My first date was when I was 14 – a night out to the movies in downtown West Palm Beach, chauffeured by my older cousin. I was with my first boyfriend, had my first kiss and it was followed by my first punishment when my parents found out I lied about what I was doing that night.
My most recent date was a night out in a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere South Korea with my boyfriend who was visiting. We each had our own whole entire chicken in ginger soup. We sat on the floor and drank Korean rice wine and wandered down to a river festival afterwards – full and drunk and happy.
My best date was a day in Manhattan with my then boyfriend who lived just outside the city. We exited the subway and found ourselves in the middle of a gay pride parade; spent the majority of the afternoon in the MOMA choosing our favorite pieces based solely on details like, “That’s pretty” and “I like those colors”; ignoring our higher education and intellectual capacity for more pretentious tastes and reflections. Our post-cultural fine dining was pizza and cheesecake. A stroll in the Central Park to walk it off found us in the middle of a summer rainstorm. We bought and shared an umbrella. Our stroll was all the more perfect thanks to that drizzly, easy way that rain shifts your perspective; skewing appearance and reality ever so slightly. I fell in love with that day and confused it with falling in love with him.
Each of these dates were memorable – but not because of any particular foresight that I can attribute to myself or my dates.
My first kiss was not planned nor was the punishment that became part of the story.
Rural, foreign countryside date is romantic – yes. But I live here so it is situational not intentional romance.
I did not plan the gay pride parade or the rain – two factors of my most perfect date that contributed to its ranking as “best”.
When I think back to the dates that stand out, and when I have asked people to recount their favorite dates to me, a common thread is woven. And it’s not the planning involved beforehand or the over-priced meal. Ever. It’s the unexpected, unplanned situations you find yourself in with someone you are in love with. Or falling in love with. Or maybe not in love with at all but darn-it he came into my store when I was closing, lit a candle, took the mop from my hands and danced with me to that super lame Celine Dion song “Have You Ever Been in Love” when it came on the radio and I can be in love with him for that moment for the rest of my life.
I can’t tell you how to plan the perfect date because the perfect date is not plan-able. Put yourself and your date in places and situations where you would not ordinarily find yourselves. Wait for the unexpected. Jump at quirky, weird, funny situations when they arise. Be reckless and spontaneous and have a good sense of humour.
I hope it rains for you.