It's the quintessential date, what young people do on Friday and Saturday nights to entertain the significant others in their lives. Go out for a bite, go see a show.
Don't get me wrong: I love dinner out. I used to weigh a lean and fit 165 pounds, the fit part is still in there somewhere in these modern times, carefully concealed under another 30 pounds of eating dinner out. The portions are huge and the price is ridiculous. More on the costs of eating out another day.
So what have you shown your significant other by taking him/her to dinner? Hmm - you actually can glean some information from this. First, if you've asked his/her preference and taken that into consideration, then you've given clear signals that you can be considerate, conscientious and actually remember what you're told for minutes on end. Then where you take your sweetie speaks to your economic state: if your date is into Italian and you go to Fazoli's, then either you have shallow pockets or she has stated in no uncertain terms that the unlimited breadsticks are her heart's desire.
Olive Garden is a good, unassuming Italian choice. It also suggests that you watch too much TV, or have no imagination. Sorry, that's my take on it. My apologies if I offend you.
Finding the funky hole-in-the-wall Italian joint that occasionally has shouted Italian curses wafting out of the kitchen along with the aroma of a sumptuous ossobuco might say you're a foodie, or it might say you've found one of those good eateries that don't look like good eateries. Either way, you're a bit more interesting, now.
But then dinner's over and it's time for the movie. At the movie, you sit in the dark for an hour and a half, maybe longer, and you don't talk. Nothing gets shared. Little is revealed, except maybe your taste in entertainment.
Now let me offer my suggestion for a good dinner-and-a-movie kind of date.
Rent a flick, and roll your own. First it's going to be much, much more affordable and most of the time pressures just evaporate: you can't miss the opening of the movie if the movie is in the DVD player. The pause button is your friend. Purchasing a movie for a date is only slightly more expensive than purchasing tickets to go see a movie. The lead times from first run on the big screen to first release at the stores is getting shorter and shorter - it used to be at least nine months. I don't think it's that long anymore; if the movie wasn't that great or poorly received (regardless of how good it was), it'll come out at the stores all the sooner: the backers want their money, so selling more copies sooner means they get paid.
The same information can be gleaned about you in front of the small screen - although in this day and age, "small screen" is becoming something of a misnomer. For what I paid for my TV in 1999, I can have more than twice as much screen area today, and it hangs on a wall. Back to the point: what anybody might infer about you at the movie theater, can be inferred from a DVD choice. More, even - the range of options is tremendous, as compared to the very limited range of whatever's out in the theaters at the moment.
So finding something to play for a date is a snap - the options are far and away greater than what used to be the case. Way Back When, renting a movie or three at Erol's was a couple of evenings' solid entertainment, now you can get movies even faster than the ten minutes it took to drive to the video store: you can get instant downloads from Netflix, Amazon, and a rental in hand is as close as the nearest RedBox vending machine.
But dinner. Have you tried cooking in? Yes, of course it's what you do every day, pain in the butt, hot kitchen steamy hair dishpan hands, I know the drill. But does it have to be a chore? I think not.
First of all, make the dinner preparation part of the date. Engage your guest, entertain him/her in your kitchen. Invite you sweetie into the busiest part of your home, the place where the largest majority of all activity takes place. People go to their bedrooms to sleep, to their bathrooms for biological necessities, and to their living rooms to sit down. In the kitchen is where your date gets to see what you're like when you're doing something both necessary and creative.
Dinner and a movie can be huge fun when you do it at home. Slide in a copy of Major League and watch Charlie Sheen before his id broke loose and started destroying Tokyo. Cook up a batch of the best kosher hot dogs you can find at the store - don't scrimp and get the nasty, off-color local brand. Pony up for a pack of Nathan's or Hebrew National. Pile on the chili and minced onion, and get into the show. "WILD THING!" Miss a funny bit? Pause. Bathroom trip? Pause. No stress.
Treat sweetie to Italian, home style. Throw the pizza dough like you learned that time on vacation - watch out for the ceiling fan! Oops.
Well, that's a story for the grandkids.
Put in a copy of something you've been meaning to watch. Ever wanted to know what the heck all the fuss was about Shakespeare? Dating an English major? Now's the time - and if you want a helluva romping good laugh, look for The Taming of the Shrew, the 70's version featuring Marc Singer and Fredi Olster. You will not easily find a funnier movie. And it's classic literature! That's a win-win.
What do you serve with Shakespeare? Hmm - steak and kidney pie comes to mind, but I'm not keen on organ meats and will never recommend them. Mutton is mentioned by name in Taming of the Shrew, so there's that. Not many people cook much mutton these days, so it's a new experience there, too.
Talk to your date. Stay in instead of out. Save a few bucks, share some laughs, and have fun at home. You'll reveal more of yourself, your date is less stressful, and your relationship will be more concrete - either as a winner, or a dead end (assuming you're dating someone with the intent of exploring whether they're marriage material). If you're already married, then it's a nice night in and who doesn't want that.
Pass the chips, this is the fun part.