by: Fred Morrow
First dates are a tad awkward. That’s the territory. First dates are awkward and have the vibe of a job interview where you simultaneously try to be the best candidate you can, while also acting like you’re not overly interested in the job. However, some first dates are unbelievably awkward. They’re so intensely awkward you want to look for an escape hatch or say you have to go to the bathroom then not come back. It’s important to make the best of these bad dates.
So, once the date is over, either cause you’ve fled or politely kissed Mr. Awkwardness on the cheek and shrugged at his suggestion of wanting to do this again soon, instead of sinking into feelings of glumness and disappointment, you should think of how to turn the situation into a good story to tell your friends. Consider the good story your consolation prize.
Here are some tricks:
1. Exaggerate everything.
This is a classic maneuver. Stories require memorable details and what’s more memorable than a dash of outlandishness? Take an actual detail and exaggerate: Perhaps your date ate his French onion soup in a troubling manner. When you tell your friends the story, say Mr. Awkwardness ate his French onion soup the same way a lonely 45-year-old eats ice cream, with crude ferocity and a sense of guilt. “I know all this dairy is bad for me, but I can’t help it! Rawr!” Or maybe your date was wearing a V-neck sweater that you claim dipped so low it revealed his belly button? Take a fact and expand it. No need to stick to the dullness of actual details.
2. Create suspense by turning the date into a battle between hope and uncomfortableness.
Going on dates requires hope. Going on dates can also be a bit uncomfortable. So, in the re-telling, turn your bad date into a struggle between hope and this uncomfortableness. Give time markers to track the struggle. Say, “It’d been 15 minutes, and at this point, I was still thinking, Okay, maybe things will work out fine.” Say, “By the time the appetizer arrived, I knew I was doomed.”
3. Don’t make yourself out to be the hero.
Bad dates, like poorly-danced tangos, take two. So don’t play the innocent. In all likelihood, you too contributed to the badness of the date. Did you drink four Appletinis to his one? Did you excuse yourself every 10 minutes to go to the bathroom so you could text your friends, “HELP!” When telling the tale of your terrible date, heck, just go it. Admit it. And be the villain.
4. Invent a better ending.
Usually bad dates end with sympathetic hugs and eye contact avoidance. That’s not especially exciting. So spice it up! Maybe your beau dived in for the kiss and you had to dodge it while not looking like you were doing the dodge. Or perhaps he squeezed your thigh and you played it cool. However the date ends, it could be more exciting, more dramatic, more totally oh-my-god no! As a good story teller, it’s your job to improve the ending.
Literalists and people obsessed with factual accuracy will call all this lying. It’s not. Or it is. Regardless it’s basic story telling. And after a bad date, who wants the truth anyway? Who wants the cold, dull, unsexiness of actuality and facts? You got enough cold dullness on the date. Now live it up, let go. A good story is what you get.
And hey, did I ever tell you about the time I got a beer with this guy named Evan?
Fred Morrow is 25 years old and works for Boston Public Schools.