Tatiana Talks

Dating Do's And Don't's Or A Night with Thomas the Train Guy

Walking up the stairs to my apartment after my date with Thomas the Train Guy, I ran over every detail of the date, doing my best to not forget anything. Not because they were cherished memories I wanted to hold on to, but because I was convinced I would have to reenact the date word-for-word before anyone believed me.

However, I found recreating the date time and time again exhausting. Even summing up the date was too much. And since simply transcribing the date here would a) not be that creative and b) would really only prove to make fun of Thomas the Train Guy and I don’t like to make fun of people. I have decided, instead, to use this date as a lesson for all my readers on things not to do on your date.

Yes, I realize I addressed this topic before (here), but I fear, for some, I have to break it down even further.

I also recognized, after a couple glasses of wine and further thought on the matter, that Thomas the Train Guy may not have been looking for love and simply looking for some lovin’. However, even if this is the case, these rules still apply as after that date, the words a snowball’s chance in hell took on a whole new meaning for me.

First, a couple of things Thomas did right. He didn’t try to cancel the first date (something you should only do in the case of a real emergency or else you are going to come off as a flake and not really that interested) he showed up on time (and was actually a bit early) and he was dressed very nice, in clean jeans (yes, I have to stress clean because I once had a date show up looking as if he had rolled around in mud), fashionable shoes, a sweater, and no baseball hat.

Now for where he went terribly, terribly wrong.

Words One Should Never Use on The First Date

Back in college a good friend of mine started a list of words she never wanted to hear in a pop song after she first heard Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing” (the word being saline). I thought of this list the second time Thomas said the word hormones and decided I would start my own list:






Baby’s mama


Now of course there are exceptions to all rules. For instance, if you are out for a very fancy meal at a steakhouse and you are 60 years or older you are allowed to order the Prime Rib. Perhaps you are in an argument with your date and you say something like, “you are perverting our founding father’s intended meaning of that amendment.” Though, I would caution you about discussing the founding fathers on your first date. Still, I think for the rest of us, it is good practice to not use the above noted words on a first date (or perhaps any date).

Topics of Discussion to Avoid on The First Date

When You Lost Your Virginity: I had to think back on this one, but I’m pretty sure I can safely say I don’t know when any of my ex-boyfriends lost their virginity. I think maybe Wharton and I discussed it, but that conversation was more along the lines of who he lost it with not so much when – I think. I have had this conversation with a couple of my close girlfriends, but not all of them. And some of them I have known for years. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I know how old my sister was when she lost her virginity and I have known her for 32 years. We might have even been living in the same house when it happened.

Any Fetishes You May Have: Remember when I read that dating book about why he never called back and I was up in arms that the author suggested I hold back who I really am just so I can get a second date. Well, I take back everything I said then. Sometimes it is best to save parts of your personality for when you know your date better. For instance, if you have a thing for girls in spandex – I don’t want to hear about it. At least not within the first hour of knowing you and certainly not when I am sober. I don’t want to hear about how much you like looking at women in spandex. How you prefer a woman in spandex even to seeing a woman naked. And I most definitely don’t want to hear about how you have thought about me in spandex – even if you think I would look really good. Spoiler alert: I don’t look good in spandex. I’m not sure there are many women that do.

Your Exes: Enough said.

General Best Practices

Listen: One thing that annoys me more than anything on a first date is when I know a guy isn’t listening to me. Now, I understand there are sometimes when your date drones on and on and you can’t help but let your mind wonder. However, if at some point during the date you say, “You aren’t telling me anything about you. I thought girls loved to talk but you aren’t saying anything.” Then you damn sure better listen when I do say something.

How can I be sure that Thomas wasn’t listening to me? Well one, he kept cutting me off. Two, I mentioned that I rowed in college and he had nothing to say about it. Which in itself is odd since everyone always has something to say when I tell them I rowed in college. But then, a few minutes later, he started telling me about this really pretty part of the city. It is in Fairmount Park. During the day you can see a bunch of people rowing down there and at night it is all lit up. Maybe I saw it once, he asked. You can see it from the Schuylkill Expressway, just past 30th Street Station, headed towards the zoo.

I just smiled. For those readers not from the Philly area, my date was describing the practically world famous Philadelphia landmark Boathouse Row.

Don’t Touch: Okay, I know I am on the extreme end of the touching spectrum so I willing endure the hug hello, the occasional touch of the arm, if the date is going really well, I will even let a guy go so far as to lean in and brush his lips against my ear as he whispers something to me -- though I prefer to save that level of intimacy until the second date at least. What I am not prepared to experience is the simultaneous arm around my shoulder squeeze/head resting on my other shoulder move. This is particularly awkward when you are more than five inches taller than the person whose shoulder you are resting your head on as you remind said person that you like cuddling.

Don’t Say It’s Not A Date: If you’ve sent me multiple text messages, if our meeting was arranged days in advanced, if I shaved my legs and reapplied make up and you spring for my venti vanilla rooibos tea, then it's a date. So during our conversation when I'm saying something about it being a date, please don’t stop me midsentence to correct me that we are just having coffee. First, again, it's a date. Second, we aren’t having coffee , we're having tea.

Of course, if you really don't want to find yourself on a date, then there are preemptive measures one can take to ensure that you don’t find yourself in this awkward situation. Starting with setting the date: don’t make a plan in advance. Instead, randomly call or text the person and say, “Hey, I’m in your neighborhood, wanna grab a cup of coffee?” Two, don’t greet your friend with a hug, a kiss on the cheek and the comment “you look great.” Three, don’t pay for your friend’s drink – that is the universal sign for a date. Four, don’t spend the hour telling the person how beautiful they are, that is when you are not telling them really intimate details about your life. And, finally, don’t text the person a couple of days later asking “u think u can handle me?” Because all of that spells date.

Now, if you are already acquaintances with this person (or friends even) the above rules don’t necessarily apply. But, word of warning, the line of friendship gets thinner and blurrier each time you tell that person you find them attractive.

As always, I hope my disastrous love life can help one or many of you out there. Oh, and I apologize for those of you that now have Duncan Sheik’s Barely Breathing stuck in your head.

To Move or Not To Move

So, my landlord is trying to raise my rent. Not by much, mind you, but it is the principle of it – because he has raised it every year for the past three years.

And while I love my apartment, there is a lot I don’t love about it. Like the fact that my doorbell has never worked – this has caused a couple of problems, especially on New Year’s Day. The back yard, isn’t so much of a yard as a concrete slab where the air conditioning units noisily hum all day long and cats find shelter from the sun and use it as a litter box. My bathroom literally freezes in the winter and now there is a 500lb dog living above me.

No, not Brandi. Brandi’s dog. That likes to run around the apartment barking when Brandi and whatever guy she brings home come in somewhere between 2:30 and 4 a.m.

And now the rent is going up again and I’m thinking I may want to move out.

The problem is, I don’t have much time to make this decision. And once it is made, it is made. Once I tell my landlord where to shove his lease, I will have to find a place I love or else I will be homeless (or less dramatically, forced to live in a place I like even less than where I am living now).

So why am I telling all of you this? Well, when I’m struggling with a decision, I usually like talking it out – mostly with my mom. When that doesn’t work, I write it all down.

I spoke to my mom this morning. She wasn’t terribly helpful. Or maybe she was. It’s hard to decide. While she definitely drove home all the reasons why I want out, she also started pointing out all the things that suck about moving. By the end of the conversation we were about even on whether or not I should move, but agreed that if my landlord would fix most of the problems with my apartment, staying would be better than moving.

But after three years of pretty much ignoring me I’m not sure he would suddenly be willing to help me out.

Now I’m writing about it. Unfortunately, I’m most of the way through and no closer to a solution. Nor has any of the decent places I have e-mailed contacted me to say that the place is still available and they would be happy to show it to me this evening. Because even that would give me some hope, but because most of the places respond that their apartments are no longer available, I worry that it would make more sense for me to continue to be a doormat for another year.

The thing is, I hate being a doormat.