[Dave Heal's] Observations & Reports

The Best Worst First Date

[Cross-posted to Medium]

You’re definitely going on the first date. I know this is America and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want, but we’re assuming for the purposes of this Einsteinian thought experiment that you are definitely going on the first date.

That being true, what is the worst place you could be invited on a first date that would not foreclose the possibility of a second? Keep in mind that the suggested activity could be anything. So you may get invited for coffee. Or you may get invited for dinner. Or a trip to an art museum. An art museum! That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

But maybe that art museum is full of Che Guevara pop art and your date goes to the gift shop to buy a poster *on the way in.* Would Starbucks be good enough? I’ve heard from veteran daters that it is. What if it’s one of those understocked Starbuckses that is attached to a grocery store? How about Wendy’s? Maybe you, like me, enjoy few things more than a well-timed Frosty, and your date goes to the Wendy’s near campus so often that he (or she!) knows when the fresh batch of fries is coming out and, well, any date that includes “fresh batch of fries” by definition gets a second date.

This is the discussion some friends and I had for approximately 30 minutes while watching the Super Bowl. The loose consensus of our collection of mixed-gender 30-somethings seemed to be “Olive Garden,” and while I think there are places worse than the Olive Garden that would get a second date, I couldn’t convince the group. Yes, my time at the University of Michigan Law School was a total waste.

I also think “Olive Garden” can’t possibly be the answer because of its unusual ironic appeal for most suburban-raised millennials. The unlimited salad and breadsticks feel like cheating, even if the breadsticks are butter-drenched packing peanuts molded to resemble a tiny baguette. There have to be worse chain restaurants that would get you a second date. For me, if all activities are up for discussion, then almost any full meal is going to get a chance at a second date. But I also drove across Michigan to speed-eat a 5 lb. hamburger covered in sour cream and nacho cheese during a minor league baseball game, so…

When the alternative is a short coffee because someone swiped right at midnight after a night of drinking and is just trying to get this over with, a full meal feels like a real commitment, one more likely to get a proposal than a mere second date. But maybe I’m easy to please.

What do you think? What’s the worst place for a first date that would still get you to drag yourself across the second date threshold ?