Photograph by FotoosVanRobin
A golden, crispy litmus test.
After a long, dreadfully lonely 2020 in which I managed to contract, and recover from, a mild case of coronavirus despite remaining in near-total isolation, I’m super low-key dating again because, well, eff it, right? Perhaps it’s the general lack of opportunity, or perhaps it has more to do with the sobering human tragedies of the past year, but my life and time seem super valuable to me right now. Wasting even a few hours on a dead end date might not have bothered me in, say, 2018, but it strikes me as a much bigger waste of time today. I know this sounds superficial, but I’m really looking for some ways to just write people off over nothing. I used to have some rules (e.g., walk out on anyone who asks that stupid question, “Which historical figure would you have dinner with?”), but I’m open to suggestions for creatively arbitrary reasons to terminate a weak date.
I could probably suggest a thousand things that would work as a perfectly arbitrary hipster dating litmus test, but a lot of them are too easy (bail on anyone who unironically praises Michael Bay movies) or peculiar to only the quirkiest hipsters (consider proposing to anyone who can list a favorite composer of secular Renaissance choral music). You need things that will work for a broad range of people in a broad range of scenarios.
Try dropping a piece of made-up trivia, or faking an interest in a nonexistent writer. Ditch anyone who pretends to know what you’re talking about.
Before going on your date, memorize a laundry list of facts about something heinously boring but obviously important in a practical sense, like the properties of different varieties of cement, and lecture your date on it for a good 12 to 15 minutes. Ditch anyone who feigns interest as a means of getting into your good graces.
Give your potential date an easy choice between two equal options (something seriously easy like “Ice cream or frozen yogurt?”), and ditch anyone who can’t pick one, and instead tries to get you to pick rather than muster up an actual opinion. You don’t have time to be making up someone else’s mind.
If none of those work, the following test is guaranteed to suss out the substance of any potential mate: Now that outdoor dining is back in action, hit a restaurant and order wings, because the way a person eats wings tells you a lot. If your date asks about ordering boneless wings instead of real wings, you can say something like, “You mean chicken fingers? I didn’t realize I was going out with a fourth grader.” If he or she looks offended, smash your beer and bounce. But if you get a laugh, then at least there’s a sense of humor there. If, on the other hand, the person you’re seeing gets all excited about ordering wings, but then nibbles only the easiest bites of meat rather than properly skeletonizing the wing like a ravenous jackal, then you have a real problem. You should probably fake an imminent bowel movement and leave through the back door. Don’t feel bad about leaving that monster with the check. It’s totally warranted on these facts.
Come to think of it, this one doesn’t really work if you’re dating a vegetarian. There’s not much to learn from someone’s approach to buffalo cauliflower.