The First Date.

I agreed to go to dinner, despite Austin’s very lame attempt at asking me.

We were in the stockroom, trying to reorganize clothes, when Austin came in complaining about a recent date he went on. The girl he went with worked at A&F with us, just like all of the girls Austin took on dates. His general complaint was a blanket fear of never finding someone.

Then he asked me to dinner.

I had been invited to a pity party. But I was nearly five months out from my breakup with Adam, and I knew it was time for me to get out there. I hadn’t been jaded enough yet to hate dates {like I do now}, so I agreed.

The next weekend, I was getting ready in the sorority house, and my roommate warned me of two things. She said, “Holly, don’t get too drunk, and two, don’t go to The Caterie.”

The Caterie wasn’t the problem—it was the band playing at The Caterie. I had an innocent crush on the lead singer, but it turned gruesome once I mentioned it in a column, and gave his girlfriend a nickname. Since then, I wasn’t the most welcomed among fans.

But I was ready to head out, and Austin arrived at the house to pick me up. Once I got in the car, he said he knew where he wanted to take me—Bonefish Grill. On the drive there, we were messing around with his CD player. He had a few different ones in the dash, and we randomly selected three songs to see how they might describe our approaching night out—an electronic 8-ball, if you will.

The first song was the remix of “What’s Love” by Fat Joe and Ashanti. The second was an Enya song. And I can’t remember the third—probably because the first song was the one most likely to describe the next few years I had with Austin.

We made it to Bonefish Grill, where there was a wait. We talked some, I remember being nervous we would have nothing to say to each other. He told me I looked nice…well, sort of.

“Thank you for dressing appropriately.”

Once we got our table, I was completely impressed. He was officially wining and dining me—we ordered glasses of wine, so many that it should’ve been a bottle. And we each got decadent seafood meals, it was very delicious.

After we closed down the restaurant, Austin said he wanted to go someplace else. We drove by Duvic’s, a martini bar {that would be the next stop in a romance years later}, but ended up going to The Caterie.

There I was, a little too drunk for a first date, and in the very spot I was warned not to be. But I didn’t mention this to Austin, and we went to the bar. I lead him upstairs, hoping to avoid any run-ins with a very pissed off girlfriend. Once upstairs, we took shots of red snapper—premixed. It was disgusting. But we got beers and sat at a ledge near the stairs.

During our conversation, I carved our names into the ledge. Shortly after, he drove me back to the sorority house, and kissed me goodnight. I stored the date away as one of the best yet, and went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, Austin had sent me a text:

“Thanks for having dinner with me…and taking my breath away.”

I didn’t know it then, but I was hooked.

Relationships with Holly A. Phillips {published on Monday, March 13, 2006}:

Unlike most people, I love going on a first date. Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of going on one this past weekend.

Sadly, it had been awhile since I’d been on a real first date—one where I didn’t know the person well, and I honestly had no idea which way it could go.

My date Saturday night, Eric, turned out to be a delight. I was shocked when he asked me for dinner the week before. His exact words were, “I really think we’d have a lot to talk about.” Honestly, I didn’t know if we would.

But he was right—imagine that.

Most first dates are understandably awkward. It’s the first time two people get a chance to interact outside of class or work. This creates an uncomfortable mood; we don’t know what topics to bring up in a conversation or which ones to avoid.

My conversation with Eric was far from typical. He was daring enough to bring up those bold questions most tend to avoid on a first date.

Of course we skimmed the surface with music interests and our classes. But things got serious when he brought up religion and family values.

And being opinionated, I had no problem being upfront about any issue he brought across our table, which was deliciously covered with seafood and wine.

A majority of college students have racked up an incredible number of first dates they’ve attended. But the real knowledge of the dating game lies within the number of second dates you’ve scored.

The key is confidence. You’ve got to have it and you’ve got to flaunt it—and if you don’t have it, then fake it. After all, you’re going on a date—a hot one.

Eric did admit he was nervous in the beginning, but after we got to talking, I felt like everything was clicking very nicely.

The nearly perfect evening I had was a combination of several things. Not only was Eric polite and funny, he made me feel comfortable by joking about the first date stigma everyone fears.

I understand this won’t work for everyone. But it’s no secret that first dates can be tough—but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable.

Some people go on first dates to get closer to someone and some go on dates to get to another date. Whatever the reason, be confident and have a great time—don’t waste a Saturday evening.

Staying true to form, yes, I did kiss on the first date. Let’s just say, I could be falling for a Texan.

My date with Eric was one of the best first dates I’ve ever had. Somehow, I was lucky enough to score the second date, which I expect will be better than the first.

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