Pex and the city

Chronicle Staff

Tomorrow, when geysers of Sweethearts will explode out of the earth and Facebook albums entitled “Us!” and “Best Boyfriend Ever” will litter our newsfeeds, I will actually be leaving school around noon to go downtown for a date. A date on Valentine’s Day! Leaving school early! It’s so romantic…
It’s for a college interview.

Maybe I watch too much “Sex and the City,” but the more I hear about the horror stories, the more college interviews seem like bad dates plucked right from Carrie Bradshaw’s televised dating travails. A blind date I met at her house who ended up being a cat lady. The egotist who only talked about himself.

At family functions, I feel Carrie’s thirty-something-single pain when my mother’s friends ask me, “So have you found the right one yet?” When one of my interviewers was the spitting image of Aidan Shaw (which was uncomfortable, at best), I figured there was something to this idea.

I’ve heard the metaphor before that applying for college is like trying to nab a crush: you want him/her, sometimes they don’t want you back, but there are other fish in the sea. If this is true, “I had to wonder”: are we courting colleges? And do the same rules apply? Aren’t our interviews really the equivalent of dates? (Picture that last sentence being typed onto a ’98 Apple laptop screen…humor me.)

In most cases, it seems, the rules do carry over. The things that seem to make people uncomfortable at interviews are the very things that would be uncomfortable on a real date. So I’m hoping to kill two birds with one stone here with a short list of rules for having a successful first date, be you one of our college interviewers or a love-struck teen, this Valentine’s Day season.

1. Location, location, location: You wouldn’t meet a blind date at his/her house. You wouldn’t meet a blind date at your own house. You wouldn’t want a blind date to stay at your house for two hours past the time agreed on (true story). What ever happened to meeting for a cup of coffee? A neutral meeting spot that comes with a quick expiration time (unless you order a Venti) is a safe bet for relaxed conversation. Which leads us to number two…

2. Use Your Words: On a good date there is a generous back-and-forth. Most of my interviews have been severely stacked in either direction: either I can barely get a word in during the nostalgic flashback to the fall of 1979 or I feel as if I’m being interrogated by law-enforcement. Show your sensitive side; let your date talk for a generous amount of time. But…

3. Avoid touchy subjects: The best topic of conversation might not be your date’s biggest academic disappointment. That goes both ways. A first date isn’t the time to divulge information about your pending divorce or your risqué past, so perhaps keep the stories from your experimental group-sex liberal arts days to yourself. Similar symptoms to…

4. TMI (Too much information): It’s just the first date; you don’t want to scare him/her away. For example, sparing no detail about your miserable living conditions and lack of social life will be off-putting.

5. Are you seeing anyone?: Having to rattle off a list of names of other suitors can be awkward for both parties. Your date will most likely sheepishly avoid the question, afraid to bruise your ego by naming a big player or a long-time rival of yours he/she is also courting.

In spite of my frustration with the dating game, I have to admit that, recently, I had a great date. It was at a blind date fair where they match you up onsite for conversation: college speed-dating.

But I have to say that for the first time, I was matched up with someone, well, like me. We shared the same interests, had similar experiences and wanted the same things in life (never mind that she and I had even had similar haircuts).

I left somewhat more convinced that this could really be my match. Could I really be a believer in true love?

That’s the thing about a good date: it can give you hope that this is someone you could spend your life with…or at least the next four years.

*All examples are either first-hand experiences or reported incidents.