I don’t know if there’s anything more entertaining to watch than a first date. Especially a really awkward first date (and, let’s be honest, most of them are). At the coffee house I tend to go to, I see a ton of them: girls talking quickly with big gestures, boys leaning across the table, the ever-so-crucial struggle over the bill. You can always spot a couple of people who are just getting to know each other, sizing each other up. Figuring out if they want to spend the rest of their lives with this person.
I’ve become such a better people-watcher since I’ve become a writer. Which is both good and bad. Good because I have learned so much more about relationships and human behavior and the subtle movements and expressions that define so much of daily life. I feel like my writing has become much more true to life as I describe my characters and how they react. Bad because I tend to people watch instead of paying attention to the person I’m talking to or the book I’m supposed to be writing.
First dates are definitely my favorite. Every move is so important, every word. Because the person across the table is going to notice all of those things and judge accordingly. It’s one of those moments where you’re painfully aware of everything you do, and it’s a wonderful way for a writer to observe nervousness and hope and a million other emotions all at once.
Also, side note: telling your date about the girlfriend who used to beat you up is really never a good idea. Yes, I actually saw this happen on a first date the other week. He also recited poetry to the poor girl, who had the best strained smile on her face EVER.