When my mom was young, a guy would call her up, he'd ask her out and out they would go. She'd wear a pretty dress. He'd pay. It was called what was the term again? oh yes. A "date."
Maybe it was a sexist era. Okay, it was a sexist era. But it had a certain simplicity to it. Today if a gal wants a date, she doesn't just need the dress. She needs a Web site, a blog, a possible book deal and a dress. Also downloadable pictures of her (barely) in it.
At least, that's the way Babe Scott is going about it. And she seems to be a harbinger of dating rituals to come.
The Web site Babe has set up, takemeoutforlunch.com, demands exactly that: She wants 100 guys to take her to 100 fancy restaurants and she'll blog about them afterward, maybe squeeze them into a book. She may even find Mr. Right.
"My girlfriends said I was crazy it could be dangerous!" laughed Babe as we sat down at the swank Gramercy Tavern to await her first date. (Yes, I tagged along. You got a problem with that?) "But," continued Babe, "I said, 'Girls, you're crazy. You're on Match.com. At least I know I get a lunch.'"
Babe's forwardness was rewarded moments later when her date arrived blond-haired, blue-eyed and 6-feet-3. He could have been one of Princess Di's sons (and his suit could have come from their tailor). Babe looked up and blushed.
"You look better than your photo!" she exclaimed.
"And I almost don't recognize you without the French maid's outfit," he replied, referring to one of the saucy photos on her site. (See? A gal can't just hang out a shingle.) And then they were off.
Oh, it was a great date. Perfect, in fact. Turns out he's half Australian and that's where she's from. New in town? So is he!
He likes horses, she likes horses, she's pretty, he has dimples. They made each other laugh and admitted they were nervous and tasted each other's food and looked down when they mentioned previous relationships very quickly and she told him she's impractical and he told her he danced salsa, "badly," and all this took place over succulent red snapper. The only problem?
It never would have happened without her killer Web site.
Of course it's lovely that the Internet opens wide the world of singles, but that's a drawback, too. With so much competition, you gotta have a gimmick, preferably one that hints of sex and fame.
And if you don't? It could get lonely.
In my mom's day, it was simpler. You dated the guys in the neighborhood. There were fewer guys to choose from, but they were more available. No one was trolling for dates three time zones away, or pining for someone wildly unattainable (except Betty Grable).
Now that everyone's online, a gal's gotta out-Betty Betty. Babe understood this and got out the garters. It worked. She and her date are going horseback riding this weekend.
I hope it's as much fun as lunch. But I also hope that at some point we can take a step back to the days when people were content with fewer, less glamorous possibilities.
Maybe that's not quite as exciting, but I know it works.
Because here I am.