Dating is hard. You’ve heard people say it, you’ve been on bad dates yourself and you’ve watched your friends go on bad dates. Bad dates exist, and you will experience many in your life: this is a most horrible truth. But I’m not here to talk about “dating culture,” because honestly, I’m not well-versed in the language of seductive eyebrow dances and strategically timed arm stroking. I’m here to discuss the hardest aspect of dating that no one ever talks about: ordering dessert.
Let me paint you a picture.
It’s Friday night, and your friend Jennifer has set you up with her boyfriend’s cousin’s college roommate, Stefan. Stefan is a great guy who likes the environment and is interested in city planning. He’s witty, interesting and an attractive mix of Puerto Rican and Japanese. You go out for Italian food and hit it off. Conversation is flowing easily; your irrational fear of a bird swooping up your rigatoni and dropping it on your head has yet to come to life and it’s clear that you’re both having a good time. Cheers all around.
Your empty plates have been taken away, and your waiter has returned once more. He looks at both of you while you halt your conversation and asks, “Are either of you interested in dessert?”
Bam. A wave of uncertainty hits you in the face like a plate of falling spaghetti. You look at your date, who is already staring at you intently, trying to get a read on what you want.
You can hear the thoughts colliding inside the walls of your head: He’s paying, so it would be rude to order another course. But maybe he wants dessert. What if he’s full? God, I’m still hungry, is he still hungry too? There’s non-fat yogurt in my fridge, I’ll just have that later. Unless Jennifer ate it. Oh God, he’s staring at me. Dessert. Do I want dessert? I don’t want to look greedy, so I’ll just say —“Yes, pl—”
“—No, thank you.”
Disaster. You both try to recover through a series of unintelligent babbles and gestures, ultimately deciding to share a bowl of mango sorbet. Your face is red and your hands are sweaty. You suddenly forget your date’s name and accidentally call him Steve while you knock over your water glass on your way to the restroom.
After a couple minutes of deep breathing, you emerge, confident that your great date is still salvageable. It’ll be a funny story to tell our future children, you say to yourself. When you return, your waiter, thoroughly amused by your table’s ineptitude, is straddling the shattered glass on the floor, clearly awaiting your return. He cocks his head and says coolly, “We’re all out of the mango sorbet, but we do have lemon and raspberry. Would you like to change your order?”
Dating is hard.
Mackenzie Karbon is a freshman majoring in jazz performance.