Monday, March 7, 2011

Where to Date? The World is Your Oyster

A posting on bad4shidduchim dealt with places to go on a date. One thing that was being lamented the lack of originality that many young men have about where to take a girl (note: and the girls can't figure out how to give any input into where they will be going?)--the Marriot Lounge seems to be the default for most. Yet, a few young men managed to find someplace else to go--wonder of wonders! B4 asked her readers to tell where they went on an interesting date.

So I asked a few other women my age to name the places that we went to on some of our dates back in the dark ages. When asked why I was asking, I mentioned the posting. Eyebrows were raised so high in incredulity that they went up under sheitlach and ended up somewhere on the back of the heads. "This is NYC and environs and they can't find anyplace to take a date other than that creepy Marriott Lounge?!!" was heard unanimously. I mentioned that some of the commenters on the blog had concerns about yichud on a date and about being able to have a real conversation. Again, those eyebrows went flying.

Herewith some suggestions and comments from us "old fogeys" about where to go on a date and yes, what you might talk about and why.

First, the unanimous answer to where we all went on dates was "Everywhere!" And yes, there were some in this group who would qualify for membership in the more to the right group. All agreed that museums were right up there for places they had gone, and museums aren't just about art. We went to visit the cultural/historical sites in the city and environs--and yes, there are a lot of Jewish ones also. We took the guided walking tours that many organizations sponsor in the City.Two of us remember doing a tour of West Point. Every one of us had been to the Statue of Liberty, to Ellis Island and on the Staten Island Ferry. We went to any number and variety of arts/music presentations, including Broadway shows, off-Broadway shows, off-off Broadway shows, college/university arts presentations, concerts of all types. We went to movies, not just those produced by Hollywood but special presentations by various groups found in the City. We went to lectures presented by a number of different colleges and organizations around the City. We went for walks just about anywhere and everywhere that there was something to be seen, including every boardwalk in the City and virtually every City park, of which there are hundreds. We went to amusement parks of every stripe. We went to arcades. We got sports minded and played tennis, badminton, golf, miniature golf, bowling, boating, canoeing, Frisbee throwing, pitching ranges, kite flying, etc. (and yes a shooting range too). We went to craft stores and got artsy. We went shopping. We went to the main public library in Manhattan and also some of the specialized libraries. We went to book stores. We went to lounges--plural--with interesting views of the city or interesting interior architecture (think the lounge at the top of Rockefeller Center). We took board games with us and found a place to spread out and play. Back in my day there was even a lounge that was known for providing those games--you paid for the drinks and the games were free. We went out for lunch/dinner/picnic meals. Quite a few of us also remembered going out on "volunteer" dates, such as visiting those in nursing facilities or hospitals or packing food for the indigent or attending protest rallies.

And all that was basically just sticking to the City (and no, the list is not comprehensive--there's more to do). We also took "trips out of town" to points of interest in NJ and other areas outside of NYC.

Okay, some of those dates were "daytime" dates, to places not available during the evening hours. But a whole lot of those places DID have evening hours, and not just the lounges.

Now, what did we talk about? Please, tell me that even asking that question is not a joke. What didn't we talk about?! For one thing, we talked about the activity we were participating in. And yes, boys and girls, you can learn quite a bit about someone when they are giving you pointers about how to bowl more effectively. Are they patient or are they overbearing? Do they pretend to more knowledge than they obviously have? Are they interested in what they are doing or are they just passing time? Do they care that you understand what they are saying? Are they enthusiastic or blase?

We talked about what we were doing at the time--whether work, school, volunteerism or all of them. We talked about our families. We talked about trips we might have taken or trips we wanted to take and why. We talked about politics, and religion, and about what being Jewish meant to us. We talked about history and current events. We talked about food preferences. We talked about cars and the state of transportation. We talked about the weather. We talked about our likes and dislikes, and yes, what we were passionate about as well. We talked about the past, the present and what we thought the future would be like. We talked about money--how to get it, how to keep it, how to spend it. In short, we talked about everything and anything that interested us or our dates. You can get a whole slew of the "right" kind of information about a person's personality and outlook just by indulging in plain, ordinary, garden-variety conversation.

As to any halachic questions about dating, there are very few dating situations that are going to result in yichud, and no, according to my Rav at least, being in a car--that's a car with windows front, back and side--is not a yichud situation unless you drive deep into a deserted woods where no other car is likely to be. As the Rav once put it, a little common sense would be nice when it comes to dating. Ah yes, common sense: that least common of all senses.

A word in conclusion. One of the women asked just what it was that daters think is going to happen on a date? Do they think that lightening will strike and they will suddenly have an "aha" moment that this person they are with is "it"? There were a few giggles as one woman corrected that to be "they'll suddenly hear bells ringing." (Yup, we also had our silly moments when dating.) Dating is about getting to feel comfortable with the other person to the point where you want that comfort for the rest of your life. Anything and everything that can help to bring about that comfort should be considered a dating venue.

So, just in case someone hasn't figured out how to research online yet, I've provided some links to what there might be to do on a date in NYC.


Anonymous said...

About that playing games, not so sure it's a good idea for some. Had a teacher in high school that discouraged the game playing. She put it that guys don't like losing and specially to girls. So that means playing badly so you don't win. I don't consider that honest so I avoid the games.

Once I got stuck and I ended up winning. I think the guy wanted to show off how good he was at chess. It didn't work that way. My father is a rated chess master and having no sons he taught us girls to play. Sure enough the idiot told the shadchan that he thought I had too aggressive a personality for him.

First rule in chess--play to win. First rule in shidduchim--don't play, you can't win.

Anonymous said...

So sad that he would feel that way. I think a man comfortable in his own skin would enjoy a challenge, and respect and like a woman who can provide it. A spouse should be smart and resourceful.

KandaBer said...

My wife and I had a number of board game dates (Starbucks, the sociology section in B&N). The competition was keen - I cleaned up in Trivial Pursuit, she cleaned my clock in Monopoly.

It helps to be secure in your own identity before you start dating.

Primum Non Nocere said...

Sounds like playing games on a date is a great idea, Anonymous #1. Do you really want to end up with someone who can't take losing to his wife? I have to agree with Anonymous #2 (How about a little creativity with names? :-P) that any guy worth his salt would be confident enough not to let it bother him. And the fact that you play chess is awesome. I've only been on a date with one girl who played chess well, and I thought it was remarkably impressive and attractive, so don't hide your skills, go out and destroy your next opponent...I mean date.

Primum Non Nocere: The DOG Score

ProfK_offspring said...

Hah! At a lecture about dating at my yeshiva HS (this goes back 20 years), it was implied that we should lose to guys at Trivial Pursuit if we played because guys couldn't handle losing to women. My mother will remember my reaction: As if!

We are serious game players in my house and throwing something to assuage some guy's ego is not on the list of acceptable options. A favorite family story: My father blew my mother out of the water when they played Scrabble while they were still in Sheva Brachos. Ima wasn't necessarily thrilled about it (and teased him about shalom bayis), but she would have been even more ticked off if she'd found out he'd thrown the game.

Will say this: I mentioned that I liked Boggle a lot to a guy I was dating and on the next date he brought a set so we could play. He scored major listening points even if I did obliterate him. And we went out again.

Rita said...

One of my nieces made sure to tell every shadchan that one of her requirements was that she NOT be taken to the Marriot lounge. If a boy couldn't figure out someplace else to go with the riches of NYC around she figured he was not overly bright, too quick to follow the crowd and basically lazy. Limited her dates somewhat but one boy was curious enough to find out why she wouldn't go to the Marriot that he found another interesting place to take her. The rest is history as they just celebrated their 2nd anniversary.

aminspiration said...

I'm all for playing to win on dates. Competition is fun. You need someone who can give some back..otherwise you might as well be talking to a wall. This applies both to verbally and physically. There is nothing that compares to a real good verbal battle..who can come up with the best comeback..the challenge is

Mendy said...

I remember that game playing lounge really well Prof. Spent many a date down in the Village playing. The atmosphere was relaxing and you and your date just got to be yourselves.

If someone is looking for a sure fire business to go into, they might consider opening a lounge like that somewhere convenient for today's daters. Provide enough types of games and a couple could spend their whole dating life--all 6-7 dates of it--going nowhere but to that lounge.

JS said...

This made me laugh. It seems it's either the Marriott lounge or the Toys R Us in midtown. I don't think it's so much lack of creativity as it is this insane need to conform - that only certain date locations and activities are "acceptable." In our communities often creativity is punished and you're branded weird or, worse, not frum.

A friend went on a date with a guy who so wanted to conform that he took her up to the Marriott lounge. Only problem? He was deathly afraid of heights. They got in the elevator and he started having a panic attack just as it started going up (made worse by the fact the elevators are glass). It was so bad, he wouldn't take the elevator back down. They had to walk down all those flights of stairs. If it wasn't so sad, it would be hilarious.

aminspiration said...

JS-thats horrible..people need to stop living for other people and do it their way (within confines of halacha of course)

Miami Al said...

Some guys would absolutely find losing to a woman a blemish on their manhood.

Competitive, accomplished women should not marry men like that.

I'm more competitive than my wife, but she occasionally beats me at things. I like that better than if she threw the matches. I once dated a girl fiercely competitive that would often beat me, that was cool too. The end of the relationship had nothing to do with that fact.

There is a weird culture of complaining. There is plenty of free/inexpensive stuff to do here. There is plenty of free/inexpensive stuff to do in New York.

I remember going to a bunch of cool coffee shops in the Village.

What's wrong with a day time date?

Mark said...

ProfK, add this recent blogpost to your list :-)

Mark said...

Anon 8:24 am - First rule in chess--play to win. First rule in shidduchim--don't play, you can't win.

What if you played chess on 10 shidduchim and 1 out of 10 was impressed at your chess-playing ability and decided to continue the relationship due in part to that fact?

Mark said...

There used to be a very popular "date place" in Long Island called the Timepiece Cafe that had all sorts of games available for people to play. I think it closed sometime in the 90's.

chaim said...

Almost all of your suggestions aren't really practical for a date on a winter night.

Abba's Rantings said...


"At a lecture about dating at my yeshiva HS . . ."

i know i shouldn't be surprised, but did you really have lectures about dating in HS?

ProfK_Offspring said...

Oh yeah. Senior year, you were required to take a course called "Family Living." In addition to dating stuff, we got told how we'd run households (including yielding authority to our husbands...don't even get me started on that one). I had to actually give up my lunch period one day a week for that one.

But the lecture in question took place as part of our "Machsheves Yisrael" course, which some of us unofficially called "religious group think indoctrination 101." There was some actual Judaic Philosophy in there (and we learned some Mishne Torah), but it was interspersed with stuff I was almost ordered by my parents to forget.

My parents were big on us thinking for ourselves. Not something Yeshivas really encourage nowadays.

efrex said...


You want a date on a winter night? Check out an off-Broadway show. Go to an author's reading at a local bookstore. Volunteer with City Harvest. Go to a lecture at Cooper Union or the New York Public Library. Ride the Subway to a neighborhood that you've never been to before and walk around.


chaim said...

Efrex, my point was that almost all the "great ideas" that everyone can think of can not be done on a winter night, maybe some slack should be cut for the lounge guys. your suggestions - how about kol isha? also can you tell me how late at night they are open? any suggestions on neighborhoods that are great to visit on a winter night?

All I'm saying is cut these guys some slack and how about some viable date venues?

I struggled finding activities for winter nights- day dates were always museums and the like.

ProfK said...


Virtually all of the arcades and sports venues have evening hours or at least one night during the week that they are open at night. Most of the museums have at least one night during the week that they are open late. The various lectures around the city on interesting topics usually happen during evening hours. Kol isha a problem? Don't pick a musical but a regular theatre showing. The various YMHAs and Jewish Community Centers around the city have evening programs. Colleges for sure have wide variety of evening programs during the week.

No, not every single thing you may want to do is available during weekday nights, but a whole lot are. Takes a bit of planning and some checking to see what is doing and when. Sure, a lounge date at the Marriott is easy but it's not all that hard to find something else to do.

efrex said...

Chaim: Everything that I suggested is available on weekday evenings. here's Barnes & Nobles events list for New York City. City Harvest needs volunteers to pick up unused food from catered events at all hours. Neighborhoods that I've wandered through after dark include Borough Park, Greenpoint, Astoria, 90% of Manhattan, and the Staten Island Ferry. Want to stay underground? Go on a Subway tour, and check out some of the artwork throughout the system. Ride the 6 train "loop" a few times to get a good glimpse of the magnificent (and never used) City Hall station.

Not all of these might be of interest to you, and that's fine. The point is: make yourself a more interesting person, and be willing to share new experiences with your date. It's much more informative than sitting around trying to think up conversation points.