Anna: Yeah, that’s a good point. Like, I was just at The Commodore last week, and I was noticing all the old beer signs—
Phil: Tonight’s date will be in four parts: Act I: Pleasantries: Shallow, nonaggressive compliments, observations about the restaurant’s rustic decor; Act II: Dinner and the Exchange of Personal Anecdotes: I’ll tell my story about that time I saw John Travolta at the post office; Act III: Foreplay: Are ears an erogenous zone? We’ll explore each other’s bodies and find out; and, finally, Act IV: Lovemaking: Can two souls still passionately intertwine in our modern age? Stay tuned.
Act I: Pleasantries
Phil: You know, I must say, you look quite lovely tonight.
Anna: Oh, haha. Thanks.
Phil: Yeah, your necklace looks very becoming on you.
Anna: Aw, so sweet. This necklace was my grandmother’s, actually. She smuggled it out of Poland right before—
Phil: The Republic of Poland is a nation located in Central Europe, known primarily for its tragic history, as well as the savory dish pierogis.
Anna: Right. Well, anyway, the Nazis were—
Phil: It’s obvious that Anna has told this story a thousand times before, on God-knows-how-many first dates, and yet her enthusiasm never diminishes with the telling.
Anna: Okay. So, the necklace always reminded my grandmother of the sister she never saw again.
Act II: Dinner and the Exchange of Personal Anecdotes
Phil: …And so, it turns out that “frogs” in Mandarin is something completely different.
Anna: Ha! That’s incredible.
Phil: If you’re just joining us, we’re on a date with Anna, who goes to the same gym as me. Anna’s a marketing manager for a local wearable-technology company. Anna.
Anna: …Hi. Again.
Phil: Is her interest genuine, or is it feigned enthusiasm, a performance that nevertheless conveys a deeper truth—that she’s interested? Perhaps she knows that Phil’s story, too, has been told and retold on many nights before this. Actor and audience at once, they trade and inhabit both roles in a subtle dance of courtship, waiting for an ending that may never arrive: the simple, timeless, homespun pleasures of marriage, children, brunch. Will Anna ever experience these joys? Phil is willing to start with brunch and see what happens next.
Anna: Oh, wow. Well, first of all—
Phil: Support for tonight’s date comes from SquareSpace, the all-in-one platform that makes it easy to create a website, portfolio, or online store. With modern templates and simple drag-and-drop tools, you can create a professional website in minutes. SquareSpace. For a free trial, go to squarespace.com/datewithPhil.
Anna: Is—Was that to me?
Phil: Up next, actor J.K. Simmons tells my story about that time I saw John Travolta at the Post Office. But first: you know, from time to time on these dates, it’s important to step back and appreciate that, here in 2016, there’s still a source for high-quality, genuine romantic interactions that respect your intelligence. You can’t find the bon mots, the appreciation for arts and culture, and the deep knowledge of Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park on Tinder. There’s only one guy that’s still bringing you this kind of content, and that’s Phil.
Anna: Do you like Simon & Garfunkel?
Phil: In this season of giving, please find it within yourself to keep pleasant and witty anecdotes like this coming in the years ahead. Whether that’s a one-time pledge for some light tongue action, a commitment for just three “you up?” texts over five weeks, or a year-long sexual dalliance at either the casual or exclusive level, your support is the difference between being able to find a man who can effortlessly quote F. Scott Fitzgerald and is fluent in multiple foreign languages, or seeing his humorous anecdotes disappear from modern dating life.
Anna: Yeah, that’s right, the pinot. Same as the last bottle.
Phil: So, what do your parents do?
Anna: Huh? Oh, my father’s a dermatologist.
Phil: A dermatologist? Fascinating. You know, I was always interested in skin. I never thought to study it. That’s truly great. Truly.
Anna: Yeah, he does love it. You know, there’s a lot about skin most people don’t—
Phil: You know, I love to have engaging conversations. If you’d like to continue to hear me ask about the minutiae of your life, a commitment right now for some simple under-the-coat, over-the-shirt activity in the cab on the way to your apartment is a great way to show your support for this relationship. And if you pledge before the entrees arrive, not only will I pay for dinner, but I’ll also let you borrow my Three Tenors at Caracalla DVD, absolutely free.
Anna: What’s going on here?
Phil: And now, we’ll get back to that time I saw John Travolta at the post office.
Anna: Actually, I think I’m ready for the check.
Act III: Foreplay
Phil: How many times has Anna taken a potential beau back to this strikingly minimalist Williamsburg studio? How many men have gazed into her expectant eyes as they leaned in to embrace?
Anna: Shut up.
Phil: I think Phil is struggling with a problem a lot of men face in today’s world of casual dating. Is she being coy, or is this part of the game? How does one find the balance between preserving a sense of spontaneity and maintaining a modicum of genuine communication? And how does one ponder these questions, all the while thinking about baseball?
Anna: You’re on my hair.
Phil: What Anna is doing here is very intriguing. How does she intuit that Phil likes to be nibbled just in th—fu—oh.
Anna: What? What’s wrong?
Phil: I’m sorry. This never happens, but I’m afraid this program has been interrupted by an urgent report.
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Michael Bleicher and Andy Newton are above-average in height and know the harmony parts to most Simon & Garfunkel songs. Andy is an editor in New York City and Michael is a copyright attorney in Washington, D.C.