ON DATING

Fitzgerald white-knuckled the steering wheel and stared straight ahead, his eyes fixated on the center dividing line. His date, Virginia, tried desperately to make small talk.

Date: “So, what do you do for fun?”
He responded with stony silence.
Date: “Um ... what sort of music do you like?”
More deafening silence. Virginia started to squirm.
Date: “Do you mind if I put on the radio?” As she reached over to turn a knob, Fitzgerald’s fingers darted off the steering wheel, grasped her trembling palm, and returned it to her lap. He resumed his double-fisted grip of the steering wheel. Perspiration formed above Fitzgerald’s upper lip as he focused his attention like a laser beam on the road ahead and wondered if he had brought a fresh pack of red (and not blue) Bicycle brand playing cards.

Single gentlemen will frequently ask, "Fitzgerald, how should I handle myself on a date?" (You might be unexpectedly thrust into this situation before you’re ready by an eager relative or so-called “friend”.) The best advice I can give is to adopt an attitude of severity and aloofness; you are the one in charge. And what is the result of this behavior on the bachelor's part? You will be testing the mettle of the damsel. Does she have the strength of character to deal with you on a daily basis? Does she have a sense of humor, perhaps the most important ingredient in any lasting relationship? In the long run, you are doing her and yourself a favor; time and money will not be wasted on future dates if she cannot accept your present demeanor.

When you go to pick her up, don't go to the door. Stay in the car and let out a few gentle honks. She'll get the idea. If she does not emerge, go to her door and rap violently. You must start out strong or you'll lose the upper hand. Dating is all about power and control. Go ahead and open the car door for her; however, don't smile but adopt the manner of a handsomely paid butler; agreeably nod your head as she slides her weighted posterior into your automobile. I know desperate bachelors who have actually rented expensive luxury cars for a single date merely to impress the woman. In Fitzgerald's case, I do just the opposite. I will frequently borrow a poorer friend's pathetic, disheveled vehicle (rusting Honda Civics are appropriate) for the evening. I don't want females to be attracted to me for the wrong reasons; many young ladies are initially smitten with Fitzgerald because of the prospect of wealth. I want to squash this superficial attraction. This author desires to come across as poor, self-obsessed and humorless. If she still is attracted to me at the end of the evening, she might be a winner.

When driving with your date, never turn on the radio. And rarely speak except to perhaps curse at a rude motorist. Learn to enjoy uncomfortable silence. As she squirms to engage in conversation, stare intensely at the road ahead in the manner of Psycho's Anthony Perkins. This is a good test of her sense of calm and overall strength as an individual.

For dining on a date, I have several suggestions. To test the patience and dignity of the young lady, go out for barbecued ribs. Watch and enjoy the expression of horror on her countenance as you lap like a wild savage at your fingers and jowls. Or attend a King Henry VIII medieval feast, where the participants eat with their hands. (This event also frequently includes exhibitions of jousting, one of Fitzgerald’s favorite pastimes.)

Another idea is to go to a “Tex-Mex” type restaurant. (This type of eatery always manages to agitate my lower intestine.) After swallowing a bit of your burrito, run off to the restroom and spend quite a bit of time there – whether you’re sick or not. Return to the table -- and repeat this process a few more times. (I sometimes apply white facial powder after each bathroom visit to make my appearance even more ghastly.)

My last dining suggestion is to attend a seafood establishment and to order a dozen oysters -- just for you. Proceed to devour them in rapid succession and to make comments regarding their use as aphrodisiacs. Watch her eyes widen with interest! However, immediately divert your attention from her and make comments regarding the developed physiques of the busboys. As the evening progresses, perhaps chase a few around.

During the meal, never talk directly to her face; instead, gaze off to the side. Get in the habit of mumbling in a low growl. Bring along reading material; just as she starts blabbering about current events, innocently remove the book or magazine from your coat and set it on the table. She'll get the idea. (Fitzgerald has been known to bring out a pocket edition of Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks). If you do feel a need to engage in conversation, talk about controversial issues. “Roe vs. Wade” is an excellent topic for this situation. Whatever her opinion, take the opposite side -- and enjoy the fireworks. Ask if she would like to split the check and watch her response. Better yet, tell her that you forgot your credit card and have only a few dollars. Would she mind footing the bill? Try not to chortle as she flinches.

Assuming that she has not demanded to be returned home, next comes the evening's entertainment. Choose an event that interests you. Fitzgerald enjoys the batting range; his date stares at him through a fence as he whacks fastballs. Fitzgerald also enjoys Kareoke bars. Convince your date (after “discovering” money to buy drinks) to get on stage and sing something by Cher. While she’s warbling, stand on your chair, pinch your nose and give a “thumbs down” sign. You may be surprised to find – after so much abuse - that your date is warming up to you. (This might explain why members of Hell's Angels are frequently seen with attractive young women.)

When saying goodbye to your date, quickly walk her to her door in complete silence. Give her an immediate, dry peck on the cheek (perhaps subtly wiping your mouth as you walk away) and be off to your vehicle. Maybe burn some rubber as you leave.

Fitzgerald's approach to dating should not be seen as mean-spirited, but rather as eminently practical for both you and the young lady. The "relationship" would not have lasted anyway if the date did not have a strong character and sense of humor. You will both have been saved time and money on future dates. The bachelor will have done himself and the female a great service. The only time that I have been perhaps unnecessarily cruel is when a young lady -- after I gave my brusque goodnight kiss -- yelled an expletive as I was departing, my back turned. I recruited the services of a trained actor friend and had him pose as a police detective. He went to the bitter date's residence, flashed a badge, and asked when she had last seen Mr. Fitzgerald. "His decapitated torso was discovered floating in a nearby river," he declared in a Jack Webb tone of voice. She erupted into tears.

Observation #1: It’s come to my attention through scientific research that if you desire to get a glimpse of the way a young lady will look in the future, look at her mother. With this in mind, it’s absolutely necessary to get a peek at the parent. I would even recommend dragging the mother along on the date and observing not only all her physical details, but her attitude. This is the equivalent of glimpsing into a crystal ball and seeing your future. Do you want to be stuck with a domineering white-haired toad for your twilight years?

Observation #2: If you do bring the mother along on the date, don’t be surprised if you’re more attracted to her than the daughter. This was my experience; the mother was a fully developed human being, an entity unto herself -- and this was quite enticing to Fitzgerald and more than made up for the lengthy blue varicose veins mapping her gams.