I was a wrestler in high school and college so I didn’t eat very much, and not nearly as well as I should have. Most of my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were frozen and lay dormant in the icebox until the season was over – around easter – at which time I’d feast like a king. The upside was I stayed in good shape, which led to a somewhat active dating life.
When it came to dating, I had a short list of things that were meaningful to me in a girlfriend. They were, in order of importance:
- sense of humor
- could finish a meal
The first two are common traits on the lists of most men across the globe, and fairly easy to determine before you get to the first date. That took the pressure off and allowed me to concentrate on the third criteria, which was a bit more selective and much more fun to play with. It also allowed me to confirm number one on the list. Here’s why.
First dates always involved taking a girl to a nice restaurant where some level of dress code was required. The more dressed up the better. We’d listen to the specials and I’d always order first; the biggest, messiest thing on the menu – and if that item wasn’t messy enough, I would order something else to make it messy. Ribs with barbecue sauce was my favorite. Then she’d order. Most times it was something light, like a salad, and those dates were over before they got started. Then, I would dig in with my bare hands, throw the cleaned rib bones onto an empty plate, and purposely leave sauce on my face until the end of the night. Disgusting? Maybe. But I thought it was an effective way to tell how seriously she took herself. Did she feel that we needed to be all prim and proper because we were in a nice place, or could she just laugh it off and have fun with it?
I’ll be honest; most girls were horrified and had that deer in headlights look throughout dinner. One girl I had taken to a vietnamese restaurant actually got up and left, and another girl who didn’t tell me she was a vegetarian until we got to the restaurant sat quietly through dinner at one of New York’s premier steak houses. Speak your mind honey, or forever hold your tofu.
If she stuck around through dinner and engaged in conversation I’d ask for a second date. If she said yes, I knew she had a great sense of humor, because she just sat through an hour of me making an ass out of myself in public and agreed to go out with me again. Needless to say, it took quite a few dates to find the right girl, and when I did it was in the most unlikely of places.
One time, I broke my own rule about location and, at her suggestion, went on our first date to a carnival that was passing through town. I was expecting to spend the night arguing the finer points of ring toss with the carneys, and then drop a hundred dollars trying to win a two dollar prize, so you can imagine my giddiness when I learned the food stand served chili cheese burgers. I ordered a burger for each of us and a bowl full of fries. We sat down at a table with a dozen other people munching, crunching, and with faces full of chili cheese sauce. It was perfect. She didn’t seem to mind at all, and felt pretty comfortable throughout the meal. Then it happened.
I was so busy making a mess of myself she finished her plate before I did. When I came up for air she asked if I was going to finish my fries. I shook my head no, and she reached over the table and ate them right off my plate. I was in love. We were married a few years later and now have a beautiful little girl, who by they way, seems to have a pretty good appetite.