Dating is a lost art. Fashionable during our parents’ generation, it recently seems to have gone out of vogue. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at how this prehistoric tradition between the sexes has evolved. References to Adam and Eve sauntering around the Garden of Eden sound romantic enough for me to call this the first date. It’s your typical story of boy meets girl, girl plays hard-to-get (forcing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit), and boy and girl live happily ever after. Growing up with such erotic images, it’s hard to believe this ancient art has lost its appeal.
The next scenario that arises when I trace the erratic history of “the catch,” is the Humphrey Bogart, black and white movie, bring-her-home-by-eight-or-else period of dating. This era, more than any other, exemplifies all those courting niceties that are currently lacking. Dating was ceremonial—each stage demanded a proficient command of correct conduct.
Step one: pick the girl up. If you don’t come on time, don’t bother showing up at all. Step two: take her out. Open the door for her, offer her a nice glass of wine and pay the bill when she is in the bathroom. Step three: Drop her off. Make sure she gets in the house before you slam on the gas and drive away, probably miffed about the sexual gratitude you haven’t received.
Yes, I know this is all sounds very sexist; the woman seemingly the sole benefactor. But, it isn’t the treatment of the woman that I want to highlight. It is the reverence given to each stage of the night. There was a certain appreciation of the process in Bogart’s day; there was no need to rush. It was just a commitment to be with the person for however long the evening took and not to worry what would follow at the end of the night.
Now we come to the present day —brace yourself. Cyber-dating, telephone sex-lines, and newspaper personals seem to be the media of choice for locating the next match. After a seemingly perfect suitor has been found, the date (and let me stress the singular nature of this event) consists of a series of short-lived, superficial acts. Usually the couple will meet at a previously determined location (picking up the respective other at the house has now become too risky due to stalker potential). Next, the couple shoves a couple of courses down their throats (who has time to enjoy a two-hour dinner when The Bachelor starts at eight?) and both reach for the bill until they decide it would be better to split it. The goodnight kiss is a rarity, though not completely extinct, and if it does happen, its value is forgotten in the sorrowful chimes of the subway doors slamming in your face. Sound familiar?
Here’s the essence of my beef: where has the love of the date gone? In a society that holds instant communication at the pinnacle of all interactions, it is not surprising that the romantic chase has become a burglary. It’s time to erect the old-time pleasures of just wanting to spend time with someone. The emphasis on sexual gratification now overshadows all the other wonderful aspects of dating.
Wouldn’t it be nice to look back and remember a series of wonderful nights, then just that one when you “got lucky?” Maybe I don’t want to hear the answer to that. Regardless, for the love of God, let’s start dating again before the notion itself is forgotten and the chances of revival are extinct.