So, when are we going to have sex?" My name is Nora. I live in Los Angeles. I am 25. And this question was posed
"So, when are we going to have sex?"
My name is Nora. I live in Los Angeles. I am 25. And this question was posed to me on a recent date. "So, when are we going to have sex?" My suitor and I were treading in the early stage of a relationship comparable to the first act of a Josh Hartnett movie. Truth be told, our nightcaps were still the alcoholic kind not the rubber kind. But he was Mr. Right Now on his way to being Mr. Right. Until his question sunk like a stone and made him Mr. Wrong, that is.
"So, when are we going to have sex?"
Now, if our relationship was just sexually based, I could admire him for being straightforward without following it up with plans for a weekend getaway or an insincere pledge of love. But this was a date. A proper date. A dinner-and-a-movie, breath-mint-employing, matching-bra-and-underwear-on-the-way-to becoming-a-boyfriend date. And I was not amused by such candid questioning from the man who had potential. So, I pointed him in the direction of a late-night massage parlor, where he could ask that question and get a far more favorable answer.
Welcome to the Brave New World of dating.
Perhaps it was the Midwestern-ness of my upbringing, but love used to be painless.
Dates were set through the non-confrontational mediums of phone and note passing.
The setting and location followed direct and comfortable patterns. Dinner and a movie. Coffee and a movie. Coffee and experimental theatre. Experimental theatre and a joint. No matter the venue, it usually had the same ending. Making out in my basement, my dorm room, or in the backseat of my parents' wood-paneled Oldsmobile station wagon. I was a scientist of sexual experimentation, but the frequency of testing was kept in confidence between myself and my various lab partners. For relationships remained a discrete affair until you got the jewelry and I kept all thoughts of diamond rings and pearl necklaces to myself.
But these beliefs expired a few years ago with the conception of the modern dating show: Blind Date. For those unfamiliar, let me summarize: A couple goes out on a date planned and financed by the good people at the show. The couples are trailed documentary-style by a camera crew and are interviewed before and after the date. The outing is then whittled down to a 10-minute morsel of voyeuristic highlights, complete with a running commentary of snide remarks and fun facts about the couple superimposed through pop-up animation. There is no competition or system of rating, and no prizes are awarded.
The show was a harmless reality-based program set to mock social customs and titillate the masses. But in the past couple of years, I've noticed the change like the slow and clammy hands of my last suitor. The "date" of yore, previously regarded as a function to facilitate a relationship, had morphed into the Blind Date-influenced "mega date," a format where people paired up in snazzy clothes to trade off-color insults. What was once a sacred social introduction has become direct and forthcoming. And it has even begun to influence how I regard myself and others.
Dating became aggressive. And it scares the fuck out of me.
At some point, when I might have been funneling a beer or sleeping late, I missed the moment that dating became theatre. In my past experience, if two people of consensual age wanted to get to know each other, they went out for a drink. The brave ones tried dinner. The emphasis was on starting small, in case either participant exhibited questionable tendencies parking badly, eating sans utensils, admitting past association with the Greek system in college. But Blind Date blows locational expectations out of the water. Sword fighting. Sausage-making. Yoga. Obviously, anything that offers fodder for sexual puns is fair game. And I look like an archaic, soulless fuck lacking any original thought when I suggest grabbing a beer. Welcome to the 21st century... a beer is only cool if it is now accompanied with skydiving and a tour of a haunted graveyard. Thanks, Blind Date.
Of course, to host such events, you need a menagerie of characters that will have no problem baring their souls and bodies for the camera. Enter the young, beautiful societal freaks. Personal trainers. Sassy assistants. Angsty artists. Where do they get these people? Isn't Blind Date taped in Los Angeles? Doesn't the show feature local Angelenos? Well, why not make the show more realistic and feature people that exist most prevalently in Los Angeles? Out-of-work writers. Recent film-school dropouts. Fifty-year-old, thrice-divorced would-be producers with ponytails who drive sports cars.
Oh, and don't even get me started with carefully constructed attractiveness. Now, I'm all for spiffing up for a night out. But it shocks me like an electrocuted whore to see the level of cosmetic planning that some of these people (mainly women) go through to prepare themselves for Blind Date. Fresh from a visit from Christophe, they flaunt their manicures and pedicures, professionally applied make-up, and skimpy clothes. Personally, I did less prep work for my prom. But they brandish their beauty like it was a weapon. And for some people, sadly, I guess it is. An ironic effort, since chances are they will visit a meatpacking plant or water park.
Aw hell, it's not that I begrudge these people. If you fear not the whims of a producer, then there is no reason not to go on Blind Date. Or any of the copycat dating shows that now plague the airwaves in a vain attempt to suckle from the same audience teat. But I begrudge the insecure doubts that are beginning to slither into my psyche. Now, I approach dates with apprehension. Am I expected to hold my own in paintball while donning capris and platforms? I've even caught myself looking over my shoulder, fearing condemnation from a pop-up animated graphic. And I judge my dates on a different set of criteria. Traits like charm and a nice sense of humor have been overtaken by "fuckability" and "in-your-faceness." Blind Date took something that I had once enjoyed heartily the homespun rituals and coyness of the great American date and morphed it into a loud, flashy, aggressive show of debauchery. In the process, they've made me into an Edsel.