The New First Date

Is there anything worse than a first date? It's as if a condemned man was forced to eat his last meal with some random girl his friend knows from grad school. But first dates are getting worse! They're getting quirkier.

We always thought first dates were for learning enough about someone that you felt comfortable having sex with them. As such, first dates should have been abolished along with Facebook's privacy rollbacks. Your hand is already played all over the Internet, obviating the need for a game of personal detail pinochle played haltingly over a slowly cooling Penne a la Vodka at an overpriced East Village Italian joint. So, why is the New York Times writing an article, "The Ritual of the First Date, Circa 2010?"

Seems as though we've been looking at first dates with a very early-20th century bias. (The last time we went on a date was 2008, see.) The first date no longer provides an opportunity to impress your potential sex partner with social stats and interests readily available to anyone with a smart phone—the date is the opportunity. A bunch of New Yorkers are traipsing around the city, dreaming up weird and wacky dates like '‘Let's go walk the High Line and look for people with mullets,' says the Times. These are the New First Dates.

The epicenter of the New First Date movement is a website called Howaboutwe.com. Howaboutwe.com was created by two "former charter-school teachers who practiced meditation in India," according to the Times. They wanted to

create a new kind of dating site where members could demonstrate who they are, not with personal essays and awkward messages, but by proposing dates that begin with the words: "How about we. …"

How about we… drink five gin and tonics apiece and see where we go from there? No, we would not last a second among the New First Daters, where a typical suggestion is "How about we check out Ninja New York, a Japanese restaurant with ninjas for waiters in the meatpacking district?" In 2009, first daters had to worry about their outfit, their drink order and arming themselves with enough small talk to make it through those first completely sober minutes. But the 2010, New First Dater, must excruciatingly craft an evening which embodies their own uniqueness.

It's no surprise, then, that the first dates in the Times article read like deleted scenes from Amelie: "How about we go to a library or bookstore and leave notes inside books?"; "How about we go to a free marriage counseling session with a priest knowing nothing other than each others names?" ‘Let's go walk the High Line and look for people with mullets;'

Except, ha! Turns out even the New Daters are not so unique. The Times had the owners of Howaboutwe.com do some number crunching and they discovered very distinct clusters of first date trends:

In March, scores of New Yorkers opted to have their first dates over tacos: fish tacos, dried cricket tacos, taco tours of Brooklyn, even post-surfing tacos at Rockaway Beach in Queens.

But by month's end, tacos went out of vogue, and fondue became the fare of choice for first dates. In mid-April, singles relinquished their cheese forks and embraced bring-your-own-beer dates instead. A few weeks later, outings for lobster rolls were all the rage. By mid-May daters cooled on lobster rolls and were eating oysters.

Have fun choking down those cricket tacos and poking each other with cheese forks, New First Daters. We'll be over here with our lukewarm Penne a la Vodka, trying to get drunk enough to be interesting.

(Incidentally, if any of you have tried Howaboutwe.com and have funny stories, email us!)