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.

Faking Disappointment

Let me start by saying I love my dad. I do. I really do. But like so many men, sometimes he just doesn’t get it.

Yesterday, we were sitting in the living room. I was finishing up a press release and my dad was simultaneously watching curling and playing solitaire on his computer. My e-mail alert chirped and so I switched screens and learned that school number three sent me my second rejection letter.

Understandably, I was disappointed and so I turned to my father and said,”Well, I won’t be going to Syracuse.”

“Oh, why?”

“Umm, because I just got their rejection letter.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

I would add details about emotion or inflection, but there wasn’t any. He barely looked away from the curling match. And he doesn’t even like curling.

So, looking for someone to commiserate with, I sent a mass text to friends and then tweeted about my sad news. While on Twitter I learned that Brian Westbrook was released from the Eagles.



“The Eagles released Brian Westbrook.”

He threw his head back. “Jesus. What the hell? I swear that Andy Reid has his head up his ass. Why did they get rid of Tony Hunt if they were just going to turn around and get rid of Westbrook. And what are they doing with Vick? Or McNabb?” He shook his head. Visibly upset that Brian Westbrook, not even his favorite player on the Eagles, was being released from the team.

I struggled to hold back my righteous indignation. Instead I told him he really needed to get over the loss of Tony Hunt.

I realized my old man couldn’t help himself. I also realize that there are probably a lot of guys out there that struggle with this very problem. So I think you should take a lesson from my dad.

First, I want you to think of a sports scenario that would really upset you. Then, the next time your girlfriend or fiance or wife comes to you, upset about something that happened during her day, think about that scenario (as if it just happened) and react accordingly.

Of course instead of saying things like “I swear that Andy Reid has his head up his ass.” Make it personal to her: “I swear that boss of yours has his head up his ass.” See, not so hard. Plus you really can’t overreact in this sort of situation. Even if you get so angry that you throw something, the woman in your life will probably appreciate it. Even laugh at your bravado and feel better about her crummy day -- making you an even bigger hero to her.

And men think women are so complicated.

A Night at The Museum

So in the spirit of trying new ways to meet guys that don’t involve coming up with a clever way to describe myself in 10 words or less, Marie and I headed over to the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology for their Valentine’s Day lecture “Cougars, Playas and Baby Mama Drama in the Ancient World.”

Now, as the name of the event would suggest, it was a lecture. A point that was totally lost on both me and Marie until we walked into a dark room, shocked to find a woman standing at a podium giving a PowerPoint presentation. We had decided to stop and get a glass of wine first so we wouldn’t be the first there. Instead, we were practically the last people there. Fortunately, there was still an open cafe table in the back.

We sat down just in time for the start of the “Cougar” section. Sadly, there weren’t many ancient Egyptian cougars for us to learn from. There was an interesting sculpture depicting one woman being serviced by several well endowed men. If I could remember the woman in the statute she would be my new personal hero.

During the player section we learned all about Ptolemy VIII who killed his brother and married his sister, one of the Cleopatras who was married to Ptolemy’s brother until his untimely death. When, Ptolemy got pissed at Cleopatra he killed his nephew/her son, from the first marriage, chopped him up into pieces, wrapped him in a box and gave the gift to her for her birthday. Kinda gives me a new perspective on all those terrible gifts guys have given me over the years.

Still, all of this didn’t give Ptolemy VIII his player status. No, that was solidified when he grew tired of his Cleo and decided to seduce and marry her daughter (his niece) whose name was also Cleo. They were known as Ptolemy, Cleo His Sister and Cleo His Wife. And no, I'm not making this up.

I leaned over and whispered to Marie that when we were allowed to mingle I was going to ask the first eligible bachelor I came across if he thought Ptolemy was a player or did he just crush a lot. If he didn’t get the reference I would know it wasn’t meant to be. Marie agreed there was no future with a guy that didn’t immediately respond with something along the lines of “well, the real problem was that Ptolemy represented Queens but Cleo was raised out in Brooklyn." Thus a new rule was born -- if he doesn’t recognize LL when he hears it, then he's not the one for me.

Finally, the lecture was over and we were invited to get a drink. Marie and I (who had already snuck to the bar just as soon as we arrived) sat at our table to see if there was anyone worthy of our clever pick-up line.

With the lights on we saw that there were approximately eight guys and 100 women at this event. Of the eight guys, two were there together, like on a date, another was with a date with a woman, two weren’t tall enough to talk to, two were old enough to have known the first Ptolemy and then, finally, there was the creepy gentleman wandering around wearing a visor. I’m pretty sure I told you how I feel about guys that wear baseball caps. Well, it goes double, no triple, for visors. Unless you're guarding a beach, you shouldn’t be wearing a visor.