This Valentine’s Day, ask somebody out.
Most single people dread Feb. 14, the day couples exchange heart-shaped garb and sugary junk before they pose for the perfect pic and blast it all over the internet. Bitter singles gag over the happiness their dating and betrothed friends exuberantly express, painfully aware of their condition. I should know. I was single for the first 21 years of my life. Every Valentine’s Day, I hoped for some change to shift the status quo, never to any avail.
This Valentine’s Day, don’t be like me and rely on something as empty as a wish to change your relationship status. Do something about it, even if your romantic endeavors don’t give way to a second date.
Dating is a skill and should be practiced. Believe me, I sucked at it and probably still do. But you’d have to ask my girlfriend — she’d know better. To be clear, I’m not talking about dating within the (usually) safe embrace of a relationship. I’m talking the scary world of first dates and second dates with no mutually acknowledged state of interest, intention, or timeline.
Last year, around this very time, I wrote an angsty article begging Hillsdalians to end Hillsdating by embracing casual dating. The dummy I was, I refused to ask my now-current girlfriend out on a date, despite exhorting my peers to do just that in my article. I even ignored her hinting when she asked if I had ever taken (or would ever take) my own advice.
She still rolls her eyes when she thinks about it.
In fact, it took a bold move on her part to give me the wakeup call I needed. It had been weeks of nebulous one-on-one “hangout” sessions over coffee and until she broke: “What the heck is going on?” I didn’t need the reality check because I’m a man. I needed it because I’m a very oblivious man. Learn from my ways.
Luckily, I had the a sudden stroke of good luck and answered her question in the imperative: “Go out with me.” The streak of genius didn’t last. My brilliant plan for the first date was a drive to Baw Beese Park in my crappy orange jeep and talk for a few hours before making discount mac ‘n cheese and cracking open a six pack of Two Hearted Ale. To my credit, the drive in the park was accompanied by a beautiful sunset and we did watch a good movie that Katie loves. I was bad but not THAT bad.
All that to say, the only way to get better at dating is by practicing — by going on dates. So initiate them and agree to them, even if they’re not the stuff of chick flicks quite yet.
The worst that can happen is you have a first date like mine, but even that was fun, despite my acute case of diarrhea of the mouth and nervous laughter. If you take the risk and ask someone out, there is a high chance that you’ll have an enjoyable time and learn something, too.
For that first date there are many great places in town that will make a more lasting impression than beer and mac. Rough Draft is a great place to get to know each other better in a casual environment with great coffee. They are easy, nonchalant ways to suggest that you should split the cost if you panic at the register. You’ll buy the lattes if she buys the muffins. (But guys, picking up that check is classy as heck.)
Or take your date to the Lorelei concert on Thursday next week and go to the Palace Cafe afterward and talk about the performance. Or go see The Post or Paddington 2 followed by a visit to the Hunt Club or the Hillsdale Brewing Company. That way, you’ll have sweet, sweet small talk, perhaps some lofty conversation, and absolutely no awkward silence.
You might be thinking that Valentine’s Day is the worst possible moment to schedule a date or ask someone out. I don’t want to hear it. We are Hillsdale students who pride ourselves on our ability to think. So use that brilliant brain of yours and find a way to gloss over the implications Valentine’s Day would impose on your date. Tell your crush that you swear you’re not giving into the sting of Cupid’s arrow — you just really thought she might enjoy watching Lady Bird with you before the Oscars.
If that doesn’t sell you, just think of all the other people longing to change their status quos just like you. They’re also bumming around looking for someone to spend the day with, and you could be that someone. But only if you ask.
Remember, the worst they can say is no.
Brendan Clarey is a senior studying English.