But what you might need just as bad is a list of places not to take that first date of yours. Dinner theater goes without saying; you never want to take a first date to a place where you're held captive for hours on end, with little chance of even speaking to each other. Ideally, you want to keep these first dates casual and fairly short on the timeframe; maybe coffee at a cute cafe, or drinks at a place like Barcadia, where you can always play a few rounds of Skeeball until the initial awkardness passes. And if the date goes well? Take it on to dinner afterward, or plan a fancy dinner for the next available weekend.
These places, however, should never come under your consideration ever. Ever ever ever. Seriously: EVER.
5. Hooters / Twin Peaks
This goes without saying. No girl wants to be upstaged by other girls' breasts and thighs all night long, no matter how good the wings are. And what does it say about you, as a gentleman, that you'd rather gaze at other women's parts all evening instead of getting to know the lovely lass you invited on this date?
4. Golden Corral / Ryan's Steakhouse
I don't care about the commercials proclaiming Golden Corral to be as nice as "going to a wedding without dressing up." (Yes, those same commercials promoting the horrifying new Chocolate Wonderfall that you know is probably never cleaned and contains pacifiers, Legos, various bodily fluids and decomposing marshmallows.) And I don't care that Ryan's contains the misleading "Steakhouse" nomenclature in its title. Neither of these are acceptable forms of dining at any time, especially for a first date.
3. Cheesecake Factory / Grand Lux
When you take a first date to either of these dizzyingly over-the-top food emporiums, you are essentially telling him/her: "This is as nice as it gets, sugar. Hope you enjoy, because it's all going to be downhill from here." The only exception to this rule is if you're in high school and your parents gave you an unwanted gift card they got from the office football pool. That's it.
2. Chuck E. Cheese / Lupe Tortilla
Unless one of both of you have screaming, squirming toddlers to bring along, child-centric, sandbox-oriented, animatronic-character-focused places are a definite no. Want to be hip and ironic? Or just want to play silly video games? Then head to a place like Barcadia (as previously mentioned) or -- even better -- make a date at Joystix. Never heard of it? TREAT YO SELF.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Luby's / Cleburne
Are you 75 years old? Did you meet your date at the Bunko game hosted by your assisted living community? Were you set up by the elderly care ministry at your church? Do you get hungry for dinner at 4 p.m.? Are your well-meaning but misguided children attempting to find a new mother for their widowed father? All of these are the only reasons you should be first-dating at Luby's, Cleburne or any other cafeteria. Otherwise, save the hot mac-n-cheese dates for when you get to know each other a little better. If you're like me, you'll end up spending one of the best New Year's Eve dinners of your life at Luby's with a man who'd rather enjoy fried okra and silliness instead of fancy galas and champagne. Just...not on a first date.