Summer First Date to the Beach
This is a recipe that requires all the ingredients to be in season. From the oddly fitting Levi's shorts to the worn-in Birkenstocks (or Teva's as a substitute), this is a concoction that's best served hot, but is also acceptable cooled down slightly, if you sleep in a little too long. The steps should be pretty straight-forward, but if anything goes awry, feel free to improvise. The beauty of this particular dish is that it tastes different every time, so proceed with confidence, and minimal palm sweat if possible.
2 black coffees to-go, or an iced latte and a black coffee, feel it out
3 CD's or playlists (Preferably with a variety of old school classics and more modern artists, but nothing too melancholy.)
2 pairs of sunglasses
Chapstick of any kind (Because no one likes kissing a piece of sand paper.)
1 extra stick of deodorant (Depending on the weather, the manner of garment, the wingspan of the hugger, etc.)
$15 at least for cookie dough ice cream and/or clam chowder (You're at the beach, for crying out loud.)
2 hair ties (You should always have a hair tie, girl, let's be honest.)
1. Make sure your date pre-AC's the car to a crisp 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, wear layers in case the car gets a little too toasty or too chilly. Be prepared, always.
2. Get gas at the Costco on the way out of town, because whoever's driving should get a deal on gas. This could be a bad date, so no one should have to blow their money. If you don't have a Costco on hand, Fred Meyer will be a suitable replacement.
3. Have a conversation in opposition or support of pumping your own gas, make note of the answer, as it may be as informative as reading tea leaves.
4. Start the drive off easy. Play something mellow but agreeable, sophisticated but approachable. Something like Fleetwood Mac "Dreams," or if you're a fan of Carole King, maybe "It's Too Late." Though on second thought, that might send the wrong message. I'll get back to you on that one.
5. Ease into the conversation. Depending on where your date has been sourced, whether that be Tinder, Bumble, work, or a real-life meet cute somewhere, talk about something light but relevant. This isn't an interview, reader, this is a date. It should be fun! Do they have a dog in their profile? Remark on your favorite place to go for a walk. Do they have a photo of themselves making Trader Joe's ravioli in another photo? Remark on your favorite meal to cook. Is there a coworker you mutually dislike? Don't talk about it, that's starting the date off with negativity, and we don't need that on this date. Okay? Okay.
6. As the conversation progresses, and you inch into family talk and goals and such, segue into moodier music. Maybe a touch of Iron & Wine or Sufjan Stevens, but be careful with this spice. It's easy to get heavy-handed, so add a little at a time. It's easier to add more than it is to take away.
7. Don't forget to check on your ears. They may start to get plugged as you climb in elevation. Prevent this by either chewing gum very subtly, or un-popping your jaw every now again. For extra flavor, explain why you're popping your jaw. Much like the gas conversation, this will help to give you the information you need. Are they understanding? Are they judgy? Take note, dear reader.
8. You're almost to the beach. Rejoice! (Either audibly or privately, this is up to you. Again, read the mood of car, feel out the vibe.)
9. Take a moment to un-plaster yourself from the carseat. This is necessary if the seats are leather or pleather, but ignore this particular step if the car has a fabric seat. No one wants a big ole red mark on their booty. Your date should be sneaking a peak for different reasons altogether.
10. If the conversation lulls, don't jump to fill the void. This is tempting for a first date. But don't. Be confident in the silence. Much like umami, a prevalent flavor in many Asian cuisines, silence can add richness. Treat this date like your own personal bowl of ramen. Make it delicious.
11. Hey, guess what? You've arrived at the beach. Be careful when you get out of the car, moving slowly and intentionally without looking like a psycho to your date. A crick in your neck or a tweak in your back will not be helpful for that inevitable sunset stroll on the sand.
12. Take a walk around the town. Try some salt water taffy (if applicable). If there's no taffy to be found, do not panic. This can be remedied with coffee, a scone, and/or ice cream. Breath in, breath out. You've got this.
13. By this point in the day, the sun's going down, the cobblestone is harder to see, and perhaps, it's time to get extra flirty. Maybe take out that chapstick, taking your time to smooth it onto your lips, relishing in the feeling of hydration, and perhaps, your date sneaking a look.
14. Mosey onto the beach, making sure to take off your shoes. Yes, I said it. TAKE THEM OFF. No point in ruining your shoes. Also, no point in feeling extra uncomfortable on this date. It's already rife with awkwardness. Have mercy on yourself.
15. It's about to get risky, steamy or possibly both. Go for that hand-hold. Or rather, he should be going for that hand-hold. But in either case, have your hands casually swinging by your hips. That way, your hand is perfectly accessible, and perfectly primed for hand-holding.
16. A few minutes have gone by, and by this point, hand-holding should have commenced. Has it not? Don't panic, maybe he's not a touchy person. Confirm or deny suspicions of his disinterest or interest in his body language. Become a hotter version of Sherlock Holmes. Crack this case, girl. I'll be your Watson.
17. Be sure to get some chowder before you go. The bread bowl is optional, but the oyster crackers are not. Savor every bite. The grit of the broth, the silky texture, how it instantly transports you to every childhood memory when you've sipped clam chowder with cousins in big tee shirts.
18. Reader, your date should pick up the bill, but if he doesn't, just politely say you forgot your card. Works most of the time, but of course, I am not wishing this situation on you. Please know this. But I'm trusting your judgement on this guy. Trust your gut, as they say.
19. The drive back from the beach will be telling. Turn down the music in the car to a volume where you can hear each other, while still having the ambiance of a perfectly-balanced playlist. Don't play anything too percussive, lest you lose your train of thought mid sentence. This conversation will be able to tell you whether or not another date will be happening. You will crack the case, Sherlock. You're detective skills may even put the real Sherlock to shame. (Nah, I'm just playing, I would never want to put shame on Benedict Cumberbatch, he doesn't deserve that.)
20. You've arrived back at your car or your house, depending on the source of your date, as mentioned in Step 5. You exchange the common pleasantries of "good night" and "I had fun," both trying to figure out where you stand with one another. Maybe go in for the hug, but again, proceed with caution. The hand-holding (or lack there of) in Step 16 will help you figure out what to do.
21. The damn fool should be kissing you by now, preferably outside of the car, but inside of the car will work too. And with that, your date is done, the ingredients have been stirred, and there's nothing left for you to do but sit, reflect, and possibly have a glass of Trader Joe's wine. This could be any price point, from a $2 bottle to a ritzier $8 selection. Treat yourself. Because actually, first dates are the worst.
What's your experience with first dates to the beach? Any steps I left out? Comment below and let me know.