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EST. May 2000 (AD)




Have You Been on a Date?

By Stephen James

In the 1950's it was easy to tell if you had been on a date. If you were a boy, you had lipstick on your collar and felt like you'd scored the winning goal, only better. If you were a girl, you had a crumpled pinafore and thoughts about what colour he will decorate the nursery when you're married.

Nowadays, relationships between and even within the sexes are more complicated. We live in a world of post-modern rainbow sexuality in which everything is fluid and provisional. In many ways things are better now, especially for the girls who used to put lipstick on the collars of boys who would rather be riding bare back with John Wayne; and for the boys who used to crumple the pinafores of girls who would rather be out crumpling some other girl's pinafore.

So if you have just spent some time with a person but are not sure if it was a date, try this quick fire quiz to find out.

1. How are you acquainted with your companion?

a. We met through a reputable introduction agency. No, really.

b. We are colleagues writing a joint Ph.D. on sexuality and power in the workplace.

c. S/he is just a random boy/girl who turns up.

2. How would you describe your companion's body language?

a. Lots of inappropriate hand-shakes, strange moans and queer looks.

b. Shaking slightly, with a wild and anxious eye, until given some drugs.

Then, catatonic.

c. Suave and debonair with plenty of flourishes, like a Fred Astaire movie.

3. Which university degree best describes your sexual dynamics with this person?

a. Chemistry

b. Biology

c. Psychology

d. Media/Gender Studies

4. How would you rate the formality of the occasion?

a. We read through the minutes of the previous meeting before getting started.

b. He/she brought along various pets and children in case we got bored.

c. He/she no longer leaves my bed in order to break wind.

5. How would you describe your companion's role in the sexual team?

a. Ideas person

b. Completer-finisher

c. Corporate worker

d. Chairman

Next step: pick a number of points corresponding to the answer you want to have. Then read the answers.

0-10 points. You were not on a date. You were in fact at a departmental meeting. You were rather taken with the look of a colleague whom you have not noticed in that way before. Your mind wandered off and you had a rather pleasant fantasy. You had agreed to give a presentation, but after saying your name twice without response the chair-person moved on to discuss the forthcoming Directorate Away-Day.

11-20 points. You are very much in demand, not to say needed. You've let your companion pay for your cup of coffee and s/he now believes that you are twin souls knit into one. S/he will be upset if you ever go anywhere without him/her for any reason at all. Consequently your job may be at risk, and visits to the toilet will be irksome. It is best to gently extricate yourself now while the going is good.

21-30 points. You have just been on a post-modern date in which everything is an ironic pastiche of an out-dated dating culture. You haven't been on a date, you've been on a 'date'. Some people think this is a sophisticated way of going on, others think it is just a defense mechanism against possible sexual rejection. Some people live their entire lives this way. After 'dating', they 'get married' and 'have a family'. Post-modernism is no longer in its infancy, and it is increasingly common to meet the offspring of such unions who say things like, 'I'm going "on holiday" next month with "the parents".' Meanwhile, the parents have found that although putting quotation marks round things may be a way of life, it does not amount to a philosophy. But that's another story.

31-40 points. You've been on a 'pre-date'. This is a practice run for a date. When adults pre-date, their motivation is often a desire to generate sexual excitement without the risk of failure, rejection or fulfillment.

Pre-dating is fun in itself and can become a way of life, but many people find they want a bit more after a while.

Over 40 points. You have just been on a date. It is 1956. Your pinafore is slightly crumpled and your cheeks are flushed. You want to ring up your best friend but it is already 11.45 and you are afraid of waking your Mum. You can still hear his voice, feel his breath on your cheek and smell his jacket. You can't believe he chose you out of all the girls. No-one has ever felt this happy in the history of the world. The beautiful thing is, you know he feels exactly the same way. You wonder if his parents will ask him about the lipstick on his collar and if they do what he will say about you.

You think about houses. Then about cribs. Then about the funny way he laughs, with a little scream at the end. Why does he do that? And why does he have pictures of John Wayne all over the dashboard? You will not sleep tonight. And you know that he will be awake too.

© 2003 Stephen James


Stephen James's past and current life can be summed up in five bullet points, of which two are just padding. He lives in London, which is a large town about fifteen miles from St. Alban's. He believes that most problems between men and women can be solved by sitting down at the piano and singing some showtunes. A traditional home-loving anarchist with an unnatural penchant for honey he loves a challenge, but not a fight.

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