Sunday, January 20, 2008

Date Night Meets First Date

Last Friday night was a very interesting one for my husband and me. We left our dog with my mother for the evening, and after spending most of the day with his parents downtown in Chicago, had our own date night in the city. We checked in to the Park Hyatt Hotel on Michigan Avenue and went out on the town. What we encountered that evening was a stream of couples on what were obviously their first dates. We had a bit of fun people-watching as a result. It's not something we do often at all, but for some reason, Friday was just begging for it.

It almost didn't matter where in an establishment we looked, there were people out on their first dates. It was obvious from their posture and from the bits of conversation that wafted over in our direction. We found it a little strange as usually when we are out we encounter a broad mix of groups: groups of friends, groups from work, families, groups of couples, girls nights out, etc. Last Friday night in downtown Chicago was clearly first date night.

One of our stops on Friday was Pops for Champagne on the corner of State and Erie. At a table near us was a group of four people. Two men. Two women. The couple facing us was clearly out on a first date. She was a tad overdressed. He was more than a tad nervous. In our estimation, he was blowing it as he was totally into the conversation with the couple across from them and didn't make any effort to look at the girl to his right or make direct conversation with her at all. Nerves, I suppose. The couple behind my husband was also on a first date and were making small talk about their respective jobs. Oh joy.

At Cru Cafe and Wine Bar on Delaware and Rush, we encountered more of the same. One couple was constituted of a woman who had clearly made her mind up that she wanted it to work out and a man who clearly was still deciding if he really even wanted to be there with her for dinner. She was leaning forward as she spoke to him and was putting on a full court press. He was reclined in his chair away from her and seemed to be regarding her every word with a bit of salt. I felt bad for her at that moment.

The couple directly in front of me at Cru was also on a first date and were discussing their respective jobs and families. The female was well endowed in her chest and was dressed to enhance that specific feature. She was a chatterbox and seriously didn't let her date get too many words in edgewise. As a result, I actually saw him glance down at her chest several times while she was speaking to him - and he seemed to be trying to not be too obvious - but he was. It was pretty funny. She didn't seem to mind. Guess that's why they were at a wine bar for a first date?

The couple directly next to us was also on a first date. Unlike all of the other new potential couples that we encountered on Friday, I had no idea why they were together. You know how couples usually look like couples? There's usually something that makes them compatible from a physical feature point of view. The two people sitting next to us didn't look like they belonged together at all. They were having polite conversation, but if I had to put money on their chances of success, I would have made a big bet that they would never go on another date again.

My husband and I had a really great time out that night. We had wine, champagne, sushi, pizza, chocolate fondue - we were out dabbling in food and drink and enjoying each other's company. We also had a bit of fun noticing our surroundings. It's been a very long time since either of us has been on a first date. Seeing all of those couples on Friday made me both hopeful for them and sorry for them all at the same time. None of the couples we encountered seemed to be hitting it off as well as they could have been. On the other hand, they were out there just trying and I really give them a lot of credit for that. I really wish them all well and much luck finding whatever it is that they each want.

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