So, this one is really long, and it needs some editing. But I'm tired after my first week of a new job, so I'm putting it up now, and I'll revisit it later.
I am a World Champion of what I have termed Epic First Dates. I have pushed the envelope constantly in this field, and I believe that I must hold the world title currently. I have always been of the mind that you should go big or go home. I also subscribe to the philosophy that you should have an open mind and do some ridiculous things in order to have a good story to tell about it afterward. These two qualifications have created the entire form of Epic Dating (ED).
To give a bit of history, I started ED sometime in 2008 in Brooklyn. The first and tamest by comparison involved me not having dinner, drinking too much pumpkin ale, vomiting in the bathroom at the first bar, then going out dancing at a club patronized only by Polish teenagers until 3AM. This one ended without a kiss but did result in a long relationship.
Epic Date 1 set the ground rules for the later dates. Number one, it can’t start out with the intention of being a date. The element of surprise and adventure are part of the fun of ED, so it has to involve someone you don’t know very well but who neither asked you out nor was asked out by you for a “date.” Secondly, this person can’t be a complete stranger. My mother simply taught me better than that. The person’s current address has to be known by a third party, which lowers the risk of being abducted and heightens the social pressure for both of the daters to act respectfully towards one another. You risk ruining your entire summer of rooftop parties with awkward interactions if you do something creepy. And the third, and most important rule of and Epic Date is that it can’t fizzle by the end. The only way an ED can end is simply due to exhaustion and the physiological need for sleep.
My second Epic Date was with a handsome guy 3 years my junior. We had met through one of my best friends who vouched that he was “not a creeper at all.” He had the brightest blue eyes I’d ever seen, and he casually expressed an interest in going to the Spa Castle, an authentic Korean Day Spa at the end of the 7 train in Queens. Having just ended a long relationship with the gent from ED # 1, I was in desperate need of some relaxation and a bit of adventure.
We met up at noon for doughnuts, and then rode the train together an hour and a half out to a remote part of an outer borough. He was one of the most genuinely intelligent guys I’ve ever had a conversation with, not one of those guys who’s read some Keirkegaard and wants to tell me all about the one dense book on his shelf. Those blue eyes and perfectly straight teeth certainly didn’t negatively affect my fondness for him. Once at the Spa Castle, we soaked and hot-tubbed, and sweated, had dinner, drank sake, sweated sake, and giggled in the Salt Sauna. We laid on a heated marble floor, and by the time all of these events had occurred, we had spent 9 hours at this glorious temple of relaxation.
We were enjoying the company of one another so much that he invited me to go to a party at his friend’s house somewhere in Brooklyn. We caught the bus to the train, all of this additional transit taking another hour and a half. The party was fine but uneventful. We had some beers, then went for drunk-people-food at a restaurant that was still open at 3AM. Then finally, the date ended at 4AM. The conclusion to a 16-hour date was no kiss. Not even a hug. We did go on a few more regular dates, but it ultimately lost momentum. I blame the lack of excitement available at neighborhood bars.
These two dates were only the training leading up to the Ultimate First Date that has won me the current title. It all began with a surprise road trip from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. I showed up at 6AM on a Friday morning to accompany my new Australian friends, a couple in their mid-twenties, on their Visa renewal across the border. When I showed up, there were two additional passengers, a girl and a guy, both Canadians. She needed to catch a flight out of Costa Rica, and he was just doing his own Visa renewal trip. The people in the car who I had known the longest I had known for 5 days, and the least is the guy I shook hands with for the first time at dawn. This wasn’t fully in violation of my second rule since I personally knew where they all lived since they worked at the lodge I had stayed at and the one up the street.
This scenario fits the first rule perfectly though. I was simply hitching a ride for the possibility of adventure and the guarantee of a change of scenery. Dating was the furthest thing from my mind, but I’m a complete sucker for an exciting conversationalist. Him being a tall blond with a tan and a surfer body certainly didn’t decrease my interest, but in all seriousness, it was his enthusiasm for ideas that got the UFD off to a great start. Talking in the car, the three of us backseat passengers discovered our shared desire to not have soul-crushing jobs and the necessity of always being busy. As such, we were just new friends chatting and getting to know one another.
I suppose without the kiss this couldn’t have even qualified as any sort of date. A kiss can turn the most mundane encounters into dates. Every guide book anyone had read about the Costa Rican town in which we were staying claimed that it was known for its wild nightlife. After dinner, we walked around as a fivesome eager for a wild night out, but there were no parties to be found. We asked around, and no luck. The couple dropped out first, and then the Canadian girl. And there we were, just me and him, trying desperately to find excitement in a beach town. We walked around trying to find a good bar. We finally landed at a place that had what I remember as candlelight, but surely it was just low incandescent light, and it was perfect for conversation. We talked about our childhoods and our life ambitions and our parents.
In a much earlier conversation, I had made the statement that, “if a girl stays out until 2AM with a guy, he had better at least make a move to kiss her. I’m not saying it will go any further than that, but if a girl is out that late, she is into the guy.” So, as the hours tick by and the chairs are being put on the tables, we took that as our signal to leave. The sketchy guys calling out to us on the street were only offering cocaine instead of marijuana, which was a further sign that we were out far too late in this town. We walked the 2 blocks to the hotel, continuing the conversation. As we were ascending the stairs, me ahead of him, he sweetly grabs my arm, causing me to rotate to face him, steps up two steps, then moves in for the kiss. He was very Canadian about his kissing, being politely non-aggressive yet extremely confident.
This date continued on momentum for 5 solid days filled with excited conversations over too much coffee, surf lessons when the waves were bad, TV-watching, and so much beer drinking. My plane ticket back to my real life was the brick wall that we ran into headfirst instead of allowing the chemistry to fizzle out after we’d covered all the interesting topics.
I suppose that is the standard for Epic Dating: the more epic the date, the less serious and long-lasting the subsequent relationship can be. Where do you go from literally being with someone for 126 hours with only bathroom breaks separating you? In this particular case, we continued this epic date with another 48 hours of constant companionship back at the hostel. But then, as planned, I got on a plane back to New York City.