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The following week, my (planned) spontaneous text to her about Valentine's Day was foiled by her texting me before I texted her, then her having plans when I suggested we go out that night, then me getting a cold that kept me from the "boozy brunch" she suggested for the day after.And by the time I got better—with the burden of instigating the next date on me—I had spent so much time thinking about our date that spending more time thinking about a date while on a date didn't feel appealing.(11) Even the best laid plans can't control for timing.In theory, it's easier to strengthen something before cracks appear than to mend it after. Tashiro is a firm believer in divulging secrets before making any commitment, whether you're moving in together or just getting a dog."The truth has a way of manifesting itself inevitably," he tells us.(8) So we run through our romantic backstories—my tendency to tumble into prolonged semi-relationships with commitment phobes, Nate's to move glacially for fear of hurting the people he's with or being hurt himself.(9) Next we fill out questionnaires about the traits that we'd like in an ideal partner—everything from race to religious beliefs to intelligence level.The conversation never stalled, we laughed constantly, and she made fun of my fidgeting with the millions of forks only once (and did so kindly, as a way of relating, since her father does the same thing). I was having fun, and this first impression of her, at least after two hours of boozy banter, was a good one. They didn't pry much at the beginning ("Whom would you want as a dinner guest? "), but by the end they instruct you to ask your partner for advice on a personal problem, and expose your worst fears ("Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? It took hours, and I learned so much about her—none of which I disliked. I was learning things that, by being revealed so clinically, snuffed out my curiosity about them and the chance to know how she would, over time, choose to tell me them.She doesn't wear much makeup, because she's pretty and she doesn't seem to need to, and the more I looked at her, the more I liked looking at her, noticing how her cheeks gently swelled as she smiled.(4) Also, I had (silently) noted as we walked to the table that she had a nice ass. At the bar afterward, being a romantic, I suggested we do some shots. There were moments when I looked at her, my old-fashioned dwindling, and thought about whether I would try to kiss her later—and yet.... You learn something essential about a person not just through who they are but through how and when they tell you who they are.In the spirit of honesty, I select the 5'10" to 6' category, which overshoots Nate.(10) The rest of the page is similarly specific—would you like your date to be slightly mean, slightly kind, moderately kind, or extremely kind?Should their intelligence level be dull, average, bright, or very bright?
But there's a strange comfort in hearing Nate's expectations. And if he can spell out his wants, so can I; it's liberating to smother my self-consciousness and allow myself to voice—for once—that I might actually want to communicate with the object of my affection, like, daily.
Weeks before, the questionnaire had been popularized by a column—published as Valentine's Day and its chocolate sirens hurtled toward the lonely, under the title "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This." The author falls for someone she knew a little from work and the climbing gym; the questions, which they went through on their first date, enabled an "accelerated intimacy" because they forced people to "bother to know someone," which would systematically "generate trust."(3)I told Keziah we shouldn't do them. Though that was mostly a ploy to schedule after-dinner drinks. Not just any script—a script of questions so personal that they vacuumed away all the wonderful mystery about her.
So we ate and meandered instead through normal first-date talk—the kind that most people lament but I actually enjoy. I didn't want to know her opinion of her family already. I didn't even want to know five things she liked about me already.
(And by figuring each other out, sneaking looks into each other's eyes, and touches on each other's legs.)(5) And until then, if you care, you fear—or, rather, hope—that you're proving yourself worthy of hearing. The kind generated by what you want to say instead of what you're instructed to.
I realized at the end of the questions that I would never know what she would've told me freely had she actually come to trust me, and that gave me reigning king of romantic compatibility, I feel a little queasy. He's clean-cut in a cool way; Tom Cruise-esque in stature;(6) and his eyes, which are almost gray, crinkle sweetly when he smiles.