It's all in how you finesse.
When picking up your date, before you even pull away, christen the evening with a handshake - or even a pinky swear - that nothing that gets said tonight will ever go beyond the other's memory.
This is key for maximum pleasure.
When determining a restaurant for dinner, choose wisely and, if possible, try to hit on at least one of these reasons for the choice: someplace your date has never been or someplace with a cuisine from a place your date once lived or, occasionally when possible, someplace to which your date has a sentimental attachment.
Not bragging (well, perhaps a bit), but I accomplished a hat trick.
My date had never been to Maya Mexican Grill in the former Berry Burke building, my date had lived for 8 years in Mexico and - wait for it - my date had for years maintained her advertising office on the third floor of the Berry Burke building facing Grace Street with a view of the State Capital.
If anyone could have somehow topped that choice, please tell me how.
From the perspective of a Mexican come-there, I got an insider's assessment of Maya's menu. The lamb sliders elicited the surprising comment, "That's spot on. Every Mexican place has lamb." The fish tacos I ordered? Also authentic ("They were everywhere"). The beans and rice with cilantro and tomato were declared superb, each element of the combination working in harmony to create a greater whole. I couldn't recall when I'd had such well executed black beans myself. Carnitas, duh.
All of which was washed down with matching passionfruit/peach/lime libations sporting a multi-color sugar rim while we watched the evening parade of millennial dog walkers, including a (gulp) three-legged beagle that melted my heart with his determined hop-a-long gait. To a canine, they were all smaller breeds and our server shared that almost all of them lived in the apartments above the restaurant, so they were familiar dog faces.
From downtown, we set out for points north, dodging clumps of amateurs in green clothing already making bad walking choices in a light rain. It was not even 7:30 yet.
Accept that sometimes things turn out even better than you could possibly plan for. Our sights were set on Hanover Tavern to see Virginia Repertory's production of "Dancing Lessons," about which I'd already heard raves.
My date hadn't been to Hanover Tavern in eons (although she recalled that the place once had a movable ceiling), but recalled her beloved brother auditioning (and getting five callbacks!) for a role there back when Barksdale called the tavern home.
What were the chances we'd be back on Memory Lane?
Settling into our third row seats, my green-haired date was immediately hit on by the man sitting behind her in a green blazer, who announced, "Sit right down. You were meant to sit in front of me." His wife piped up, saying, "After the show, take him. He's all yours."
I suggested we discuss it further during intermission, but my date dismissed him out of hand.
Our guess was that they'd been married a while, but we never got the chance to ask because an usher appeared to inform them they were in the wrong seats. Even as they moved away, he was still tossing out innuendo to her.
Part of the reason I'd wanted to see the play was because of Dean Knight, a long-time favorite and a man who can convey more with a glance or downturn of his mouth than some actors can with entire monologues. For a long time, I'd only known his acting through Shakespearean roles, so I'm still getting used to him not always speaking in iambic pentameter.
That he was tonight playing a socially awkward autistic man who excelled as a science professor provided just the opportunity for him to show the earnestness and dignity of a man who knows he can't be normal, but would like to present that way sometimes.
Although it's unlikely that anyone's going to cry normal when a man takes a flashlight under the covers to look for a woman's second tattoo. That said, how many times is an autistic sex scene even part of a play?
Helping him learn to dance for a work function where he'll receive an award is Kylie Clark, a dancer with a busted leg from a freak accident and a whole lot of baggage from life. When he offers her a week of pay to give him a one-hour dance lesson, it first involves him dealing with some of his big issues.
Like he can't stand to be touched and he needs an alert when humor is coming so he'll know to laugh.
On a set that beautifully evoked the dancer's boho apartment, the duo get to know each other's weaknesses ("Some people thrive on challenging relationships") while getting in a little dancing instruction as well. Watching Dean try to fast dance recalled the spasms of Elaine dancing on "Seinfeld," except in a cardigan or sweater vest.
Dialog bounced back and forth smartly and before the play ended, some of us teared up, only to have the final resolution rendering us satisfied and happy to leave the theater. A patron asked of an usher if the sex scene had been problematic for theater goers so far and, sure enough, 14 churchwomen had marched out recently when it began.
Which is exactly why I'd never want to ask a churchwoman out on a date with me. They just don't have the style - and stories - of a woman with green hair and a colorful past.
No doubt. I'm a fabulous date, as you can attest.