Years ago, I remember speaking with a friend whose family had transplanted to New York City from my small hometown in Colorado. I remember expressing great concern over the fact that his kids were growing up without a proper backyard. He scoffed at the notion: “My kids have the best backyard in the world — it’s called Central Park.”
Fast forward to present day, and, well, yeah. It’s a pretty well-equipped backyard. One that I frequent almost daily. My only disclaimer would be this: the place is absolutely crawling with blissful couples. It’s downright sickening to a bachelor such as myself.
To wit, let me share some assorted observations from a recent run at sundown. An especially productive five-minute period yielded the following:
- Two thirteen-year-olds embrace on a bench hidden in a grove of something deciduous, the throes of young love casting a tangible energy about them.
- A twenty-something girl of ambiguously Mediterranean nationality poses arms akimbo against the railing of a bridge as her partner snaps photos and incants jokes to her in their shared foreign tongue.
- A humpbacked septuagenarian couple shuffle by at snail pace, hands held in the middle, canes rattling the pavement as they go.
- Two middle-aged men make a quite public display of affection under the boughs of a flowering tree, oblivious to passersby and every bit as smitten as the tween pair aforementioned.
- In The Ramble — a section of the park so-named for its labyrinthine circuits of interconnecting paths and overgrown vegetation — I turn a corner and happen upon a man on one knee, his girlfriend standing adjacent him with both hands to her mouth. Moments later, I hear a rapturous shriek originating from the same location.
And I do solemnly swear that all of that actually happened. Frankly, with the exception of the proposal (that was a first), I see the same sights nearly everyday. Something to do with the warm air, the verdant backdrop, the almost total lack of pressure and excessive spending that attend other date locales and activities. I have no choice but to conclude that parks are the ideal summer date location.
So take your special someone to your city’s best park this weekend. There is magic in the air there. Here are ten activities to consider once you arrive:
Point. Laugh. Make up stories about their backgrounds and character quirks. Don’t get caught staring.
Roll up your pant-legs. Have a race. Watch the wind blow through her hair. Impress one another by riding with no handlebars. Avoid tandem bikes; they’re surprisingly difficult to use.
WTF is that? Check it out. People have hidden tiny containers all over the world and uploaded the coordinates of their “caches” to a database. It’s your job to find the container, sign a registry to prove you were there, then restore it to its designated hiding place. Download the app on your SmartPhone and it will serve as your guide. Think adult treasure hunt.
Buy One Another an Ice Cream
Or share one, if you guys are “at that level.” I recommend the most dilapidated pushcart you can find. Being thrifty is an integral part of the park-going experience.
Even though you’ll realize two minutes in that paddleboating requires about 50x more energy in practice than it looked like from the promenade.
Impromptu Photo Shoot
Once the domain of a only a very exclusive coterie of expensive-camera-wielding artsy types, the recent boom of photography apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic now allows anyone with an iPhone and a lack of self-consciousness to document their adventures with photos that could adorn a trendy restaurant’s walls.
Still the most romantic outing known to mankind, some 10,000 years after Grog first laid down a thatched blanket and a spread of chutes, roots and Mammoth jerky for his girlfriend Tuk-Tuk.
Attend a Free Event
Go to your city park’s website. Check out the calendar of events. Some parks host outdoor movie screenings. Most have a full calendar of concerts during summer months. Both pair well with item #7 and a full-bodied red.
Make Out Somewhere Secluded
Unless you’re a fan of the whole PDA thing, in which case you should just make out anywhere.
Get Drunk Inconspicuously
Do it out of opaque cups of some kind so the local law enforcement has no excuse to apprehend you. Bring portable speakers and a deck of playing cards. Once that warm cocoon of inebriation creeps up your limbs and you start to exchange darting glances through blushes at one another, proceed to item #9.