Thursday, March 27, 2008

Looking for a date in grocery stores, bus stops, and other public places

Ordinary places can be extraordinarily effective as meeting and greeting grounds:
  • Grocery stores: Buying food in the local market has that comfort/ familiarity/nurturing thing going. It’s a (usually) nonthreatening environment, you’ve probably been there before, and if no one datable happens to meander in front of your grocery cart or pause invitingly in the produce section, you can still pick up your milk and Ding-Dongs.
  • Bus stops: Waiting at the same place and at the same time every day creates a sense of community. You see each other — and every other regular passenger — here all the time, and you can sit together. The trick here is to go slowly (pun intended). Don’t worry unless the person you’re interested in moves or switches jobs; you have plenty of time. _ Laundromats: What’s more domestic than airing your once dirty, now clean, laundry in public? Always carry extra fabric softener and change (you never know who may need to borrow something) and under no circumstances mention underwear.
  • Bookstores: In some bookstore chains, you can curl up in a big comfy chair and listen to jazz quartets — and even be tempted to chat each other up. And if you happen to spy some cutie perusing your favorite author’s latest, discussing the finer points over a soy latte in the bookstore cafĂ© seems fun, savvy, and safe. Somehow being picked up in a bookstore seems really smart, dontcha think?
  • Restaurants: Asking to join someone sitting alone is a bit iffy. If the person says yes, you don’t have to eat alone, but if the person says no, you may lose your appetite. I once got up the nerve, after I’d finished my meal, to ask someone if he would like company, and he said no; he really liked eating alone. I was so rattled that I left the restaurant without signing my bill, and the waiter came running after me. But if you have nerves of steel, go for it. My experience is mercifully unusual. Most folks would be both charmed and charming!
  • Airplanes: You’re both together, going to the same place, side by side, with a flight attendant to take care of everything you need — in addition to the hint of being united against a common danger in the clouds. Hey, don’t miss the opportunity. Buses and trains have much of the same criteria, but a little less cool of the factor. (Still, some pretty cool movies have focused on train trips; think about the possibility of meeting a Cary Grant, Mimi Rodgers, Gene Hackman, or Ingrid Bergman in the dining car.)

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