When I was in high school, actually a boarding school, we weren’t allowed to go out much. The day students led seemingly normal lives of cookouts and parties and shopping trips with moms. We boarders had housemothers who drank multiple bottles of vodka to forget about us and a our penchant for convincing them we were taking a taxi to “see a movie,” fake IDs at the ready. Yes, of course we rolled up our jeans under the skirts the rules dictated we wear “off campus.”
The rest of the time, we did homework or thought up ways to get around curfew. Mostly, we played a lot of board games. I am a baby boomer, although somewhat at the end of the boomer era. So work with me here when I tell you, “Mystery Date” was the best of the board games, the top of the heap, THE GAME. Second best: “Barbie Queen of the Prom.”
Our 1960s version of Mystery Date–a particularly sweet vintage, by the way, thanks to a friend’s older sister who had “outgrown” the game–boasted a colorful cast of politically incorrect characters, from a “bum” to a country club guy to our skinny, buxom Barbie role model. There was a plastic door in the center of the board, and we all cringed and shielded our eyes when we had to open it to realize, for once and for all, who would be our “mystery date.” I loved that plastic door and the simultaneous moment of fear and exhilarating expectation it held.
I thought of Barbie and her prom dates and her mysteries, when I had several “dating” experiences this past week. Does meeting up with someone to watch sports on TV in a sports bar after work, surrounded by dozens of strangers, count as a date? Does a random conversation at a bar, while waiting for said date, about how I should be this somebody’s booty call and let him move in with me and sleep on my couch that I don’t yet own, count as a date?
Ahem. Do people “date” these days? No matter. It is the Barbie meaning of the term “date” that provides the context–a minefield of hopeful opportunity. Or, is it just a minefield?
I marveled at myself for primping and getting the hair just right and the shirt and jeans just so for this date. It was really only a chance to get out of my own four walls after work and mingle with the masses. But still, a gal likes to look her best.
He complimented my appearance, and I ordered a glass of wine. He talked too soon about wanting to see more of me, and I drank another glass of wine. He said I was in a netherland between marriage and non-marriage, and that if it were really true that I was hopeful that I might someday get back together with my husband, why was I watching hockey with him in a bar?
He then began the first of many minutes of texting a bunch of someone-elses, and I thought, “Crap, this is what my Wonderful Friend complains about–that disconnect thing that people do when they are out with one another, but then look past one another, in order to be with another.
And here I was, on my first sort-of date, with a guy texting away, when my hair for once didn’t look like beach hair. What a waste.
Poindexter, I am not your gal for the Prom. Ken, you only have eyes for Barbie, and you know it! The other three guys from Mystery Date? What were their names–their identities, their roles, their game-playing strategies in the end, anyway?