First dates are a total minefield. Fortunately—as with so many of life’s greatest trials—there’s a Broadway musical to show us the way to happily ever after, or at least a dramatically lit make-out sesh that elicits applause from a bystander or two.
The recently opened First Date, starring Zachary Levi (of Chuck fame) and Krysta Rodriguez (of short-lived Smash fame) tackles some familiar ups and downs of blind dating. On the surface, Casey and Aaron are like Paula Abdul and her smooth cartoon cat—except whether these opposites attract is the open question, and Aaron isn’t quite so smooth. He’s buttoned-up, awkwardly charming, and pretty much the opposite of Casey, for whom Paula in her bad girl with a soft side phase is a pretty good description.
Whether you’re a ‘Blind Date Virgin’ like Aaron, or a seasoned pro like Casey, no one is safe from the awkwardness of a first date, and we can always use a refresher on how to avoid a face plant. Below, the 11 essential Dos and Don’ts we learned about surviving a first date (and scoring that make-out applause) from Broadway musical First Date.
1. DON’T break out into song. Unless of course your meet-up involves Katy Perry karaoke, and your date is all “I wanna hear you roar.” Otherwise, you may want to keep all mental asides and other nagging voices (siblings, exes, religious advisors, dead relatives) inside your head. It’s fun when they sing, dance, and go all Herman’s Head on stage, but IRL the whole display might get you committed—and not in the way you’re hoping for.
2. A friendly bartender can be your best friend; DO use him to your advantage. If you’re new at this and your nerves are up, ask what he thinks of your first date outfit. Best-case scenario he’s got some Tim Gunn fixes for you. If nothing else, he can give you a quick shot for fortification before you sit down for your ‘first’ cocktail.
3. DO go in for the handshake. Unless you’ve already gotten down and dirty over webcam before your first meet, save the full body contact for the fateful walk to your date’s front door. It’s good for dramatic tension.
4. DO allow for at least 90 minutes (without intermission) to look past your first impressions—it may take at least that long for your date to surprise you. If you still don’t like what you see after an hour and a half, hopefully the evening was more fun than emptying the kitty litter and catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. (Seriously? You’re still watching that?)
5. DON’T ask your date about their past experience with blind or online dating. We know it’s tempting. The dating app that brought you together is the most tangible common ground. But let them admit how long it took them to find you after you’ve thrown back a few and reach the oversharing portion of the evening.
6. DO have a bailout strategy. It doesn’t have to be your bitchy gay bestie, but let’s be honest—if the date’s going well and you decide not to answer his faux hair-mergency call, he’ll leave you a voicemail worth reading aloud at your impending wedding.
7. Unless you met on JDate (or maybe eHarmony), DON’T jump into religion talk too soon. If it’s important to you, by all means find out your date’s faith before showing up. That way, you can avoid the lengthy musical number in your head of your ancestors wringing their jazz hands over your straying from the chosen path.
8. DON’T confess to having a 4-year-old kid who you still breast feed, say you’re joking, take it back, pretend to be serious, then say you’re joking again. People will think you’re insane.
9. DON’T bring up your ex. Especially not your mega-ex, who you’re so not over to the point that you still bring them up naturally in everyday conversation. Unless, your date is super game and eggs you on in a vengeful musical number directed toward said ex. But again, make sure you’re in a karaoke bar and can hit every note of “Since You Been Gone.”
10. DO Google. It’s why Google was invented. Online recognizance before your first date may be “pure evil” according to our musical lovebirds, but they’re imaginary. What do they know?
11. If the night goes to hell and you end up back on your couch, DO opt for Battlestar Galactia season three. It really is everything.