Last night, I TIVOed (is that now a verb?) the remake of the classic 1970’s made-for-TV movie Sybil. I confess this without embarrassment or apology. The original Sybil, the immortal multiple-personality tale staring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, was one of the best TV movies ever made, second only to Joan and Melissa Rivers: Behind the Tears and Laughter.
This morning, as I watched Sybil struggle to gain control of her many personas, it reminded me to talk to you about first dates.
A first date is a time when everyone is on her best behavior. We take great pains to hide the character flaws that will pop to the surface like dead, bloated bodies by the sixth date. If you can manage to stop batting your eyes and focus, however, you easily can identify early warning signs before you get sucked into the riptide of a troubled relationship.
Below is a simple checklist of things to look out for on a first date.
• How well-pressed are her clothes? Your date should be well-groomed, but slightly rumpled. Inattention to detail bodes well in the boudoir. This is the type of personality that’s not afraid to get her hair mussed or hand dirty (wink, wink). If your date is expertly creased, and smells distinctly of Tide and dry cleaning solution, run for the hills. Please note, though, there’s a difference between disheveled and dirty. Your date should be freshly showered, and free of body odor. I suggest you make a quick check of the condition of her socks. If she’s wearing clean socks, chances are she also is wearing clean underwear.
• How does she treat the waiter? I’m assuming that you are on a proper first date, which includes dinner at a restaurant with table service. I know that some of you kids consider “hooking up” a first date, but in my day, getting drunk and landing in bed with a stranger was called a “mistake,” and not a “date.” OK, so you’re at a restaurant, and the waiter is a bit slow in getting you your food. Does your date: (a) Yell across the room that he should “hurry his pansy-ass up!”; (b) Make the best of the situation by asking the diners at a neighboring table if you can nibble on their leftovers; (c) Passively wait for you to take action; (d) Complain bitterly about the service, but clap her hands merrily and thank the bad waiter profusely when the food finally arrives; (e) Ignore the delay and her growling stomach, and focus her full attention on you. You probably think the healthiest response is (e). But I think it’s a sign of a stalking/obsessive personality. Answer (d) is your best bet. This is a person who loves food (and, thus, has a healthy appetite for other things—wink, wink, again), yet knows the importance of letting bygones be bygones.
• How is the bill settled? Does she (a) Pull the waiter aside during the meal, and whisper that he should present the bill to her at the end of the evening; (b) Avoid eye contact when the bill lands at the table, and not say a word as you reach for it; (c) Take out a calculator, and tote up her share of the meal; (d) Suggest you split it down the middle; (e) Reach for it at the same time you do, making comic grunting noises as she attempts to wrestle it away from you? Needless to say, I’m going to recommend you go for any option that includes the word “wrestle” in it.
Hey, I wrote a book! You can buy Dateland at www.amazon.com.