Sorry, did I just get that Shins song stuck in your head?
I thought body language was bogus until I was eleven.
The incident that changed my mind also exponentially elevated my mom’s cool status in my eyes. We were driving somewhere, and, stopped at a red light, spotted two pedestrians, a man and woman in conversation. “Well, she’s totally uncomfortable talking to him, isn’t she!” I rolled my eyes, because I was eleven and knew much of the world whereas my mother was a fool.
“What are you even talking about?” I asked her, probably while adjusting my ear cuff. The woman-half of the couple in question was smiling a radiant smile, and the guy she was talking to was so hot that I could not fathom NOT feeling like you were wrapped in a cocoon of peace, light, and croissant dough while engaging him in dialogue.
My mom only shook her head. “When chickie uncrosses her arms - then she’ll be comfortable.” I hadn’t noticed the crossed arms, but sure enough, the lady was holding a defensive posture that stood in marked contrast to the message her face was sending. But before the light changed, she dropped her arms to her side and I pitched a show about my mom to network television called “The Mentalist”* which was particularly challenging as it meant I had to travel in time and also acquire a cellphone.
I believe that what you say with your body can support or dismantle the message you send with your words. I think this is absolutely true in the dating world, where a head-tilt and a crossed leg versus fists at your sides and a jutting chin can spell the difference between getting a little nookie instead of say, a little bar fight.
I do think we can put too much emphasis on the science of body language, and this article is the perfect example of what I’m talking about. The working theory is that movement, going from activity to activity over the course of a first date, is what makes it a good one, and that to sit still is to demonstrate disinterest and stagnation.
It also throws in helpful tidbits, like putting your palms down when you’re stating fact, and palms up when you are expressing emotion. With my palms towards my kitchen ceiling I exclaimed, “This is complicated! And not awesome! And oh my god why can’t you just sit opposite someone at a restaurant eating and talking WHY CAN’T EATING AND TALKING AND LAUGHING BE ENOUGH?! WHY DO I NOW HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HOW OFTEN I’M BLINKINNNNNNNG?!?!”
I get the appeal of a date so great you never want it to end, and thus, you move from place to place, stars of your own little romantic comedy. But I'm also not willing to cast off the successful restaurants date. I mean, come on, if you can make it through a meal with someone without falling into a conversational dead-zone and/or worrying if your whole face is covered in bolognese, the building blocks for real life romance are absolutely present.
If restaurants are out and I’m now only allowed to go out like bowling and rock climbing I am better off locking up my lady castle right now, because I will tell you this much - a guy who witnesses my competitive streak which emerges no matter how terrible I am at the sport at hand (and that is all sports) will either never call me again or be advised by his lawyer not to if he plans on getting reasonable restitution for the damage I did to his organs in a fit of pique.
I resent all these dating articles that make an already challenging thing even more challenging. In the spirit of the ridiculous “restaurants are a terrible place for a date” I have pulled together a list of five other places that are equally terrible first date ideas.
I’m not talking Jail - getting thrown in the drunk tank together could serve to be a memorable experience for you both to think of wistfully in your twilight years. I’m talking maximum security, fifteen to life-type prison. He will probably get a poorly designed face tattoo, and you will become known throughout the institution for your ability to transport contraband in your rear.
Not to mention that in order to even get in you’ll have to break any number of laws AND get caught AND then get convicted. Lawyers are expensive. You’re a single woman. The clock is ticking. Prison is too time intensive and also I don’t think co-ed prisons are really a thing. Although if I am ever arrested and put in solitary, I WILL lead a riot by smearing my own poop all over the walls and escaping when the staff tries to deep clean my mess.
2.) A Funeral
So you’ve met the guy of your dreams. He’s funny and and understands basic hygiene, plus he seems less murdery than the guy you went to prison with. One terrible way to bond is to bring him to a funeral.
It might be okay if it’s the funeral of a person neither of you know, and it gets you all hot about how short life is and then you feverishly rut in the pile of coats. But like, if it’s your dad’s funeral, or the funeral of your identical twin? Terrible idea. Especially if you grab his hand and quietly whisper, “You’re my family now, Thomas.” Ha ha ha - in my mind the guy’s name is Thomas, I don’t know why.
3.) A Desert
Sure, Bear Grylls is okay. I can totally dig on how cool it is to suck water from rocks and blood from snakes, that’s pretty exciting. Less exciting is the idea of taking your date to the desert with no supplies. I mean I guess a plus is you no longer have to worry about stuff like “do I have anything in my teeth?” Instead you’ll be pondering, “how long do I have to wait before it’s acceptable to drink my own urine in front of this guy?”. #desertproblems.
4.) The Bathroom
As with the aforementioned desert peeing concern, inviting a new suitor into your bathroom is a terrible idea. I don’t mean like, letting him use the facilities when he comes to pick you up, because that's just essentially good manners. I mean being all “Thomas, hello, please step into my bathroom,” and then locking the door all while giggling badly. He will think you are crazy. He will not be wrong.
You know what, never mind, I’m cool with taking a guy hunting on the first date. BUT WITH ONE CONDITION. That you greet him at the shore of a private island you’ve bought, dressed in full safari regalia (this includes a netted pith helmet) and scream, “TODAY I HUNT THE GREATEST GAME OF ALL -- MAN!” Then you wait five minutes before giving chase, because you are nothing if not fair.
What’s the weirdest location you’ve been to on a first date? Are you uber self-conscious about your body language? TELL ME TELL ME TELL ME.
*”Simon Baker IS my mom” -- said in the voice of the movie and T.V. voice over dude.