Escaping the bad date.
Escaping the Bad Date

Michael Matkin

You're going on a first date, any sort of first date: blind, someone from work, a prearranged marriage pre-meeting.

He or she seems nice enough, but you have some instinctual sense that there might be certain differences of opinion or instabilities big enough to give you serious second thoughts.
Is she the one who wrote the pro-NRA screeds you found on Google when you searched for her name?
Didn't you overhear him mumble something about the last time he was arrested at a PETA rally?

So what do you do?
  Canceling is too pathetic.
Do you perhaps follow the example of scores of bad sitcom plots and attempt one of the standard strategies to rescue yourself from the fake-smiling clutches of a bad date?
Nearly everyone, from mere toddlers to the most callous heads of state, has used some variation of these strategies at one point or another.
I freely admit that back in my shadowy, though not-so-distant, past, I Jack Trippered myself through one of these scenarios.
So follow along and learn as we document a few of the more popular bad-date avoidance strategies.

  Perhaps the weakest, but a technique that, incredibly, is still in practice right now in select restaurants and movie theaters around the world, has been referred to as The Disappearance or The Auto-Coup d'Etat.
It starts with that most basic element of the bad-date avoidance technique, the excusing of yourself to go use the restroom or phone. You move quickly to the chosen distraction, pause momentarily and then continue straight out the door, moving directly to a distant location offering alcohol. This technique does require an iota of planning, namely making sure that the route from the restroom/phone to the door doesn't require walking past your date. Afterward, you screen your calls for a few weeks and rearrange your social calendar - or, as the title suggests, you explain some ludicrous scenario involving abduction, arrest or total memory loss.
The next technique, slightly less weak but still questionable, we'll call
Mutual Assured Destruction.
This technique is successfully exercised only by the most astute observers of the human condition with acting skills modestly better than Don Knotts'.
Quite simply, you counter each display of annoying behavior manifested by your date with an even more annoying display, subtly pitched to offend the perceived sensibilities of the date.
Date: "I'm just a Level 52 Sorcerer, but I only spend 20 hours a week playing."

You: "Look what I just found in my nose."
Then, depending on the progress of the evening, you choose the fate your "agent" has delivered. Advanced users, when an evening is going well, upon returning from the phone might claim to have called said agent back and avoided the work, saying that, "something important came up."
If successful, your date will end the evening him/herself. As an added benefit, he or she will go on to tell all of their friends from the Bob Jones Alumni Organization or Greenpeace about what a sociopathic loser you are, eliminating the possibility of many future bad evenings with other members of their tribe.
If it goes wrong, however, you might end up deeply endearing yourself to some twisted freak, in which case you can quickly revert to another of the techniques.
Another classic sleight, which we'll call
The Preemptive Strike,
(and which I, on a blind date, once attempted) might go something like this: "Uh, I may have to work really early tomorrow. No, of course we're going to dinner, but I'll just check my voicemail later. Yeah, my agent/boss/pimp is going to call and let me know."
I personally felt incredibly awkward and dishonest after the first phone call, and the date foundered.
Neither she nor I ever called each another again.
Slightly more involved, and perhaps the most famous technique, is
The Sudden Crisis.
There are two variations on this theme, the simplest is the solo crisis, for which you simply check your voicemail and ...
  Oh my God, the test results just came back, and I need to go straight into quarantine!
Far more convincing, particularly in the age of cell phones, is the assisted crisis, in which your prearranged accomplice makes the call, which you discretely field, and ...
Oh my God, my planes just bombed Baghdad!

This technique can end a date immediately if necessary but has also proven particularly effective in redirecting post-date attention to the "crisis" and away from uncomfortable questions concerning the substance of the date itself.
When this technique is executed with perfect pitch and collusion from friends (ideally in the media), the fact that you must have known weeks in advance that your planes would bomb Baghdad that evening can be somehow glossed over.
Of course, the question to ask in these situations is why in God's name do we go out with people who elicit such a baroque need for self-protection?
Yeah, dating is often a masochistic pastime, but doesn't a good dose of that come from the fact that we're so indirect with one another? Have we learned nothing from those hundreds of hours spent watching Three's Company and Seinfeld?

These stupid excuses have an Aaron Spellingishly predictable way of whipping back and bespattering us like some rank liquid thrown into the wind.
As if it isn't obvious to nearly everyone involved that we're lying about something that invariably doesn't need to be lied about.
Think about it, this self-deluding notion that making a ridiculous story up is somehow more effective than just saying, "You know, dinner was nice but I need to go now." Period.
And throw in a "Let's talk later."
At which point you can gently let the person down,

  "You're [insert good quality here], but I don't feel like starting anything."

Is this too direct?
OK, maybe for some, but remember, all of those sitcom actors end up as self-parodying wrecks on the back pages of People.
And then ask yourself this: When, exactly, do we start being honest with one another?

Article from Ironminds

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