Recently I got chatting to a Facebook friend of a friend. It's important for me to distinguish that she was an online acquaintance rather than a real life, fleshed out friend because the advice I gave her was not face to face. It was wall to wall, status update to status update.
The whole world's gone viral and I'm trying to catch up with the technical age.
Facebook and Twitter allow us to spill our guts, splash the cash and share our wares to an audience of unknowns. We have no idea who we are talking to. We could be being groomed or lampooned when all we really want is to be cocooned and spooned.
I was always warned to look out for dirty old men wearing rain macs; no one ever taught me to watch out for dirty old men using (Apple) Macs.
Anyway, back to the Facebook friend twice removed. I inadvertently joined the conversation by writing something flippant on my friends wall and she decided to ask me for relationship advice. I don't know why but I seem to have become some kind of love guru since I started this blog. It's odd really considering whenever I write about relationships I'm normally advocating gold digging, doing exactly as you please and buying microwave meals for one.
However, I was up for the challenge of answering her "Dear Dan" query because I'm nice like that.
The Facebook friend in need had been asked out on a date. Which is fine, there's nothing wrong with a date unless it's with your probation officer. What wasn't so good was her suitors choice of rendezvous. He'd asked if they could meet somewhere quiet and secluded, somewhere they may not be disturbed, somewhere there wouldn't be many people around. . . .
Already I had started to have visions of vans with no windows, gaffa tape and body bags and by the time she mentioned the word "PARK"?
I'd already recommended she wear a pair of running shoes and carry a stun gun.
Nobody in their right mind should go on a first date to a park. I don't care if it's the height of summer, if you've only known someones online presence do not go for a little picnic in the park. The least that will happen is that you'll get grass stains on your elbows but the worst thing that could happen is that you'll get taken up the grassy knoll.
Only to be found buried under it six months later.
Parks are a no go unless you're packing a weapon or planning on taking an attack dog with you. There's nothing romantic about getting to know someone in a bush or surrounded by greenery.
Unless of course you have a squirrel fetish or you're dressed as Miss Piggy at a Kermit convention.
Your first date needs to be somewhere well light and busy.
If you've never even laid eyes on them in the flesh then under the traffic lights at a busy t-junction will do. Ask them to wait at the crossing and you stay in your car. That way, if you don't like the look of them you can put pedal to metal as soon as the lights hit green; and if they look nothing like the profile picture they sent you?
Make sure you also give them the finger as you speed away.
You can never be too careful when all you've seen is a profile picture 1 inch square. What looked good pixelated will look even better in your rear view mirror.
I remember one of the very first dates I ever went on. I was 19 years old and it was with a "friend of a friend". The internet wasn't around then so we had to do really strange, time consuming things, like actually meet and spend time together to get to know one another.
At 19 I had a terrible habit of looking and behaving a lot more experienced than I actually was. I was adept at making people think they were going to get ridden like Joey the War Horse. When in actual fact, I'd never even had my face in a nosebag full of hay (gay).
The date panned out like this:
7.15pm I stood in a phone box across the road from where we were supposed to meet and hid.
7.25pm I had a furious argument with someone who wanted to use the phone (it was before mobiles were invented and you could put 5p pieces into phone boxes).
7.30pm My date arrived looking very handsome but also looking around for me.
7.35pm I phoned my best friend and said "I'm in a phone box and I can see him" to which my friend replied "get off the phone, out of the phone box and across the road you fool".
7.45pm I finally managed to drag my sorry ass out of the phone box and over the road.
8.15pm We'd ordered food at his favourite Italian restaurant and I'd started gulping wine and swallowing pieces of whole calamari (I was too nervous to chew).
8.45pm I'd started to think there were three of him and I'd also became obnoxiously loud.
9.30pm I got sick down his trouser leg . . .and laughed.
10.00pm I got him barred from his favourite restaurant.
8.30am I did the walk of shame home with raccoon eyes and stubble rash.
The lesson you should learn from my cautionary tale is this:
If you want to go on a first date and never see the person again behave exactly as I did above but if you want to go on a first date and never be seen again?
Arrange to meet somewhere "quite & secluded, somewhere there aren't many people around."
Somewhere like a park, maybe?