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Top 10 Tips for the First Date

SONY DSCWhat to wear? What to say? Where to go?
Here is great advice for enjoying yourself on the big date.
Today, hundreds of couples around San Francisco are meeting for the very first time. Some will meet at Starbucks, others at Golden Gate Park, SOMA, NOPA… Many may be feeling nervous with a facade of calm – hoping their coffee-shop  date or stroll around Stowe Lake or the climbing Mount Sutro date, is going to be a winner. Remember: generally, a good First Date means a Second Great Date.

Here are the Top 10 Best Ways to Have Fun on a First Date

1. Timing is Everything: Arrive on time.
2. Dress up: Flip-flops, cut offs, and a T-shirt? Don’t even think about it. Take the time to dress to impress-casually.
3. Be Prepared: Read their online dating profile again- refresh your memory.
4. Grill Not: Do not bring a list of questions to grill your date with – this is a social engagement – not an interview. Have fun.
5. Score a table at your meeting place-keep an eye on the door for your date.
6. Relax: Make an effort to have your date feel comfortable: smile.
7. Play Nice: One compliment is worth 100 points. A mere, “Your photo doesn’t do you justice” or “You look great” or “I am happy we’re finally meeting” are very good things to say and to hear. Try it.
8. Ladies – pay for yourself; Gentlemen- offer to pay.
9. Ask Questions: As a rule: monologues are dull, vain, and insipid. Really.
10. Listen Up:  Use eye contact and listen – between – the – lines for innuendo, clues, and subtle details. It’s amazing how much you will learn.
Have a good time – remember: The secret to happiness is low expectations.

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Dating 101: A first date in less than 100 words

One first date in less than 100 words

He said, “Lunch?”


I said, “Brunch?”


He said, “Nooner?”


I said, “Not so sooner.”


He said, “Your place or mine?”


I said, “Slow down, cowboy, we’ve only just met and not quite yet.”


He said, “Do you-Friends with Benefits?”


I said, “Benefits? Like Blue Cross? You blew it: too much, too soon, too fast.




“Women are made to be loved, not understood.”

Oscar Wilde


Roger likes Sally: a real date



Roger* met Sally  (hovering around 50, single, newly divorced)  in line at Safeway.

They chatted amiably as they waited– impetuously, she suggested meeting for coffee. It was perfect: relaxed and comfortable. Next, they planned a casual walk around the lake. The conversation flowed easily – they had a lot in common.

Buoyed by success, he asked her to go on a real date that Saturday night – her call. She readily agreed and opted for dinner and dancing at a place she knew in Berkeley. Deal!

It had been over 35 years since his last grown up date and he was nervous and excited.

Roger had not been alone with a single woman in her home – in decades. She greeted him with a slightly lingering hug. Their mutual interest was palpable. They went to dinner before dancing in Berkeley. She was a much better dancer than Roger- his repertoire of two dance steps did not cut it, so she led, and he followed, beautifully.

The last dance – a slow dance -he led and glided around the dance floor, noting there was an inordinate amount of smiling, laughing and holding one another close.

Consensus: it was a perfect evening. She was attractive, good company and she liked him – she really liked him. They planned on dinner and a movie the next week. He had a feeling it was the beginning of something special. They saw each other every weekend that month. Roger was dating!

In a blaze of glory, he closed down his account at

kids_-7*Our pal, Roger (62, newly divorced) had been failing miserably at Dating 2014. He mumbled, bumbled and babbled. He fancied himself to be Fred Astaire – dashing- and he was more of a Fred Flintstone- daunting.


The worst – “first date movie” – avoid ‘The Other Woman’


Hailed as The Worst Movie of The Year by the Yoga Babes

and the Mondo Mendocino Men’s Group

“The Other Woman”

Is a

Avoid at All Costs Film



Dating 101: Beginners luck and not really


Her New Year’s resolution was to try Online Dating.

He was freshly divorced and  carefully crafted a profile.  Within one hour,  she contacted him. The spoke on the phone for one hour and clicked. Kismet.

He invited her to meet him at the San Francisco’s famed Absinthe for drinks. He recognized her immediately, she smiled broadly as she walked towards him.

He stood up when she approached and kissed her on the cheek. They both ordered the signature cocktail: French 75’s – Champagne, gin and Brandied cherries. The tempting pomme frites followed. Next, a dozen oysters on the half shell.

Conversation flowed easily. They decided to stay for dinner. They have been inseparable ever since. That was over two years ago.

photo_856_20060117two coffee

Melinda got her courage up – and studied Craigslist Bay Area Single Men 50 looking for Single Women 50.

Cal, the artist, caught her eye. He wrote well – seemed smart, so she sent him an email. That evening, he wrote back. The note was light-hearted. They exchanged four emails before he suggested they speak on the phone and he sent his Berkeley phone number.

Fortified by the email exchange, she called him and they fell into easy conversation. He mentioned he had an art show at a local café and his passion was painting.  Cool. They spoke on the phone for 20-minutes before she said, “Let’s meet for coffee.” They agreed to meet at the  famous, singles, meeting spot, Peet’s on Fourth Street in Berkeley.  A date!

Melinda went back to inspect his photo. The photo was taken from afar- he was her height. He looked fine.

Candid Camera?

The next day, she drove to Berkeley, arrived early, bought a cup of coffee and scored two seats outside.  And then she waited.  Every single man that walked by caught her attention.  She knew Cal was tall with dark hair.  A little after 11 AM, a man in faded, baggy jeans, a baseball hat and sunglasses approached her table.    He said, “Are you waiting for someone?”  It took her a minute to realize this was her date.  Her first thought was, “Is this Candid Camera?”

The man standing across from her was wearing tattered clothing, dirty, old running shoes, and a stained, denim jacket.  He had a two-day stubble- or a really bad five o’clock shadow and stringy hair.  He didn’t really look like his picture, did he?  She had a preconceived image of a much more handsome man. Cal was an artist, right?

He  sat down and started talking. Melinda remained stunned by his appearance. She couldn’t help but notice how down-and-out he looked.   Was she simply shallow and hypercritical? They chatted for fifteen minutes before he mentioned needing to get something out of his car, which was across the street.  He pointed to an old, beat-up, dirty van.  That was the pièce de résistance.

She did a quick analysis of the situation  and knew full well they were not match. Not remotely.

Dramatically, she looked at her watch and told him- she had to go.  She said she was happy to meet him – she wished him well saying, “I’ve got to run. Thanks, I don’t think we are a match. Good luck.”

As she climbed into her immaculate, old Honda, she repeated, “No, no, no.”

She re-examined his Craigslist ad- and the blurry photo of the guy in the t-shirt with stringy hair and all the noted subtle clues about starving artist and hardship.

The Take Away? Indeed, picture is worth a thousand words, read the fine print and take the time to ask questions – get to know someone over the phone. First.Exit Sign

The Bore Wars or Top 10 ways to ruin a date

Spelling Game says Help Me

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin a First Date

  1. Arrive late

  2. Fail to apologize for tardiness

  3. Have just eaten loads of garlic

  4. Leave your dark glasses on

  5. Snap your fingers for waiters attention

  6. Monopolize the conversation with your favorite topic: you

  7. Use lewd and lascivious language loudly

  8. Make and take cell phone calls during date

  9. Forget your wallet and ask to borrow $10

  10. Gushing with garlic, upon departure say, “Dude, this has been cool… I’ll call you.  Don’t get your hopes up…”

“There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom, ever.”

Viggo Mortensen

Critical: Trust your gut – first date nightmares

A warning sign for the publicJohn and Marsha   Nightmare #1

After a handful of e-mails and phone calls, John invited Marsha over to his house for coffee and to meet his rescue dogs.  On a whim, she agreed. Upon arrival, she found John’s house was a mess.  There were piles of clutter in the driveway, on the front steps, and the lawn. The barking dogs jumped up on Marsha while John laughed off their enthusiasm.  He eventually locked the howling hounds in the garage. The dogs had tramped in dirt and leaves into the house.  Dog food pebbles were scattered over the kitchen floor.  The house smelled like wet dogs.  Marsha was gone in 20 minutes.  She kicked herself for not asking more questions before driving the distance to John’s house. Next.

sad manClay and Janelle   Nightmare #2

Clay (62, twice divorced, poet, limo driver)  suggested he and Janelle (56, divorced, case-manger, painter, skier) skip the proverbial ‘First date -Coffee date’ and go out to dinner together.  Impulsively, she agreed. Janelle states she usually knows within 30-minutes if a first date is going to work out.  She dropped her standard coffee-date-protocol and met Clay at The House of Prime Rib.

He was tall, a bit heavier than his photo and gregarious. He suggested martinis to start the meal and she deferred to Pellegrino water.  They talked for a while before the massive menus arrived. Clay said he had his eyes on a Fred Flintstones slab of beef and encouraged her to do the same.  She politely reminded him she was a vegetarian.  She grew more uncomfortable as he became more garrulous and loud.  The waiter asked if they would like to order additional drinks before ordering their entrées and Clay said, “Absolutely!”

Straw +camel +back = broken

Janelle looked across the table and said, “Clay, I’m sorry this doesn’t feel right. I trust my instincts, and I’m going to go. Don’t get up, please. I’m going to grab a cab.  Goodbye and good luck.”

He did get up, and was a profusion of apologies.  She continued walking out of the bustling restaurant. She kicked herself for not following her gut.

A dinner date is always going to be a minimum of 60 minutes.  She’d made a mistake and didn’t spend enough time talking before meeting for the date. Lesson learned: trust your gut.

Think about it, do you want to sit across from a total stranger who “seemed nice on the phone”- or someone you know you have some concrete things in common with and who has potential?

“There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance”     Albert Einstein

Exit Sign

Dear Page: Online dating questions: reveal age and weight?


Hey, Page

I’m thinking about starting on Do I really have to reveal my age? I was raised to believe ‘a lady does not reveal and a gentleman never inquires.’ A friend says I have to divulge my real height, weight, age, income, and education. Why would I reveal this information to a total stranger?

Like a Phoenix

Hey, Like a Phoenix

Good question! On some websites you can get by with a glib “we can talk about this later.” You’re absolutely right, there is no reason to divulge certain information. Your income or your religion – other topics- may be very personal. Your age and weight- will be very obvious when you meet your dates. Be sure to post current photographs of yourself.



Dear Page,

Help! I am brand-new at online dating and I am and lost.  Last week I signed up for Our Time dating.  So far I’ve been contacted by a man with a picture of him sitting on a mule, a man 20 years my senior and another guy claims his ‘best friend is Jesus.’ Another guy who is exactly 1 foot shorter than I am- that makes him 5 feet and I’m 6 feet tall. What am I doing wrong?

Nancy Newbie

Dear Nancy,

Whenever you sign up for new dating site, be sure to specify how far you are willing to travel to meet someone, list your interests, and specificy  age range and height, education level preferences– if that is important.

At first blush, a great looking guy who is 6’, who lives in New York City, might seem attractive, however chances for you, (in San Bruno)  meeting for an impetuous cup of coffee, going for a hike, or a picnic or anything else, are slim to none.

Take the time to be perfectly clear on how far you want to travel, the qualities you’re looking for in a date, and indicate if you have religious preferences (or have no interest in Bible-thumper-fundamentalists.) Good luck- let me know how your fare.


Hello, Page Larkin,

My brother (45) recently came out of the closet, ended his 20-year marriage and is having a dizzying new social life. His shell-shocked wife has decided she wants to go online and start dating. Which dating website would be good for her?

A friend Indeed

Hello, A friend Indeed,

First of all, joining an online dating site after a nasty divorce or separation is not a healthy transition. Indicating that your friend is shell-shocked is a clear indication that she needs therapy, time, and solace. Remember: rushing into dating after a trauma is not great idea. You would much better serve her if you listened to her and politely urged her to get professional help.

Peace and Patience,


Hi Page

I just met Henry (retired, handsome, financially stable) who is perfect, except for one thing. He says his sciatica requires medical marijuana and he grows his own. He has a green house full of thriving plants. I quickly learned not to talk to him after 9 o’clock – as he is loopy. Do I ditch him or stick with him?

Mary Jane

Dear Mary Jane,

You pose a difficult question. Some would advise you to take a look at a 12-step program and take it from there. You might be quite disappointed-if push came to shove- your new beau chose to spend time with his green plants and not you.

Good luck,


Exit Sign

Top Ten First Date Buzz Kill Topics

 Page Larkin’s Top Ten Buzz Kill Topics

to Avoid on a Date

In polite society there are certain subjects one evades and escapes. It’s what we do.  Everyone knows a first date can be very much like that famous Charles Dickens line about the best of times and the worst of times.

Did I Say That Out Loud?

First date? The best thing you can do is relax and be aware of what you say and how much information you share.  When ‘suddenly single’ people meet for the first time, they may be nervous and may blather on mindlessly. You want to avoid doing that. Seriously.

This is one of those times to be mindful of the conversation and the subject matter. As you navigate merrily down the stream (of consciousness), be aware several subjects you should avoid like the plague.

In Random Order- First Date Subjects to Keep Away From:
The Top Ten Buzz Kill Subjects:
1. Plagues (i.e. frogs, gnats, flies boils, livestock, locusts)
2. Your Ex and your exploits – b-o-r-i-n-g
3. Your problematic divorce
4. Your problems (mental, physical, spiritual, emotional)
5. Details of your recent dates: good or bad or ugly
6. Deaths, dying, funerals – cast a pall on most meetings
7. Misbehaving kids. Don’t play the game: ‘My Kid is Worse Than Yours’ on a first date. Ever.
8. Financial plights and problems
9. Recent forays into rehab, the slammer, big house, or correctional facility
10. Politics can be incendiary. Tread lightly and practice diplomacy. Take a pulse before leaping into a potential inferno. Fox-TV, The Newt, The Mitt,  are not loved by all.
What Can I Say?

Yes, cards should be placed on the table. Choose your cards wisely.  Honesty is always the best policy…however, in clichéd reality: discretion is the better part of valor. First impressions are lasting and first dates can only lead to a second date or a “Don’t call me, I’ll call you. Maybe.”
San Francisco Dating@50 Examiner, Page Larkin, welcomes your feedback, questions and queries at Don’t miss a single Page Larkin column — click the Subscribe button at the top of the page.

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All Page Larkin Dating@50 Examiner articles © 2012 by Page Larkin — reposts permitted with copyright notice and link  to original article. All other rights reserved.

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