On Monday evening, thanks to the generous, esteemed Boof Bar, I watched the Bucks get blown off the court by the Bulls. [Ed. note: It’s OK. I’m not upset. Own the future, boys.]
As is customary, we shared a postgame meal and conversation at the one and only Tater Tot Land, a swell establishment that has a kitchen open ’til 1 and serves, you guessed it, tater tots. (Also sandwiches and salads and iced tea, but who the hell wants to hear about Iced Tea Land?)
Among the topics covered in said conversation: basketball, traveling, “Bolognese”, respecting the process, roommates paying rent and/or doing dishes, Bop, work, “idiosyncrasies”, Mediterranean chopped salads, new cars, our respective adventures in the realm of dating.
Just two single fellas havin bro talk; inevitably some frustration surrounding that last topic seeped out. At one point, amongst a great deal of other points, Boof said, “It would be easier if after the first date, you could give her five people to call about you, and if she still wants to date you after that, then … let’s proceed.” (Or something like that. I didn’t have a tape recorder.)
Me: “Haha, that’s rich. ‘Hey, darlin’, I had a great time. Call these five people, and get back to me if you’re still interested.'”
LET’S DISCUSS: Assume that it’s accepted social norm that after a first date, both parties exchange a list of five references for the other to call to determine whether they want to continue to date. The references come with a maximum five-word descriptor and phone number (e.g. Will Smith: actor, rapper, Renaissance Man XXX-XXX-XXXX). These references do not know they are going to be called, but they have to at least answer the phone when the call comes.
WHO ARE YOUR FIVE REFERENCES?
There are so many different possibilities to consider, so many different messages that these references can send.
You see, much like the current reference lists that candidates give to potential employers, the who you choose almost means more than the what they say, as accolades of character will be the norm and generally ignored (though, negative commentary could be seen as either a red flag or a token of an honest reference whose endorsement means more).
A human version of an online dating profile (h/t Alex and Abby Bar), you would be able to control to a degree the impression you’re trying to make, but not necessarily how it would be perceived. Think of the messages you could be sending with the following categories of potential reference:
– What you think you’re saying: “Talk to one of my most loyal comrades! He/she knows me better than anybody else, and can tell you all about how great a person I am!”; “This is the type of person I like to keep around and spend time with. If you like them, you’ll probably like me.”
– What you could be saying: (in event of overusing this category) “My life revolves around my friends! Good luck getting in!”
– What you think you’re saying: “Family is important to me.”; “Look how sensitive I am, I included my mom.”
– What you could be saying: “I still need to check with my parents to do important things.”; “I’m only putting my mom on here because I think you’re expecting me to.”
– What you think you’re saying: “Look, it didn’t work out between this person and I; he/she’ll give you an honest look at the kind of a person I am.”; “I am mature enough to maintain a relationship with someone I once dated.”; “This is the worst anything can say about me. If you can handle this, we’ll be just fine. Transparency, yo.”
– What you could be saying: “Still attached.”; “This is a refreshing reminder that I have failed at something that has to do with love, romance and personal connection.”; “Try not to think about the fact that this is someone I used to sleep with.”
Opposite-sex platonic friend
– What you think you’re saying: “I can be friends with your friends, too, so you don’t have to worry about me at group events.”; “This is someone who has a similar perspective as you and can tell you about my character in a relatable way.”
– What you could be saying: “Please discuss me with someone whom you’ll always see as competition.”; “Listen to someone my mom always wanted me to date talk about how dateable I am.”
– What you think you’re saying: “This person has more life experience than I do. Listen to them!”
– What you could be saying: “This is like a job interview for me!”
– What you think you’re saying: “Family is important to me.”; “Someone who has known me all my life will be able to tell you all sorts of things that are honest and endearing.”; “This is someone with whom I have lived for years and I’m still willing to have you talk to; I’m not afraid of embarrassing childhood or cohabitation stories.”
– What you could be saying: “It would be really fun for you to find out about me from the people who you might not ever be good enough for.”; “I, honestly, find bed-wetting stories to be endearing.”
– What you think you’re saying: “I have a good work ethic and a strong ability to cooperate with others.”; “I am motivated and my career is important to me.”; “I have a job.”
– What you could be saying: “I love my job so much that I picked some person I wouldn’t otherwise be friends with to talk about my character.”; “This is like a job interview for me!”
– What you think you’re saying: “I am happy at home.”; “These are the kind of people I surround myself with.”; “I have an agreeable home, keep things tidy and am respectful of other people’s things.”; “I don’t smoke pot.”; “I am proud of my lawn.”; “My neighbor/roommate is cool if we smoke pot.”
– What you could be saying: “I am a guy who is such good friends with his neighbors that he lists them as neighbors.”; “I am proud of my lawn.”; “My neighbor/roommate is cool if we smoke pot and he/she will be coming to join us a lot.”
– What you think you’re saying: “Look at the company I keep!”; “I am cool enough that semi-famous people will talk about me.”
– What you could be saying: “I judge people based on the company they keep!”; “Fame is more important to me than character!”
Putting together your five references would be like being a coach of a basketball team: You need to have five people working together, filling different roles to achieve the desirable goal. If you choose five who don’t complement each other and send the same message, you’re going to have less success.
My team? It would probably be composed something like this (names omitted, partly because they will mean nothing to many of you, partly because I have no interest in hurting feelings over a hypothetical):
– Opposite-sex platonic friend
– Parent/unorthodox wild card (for instance, Alex Bar suggested Callin Oates). Would depend how I was feeling on that given day.
Are there other categories of references that I missed? Any perspectives or angles I haven’t considered? Sound off in the comments!
– The Trader Joe’s candy bar had cookie butter in it.
– Cookie. Butter.
– Like peanut butter. But instead of peanuts, cookies.
– The cookie butter had some hints of cinnamon that blended nicely with the dark chocolate. And there was a very, very subtle crunch within the creaminess of the cookie butter that enhanced the bar’s mouthfeel.
– The M&M’s candy bar had M&M’s in it.- Not putting periods after the Ms and the ampersands.
– It was tasty, kind of like the candy bar equivalent of an M&M’s cookie.
– But nothing particularly memorable. It would have been more fun if the whole bar had a candy coating, I think.