet peeve, but I believe it is simply common courtesy. If someone is saying something, let them fucking finish.

Talk about yourself, too. Share a couple of your most amusing anecdotes. Keep things light, try to make your date laugh. Humor is the key to happiness. Save the depressing, heavy shit until you’re balls deep in relationship territory. Same goes with the ex stories. Introduce something important to you. I usually tell someone I’m interested in that I love to read comic books and gauge the reaction. If he (or she) responds favorably, my interest increases. If said person could give a rat’s ass, I fish for something else. Opposites may attract, but a few common interests can help.

Also, despite popular belief, chivalry isn’t dead. Manners count. Guys, open the door for her. Give her a compliment that you actually mean. Ladies, wait a bit before criticizing the condition of his bathroom. Guys, clean the fucking bathroom.

Dating is a treasure hunt through a mine field. Exciting and unpredictable, scary and satisfying, it certainly keeps you on your toes. Sometimes you get lost, sometimes you get blown up. You have to figure out the clues and piece together the big picture to reach your pot of gold. You may find that what you thought you wanted was simply leading you to what you needed. Confusing and frustrating as hell at times, but when it works, when it fits, you feel it. And you soar.

But we all have to start at the beginning. Make each new beginning exactly that; something new and fresh and fantastically fun.

And remember, don’t be a fool. Wrap your tool.

Avril Brown

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