One of my favorite romantic comedies (rom-coms) of all time is When Harry Met Sally, a movie that I especially love to watch this time of year. Not sure why it is my fall favorite (or why Sleepless in Seattle is my Winter favorite, or why You've Got Mail is my Spring go-to, and now that I am thinking about this, why I'm not sure if I have a summer favorite or why all of these movies feature Meg Ryan). I digress...
I recently re-watched WHMS a few weeks ago and thought of it as I was recently reading some epic foolishness on X (yeah, I concede and will no longer refer to it as Twitter since that was a happier platform). It was late at night, I was not in the mood for any of the heavier political debates of the day, so I decided to see what was trending on Black Twitter (which I will not rebrand). And baybee, y'all delivered!
So how does this relate to WHMS? Because the chatter was about first dates, and one of the running themes in that movie is disastrous first dates. In my old-married-lady mind, all I can say is WOW, not even close anymore. These days, I can't imagine if I would even get asked out on a date, let alone go through with one the way y'all act.
Apparently, there were two disastrous first date videos that were being discussed, so your Busy Black Auntie has questions: why and WHET???
Chain, Chain, Chain of Fools
Why is the Cheesecake Factory not appropriate for a first date? Did somebody pass a law? Because back in the day when my BFF and I stumbled across this place while in high school, we marveled at its menu booklet and extensive cheesecake offerings. At the time, there was only one of these in our area, so it was quite the treat to go there and to come home with one of their decadent desserts.
Now I know you are thinking, that was 30+ years ago and well, you can find a Cheesecake Factory at almost any suburban mall that is still standing. Heck, I just learned that there is one in Downtown DC, so I get that the shine has kind of worn off. It isn't as special, and if you get all dressed up to go out on a date, perhaps you would like for the restaurant selection to be one where you can't just pull up to any mall that is still standing. I assume that same hesitance would be expected at other well-known, so-called high-end chain establishments, such as The Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Maggiano's, McCormick & Schmick's, or any other place that offers loyalty points and curbside pickup. I'm guessing that no one goes to Houston's like that anymore either...(and that was my joint too). Times change.
So tell me, where else would you go? You see, the entire point of a place like the Cheesecake Factory is to offer patrons a bunch of choices that don't adhere to one particular cuisine. It tries to be all things to all people so that anyone can find something to eat. It ain't fine dining, but it ain't Applebee's. It is safe, which is a reasonable choice to make if you don't know the person that well, but anticipate the possibility of what could develop from a dinner date as opposed to drinks...
Does it require much thought? No. So does that mean that the new outfit, manicure/pedicure, fresh hairdo, and high heels are being wasted on some dude in a polo shirt, khakis, and docksiders? Perhaps. Would that piss me off enough to whip out my phone to make a video to document the disaster-in-the-making for my single girlfriends on TikTok?
No. Because I would at least wait until after the date to put him on blast.
However, and this is important to highlight, I haven't been on a first date since the late 1990s. Not only were there no cellphone cameras or social media, but like I said in the set-up, once upon a time the Cheesecake Factory would have won him cool points for making an impressive and thoughtful choice. I was a broke-ass college/law student dating other broke-ass college/law students, so I realize that alters my perspective of what is considered to be a well-planned and thoughtful first date. Not only would I have been impressed by the choice of restaurant, but I would also have been thrilled that he offered to pick me up and drive. That is downright chivalrous!
But here's the part that really got me--the complaint that the restaurant is a chain, as if most restaurants in most major cities aren't part of a corporate restaurant group or some Mom and Pop watering hole in the wall. Here in DC, every restaurant is either owned by José Andrés or some former Top Chef contestant, so what other options are there? If he had taken her to some suburban strip mall spot, I imagine her complaint would have been that he took her to some dinky checkered laminated tablecloth joint where they serve tacos or pasta. Which leads me back to the premise that the Cheesecake Factory is at least a safe choice because if it doesn't require a lot of thought, and that means fewer worries. That menu has options to accommodate food allergies, dietary restrictions, spicy or bland palates, a variety of drink preferences, and almost any cuisine you could imagine. If you can't find something to eat on their menu, then there's a reason why you're still going out on first dates.
You Say Oyster; I Say Hasta La Vista
Now this one had me crying, because whew chile, the ghetto! The audacity! The sheer ridiculousness! The fact that this warranted an article in Rolling Stones, so there goes my free articles for this month...(in case you've used your allotment too, you can read it here.)
I am not on TikTok, so forgive me for not knowing that there is an entire genre of videos where people film themselves eating called mukbang, and folks tune in to watch. I cannot even wrap my head around such foolishness, because that sounds like the very definition of food porn, but people have their various kinks, so we'll just leave it at that.
However, because I was clueless and unaware, it now makes sense why the woman mentioned that she agreed to the date because she needed "content". I could go on a rant about why this type of booshay is exactly why I refuse to refer to myself as a "content creator"--because I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my shit...(and that would take us too far off-topic). But at least now I understand a few things, such as why the future of humanity is in doubt if y'all find this entertaining.
The gist is that some woman in Atlanta videotaped herself on a date during which she consumed 48 oysters, a plate of potatoes, crab cakes, and then washed it all down with a few cocktails. The gentleman who invited her out apparently watched this, and during a lull in the action, excused himself and left her there with the bill and a pile of dishes. He must have had a slight change of heart because he texted her and offered to pay for his one drink, which appeared to be a glass of wine or some sparkling water in a goblet that looked untouched. Y'all, I can't even write about this without laughing. What in the world???
And folks had jokes, good ones, so there isn't any additional spin I can offer to make this any more or less ridiculous. I can't imagine that there is even a legitimate side to be taken because who da fuq doesn't realize that entire scenario was a future SNL skit? I mean, dude sat there and watched her eat four trays of oysters and didn't try one? If this was in fact a real date, at what point didn't she realize that they weren't having any conversation because she was too busy slurping oysters or adjusting her camera? Where is his video, because surely, there is alternative plate-by-plate commentary? Was he gone for a lot longer than she realized, as in hours? What kind of cheap reject oysters are they serving for $15/dozen in a city that isn't on the water (we don't have deals like that and I live in a coastal city)?
And how can we be sure that this was NOT just an elaborate set-up for one of those food porn videos because according to the article, dude came back and they left together!!! You know what, nevermind.
Ice Scream, You Screen?Disney movie.
Or she's lactose intolerant, because I cannot imagine that someone would pass on an ice cream date after this hotter than July summer we just had. Some guy offers to meet you and treat you to some ice cream and you decline because you would have preferred that he put more thought into planning your first meeting? A first meeting at Starbuck's or Applebee's involves more effort and planning? Okay.
You could have worn a sundress with pockets on a first date, but you said no thanks I would rather go all out with the nails, hair, and heels because all of that involves e-f-f-o-r-t. Sis, you do know that if the issue really was lactose intolerance, you could have had sorbet...with sprinkles! GTFOHWTBS
It's a Date, Not a Trip to the Dry Cleaners
Lest you think I only have smoke for these whiny women, Imma need these baby boys to grow up and to stop itemizing their actions as if anybody other than your little friends are keeping score. Courtship requires much more of you than just expressing interest in a woman, and at the end of the night, no one owes you anything. Which, ironically, is one of the reasons why WHMS is such a great film to use as a frame of reference for modern dating and romance. Too many of you are out here thinking like Harry--that women are only worthy of your time if you can get some (or as you young people like to describe having sex, if you think you can smash).
And throughout the movie, it is clear that sex isn't that hard to get. According to Harry, sex is the singular reason why most men interact with women and why platonic male/female friendships are impossible to maintain. It's a persuasive thought bubble, even when he runs into Sally for a second time and talks about his pending nuptials. He admits to wanting to settle down because he had grown tired of the single life. However, when he meets Sally a third time five years later while in the process of getting divorced, he makes the choice to befriend her, which allows him to have a more meaningful relationship with her while reverting to his earlier stance of only dating to pursue sex. Becoming friends with her exposes him to developing genuine feelings, which finally breaks him of his pursuit of superficial and unfulfilling dalliances with women.
In other words, these transactional situationships that y'all brag about on social media for clicks and comments are similarly unfulfilling and inadequate. Some of these women who are down to smash after your bare minimal effort will reciprocate by giving you next to nothing in return. Because you ain't nobody special to her either; yet y'all want to get on social media to complain that you can't write love songs about these women. No, and they aren't willing to sign onto becoming your maid and mama for as long as you both shall live, so there's that.
And one more thing, because some of you who describe yourselves as "nice guys" don't seem to understand that not being a psychopath still doesn't entitle you to anything. Rejection happens, but you don't stop applying for jobs, so why stop dating? As the old folks used to say (and I guess I am now old folks as well), there are a lot more fish in the sea. There are plenty of women out there who will appreciate your effort.
A Jerry Springer Moment: Final Thoughts
Auntie isn't suggesting that anybody should settle, but instead of being disappointed that your date took you to the Cheesecake Factory, you might try to get past that and find out more about the IT guy who probably built up the courage for weeks to ask you out. I bet he doesn't live in his mother's basement nor does he have to pick up his kids in the McDonald's parking lot every other weekend. But you do you. To every dude who thinks that women are only agreeing to dates with you for the free meal, you do know that having an adult conversation in advance of making the date can save you a LOT in the long run. That means that instead of exchanging a bunch of text messages or DMs, you might need to press this green button to communicate. Imagine that!
I said this a few months ago but will repeat it here in case you missed it: relationships are between the two people involved, not the spectators who have gathered to see how the car crashes. If you are more concerned about posting your every move and expressing every profound thought you have on social media, then your engagement isn't with that other person, it is with your audience. No wonder why y'all are so bitter and disillusioned. You spend more time "creating content" for these elaborately staged encounters instead of experiencing life.
Once the people get their fill of you and your Truman Show drama, what comes next? Because some of you are so needy for attention, I worry that losing followers or engagement is a bigger deal than having an embarrassing viral story written about you. By next weekend, we will have someone else's dating disaster to deconstruct...so how do you plan to top that?