Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
May 21, 1958, Vol. III, No. 30
The Blind-Date Bit
By John Wilcock
A guy I know with plenty of time on his hands has a system for what he calls “taking the guess out of the blind-date bit.” It’s a pretty simple operation, consisting simply of taking your pick of other people’s blind dates.
The most popular spots where strangers agree to meet, it seems, are outside the main branch of the New York Public Library, beside the Washington Square Arch, under the clock at the Biltmore, and by the information booth in Grand Central Station. At any of these places and many others, says my friend, pretty girls will always be waiting, with at least a few of them waiting for men they’ve never met.
“I look them over carefully whenever I want a date,” my informant explains, “and I pick out the ones who are obviously waiting for blind dates. Somehow you can always tell; they seem more apprehensive. Anyway, I choose the nicest-looking girl and, approaching very nervously, I say: ‘Excuse me but are you…?’–always letting the sentence trail off.
“She’ll invariably smile and finish it for me. Then next comes the time when you must listen very carefully, because she’ll usually counter with: “Oh, you must be–?’ and you have to be very attentive, because that will tell you what your name is, or anyway what it’s supposed to be.
“Naturally you’ll make a mistake occasionally, but so long as you remember to be charming and a little shy, and to apologize and leave when you’re obviously not going to get away with it, you’ll find there’s scarcely any risk at all.”
(Incidentally, if you want to invest in a white carnation for your buttonhole, that’s fine, but you don’t really need it. Research has proved that the most common identification symbol among blind dates is a New Yorker magazine tucked under the arm.)
Once the contact has been made and the conversation is under way, my friend suggests all that’s needed are a few remarks like: “Gee, you’re much prettier than I expected” or “Is my watch fast or slow? I’m sorry if I kept you waiting” or “Excuse me if I seem a little nervous but I’ve never done this before.”
“By following developments pretty closely,” he adds, “you can usually bluff your way through. But if she suddenly asks a question that throws you, or seeks information about some mutual friend that you have never met, I’ve always found a good way to play for time is to say: ‘Well, let’s go have a coffee and we’ll talk about it.’ Once you get that far, you can even afford to be honest with her. You’d be amazed how easy it is to salvage the date as long as you can convince her how much better you are than the man she was supposed to meet.”