Keep It Casual

Last semester, a boy asked me to get frozen yogurt with him. All confidence and overly gelled hair, he strode up to my group of friends and said, “Go on a date. With me. To Zoyo.”

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I said no. Not just because his swagger and attitude were annoying. Not just because he told me to go with him instead of asking. Not just because I hate FroYo. But mainly, I honestly hate dates.

People assume that because I’m a preppy blonde, Elle Woods is my role model, I have the IQ and attention span of a goldfish, and, worst of all, FroYo is like crack to me. None of these are true. Also, boys assume that because I’m a girl I love dates. They couldn’t be more wrong.

A traditional date is basically my worst nightmare: three hours staring at someone who is little more than a stranger, making small talk about stuff I really could not care less about. Yes, Arizona is really hot. During these three hours, I’m hyper-conscious of everything happening around me, to me, and with me. I am suddenly paranoid about the weirdest stuff (I should sit up straighter!) and basic tasks suddenly become complicated. Walking like a normal human being is not so natural any more, and I’m pretty sure my face is twitching as I try to look interested and sexy at the same time. It’s downright exhausting.

In high school, this awkward ritual makes sense. To teenagers, the discomfort of a formal date is no more awkward than normal daily life. However, in college, everything changes. Dating becomes much more casual.

Casual dating, to me, is much more effective. It’s cheaper, more time-efficient, and generally fits my lifestyle better. I believe you can make a deeper connection with someone while commiserating about the tests you have coming up than you can by forcing small talk and good posture over a paper cup of overpriced frozen “dairy” product.

The best connections I’ve made in college happened at 2 a.m. over delicious almost-food from Taco Bell. When all the conventions of a date are gone, you’re left with the person. Everything about him is laid out for you to see. Is he anxiety-prone? Is he funny? Is he as good a procrastinator as you? No matter what you find, you know it’s real.

This, for me, is romance. Once you eliminate the formality, the dressy clothes, and the overpowering Axe body spray, you find something honest. Something thoughtful. When a boy brought me take-out from Pita Jungle after I had a bad day, I was touched. It meant that he had listened to me, both about my obsession with their hummus and about how bad my day had been. He cared enough to go out of his way to do something personal and helpful for me. I also got to eat take-out in my pajamas, which is pretty much the best thing ever. When that same boy made me waffles because he knows how much I love them, I fell in love then and there.

While it seems that for me love is largely food-oriented (and, honestly, it probably is), these thoughtful gestures were spontaneous, romantic, and casual. I would much rather have a guy jokingly hold a stereo outside my window a la John Cusack than give me a box of chocolates to tell me how “sweet” I am. (Yes, I know guys who think that’s clever.)

Showing originality by foregoing traditional ideas of dating and romance opens the world up to more possibilities. It turns a date into time well spent really getting to know someone. Cheesy, I know, but true.

So, next time you ask someone out, be original. Think about how you can really get to know them. And remember, not all blondes love FroYo.

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