When I was in college I went on a lot of dates. Sometimes because I like a guy. Sometimes because the guy likes me. Sometimes because I needed a free meal (Well a girl’s got to eat. And scholarship money wasn’t that much either). And sometimes, even on rare occasions, it’s because there was nothing better to do anyway.
In that time all the boys were still in college too, and we couldn’t afford expensive restaurants, so many of these dates will take place in a Mc Donald’s, at some hawker stalls by the street or at some dodgy-looking ethic deli. During these occasions I would fantasize that one day, when I have a big shot job and are asked out by proper working guys, I would be taken on dates at nice restaurants where people would keep refilling my glass. That would be perfect, just as I had seen them in the movies.
Now that I am X years old, I can say that I have indeed been to a date of this kind. The perfect looking man with a perfect looking car who took me to a really nice restaurant at a really nice place where people talked in hush whispers and the waiter looked like he could qualify as a Calvin Klein thong model. But it was during one of these very dates that I suddenly recalled a memory in college when I went out with this particular guy I really liked. He asked me out and we ate at an A&W. I couldn’t remember what I ate or what we talked about, but I remembered vividly how I awesome it felt. On the other hand, as I sat in this fancy restaurant with this fancy schmancy guy, I was happy to be at the place, but I was not even nearly excited about it as I had been back then. The place was amazing, the food was tres delicious and the whole going-on-a-date-protocols were followed closely, so what was wrong?
The answer is, as I've come to realize, a date is not at all about these things, or these protocols, or who’s picking up who at the front doorstep with a dozen flowers and candy and moonlight. For years I have convinced myself that a date is not a perfect date unless it is exactly how I had fantasized it in my head based on too many misleading Western books and movies. When truly, a date is simply about one thing and one thing only.
A date is about THE GUY.
I remembered a date at a hawker stall I had about five years back. There were some loud obnoxious guys sitting next to us that made us feel like we sat in a circus, the food was forgettable and the cook looked as dodgy as one of those ‘Wanted’ men at the airport checkups. But I can clearly recall how excited I was. I really liked the guy and he turned out to be amazing. I remembered how happy I was, and despite the bad lighting and the dangers of being run over by pickup trucks zooming past down the street, we talked for hours and before I knew it, we had been sitting there for six hours. It was worth every butt cramp from sitting down for too long. On the contrary, sitting in that perfect restaurant with a plate of gourmet was all well, but I found myself to keep glancing at my watch and checking how long we’ve been sitting there. And with every subject being brought up about business, world economics and politics, I found myself fantasizing that a hole would open up on the floor and I will be swallowed by it, like Alice in Wonderland (on second thoughts, maybe that was why she ‘fell’ down that hole. She was probably actually on a really bad date).
So I guess a good date is like a hamburger. The guy is the meat patty and the date is everything else – the buns (pun intended), the mayo, the lettuce and the rest of the sides. It will never in hell be a good burger so long as the meat patty itself is of no good. But if it’s delicious and the bun and sides too are amazing, well, ta-dah! You’ve got a perfect hamburger. And by 'hamburger' I meant date. D'uh.