Keeping it in neutral

On a date once I decided, after the first 20 minutes, that there wasn't a prayer that this guy and I would ever match up. That revelation caused me to relax, sit back and, as I love to do, start talking.

I told him about me, my opinions (I was in my mid-20s and had one on everything) and any topic that came to my far reaching mind.

I enjoyed myself so much that the date went on - for hours!


Dates needn't be the dreaded, fearful experiences they get inflated into. Dates - and most situations, I recently heard - are actually inherently neutral.

Our thoughts, expectations and interpretations of situations wind us up into the stressed-out, stiff and nervous marionettes that leap jerkily at the slightest tug on our taunt strings.

Picture, for example, Alex, with a beverage in hand, having a chat in a coffee shop or restaurant lounge with Chris. These two could be old friends, enjoying a moment of relaxation, or co-workers discussing marketing strategies.

Then you look at their faces and see the forced smiles, stiff expressions and stilted, unattractive mannerisms and instantly know - oh, it's a first date!


As singles we often operate as our own worst enemies - OK, so us, fashion magazines and anything for sale at a dessert shop.

I'm here to say meeting for coffee does not determine the beginning and end of all existence, nor serve as just cause for an entire wardrobe change.

Rationally, I know he hasn't seen anything in my closet before, so it will all be new and impressive - except that while I thought it perfectly flattering for a job interview last week, this week it clearly makes the blemish on my right knee glaringly obvious.

Sitting across from a first date, everything goes up for interpretation - and those interpretations change drastically as milliseconds pass.

What sounded like fun, charming and witty statements during the date turn into awkward, irrelevant and moronic blatherings when considered the next day while waiting for a phone call or e-mail response.


Then there are times we simply get in our own way.

Remember that guy I dated, the one I gave up on after 20 minutes because he'd dared to admit interests in hunting, football and joining the Seattle Police Department?

Well, he'd asked me out only after he spent years exclusively dating women of his ethnic background.

He finally realized he could love a woman even if she didn't share his heritage.

Ultimately, I valued someone who listened while I babbled, even if I might need to watch a football game.

We happily married, until illness took him away.


I'm one who will overthink and read more into the situation than actually exists.

Then there are those who walk into a situation, neutral as it is, and dismiss the opportunity based on superficialities.

We have our lists, and they deserve an airing - later! A first date is hardly the time to decide this person will make the best genetic match for my child.

Some things - abusive language, racist remarks and allusions to violent outbursts - justify gulping boiling coffee and recalling an emergency appendectomy appointment.

Other things - thinning hair, word mispronunciation and a blemish on her right knee - do not.

A first date isn't marriage.

Take time. Enjoy moments to gab about yourself and meet someone new. Try to remember thoughts and interpretations are temporary and imperfect.

It isn't easy, or ideal, but I know for a fact, 20 minutes might be enough time to talk - but not to know - another person.

Sofia lives in North Seattle and can be reached at[[In-content Ad]]