I dislike traditional dating for many reasons. There's the uncomfortable silences, the guess work in who's paying for what, and the much anticipated excitement of the goodnight kiss. Sometimes people have nothing in common, sometimes it's not appropriate for the man to pick up the tab, and sometimes the chemistry just isn't there. But the thing I will never understand, or like, about dating is the complete lack of reality the situation creates. You have two people dressed up, sitting across from each other in a restaurant they probably won't go to again until their first anniversary, telling each other stories about their lives and families, all the while wondering what the other thinks of them. It's not realistic. It's not honest. It's torture.
Dating is supposed to be a chance for two people to get to know one another. So, the following are my suggestions of REAL dates that two people who are considering dating each other should go on in order to expedite the process, and cut through all the bullshit.
1. Grocery Shopping: You can tell a lot about person by looking at what they eat. You can also gauge how willing they are to cater to your cravings for things such as blue cheese and Cosmopolitan magazine. In my opinion, the first time you go shopping with your new love is a very important step in getting to know who it is that you're really with. You find out what hair products and deodorant they use, what cereal they start their day with, what kind of TP they prefer. What if you're a double roll, two ply kind of gal, and he's still stuck in the one ply, shred-your-ass-to-pieces days. Are they a vegetarian, or carnivore? When you go to their house, will you find your favorite soda in their fridge, or be stuck with soy milk and fiber cookies? Do they use creamer in their coffee? Or do they take it black? Will they be insulted if you chow down on pasta while they sit nibbling on a piece of celery? So, go shopping with them. Find out what's going in to their body. Don't forget tampons while you're there.
2. Social Security Office: Nothing tests a person's patience like the SSO. Crowds of sweaty, stinky, impatient people with screaming babies who don't speak English surround you as you and your love interest try to get to know each other. This will help you to see just how much self control they have. Do they start screaming that it's hot and they just can't take it anymore? Do they start making racist comments under their breath, or even better, out loud? Do they lose it with the person at the counter because the line wasn't moving fast enough? Watch and learn. If they start to pick fights with the other applicants, get out of there stat.
3. Laundry: This is really where it gets good. If Grocery Shopping tells you a lot about a person, then doing laundry with someone is the equivalent of giving each other barium enemas. It all starts with the underwear. Boxers, Briefs, Tighty Whities? Thongs, French Cut, Ganny panties? How clean do they keep themselves? Do their clothes reek of smoke and beer, or have huge rips and stains on them? Do they separate their whites and colors? Do they use fabric softener and dryer sheets, or do they throw caution to the wind and brave the static cling and harsh feel of washed cotton on their skin? Do they have system to keep their socks together? Do they own clothes that require dry cleaning? Do they have laundry day clothes that aren't completely hideous and embarrassing? As soon as you spot skid marks, it's time to get out of there. No good can come of that.
4. Holiday Shopping: OK, let me start by saying that if you dare to go Holiday Shopping with someone, you had better know that there's the potential to be VERY in to them, and vice versa. Whether you are picking out gifts to be wrapped in red and green, or blue and silver, all religions have one thing in common. The gifts had better be good. You do NOT want to be involved with someone who doesn't even make a rough outline of their strategy. What shops are they going to? Do they know where they're located so as to avoid having to double back? Do they plan to be up at dawn to beat the crowds? Do they have their budget written out? Do they have gift ideas, complete with back ups, listed with pictures and color coded depending on who they are going to? If not, you should ask yourself "Do I really want to be involved with someone who is this unorganized when it comes to these kinds of things?" Seriously people, I speak from experience on this one, holiday shopping will tear couples apart faster than an STD.
5. Family Brunch: It's true that when you date someone, you are dating the family as well. You need to get to know these people, and the sooner the better. I suggest a nice place on the water, or at least with an awesome view of whatever city you live in. There's a few things to check for in this situation. One, if you drink, do they drink? You need to be able to be yourself around them, and if yourself is a lush, better to get it out in the open now. If Mom doesn't have a hard drink by 11 am, this relationship may not be for you. Two, if you laugh, do they laugh? A shared sense of humor with at least one of the parents is imperative. Can you talk about the important things in life, like gossip and politics? Do they listen and nod, or is Dad rolling his eyes? Three, when you order a huge steak with your eggs, do they order the veggie platter? We're all people, and we have to learn to respect each other's differences. If you don't want meat, or they don't go anywhere near dairy, everyone has to agree to disagree. The minute someone opens their mouths about your eating habits, politely excuse yourself and don't forget to take the champagne with you.
There you have it. These dates guarantee that you don't waste anytime getting to know who someone really is. No more guessing games, no more button down shirts and high heels for no good reason. Just the truth, plain and simple.
Plus, who the hell wants to sit across the table from a stranger all night wondering whether or not you have spinach in your teeth when you can just go ahead and show them your underwear?