Match-ed up: What to order on a first date

A classic martini, August 5, 2019, at Hanny's Bar, 40 N 1st Street, Phoenix.Classic Martini
A classic martini, August 5, 2019, at Hanny's Bar, 40 N 1st Street, Phoenix.Classic Martini /

After a 17-year marriage led to like a 17-minute divorce, I realized after an appropriate period of properly setting my thoughts in order (there may have been alcohol involved) and ascertaining what I wanted in a future mate (sanity and a pulse), I was ready to tiptoe into the Dating World (okay: in the interests of honesty: my teenagers signed me up for Match behind my back after deciding I was hovering too much. Also, I was bored with organizing my shoe collection.)

Note I say “Dating World.” It was more like “The Hunger Games.” And instead of the odds being ever in your favor, the odds were good but dear Lord the goods were odd.

See – – the thing about online dating is that after an appropriate number of texts, messages, witty banter, and background checks to establish someone is a not a serial killer or they were at least set free due to a lack of evidence– all these things lead to a First Date.

And first dates are typically at a restaurant because, well, we all have to eat except for that one guy who told me he existed on air and sunshine, but we never actually had a first date because I wasn’t sure where we would go. Hot air ballooning? Tanning salon?

But you can learn a lot about a person by their eating habits and what they order and how they treat the wait staff and how many times their mother calls them (record: 11. His mom called him 11 times, asked to speak with me twice and there was no second date. Also he was 51 years old and never married. Huh.).

My very first date after my divorce was with very nice man who took me to a Chinese restaurant. The hot and sour soup was phenomenal, but keep in mind if you order soup, you will be slurping quietly, and then slurping extremely loud when your date informs you he has recently left his wife and three kids to move into his mother’s basement and although he assures you he is actually an engineer, he is currently working as an “life specialist” to find himself. Note for future reference: he did not, in fact, find himself during our first and only date.

The soup was excellent.

I next had a date with a very nice man who took me to an Italian restaurant. When eating at Italian restaurant, it’s highly recommended you order a white sauce if you are wearing lighter clothes as they don’t stain nearly as obviously when it drips on your shirt when your date informs you he was recently fired because he had threatened to kill his boss and his boss’ entire family due to a “misunderstanding.” Since I was wearing a white blouse, I went with a nice Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.

The stain lasted longer than the date did.

Feeling I had learned my lesson about searching for red flags, my next date was purely going to be for a drink so that I could better gauge as to whether or not I wanted to potentially ruin my next garment.

I ordered a lovely Grey Goose very dirty martini (me to bartender: “please make it so dirty I would slap it if it spoke to me”) with an extra blue-cheese stuffed olive as I waited for my date who ended up being over 40 minutes late. The bartender was phenomenal, friendly, and very sweet as he helped me through the back door when my date did arrived, extremely inebriated, and started talking about everything he planned to do with me that evening.

Suffice it to say, I’m assuming he ended up doing them by himself and I’m pretty sure some of the things he enthusiastically mentioned are illegal in multiple countries.

But that martini was fabulous.

Not at all daunted by these dating mishaps, and wondering with a sense of humor and also impending doom what the next date could possibly be like, I accepted an invitation to meet at one of the nicest restaurant in town from a very sweet man who turned out to be 65 but said he identified as 45 years old so that is what his dating profile said his age was.

Over a lovely flambéed Steak Diane with fresh mushrooms that exploded with flavor, this nice man explained he was “technically” still married and actually lived in a town 40 miles away but he was willing to purchase a small condo for me as long as I was “available” for him whenever he visited the area.

Pro-tip: Steak Diane mushroom sauce looks amazing when it’s dripping off your date’s gray hair. The creamy brown color blended nicely with the white tips of a badly-done comb over. It was a good look for him.

I felt bad for the steak, however.

The Shepherd’s Pie I ordered on my next first date was exactly like the gentlemen himself: very pretty on the outside and nicely presented, but filled with items on the inside that were extremely questionable and I’m never eating at that restaurant again. Or dating that guy.

Not daunted but recognizing I was now going on first dates solely in order to see what in the world could possibly top the previous date, I accepted a meet-up with a nice local man whom I had been talking online with for several months: he was not married, owned his own home, was gainfully employed and loved dogs. He seemed perfect and I was excited to meet him.

I ordered the flat bread margarita pizza and the hot cheesy goodness that burnt my tongue and spattered on my blue top gave me an excellent excuse to run to the bathroom to clean up and to google the terms “dom and sub” as he earnestly explained that’s what he wanted.

Hint: don’t google them. I wish I hadn’t.

Also I was very naïve. I hadn’t yet read “50 Shades” so don’t judge me.

There were other equally amazing first dates, but I’m getting hungry.

So to conclude: please keep in mind when ordering food on a first date, that you want something that won’t stain badly if it spills, unless you want it to stain so you can escape. Know that Steak Diane mushroom sauce will always provide suitable cover of a bald spot. Realize that blue-cheese stuffed olives help make everything better. And go into each date recognizing that the food will probably be better than the date and then you can be pleasantly surprised if it’s not.

And also, never let your teenager children fill out your Match profile.

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Do you have a first date food story? Did the food prove to be more memorable than the company?