I'd Rather Be Reading

I may have a date. But I’m not sure. We’re going for coffee, which these days is often a pre/semi/whatever date. Except when it’s just coffee. Which would, in this particular case, be just fine with me.

Despite not being alive in the good old days, I still miss the clarity of knowing that when a boy asked you to go out with him, his intentions were clear: to get into your pants, even if it meant having to marry you. OK, so I don’t miss the lack of women’s options, the poodle skirts or the bryl crème (can’t imagine running my hands through that mess), but the certainty about dating? That I miss.

OK, so I should admit that I’ve never been terrifically adept at the dating thing (except for a gradually increasing ability to spot red flags). Once, I’d met up with an acquaintance I hadn’t talked to in years and we spent several weeks in lively and entertaining email conversation, then played tourists in Toronto and had several meals together. It wasn’t until the third time we got together and he didn’t insist on paying for both of us that I realized we’d been dating (and now no longer were). It was literally the only sign. What happened to the end-of-time-together kiss so handy in telegraphing intentions? I like a fairly conservative approach, but really? Who knew?? It still boggles my mind...

Sometimes I wonder if my low dating IQ comes from growing up in a country that doesn't really have that concept - sure, when I was a teenager in Denmark, people did things together as a way of finding out if they're right for each other, but Dating as the sociological phenomenon? Had never heard of it before I came to Canada and at that time, I was quite frankly too busy getting to know my new country to worry about boys. Come to think of it, that's often been the problem (if it is indeed a problem, but that's a post for another day) - I tend to get caught up in other things and forget about acquiring a boyfriend.

I've read articles about the way dating has continued to change to the point where these days, apparently teenagers go out in herds and informally find each other that way. It's just getting more and more vague, isn't it? At least I'm of a generation where there is the ‘clarity’ of coffee. Sure, the ambiguous approach does have its benefits - not only are you not trapped for an entire dinner if things are clearly not working out, it is easier to achieve a subtle and more elegant shift to friendship and/or disappearing into the wild blue yonder while both parties save face. And maybe that's what it's all about - saving face, avoiding embarrassment, leaving the encounter unscathed. I wonder... Is this all because we are more afraid of getting hurt, less willing to risk?

Whatever the reason, I find it confusing - as I once told John when he looked a little shellshocked after my mother, sister and I had had a particularly a-hem… intense episode: Andersens don't do well with the unknown.

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