First Dates: Almost Appetizing

I do all my best thinking on the university shuttle bus. Newton had his bathtub, law students have their library, and I…I have my metro bus. It’s on this metro bus that I first realized how utterly stupid I am for wanting to write about dating and food. I’m not a complete and utter loser. I get asked out or at least hit on by drunk homeless men who hang out by the bus stops. However do I really have enough material to keep me going? Then I considered the alternative: writing about actual kitchen stuff. I have a better chance of getting someone to ask me out then of me actually doing something spectacular in the kitchen. So here I am; and here is…

Eric Von Dirkenstance. (Obviously not a real name but I want to protect identities. Unless your name actually is Eric von Dirkenstance in which case…yikes.) Eric and I actually have a cool “meet cute” story; however, I have limited word space and you have limited interest so let’s make this short, shall we? Essentially, my bestie took me to a house party where she gracefully got plastered and was unable to drive home. Eric feeling sorry for me-or being keenly aware of my helplessness-offered to give me a ride home if I would give him my number. Eric was tall and smart, and I didn’t have money for a cab. Understandably, I gave out my info, AND I would do it again. I will willingly give out my digits if it means free and direct transportation. Eric drove me home and later that night I got a txt from him claiming: “you have a three day weekend so you better have time for me to take you out.” Usually I hate being told what is expected of me but I appreciate irrational boldness so I said yes.

On Sunday, I took my roommate to dinner at this rather awesome café in east Austin called “Eastside Café.” What their name lacks in originality they make up for in their dishes. (I had a watermelon soup and mushroom crepes. Delish!) I was about halfway finished with my roommate’s birthday dessert (key lime pie with lavender) when I got a txt from Eric reminding me that we had a date in an hour. I unhinged my jaw and swallowed the rest of the food on the table before pulling my friend out the door, into her car, and home just in time for Eric.

The thing about first dates is that no matter how much you prepare, everything will still be awkward. There’s no use in trying to be awesome, because you’ll do something stupid regardless. For example, Eric drove up on his motorcycle and warned me about not touching the pipe on the side of the bike. Yet, when I straddled the bike, my foot slipped and I ended up burning my leg. When we got downtown, Eric suggested that we walk around and decide on a restaurant after we had seen a few options. As we strolled down South Congress-a popular eating area in Austin-I wondered how long I could walk him around before he would start to get suspicious. If we could just hold out for an hour then maybe I would be hungry again. Regardless, Eric pulled me into an Italian spot called Vespasio before I could detain him any longer. We started with water and when he wasn’t looking I would wipe the condensation off the glass and rub the cold water onto my motorcycle burn. (He never noticed. I’m a genius.) I was super impressed with what he ordered for us. The food and drinks sort of put me at ease because they signaled nothing too serious-just a classy first date. He suggested an appetizer–parmesan encrusted veggies and wine–and then coffee to follow. That may not sound super amazing but the whole scenario got me to thinking: If you want to get to know someone you take them out for drinks, while a full dinner seems like a full-fledged affair. Eric ordered perfectly. I’ve had a few first dates before and they were all sit down dinners. Nothing is more horrendous than being forced to eat in front of someone and manage conversation for at least an hour. We should view dating the way we view a fine dinner. Why dive into the huge bowl of pasta when you have the option of breadsticks and marinara sauce to start? Perhaps appetizers are the perfect way to break into first dates. It’s just a taste of what is to come, and if you like it…then bring on a full course. If not…well not a huge loss. After all, there’s nothing committal or serious about antipasti.

Kara goes to school at UT Austin, where she’s known for her comedic digital shorts, for saving a litter of kittens in a Mexico border-town, and for her mad cupcake baking skills.

Originally posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011

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