Going out in style
Put on your best manners
Congratulations! You landed a date and are now confronted with anxiety about dressing to impress your potential new love interest. When asked whether a date had ever arrived in a less-than-stylish manner, respondents’ interpretations of “stylish” ran the gamut. Fashion-challenged folks should be happy to hear that what to wear might not be as important as how to act.
The first anecdote came from an anonymous man that we’ll call Momo Baggins. Baggins made plans for a long weekend at a friend’s summer home with a woman he had started dating. “When I picked her up from work, she was wearing a cocktail dress,” he continues, “Don’t get me wrong—she looked super fine. But, I thought it was weird she didn’t have any other clothes with her.” After the couple arrived in Naples, they had dinner and partied well into the night. Eventually, it occurred to her they would not be returning to Rochester until Tuesday. Baggins continues, “On Sunday night, she told me that she couldn’t wait to get out of her dress. At that point, I realized she’d been wearing it all weekend.”
The day after they returned to Rochester, a friend’s girlfriend called Baggins and commented about his date’s lack of hygiene. “That’s when I really started paying attention,” says Baggins. “I mean, we barbecued, went on the boat, sat in the Jacuzzi, played basketball, went to the movies, made love, cleaned the kitchen, watched a movie, cooked meals, and threw out the trash. For four days, not once did she change.”
Baggins continued to date this woman until another incident occurred. While he was waiting for her to get ready for a dinner date, her cat ran into the room with two baby mice in its mouth. It startled him, but he assumed the cat brought them in from outside. “By the time we were in the car, I realized it was raining and the cat was not wet,” explains Baggins. That fact continued to pester him. “See, my brain does this thing where it combines thoughts,” Baggins continues, “so, my next thought was visualizing doing the deed in that room, the cat chasing mice while she’s wearing that dress, and mice hanging off it, and—NO!” Baggins ended it with an excuse that he was taking a vow of celibacy in accordance with an obscure Buddhist sect he once read about in National Geographic. Asked whether that was an alternative fact, Baggins laughs and agrees, “I absolutely gave her an alternative fact. Sometimes, you don’t want to tell the truth—it’s called tact.”
The end of a long-term relationship prompted Brenna McHugh to try Bumble, an app similar to Tinder where the woman must initiate contact after people are matched. McHugh frequently travels for work and matched up with a surgeon from Syracuse who seemed like a good catch. After several days of conversing, they agreed to meet in Rochester after she finished up business in Buffalo. “It didn’t really occur to me that it was Park Ave Fest weekend,” she says. As she reached the corner of Park Avenue and Berkeley Street, she saw an attractive and well-dressed man spill out the door of the Blu Wolf Bistro. “He was walking heavily and then started flailing into the intersection,” says McHugh. Since her date was already sloppy and slightly argumentative, she decided to drive him to a place where people she knew would be working.
After falling up the stairs of the Playhouse, he requested shots from the bartender and was promptly deterred and offered a Genesee beer. He then slurred McHugh’s drink order (a Boulevardier) and tipped the bartender one dollar. After some floundering rounds of arcade games, she concocted an excuse about having to finish up some work. He insisted upon helping her, but at that point McHugh had enough with his drunken shenanigans. She left him on Meigs Street and explains, “The most disturbing part was that he said he had to work at seven in the morning. I hope I never need surgery in Syracuse!” After this debacle, McHugh deleted her dating apps for good.
Thankfully, not all clumsy stair incidents end badly. Many years ago, Mary Mansfield’s date arrived and kindly offered to take out the garbage for her roommate. She says, “He then tripped and fell down three steps and landed with a giant poof on the bags!” After his grand entrance, Mansfield hopped into her date’s Fiero—she would later learn it was his ex-girlfriend’s—and headed to his office holiday party. “I forgot he worked for a family business, so I was unprepared to meet his parents and siblings,” she explains. Despite the initial awkwardness, Mansfield continued to see him. Three weeks later, he attended her roommate’s wedding wearing a grey suit coat with a subtle black plaid sheen—typical of the 1980s. He paired this with non-matching khaki-grey pants and brown shoes. “Yada, yada, yada…we now have four kids,” she laughs and continues, “Mark is the gift that keeps on giving. Last week, he bought two mock turtlenecks to round out his suburban wardrobe. I told him those are only allowed with a North Face jacket if one skis. He doesn’t.”
The idea that one should always strive to put their best foot forward became very literal when another friend almost passed on someone who arrived wearing a strange pair of sneakers. She appears to have gotten over it—they’ve been married for almost ten years. Overall, it seems that making a good impression on a date has less to do with looking decent and more to do with being decent. One can always buy the latest trends, but good hygiene, manners, humor, and kindness never go out of style.
Stacey Rowe is a freelance writer based in Rochester. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @ladysensory and at staceyrowe.com.