This assignment went to a writer who hadn’t been on a date for an undisclosed amount of years – me.
To fill the gap between “writing about why people enjoy food dates” and “actually knowing how going on a date works,” I solicited advice through Facebook. Then the editorial committee challenged me to get a date and write an experiential piece.
I had eight days to meet someone, go for a date (at Clementine, which came up a lot in readers’ votes) and then write about it.
I updated my Tinder bio to say I was seeking a daytime lunch date for a journalism project, set the slider to “Men and Women” +/- five years around my age and started swiping.
Not surprisingly, I saw a lot of men holding fish. Since this was for journalism, I swiped right on more people than I normally would, though fish-holding was an automatic swipe left.
I became bolder. I started conversations, which are more like interviews than I realized. Some preamble, find common ground, then get down to business: “So what’s this journalism project about?”
A few matches said that a meal was a bit much for a first date. Coffee and drinks were more low-key, less investment.
The messages then took a turn toward “After date, friends with benefits?”, “Do u have a hot body?” and negging. The first two are somewhat expected for an app that’s used for hookups, but also for longer-term dating or to meet friends. However, I’d made my goal there very clear: lunch date, good conversation, then I write words.
These messages were from dudes – I’d long since run out of women (and non-binary folks who seem to hang out on the “women” side), as is common in Tinderpeg. I realized what a lovely bubble of respectful human beings I’d been living in and began to despair.
Sixteen hours into my experiment, I posted a plea on Facebook: someone please go on a date with me on Monday for lunch so I can stop Tindering.
Within 20 minutes, I had a date with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, who was also on Tinder and getting back into dating again.
We met at Clementine and both had the Eggs Benedict, which is an excellent selection.
Perhaps people go on food dates to see how someone else makes choices, to talk about likes and dislikes in something more mundane, like food, before getting into why men always put their height on Tinder, or why queer dating is so confusing or how to tell the difference between a hangout and a date. It’s also a chance to see if someone is a jerk toward the serving staff (dealbreaker).
Winnipeg has a great restaurant scene, and food dates can be a fun way to explore them, my date said.
We were both curious to try what the server called “sunflower seed parfait” (later labelled as panna cotta on the bill). It sounded like good-food-ruined-by-so-called-healthy-eating, but turned out to be incredibly tasty.
We also agreed that a food date is for more of an established sort of date, as in a friend date, a date with someone you know already or a date with someone you’re in a relationship with. If that’s true, it means that most people who voted for food dates aren’t thinking of first dates off Tinder, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Published in Volume 72, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2017)