Think of the astronauts suiting up for launch, your first day of school, the moment just before the curtain rises — we’re talking the thrill of possibility, and with it, adrenaline, anticipation, action. Even though your palms get sweaty and your tummy may hurt a bit, you feel alive and ready, especially if you’ve practiced your landing sequence, packed your lunch, and learned your lines.
If so, anticipation is a wonderful thing. It’s the perfect imaginary meal you can almost taste when your growling tummy notices it’s been a while since you last ate. It’s the white sands of Tahiti that inspire you to see your boss about that raise, the bacon you can see sizzling when that first whiff wakes you up in the morning.
Getting Your Outside Ready
If you handle it right, anticipation is not only a motivating factor (“I think I’ll call a friend for lunch, write a memo to my boss, haul myself out of bed”) but also a way to enjoy an experience twice: You can enjoy it in your imagination, and you enjoy it again when it’s real. That’s really good news. An emotional twofer. Two for the price of one. The not-so-good news is that anticipation can backfire if you’re careless with the way you handle it.
It’s up to you: You can poison a neutral or even positive situation by being negative, by building up the dreaded worst-case scenario. Or you can choose to be delighted about your upcoming date and focus on doing what you can to make things click. You can choose to label your nerves “excitement” and look forward to having a great time.
Once you’ve decided to enjoy the tingle rather than let your nerves become hives, the adrenaline-jazzed anticipatory period before your first date is the perfect time to get yourself, your mind, your body, and your soul into the “date state.”
In this chapter, referring to “date state” focuses not on cosmetic surgery before a first date (can you say overkill) or why your wardrobe doesn’t need an immediate major overhaul but why your teeth, hair, and pits need to be squeaky clean. It also includes advice on what and what not to wear. Time, transportation, money, and directions require the same attention before you head out. Finally, tada, a handy checklist of smart things to do during those final ten minutes before your date arrives.
Considering Cosmetic Improvements
Before we focus on the prosaic of what you can do to get your outside ready, let’s talk for a moment about a rather alarming, expensive trend: the idea that somehow a person is not going to be lovable unless completely and forever wrinkle and cellulite free, gorgeous, and hard-bodied with an adorable upturned nose and a full head of luxuriant hair.
Okay, before you accuse me of being hopelessly old-fashioned, if you have a bump on your nose that you’ve always hated and you’re deciding that now you have the time and the money to get it fixed, so be it. It’s cool with me. But if you think changing that bump on your nose is going to help you find love, forget about it. You’re likely to be disappointed in not only your nose job but the rest of your life.
Plastic surgery is no longer only for movie stars and international socialites; today people in all socioeconomic classes are undergoing cosmetic surgery. The largest number of people getting plastic surgery make less than $30,000 dollars a year, which I find vaguely terrifying. If you want to have plastic surgery, it’s okay with me, but please don’t do it to increase your chances of finding a date.
First Impressions Count
You can visually absorb someone’s appearance in two seconds. Two seconds! Talk about your once-over. That’s exactly what’s going to happen in the vibrating, potential-packed few moments between the time you open the door, flash those pearly whites, and say “Hi.” Ba-da bing, ba-da boom. An impression has already been burned into your date’s brain, so you may as well make sure it’s a great one. Even if you’ve seen each other before, the context has changed. Now it’s official. It’s a date.
That two-second stare, called the copulatory gaze, triggers a primal reaction in the person being gawked at: advance or pull back. It’s a biologically buzzed moment. Pupils are dilated, and heart rates are up. Staring too long is threatening, so take it easy. Take a look and then look away before your date runs away
Because your date evaluates your appearance from the outside in, I’m starting with the least important part of you, but the most important part of an initial impression: how you look — what you’re wearing, how you smell, your haircut.
When you think about what you plan to wear on your date, keep the following points in mind:
- Comfort is key. Even if your attire makes a fabulous first impression, avoid any outfit that pinches, binds, rides up, or threatens to burst at the seams. Believe in the Law of Murphy: All these things can and will happen at the worst possible moment.
- Plan to perspire. Even the coolest cat sweats on a date. Even in winter. It’s nature’s way of lowering your overheated body temperature. Choose clothes that are loose in the armpits and on the back. Let air get in there and dry you out before the fabric presses to your flesh like a wet tissue.
- Save the skin show. Your date doesn’t need to know if you’re an innie or an outie just yet — unless, of course, your date is at the beach (see Chapter 10).
- A date is about getting to know you, not your outfit. Yes, what you wear is right up there with remembering to brush your teeth, but if the first thing he sees is your ostrich feather, or she has to don sunglasses to look at your day-glo polyester pants, your outfit may never be asked out on a second date.
- Avoid “get-ups.” If your mother would dub your date outfit a “get-up” (as in, “You’re going out in that get-up?”), play it safe and get up and get something else on. Moms, after all, do occasionally know best. This is no time to test the truth of the theory.
- Now is the time to control your urge to splurge. I know it’s tough. (My favorite four-letter word is “sale.”) But beware of the 50-percent trap (if you wouldn’t buy it for full price, don’t buy it at half price). Ostensibly, this is the first of many dates. You don’t want to rope yourself into a lifetime of revolving debt or watch your date’s face fall after your horsemen have turned back into mice and your carriage is one big fat pumpkin again.
Dressing for real-world dates
When it actually comes time to choose an outfit, what do you put on? Well, if it were up to me, everybody would have a first date in their grubbiest, most comfortable clothes (grubby in terms of well-worn, not dirty). Men wouldn’t shave, and women’s legs would remain bristly, and new clothes wouldn’t even be contemplated.
This non-dress code (or dress non-code) would complement the activities planned, which, if it were up to me, would be active and fun and casual. None of this fancy restaurant stuff, worrying about prices and the right fork and not dribbling and stray bits of broccoli between your teeth and a snooty waiter and tight shoes or collars or tables. But, since I’m not in charge of the universe, I promise to help you get through getting dressed for your date in the real world.