How To Internet First Date


  1. Do last minute research by looking at her profile again and making a mental note of any likes and dislikes.
  2. Drive to the restaurant. Leave early because you know parking is hell.
  3. Somehow, you end up late anyway.
  4. On the way over practice saying her name out loud so you don't accidentally say the names of the other girls you've met on the internet.
  5. Stand up straight and ask for a table.
  6. Meet her and instantly recognize each other, not because everyone looks like their photos, but because there is no other reason individual strangers would make eye contact in this city.
  7. Be impressed; like, sincerely. She looks amazing, her outfit looks stunning on her, but also, wow, she's a little taller than you in heels.
  8. Wonder if that bothers you because you've bought into gender roles, or if that bothers you because you think it bothers her.
  9. Buy two drinks at the bar while you wait for a table. Whiskey & ginger ale.
  10. Fumble small talk while you wait for your drinks. It's a hard place to start conversation because you don't feel like the date has begun yet, so you accidentally create the first silent gap in your interaction.
  11. Luckily she asks you about a thing you said online; moving to a new apartment. Make a joke about your current apartment being slightly bigger than your body, a line shamelessly cribbed from Mike Birbiglia. Hope he does not find out and get mad.
  12. The joke lands, but with a delay. Still, she laughs, and that is important because you have to get across that you are A Funny Guy. You wish you could just wear a T-shirt that says "I Am Funny" and people would just believe you.
  13. Your table is ready! Sit down, but with good posture so that you maintain some semblance of eye height. Begin talking through the basics: job, life, education, origin story.
  14. Talk about writing, which you are always excited to do, because you've spent years just digesting and stewing on writing mantras and the craft of thinking about writerly stuff. Exchange these with pleasure.
  15. Wonder if it sounds like you're trying too hard to seem interesting, realize it doesn't matter, because this is where the talking has flowed. It's where you are now, and that's all that matters.
  16. Another lull in conversation. She tries to catch it by asking questions, and you do too when you think fast enough.
  17. Realize that you are Going Through The Motions, which is a trap you fall into at least once every Internet First Date. Panic! Your lifelong inability to be instantly engaging has left you reverting to the role of reporter; you ask questions, find out more about a person, but have nothing to add to it or volley it back and forth.
  18. Look at the menu. Say something about not being a big fan of quinoa even though you have no strong feelings one way or the other. Be secretly bewildered as to why you said that, and why you're now having an exchange about quinoa. Theorize that maybe it was an attempt to imbue yourself with personality/discerning taste.
  19. Awkwardly split a vegetarian pizza. Realize it's pretty spicy but try not to make a mess of the food.
  20. Make a mess of the food. You are eating like a child, and there is a pile of jalapenos and tomato sauce to the side of your plate.
  21. Realize that you should go, because they need the table, but you don't want to end the date because you have not had the chance to really say or do anything interesting.
  22. Suggest taking a walk around the area.
  23. Pay for the food & drinks because you're ballin'
  24. Realize that this is your last shot at presenting yourself as a likeable human being. Go next door to a strange art exhibit with accompanying video game.
  25. She stares down art on the wall and doesn't seem to be responding to comments or questions. You have a hard time reading if she likes the art or not.
  26. In the back room of the gallery is a large space where the game is set up with loud, beautiful ambient music. She likes the space, and so do you.
  27. Sign up for the mailing list.
  28. Watch her play a demo of the game with a Playstation 4 controller. "I don't play video games," she says, and she has trouble figuring out the objective of the game, which is more of an interactive art toy than anything else.
  29. She plays for 3 minutes, and then asks if you want to play.
  30. You play, and figure out what the goal is of this particular level, and so you go and try to win. You play for what feels like 10 minutes.
  31. This is obviously too long and you can see her getting visibly impatient. But damn it, you're so close to beating the level!
  32. Leave the gallery, trying to work in last important questions that will reveal her character and yours. What do you do for fun, what did you do today, what are your plans now.
  33. Think, in the back of your head: "Do you want to go dance at the Echo? They have a free funk music night, it's just on the other side of this block."
  34. Say instead: "I guess I'll go home."
  35. Mention an event that you like to go to. She says it sounds interesting and "She'll have to check it out some time." Realize that on other dates, you have used this as a window to say, "I'd be happy to take you when you're next free." For some reason you don't say it and that's weird, even to you.
  36. Wonder if this is what lacking chemistry is. The conversation was stilted, full of stops and starts, and whereas normally you manage to make a ton of jokes realize that you didn't make any jokes. 
  37. Maybe you did a bad job presenting yourself as an exciting person, but maybe that's because of your different personality types. Maybe you were off your groove because of that incompatibility. Your best internet first dates have been seamless and you never thought about yourself too much, so maybe this wasn't a failure but a symptom.
  38. Decide that that's impossible to assess in 2 hours. It wasn't a home run but it wasn't a strike out.
  39. That in-between zone is probably the worst because it's the most unknowable and up in the air and unsatisfying.
  40. Walk her to her car.
  41. Tell her it was good to meet her; she says the same. She says she might see you at some event. Say that would be good. You are unsure of anything you are saying but these are things you should say just in case.
  42. Hug her.
  43. Walk back to your car.
  44. A truck driver leaving a parking lot yells at you. "That's it? Just a hug?!" he says. "You gotta kiss her too, man."
  45. Laugh and say to him as you pass: "I'm working on it."
  46. Work on it.