At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

This must be the place: Where are you from, what do you do?

This past Saturday, I went on a first date. It had been a very long time since I’d actually gone on a date, let alone a “first date.”

But, there I was, trimming my beard in the bathroom mirror and making sure I brushed my teeth one more time before I headed out the door and into the unknown night. 

A first date is always such an odd experience, more so as an adult, seeing as nowadays, and with several first dates under your belt, one would think you’d get the hang of this notion of taking out a member of the opposite sex for an evening of “getting to know you, getting to know me.”

I suppose at any age a first date can seem an arduous task. There you are, trying to bring your “A-game” to a night probably already hyped-up from messages exchanged earlier between you and your date that eventually led to the rendezvous in the first place. You live your life day-in-and-day-out, and there you are, in front of the mirror before a date, trying to size yourself up and take an inventory of what you see and feel in the mirror — am I, as they say, “a catch”?

Looking back, I think my first … first date was probably in middle school, being dropped off at the local mall in Upstate New York, walking across the big parking lot so my date and her friends (and my friends, too) wouldn’t see me get out of my mom’s car while they waiting in the food court. 

Thirteen years old and standing at the concession stand. Making small talk. Spend all the money my dad gave me for popcorn and soda for her and myself. More small talk. Tell her she looks pretty. Smile. Wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans, just in case she might want to hold your hand during the film. 

Not much has really changed since then. The process — probably for all of us — remains the same, just the setting and the girl involved are different. Your approach and routine in going on a date may shift (with better clothes, deeper pockets, nicer car, etc.) but it still comes down to “you” and how you treat another in the initial encounter.

My high school sweetheart? Well, I was trying to think back on that one. I think I rolled up to her parent’s abode deep in the Adirondack Mountains in my crappy 1989 Toyota Camry, probably taking her to the local coffee shop, maybe a cruise around Lake Flower in nearby Saranac Lake, New York. 

My college sweetheart? I met her at a keg party held in my dorm room sophomore year in Connecticut. Immediately struck by her presence, I asked her out on a first date that night. She was wild and wondrous. So, I threw caution into the wind and took her to a monster truck rally at the Hartford Civic Center. Between deafening blasts from the diesel engines in the arena, she would yell, “This is so awesome,” to which I’d grin in mutual admiration of the moment. 

Of course, not all first dates are a hit. I’ve had one where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. One in particular, the girl wasn’t liking any of the spots I brought her to. She didn’t seem interested in the conversation at hand. Then, she just abruptly stated she wanted to go meet up with her sister and if I could drop her off at her sibling’s house nearby. Yikes. Luckily, I felt the urge to ask for a second shot, to which, all went well, and we ended up dating for the better part of the next year.

Other first dates ranged from a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to a minor league baseball game, a rock concert to a friend’s birthday party (I accidentally double-booked myself). Out of all those girls, some have disappeared into the corners of my memory, sadly never to be heard from again, though I wish them well. And yet, several others ended up becoming dear friends, people I couldn’t image not knowing in my life. 

Now in my mid-30s, first dates aren’t really tricky, they’re just rare. I’m not necessarily picky, I just get so caught up with work, friends and family, I tend to not focus on asking someone out every-so-often. But, when I do, it’s a casual affair, maybe some drinks and live music, nightcaps or a midnight stroll if the mood is right. Who knows? Dating should be something fun, not something that terrifies or stresses you out. Easier said than done, though, right?

Regardless if the first date leads to a second date, going out with someone — known or unknown — is a truly special thing. It tends to the bring out the best in you and I, with the hope being that the vibe (and vibration) felt on that first date reverberates into the next one and so forth, like a pebble tossed into a silent pond, the ripples perfectly pushing out into the universe. 

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.

 

Hot picks

1 The Main Street Sylva Association will host the 4th annual “Sylva Brew Hop” from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 6, in downtown.

2 Frog Level Brewing (Waynesville) will host The Darren Nicholson Band (Americana/country) at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 6. 

3 The First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Series will conclude for the spring semester with Ol’ Dirty Bathtub at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. 

4 The Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) will sing and play at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7, in the Community Room of the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. 

5 The Tractor Supply Company will be hosting an “Antique Tractor Show” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at the company’s store in Clyde. 

Go to top