Well, since my post about engagement rings was so popular, I figured that I'd leap to the other end of the dating spectrum and spend some time discussing the first date today.
First dates are tricky enough as it is, but when you're a little eco-nutty they are even harder. You want to be yourself, but you don't want to seem too nutty on the first date. Best to gradually let the crazy come out. Hopefully by the time your sig o finds out that you don't use paper toilet paper, they will already be so smitten with you that they won't care.
On the other hand, you do want someone who will be reasonably tolerant of your green escapades, so if your date spends all his time mocking polar bears, they might not be the one for you. So, you definitely don't want to hide too much. For example, many many years ago, I went out on a date with a guy, and I let him pick the restaurant. Which isn't a big deal, except that I specifically told him that I didn't eat red meat, as at the time I was only eating chicken and fish. Now, I would imagine that as dietary restrictions go, no red meat is a fairly minor one, right? Well, guess where the guy took me. To a steak house. Yes, a steak house. In the Midwest. Know what was on the menu? Red meat. Know what was NOT on the menu? Things that didn't involve red meat. I ended up eating an extremely sad garden salad that literally consisted of iceberg lettuce, croutons, and ranch dressing. As you can probably guess, there was no second date.
So, you definitely want to be upfront about your environmentalism, if not entirely upfront about your specific enviro kooks. A date who is intolerant of said environmentalism is not a person you really want to be with anyway. BUT, this is not to say that you shouldn't say ... date someone who drives an SUV, or someone who eats factory farmed meat, or someone who doesn't recycle. Because the truth is, people change. Remember, most of us weren't born environmentally conscious. It took us time to become so. So if your date isn't Mr. or Ms. Eco, don't let that necessarily be a deal breaker. If you both really like each other, you'll probably adapt.
All right, so in sum, be honest about yourself, but not too nutty, and don't date environmentally intolerant people, but don't make their lack of environmentalism a total deal breaker. Everyone got that? Ok, good.
Now that we've got that out of the way, where are you going to go?
Some first date locales are definitely trickier than others. A coffee date, for example, is a pretty easy date. It's low key, it doesn't have to be too long, and it's not that hard to find local independent coffee shops that brew organic fair trade coffee. Even if you go to that non-independent behemoth, Starbucks, they do have fair trade coffee available. On the other hand, if you really like a person, coffee might not be your first choice in terms of first dates....
Then there's the ever popular drinks option. It's fun, having a drink can alleviate first date nerves, and here in London, it's surprisingly easy to find organic, locally brewed beer on tap. If you can't find organic locally brewed beer on tap, just do your best. I tend to give preference to what's on tap, both because it generally tastes better, and then you're not stuck with a bottle which may or may not be recycled. Then you might go for a local beer, unless your local beer choice is Bud Light, in which case, absolutely DO NOT GO FOR THE LOCAL BEER. If there is no good local beer choice, you might live in a region like California that has excellent local wines, so that's always an option. If you can't find anything local or organic that sounds appealing, don't sweat it too much. It's your first date, you're freaking out a little inside, and really, your choice of drink should be the least stressful part of the evening.
Dinner dates are probably the most difficult first dates to deal with. They involve a longer time commitment than coffee or drinks, and dealing with food is complicated even when you're not an eco-nut! If you're a girl, there's a lot of pressure not to be The Girl Who Eats Half A Salad, but there's also a lot of pressure not to be The Girl Who Eats Like A Pig. Similarly, if you're a guy, there's all this weird pressure to be masculine. Like, if you order a vegetarian entree, then maybe she'll think you're some super sensitive girly boy who likes to take baths while listening to Peter Gabriel. (Not that there's anything wrong with baths or Peter Gabriel per se.)
The point is, we all subscribe, at least a little, to the idea that you are what you eat. Thus, we can see what the other person orders as an indicator of sorts as to what kind of person they are. Not very fair, but thems the breaks on a first date.
So what to do? Well, clearly restaurant choice is important as illustrated in my sad steak house first date story. Many of us eco-nuts would probably prefer to go to the cute place downtown with really good food that sources their ingredients locally. But, your date might have other ideas, which, remember, doesn't necessitate that that person is a bad fit for you. Also, there's the added question of who is going to be paying for said date. Now, I'm not going to go into that little issue, as we all could probably write books about it, but what I'm saying is, if there's a good chance you won't be paying, then don't suggest a place which costs $50 per head.
So here's what I would suggest. Ethnic food, if you both are somewhat adventurous can be a really good option. One, because you can often find good ethnic food inexpensively, and when you're eating at an ethnic restaurant, all those steak/salad issues tend to disappear. What does ordering saag paneer or kung pao chicken say about a person? Nothing really, that I can think of.
Another good option is pizza. I know what you're thinking. Really, pizza? But your local pizza place is a really nice option because almost everyone likes pizza, it's reasonably inexpensive, and there are likely to be plenty of veggie and non-veggie options. Also, then you can throw in that funny story about how you tried to make mozarella, and ended up setting off the smoke alarm, and half the building had to be evacuated.
And that wraps up this week in first dates. Anyone else have some first date advice they'd like to offer?
4 weeks ago