The first real first date I went on was during my senior year of high school. I wasn’t all that cool growing up, and while I’d asked out a number of girls before, it took until then for somebody to finally say yes.
Wanting to seize the opportunity, I planned out everything down to the last detail—where we’d eat, what movie we’d see, which of my parents’ cars I’d drive, the routes I’d take, even what radio station we’d listen to.
But despite my preparation, I was still a wreck as we pulled away from her house. The stakes were high, and I was terrified I was going to screw something up. It didn’t help that we ran into my aunt and uncle at the restaurant, making me that much more self-conscious.
When we finally sat down to dinner, I was in no mood for food. And given my notoriously nervous stomach—I used to throw up before nearly every little league baseball game—I really didn’t want to eat anything. But I knew that wasn’t an option. So I ordered what any red-blooded American male would order when trying to show a girl how truly manly he is:
The words hung in the air awkwardly, as the tension in my body spiked. Had I ruined everything? Had my date lost all respect for me? Could she ever love an entrée salad eater?
Fortunately, it all worked out okay. We ate in peace, we went to the movie, and I got her home without getting lost. We even ended up dating for almost a year.
Looking back now, though, I realize that I’d been lucky. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and as ridiculous as it sounds, my date could’ve seen me fork-deep in lettuce and concluded she’d never look at me in a romantic way again. That’s how easily things can tip.
Recognizing this, my guess is that you ladies out there go through something similar, only in reverse. When you’re out with a guy, your mind is probably telling you to get a salad, no matter how loudly your appetite is screaming for a hamburger. You’re convinced that your date will be completely turned off by the sight of you mowing through a two-handed half-pounder.
But you’d be wrong.
Dating is all about trying to figure out who the person is sitting across from you, and if you want to get to know them better. And while I’m certainly paying attention to what a girl is wearing and how easily she laughs and how pretty her smile is, if she mans up and orders that double bacon cheeseburger, I can learn everything I need to know…
Sweats Over Sweaters
In the Seinfeld episode “The Pledge Drive,” George takes a cue from Elaine’s uptight boss, Mr. Pitt, and eats his Snickers bar with a knife and fork. When a co-worker challenges him, George derisively responds:
“How do you eat it…with your hands?”
Well, “with your hands” is the only way to eat a burger. It’s the ultimate kids’ food. It’s big. It’s greasy. It’s messy. And there’s a real chance that some of it will end up on your shirt.
So if a girl is willing to eat one on a date, the last thing she’s worried about is keeping up appearances, meaning she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s probably low maintenance and laid back, and if she found herself in Mr. Pitt’s prim-and-proper world of high society, she’d stick out like a mustard stain.
And that’s just fine with me.
Walking the Line
There are certain ways in which guys want girls to be decidedly feminine. We want you to smell good. We want your skin to be soft. We want to be able to out-bench press you. And if you can refrain from matching us body hair for body hair, that’d be okay, too.
But if you can pull off all of the above while also enjoying a burger, then we’ll be convinced you were FedExed from heaven.
As independent as we can be, there’s a part of us that hopes to integrate you into our everyday lives. That means sometimes being one of the guys—going to ballgames, watching sports and hanging out at dive bars.
And the quicker you can demonstrate that balance, the better.
Four Score and Seven Pounds Ago
There’s a Geico Insurance commercial in which they ask the question, “Was Abe Lincoln honest?” To prove that he was, they show Lincoln’s wife trying on an outfit, and when she’s unsure of what to make of it, she turns to him and asks, “Does this dress make my backside look big?” Unable to lie, Abe tells her that it does, and she storms out of the room in disgust.
While the ad is done in humor, there’s nothing funny about the real-life version of that situation.
Yes, we are as shallow as you think we are, and we hope your curves never change from the shape that first attracted us, but we also don’t want you to be obsessed with your figure.
Ordering that hamburger is the perfect way to prove that you’re not. It’ll show us that you not only have a healthy body image, but that the odds of our having to deal with those lose-lose questions are drastically reduced.
Because let’s face it…if the man who issued the Emancipation Proclamation can’t handle them, what chance do we have?
I’ve Already Got One of Those
I’ll admit it…I’m a mama’s boy.
I mean that in a good way, though…it’s not like I sit on her lap or anything. We just have a very close relationship, and I am as connected to her as anyone.
But one thing I could do without is her constant monitoring of my eating habits. I know she only asks because she cares, but I’d rather not have to answer questions like, “How many cookies have you eaten?” and “Have you had your five fruits and vegetables today?”
So if a girl displays an affinity for burgers, her taste buds are probably similar to mine, and she won’t hassle me about my food choices. I love my mother to pieces, but I don’t need a diet-patrolling duplicate.
On my first date with my girlfriend, Emily, our conversation was so good that we talked for 45 minutes before opening the menu. In that time, she confessed that she randomly breaks out in song for no reason, that she wanted to be a wizard (like Harry Potter), and that she’s a human garbage disposal that eats anything that’s put in front of her.
While her friends told her afterwards that she was crazy for being that revealing, her honesty was actually endearing to me. It proved to me that if she could be that genuine at the beginning, she always would be.
And really, that’s all you can ask of someone on a date. Just show me who you are and what you’re about. Say what you want to say, do what you want to do, and eat what you want to eat—even if that’s a greasy, big-as-your-face hamburger.
I’m not going to hold it against you, as long as you don’t hold my salad against me.