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Breaking the ice and avoiding awkward pauses is not always the easiest when it comes to dating. Both people feel nervous and anxious with minds going in any number of directions. Everyone has been told to play it cool but that phrase becomes so relevant when the moment is there and it's time to say something. Slurry speech and words just fall. Should I say something I am interested in? (Wait, I think the other person will talk. I will listen to what they say and then just go with it.) There is a lot riding on first contact and the longer a person waits, the more build up. Given the circumstances, I will jump right in and start a conversation that is pretty open-ended about something that is slightly of interest to me but not a real make or break point. If the person doesn't like it then they can tell me and possibly debate, or maybe they will like it and we can take it from there. Point being, something is established and nerves and tension are forgotten. Thinking once again becomes clear. One way to make sure the other person's mind is definitely not going to be clear and nerves will be amped up a few notches is to bring up your conspiracy theories...
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A Story About What You May Not Want to Bring Up on the First Date:
I was doing the online dating thing and wound up chatting with this guy. He seemed the usual: nice, funny, smart. We agreed to meet at Heaven on Seven on Clark. XRT was there and this guy had a man-crush on Lin Brehmer. I had recently moved to Chicago and didn't know who Lin Brehmer was yet, but I am game for things. Well, the place was packed and we had to wait for an hour for a table. The conversation was stilted because of the atmosphere and because we didn't know each other. When we were finally seated it was at one of those long tables with strangers seated intimately on either side of us. He orders the spiciest thing on the menu. I lamely ask, "So you like spicy food?" He smiles at me in a way I now recognize as teetering on the brink of insanity.
"I have a theory..." he says, and then leans in close. "Oh yeah? What is your theory," I ask.This comment seemed like a non sequitur to me but again, I am game. "I think chili peppers are sentient beings." This statement fell like a brick into a well of silence. What? What? "Huh..." he says as he plunges forward, warming up to his subject. "Yeah, so chili peppers, if you eat too many of them rip up your stomach lining, esophagus, and everything else, right?" "Gaghhah?" I gurgle in response still trying to wrap my mind around the initial statement. "But! When you eat them, they release endorphins. So...it...they taste so good." He is starting to sweat and he wipes his forehead with his wrist, a fevered look entering his eye. "Um. Are you being serious?" My mom worked at Fermi Lab for a decade. I had heard some pretty outrageous conspiracy theories, but nothing like this. He just blinked at me and said "of course."
"Chilies are sentient beings? You think chili peppers...think?"
"Yes! They are trying to take over the world. Make us their slaves. You see it a lot in South America."
"You see what?" "Chili pepper slavery?"
I close my eyes tightly. I am praying. I am praying I am not on a date with a normal-seeming man who thinks that chili peppers are plotting to take over the world like Pinky and the Brain. When I open my eyes, I notice that neither of the couples sitting on our right or our left are talking. They are listening to our conversation. I catch the eye of the women to my left. She looks sad for me. I am sad for me. I change the subject to sports, which I know nothing about, and when the meal is over, he gets a handshake and fake phone number with six digits.