Tag Archives: Dating

Chop Style: Avoiding the Freshman Sydrome

First things first… The first thing is that we’re happy to announce that this blog was recognized yesterday by the City Paper in their annual Best of Baltimore issue as being Baltimore’s Best Local Blog. The BoB award carries a lot of weight in this town, and most of your finer local establishments display one on their walls from some year or another, so we’re excited to have one of our own to put in the office. We’re looking forward to spending long hours staring at it while we’re lazy and distracted and saying to ourselves “What the fuck are we going to write about today?” which is how blogs are made.

We also want to thank the CP staff for paying enough attention to remember that we are a blog. If we were handing out advice to a beginning blogger, it would not be “don’t write anything at all for 3 months” which is exactly what we’ve done up until yesterday. It means that much more to us for having been offline these 90 days.

A visual approximation of the Chop being the best.

So like we said, we get a little award suitable for framing. But the real prize when you win one of these is that you score an invite to the annual Best of Baltimore party, and get to hobnob and schmooze and glad-hand with the other winners, and of course, be privy to an open bar.

So we went there yesterday, and we did that. We even managed to get a date for the event. And without saying too much about it, we didn’t look at it as one of these “Oh I just need somebody to go with so let’s just go and hang out or whatever” dates. It was more like one of these “She seems pretty awesome and I really want this to go well and I’m kind of nervous about it and I still sort of can’t believe she said yes.” kind of dates. The best kind.

Which brings us to the main idea of this post. For a big date, or any type of big event whether it’s a job interview, a holiday, a wedding or what have you, the temptation is always there to go shopping beforehand and find something new to wear. It’s a temptation we usually resist, and we recommend the rest of you do the same.

Think about the beginning of high school. The first day of ninth grade is a big fucking deal for most kids. You’re out of middle school, and thrown in with a lot of older kids. You may be meeting kids from other middle schools, taking new classes, dating for real for the first time, and you’re trying you’re level best just to fit in, let alone cut a great figure down the hallways.

Maybe it’s different for girls, but for most of us boys your mom dragged you to the mall to hit the back to school sales and made you try on jeans and shirts for hours on end, wouldn’t let you get any of the things that you really wanted, or anything that wasn’t on sale, or anything that couldn’t double as church clothes- in short, anything good. So the first day of school rolls around and now that the clothes are bought you actually have to wear them, and in addition to all the hassles and stresses and pressures of starting high school, you’re constantly thinking “Do these jeans look like Dad jeans? Do these look like floppy clown shoes? Does this shirt make me look like a doofus?” And you wish you’d never gone shopping at all.

We’ve got it better as adults. Most of us have a much improved sense of style and a better sense of self than we did at 14, and we’re free to buy and wear what we will without any help from Mom. All the same, the Freshman Syndrome still persists.

Sure, those pants look great, but do they look great on you? That sweater is nice enough to be an investment piece, but will it itch your neck until you wash it a few times? New shoes are great to have, but they’re even better after you’ve broken them in and they’re not stiff and unforgiving. At the end of the day, looking good is mostly about confidence, and it’s hard to be very confident in something you’ve seen only once in a store mirror. The clothes that really inspire confidence are the ones that we know fit the best; that we’ve seen in our own mirrors, that we’ve been photographed in, that have generated plenty of compliments in the past. Better than new clothes are your favorite clothes.

Having a closet full of clothes that we can count on is one of the best things about being a bona fide adult. In our case, we’re always prepared for anything from a wedding to a funeral to a formal event, or even a date… no trip to the mall required.

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The Dating Game @ Ottobar Tonight

You read that headline right, Choppers. The Dating Game is at the Ottobar tonight. Not some obscure touring indie rock band called the Dating Game, but, you know, a homegrown version of the old seventies TV show. Their website is short on specifics, but presumably a handful of moderately attractive 20-somethings will get on the stage and answer some corny questions about dating, a girl will pick a guy, and they may or may not go on an actual date some time in the near future.

Second suitor: if we were making whoopee, what sounds would you make?

We are in full support of the staging of live game shows in local bars. It’s a trend we can get behind. We would have organized punk rock Jeopardy long ago if, you know, we weren’t just plain lazy about organizing stuff. We’ll be the first to come out and watch it though, as we were with the RTV ‘talent’ show and the Chatroulette Knife Throwing Contest.

The Dating Game at the Ottobar seems especially appropriate though since, well, who among us hasn’t met someone there? We’ve been on plenty of dates to the bar itself, and as for running into exes- well, there’s simply no better place in Baltimore for that.

We expect that tonight’s production will fall somewhere in that misty gray area between the dating show from Mallrats and some bona fide real life Hipster Wife Hunting. If nothing else, watching a bunch of awkward contestants stammer through embarrassing sex questions will probably make us feel pretty damn good about being single after 30. That is, as long as we can avoid getting the stinkpalm.

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House Rules: Who Should Pay on the Last Date

You know, the discussion of who should pay on a first date is a pretty old, circular and tired argument. There are tens of thousands of opinions on the question in books and magazines and all over the internet, including our own sage advice on the matter. It’s the kind of question that most people ask simply because they want their own opinions reinforced, and most answers, whether foolish or wise, fall on deaf ears anyway.

We’re here today though to answer a question which is just as important, yet seldom ever discussed; namely, who should pay on the last date.

'It's not you... it's on me.'

We’ve got the answer, but before we give it to you we’ve got to figure out if a last date is even necessary. It can be a tough thing to end a relationship with someone. We’re not even talking about serious relationships here either. We mean Dumping someone, with a capital D. You don’t ‘Dump’ your long term significant other, and even if you did we wouldn’t have much advice to give you.

No, we’re talking about those sorts of relationships that get past that crucial third date, and may go all the way up to boyfriend or girlfriend status, but definitely stop short of “in love”. So, 99% of most peoples’ relationships.

Sometimes things just don’t work out, and if you’re not Dumping someone for a specific reason (like cheating, an argument, etc), you may think the most gentle and forthright way to go about it is over dinner, or at least over drinks or coffee or something. The Chop subscribed to this logic for many years, but plenty of very bitter experience (on both ends) has convinced us otherwise. It’s a sort of juvenile, emo record, life-as-romantic-comedy sort of idea that backfires more often than not.

The truth is that if you’re about to Dump someone you’re not in love with, you sometimes have very little idea how they might react. They might become angry or withdrawn or resentful or confused. They might even be indifferent. At any rate, Dumping someone halfway through a dinner is a sure-fire guarantee that the rest of the meal will be excruciatingly awkward and uncomfortable. The only thing worse than getting dumped is getting dumped in public.

Another strategy that some people pursue is to schedule a date, but then meet up and say “Oh, let’s not have dinner after all. We need to talk…” This is not any better, as it’s basically the equivalent of standing someone up one last time. If you arrange a date, a date should happen. Although this tactic is slightly preferable to calling the person you’re seeing on the phone and saying “We need to talk…” and then refusing to say anything else until you see them again. For the love of God, don’t do that!

We truly believe that in most cases a face-to-face Dumping is not necessary. On the rare occasions when you feel it is an obligation, the best way is to go over to someone’s house and be matter of fact about it. Any pretense of dinner or anything else will all come to nothing in the end.

But supposing you absolutely feel you simply must meet someone out in public for a pre-scheduled Dumping, because you “owe them that much at least” or whatever, the least you can do is pay the goddamn bill. That’s right. We’re calling it right now. It’s a new rule. From now on it will be a point of etiquette carved in stone: The person doing the dumping pays the bill. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, man or woman. It doesn’t matter if you’re dumping them over beers at the Dizz, coffee at the Grind, or a Feast at 4 East. if you’re dumping, you’re paying.

It’s the least you can do. You owe them that much.

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House Rules: Is This a Date?

It’s a thoroughly modern world these days, Baltimore. The days of presenting debutantes, old-fashioned courtships and calling cards are by and large over, and they’re not coming back any time soon. Likewise the ideas about dating that a lot of us grew up with are also fallen by the wayside. Flowers and candy and dinner-and-a-movie can often seem as stale and corny as Chuck Woolery’s hairpiece.

The generation behind ours is also thoroughly mucking things up with their whole hangout-and-hookup dynamic, not to mention text and IM and “it’s complicated.” Even lately we’ve been out with grown women who were attractive and pleasant, yet claim to never have been taken on a proper date, which is astounding, confusing, and more than a little sad.

Are these two on a date? Does it matter?

Brett McKay over at the Art of Manliness takes the old school approach to asking someone out, and even thinks it will make you a better man. We subscribe to most of what they say, even though their advice is from the 1950’s. But the McKays are from Oklahoma, where dating options are limited, and they were married very young, so we take their advice with a grain of salt, too.

The truth is that no matter how straightforward you might be you will, sooner or later, find yourself sitting across from someone not knowing whether what you’re doing is or is not a date.

You can always ask, of course. Asking is not the worst thing in the world, as a gentleman doesn’t assume anything one way or the other, but before you do you’ll need to have decided how you feel as well as how you might react to all possible answers. If your pseudo-date is going relatively well, asking what it is can be an awkward moment at best, and can grind it right to a halt at worst.

So when you find yourself next to a beautiful, charming, exciting, intelligent, urbane, and all-around wonderful woman- as the Chop does from time to time- we say it’s best to just shut up and enjoy it. Be glad that she’s there and glad that you’re alive. Be happy for the conversation, for the connection and the evening; the rest will work itself out.

Whether or not you’re on an actual date is unimportant. What really matters is that you make sure it goes well and that you both enjoy it. Do that, and you’ll know very soon whether or not it was a date, and you’ll be delighted when you find out that it was.

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House Rules: Who Should Pay on a First Date

Ahem. This is one of those topics that has been done to death on the internet, radio, TV… just about everywhere. Asking who should pay on the first date is pretty much like saying “Please beat me over the head with your reactionary and ill-considered opinions until I never want to date again.” Any attempt at sincere discussion inevitably devolves into a misguided understanding of Feminism, Chivalry, Economics, Sexual Politics, Chauvinism, etc. etc. etc. While the Chop has heard plenty of opinions, we’ve yet to add our own voice to the fray, until now.

The Chop knows whereof we speak on this one. We’ve been on enough dates of all sorts, including free, that one method of financing them stands out as far and away the best.

While we do sort of subscribe to the old rule of “the one who asked for the date should offer to pay”, we find it absolutely works best when we pay for dinner and she offers to pay for the movie or drinks or whatever comes next. It’s really the only system that’s foolproof against trying to split things between credit cards, trying to be overly judicious about fairness or devolving into score-keeping.

We’ve found that when both parties bring an abundance of generosity to the table, everyone gets the best of both worlds. It works well for all involved.

We’re glad to pay the bar tab, but if she’s buying us drinks we know she’s a keeper.

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The Chop Sorts Out Your Love Life.

Here we are again on a Sunday, Baltimore. Nowhere to go (unless you want to go to this), fuck-all to do, and a hangover to cure. We figure Sunday is a good time to wax philosohphical, at least until there’s Sunday O’s games or softball to play.

What we’re on about today is something that has unfortunately been pertinent lately, to wit: There’s only one right way to cancel a date.

On second thought, be an adult and pick up the phone.

Let’s get this on the record, Baltimore. It’s a question of basic etiquette, and applies across the board to men and women, boys and girls. Things happen, plans change, stuff comes up and we all need to take a rain check once in a while, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Do it right, and it speaks well of you. Do it wrong, and you can expect the phone not to ring again. Here’s the right way to cancel a date…

This is how the Chop does it:

>>> 24 hours notice is required. Anything less than 24 hours could even be considered a stand-up. If someone’s agreed to go out with you, its safe to assume that they’re looking forward to it. Dropping plans on such short notice is not only disappointing, but adds the sudden problem of having little to do that night. Even if alternate plans are easy to come by, it really sucks to have to call up your friends and say “count me in, I just got stood up.” It’s also entirely possible that you are not the only person he/she could have asked out that night. Think about that.

>>> A phone call is the preferred communication method. There’s no getting around this one. Its just good manners. On the one hand, its still the only way to be sure that your date actually knows you’re canceling. An email, text, etc may not be read immediately, and even if a date was arranged by email, a phone call is still the only good form to cancel. On the other hand, it’s true that sometimes text/email is a lot easier and less awkward, but you know what? some things in life are hard and uncomfortable. Dating is often one of them. Grown-ups pick up the phone.

>>> You actually need to have a reason. It’s perfectly understandable that some things will rate higher on a priority list than dinner and a movie. Your dad having a heart attack or your boss making you work a Saturday night or the basement of your house suddenly flooding are all perfectly legitimate reasons to cancel a date; however, “I’m real tired from work” or “My sinuses kinda hurt” aren’t. If your excuse is lame, its a pretty good indication that you don’t actually want to go out in the first place.

>>> It’s down to you to suggest alternate plans. If you can’t get to the movies on Friday, suggest the same movie Sunday instead. Can’t do happy hour Thursday? Lunch on Saturday is appropriate. If you’re punching a hole in someone else’s calendar, it’s only right that you should then work around their calendar to re-schedule, not the other way around.

>>> Bonus points: Offer to pay. Without re-opening the age-old argument about who should pay for a date in the 21st century, it is a nice gesture to offer to get the tab next time out. It shows that you’re serious about wanting to go out again, and actually regret missing a date.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Following those simple steps will keep your dance card full and your phone ringing. Neglecting any of them is tantamount to saying “I’m a big flake who can’t be counted on for anything, and probably isn’t worth your time and trouble.” Which are you, Baltimore?

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