Thursday, March 21, 2024

Sara and Melissa Talk About...First Dates

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. We are currently in our fifth year!

This month, we are talking about the first dates we've ever been on. 

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them. 

Sara Steven:

I went on my first date ever when I was fifteen years old. My best friend at the time had decided it was in my best interest to go on a blind date she’d set up with her boyfriend’s coworker, and let me know about it the morning of the date. 

It was before the days of easy cell phone texts and conversations. I had to come up with a story for my dad as to why I wouldn’t be home after school–I’d simply tell him I planned on going home with my best friend and spend the rest of the afternoon with her. I waited until our lunch break, then used a pay phone located blocks away on a street corner, the lie believable–to my dad at least. 

Not once did my dad question the validity of my story. I never questioned the safety behind making any sort of plan with a guy I had only seen a few times from a car window, watching him pump gas for customers at the gas station he worked for. I’d heard good things about him. That he was a year older. That he went to our rival high school. My best friend said he was “preppy,” and I’m still not sure if that was meant to be an attractive quality or not.

What I focused on was that I’d actually get to go on a date…with a cute guy! A cute guy who pulled up to the front of the school and parked like he belonged there, his black Nissan Sentra gleaming in the spring sunshine. It looked like he’d just had it washed. He slid out and opened the passenger door for me, the smell of Cool Water strong, his dark brown hair stiff with hairgel. After we’d buckled in, he pulled slowly away from the curb, the yellow vanilla tree air freshener bouncing in time with the Spice Girls. 

We didn’t say a word to each other the entire way to the movie theater. I watched his hand maneuver the stick shift, and at stop lights, it would rest comfortably on his Levi jeaned knee. I found the skill fascinating. When I thought he wasn’t looking, I’d sneak glances at his profile, serious yet fragile, maybe feeling as nervous as I felt. 

He paid for my movie ticket. I thought that was chivalrous. But when it came time to order snacks at the concession stand, I wouldn’t let him pay for my popcorn or fountain drink. It felt like too much of a commitment for two people who had just officially met one another. 

I’m not sure why we chose Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. It might have been the only movie two underage teenagers could watch at the time slot available to us. And I barely remember the movie. I was so high on nervous energy. Wondering if he’d reach over and hold my hand, which was purely based on the romantic movies and television shows I had seen at the time. I’d look over from time to time, watching him watch the movie. Listening to his laugh. Feeling stiff and awkward sitting next to him, this practical stranger. 

Afterwards, he drove us to a park located close to where my best friend lived. We climbed up a rusty old monkey bar tower, finding a way to sit on the top, legs dangling. We talked about our lives–I learned that his parents divorced when he was a baby, and that he had two older sisters who were years ahead of him, often treating him like he was a baby, even though he was sixteen. I felt a kinship, considering my parents had also divorced when I was young, my own siblings like children to me due to my constant need to protect them and take care of them. 

He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, regardless: his future college plans included becoming a civil engineer. I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I felt like he had it all together. Like he was so much more mature than I could ever be. 

By the end of the conversation, after we climbed back down to earth, we both agreed that we wanted to officially become girlfriend and boyfriend. At some point, before the park, we scored some mint chewing gum–I vaguely remember he kept a pack in his middle console in the Sentra. He turned his head to the right, the gum flying out of his mouth and landing on the warm ground by his feet. I looked to my left, repeating the process, playing follow the leader.

I received my first kiss that late afternoon. It was the worst kiss I’ve ever received. It was wet and sloshy, our lips mismatched and novice, the new budding relationship sealed with something so slithery, but I felt exhilarated. I didn’t even care about the saliva dribble. 

The kissing got a lot better. But we dated for roughly a year before we broke up. And even after we broke up, there were a few times we’d entertained the idea of getting back together, maybe because of the familiarity of it. The “preppy” boy spent a lot of time with me and my dad during that time, and the civil engineer dream had turned into a need to get into wildlife and fisheries, an inspiration he’d picked up after fishing the West and learning the ropes from my dad. 

He lives off the grid now in Washington state, happily married to a beautiful woman. They have four kids. The preppy boy image is long gone, replaced by flannel and beard. He received his masters in wildlife and fisheries and has made a life from that passion, and I bet he hasn’t used a yellow vanilla tree air freshener since 1994. But maybe he still wears Cool Water. I can’t say for sure.  

Melissa Amster:        

I'm phoning it in this month since I talked about this at my personal blog a long time ago. And thankfully I've met someone truly special since then and am now married 20 years. (So yeah, I've had much better dates since the one I'm sharing here.)

When I was a freshman in high school, one of my friends decided to introduce me to a guy she was friends with, as we’re both Jewish. I was looking to go to the BBYO (B'nai Brith Youth Organization) Invite dance, so I took her up on the…um…opportunity. The guy called me and we seemed to get along pretty well by phone. He asked if I wanted to go to the Invite dance with him, even though he wasn’t in BBYO (apparently, he knew about it anyway). We made plans to meet up ahead of time for a date. We were going to see Sleeping with the Enemy. (How fitting, even though I never would have considered sleeping with him. Yuck!)

So the first time we met in person was to see this movie. It was so incredibly awkward from the get-go. I didn’t find him all that attractive. He looked like an ugly version of Edward Furlong in his Terminator 2 days, even though that movie hadn’t come out yet and I wouldn’t make the analogy till I saw it later that summer. Then I had to suffer through watching this movie with him, considering that he kept trying to put his hands on my legs and it was super uncomfortable. 

After the movie, we were waiting for our parents to pick us up, so we walked around the record store next to the theater. I swear some girls who knew him from school were giving me pitying looks. I should have called off the dance plans right there! Of course, I didn’t do that yet and ended up kicking myself for waiting on it. 

A few days later, after already buying a dress for the dance, I found out that he was also talking to another friend of mine, trying to hook up with her, and telling her I was a prude for not letting him touch my leg at the movie theater. (Okay, so I was a prude, but if the date had been with my crush at the time, I would have not had a problem with roving hands, so-to-speak.) I was pissed off about this and called him later, telling him I no longer would be attending the dance with him. (I found out that he had only asked me to go with him so he could hook up with someone else there. I feel sorry for whomever that someone else was.)

Instead of going to the dance, I hung out with some other girls from my BBG group at one of their houses. I found out from several other girls that he asked them to the dance too, but they rejected his offer right away. That made me feel soooo much better about myself...NOT!

Around this same time, I had become close with a friend I had met at a NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) retreat and making fun of him became an inside joke between us. Given that his last name had the word “ass” in it, you can imagine we had a field day. We made fun of other things about him, which went as far as making up embarrassing diseases for him and then making up songs about such diseases. We also added words to his last name to make it funnier. I think humor helped a lot in this situation and allowed me to feel better about things right away. In the meantime, he ruined my enjoyment of Sleeping with the Enemy (it would have been a good movie if I had seen it with some female friends or even my family). I also was less trusting of guys throughout high school, even going as far as being mean to guys after they gave the impression that they were interested in me.

Looking back on it now, if social media had been around during my freshman year of high school, I would have had a field day ripping this guy to shreds and also lamenting about the situation in a dramatic way. 

I've been on some other lame dates during my single days, but this one will always take the cake!

Tell us about your first date ever.

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