July 27, 2006
My Superpower: Datedar
Some folks claim they have "gaydar" -- they can tell whether someone is gay.
Some folks claim they have "Jewdar" -- they can tell whether someone is Jewish.
I've got "datedar" -- I can tell if a couple is on a first date.
It's kind of a cool power ... I mean none of the X-Men, Superfriends or wizards in "Harry Potter" have ever shown the ability to tell instantly if they are in the presence of a couple on their first date.
I was recently in line with my boyfriend at the Farmer's Market Coffee Bean, when I overheard a young couple (probably early 20s) in front of us. Both wore jeans: He had on a nice T-shirt with a plaid shirt over it, she had on a baby doll T-shirt. I turned to my boyfriend and told him: They're on a first date. He looked at me with a slightly bewildered expression and asked how I knew. I then told him what confirmed it: He offered to pay for both of them; she politely said that wasn't necessary. He insisted. She relented. While waiting for their coffee, he informed her about his car; she remarked how nice that model of car is. The kicker: They never touched, but their body images totally mirrored each other.
I tried to stop looking in their direction while I waited for my mocha -- but I couldn't help it. My curiosity would not allow me to let it go. I watched them get their drinks and walk out the door (he held it open for her). I smiled and secretly wished them a good date (I couldn't very well say it out loud, now could I?).
Sometimes I don't even need the datedar -- just a really good ear. One night at a sushi restaurant in Woodland Hills, I watched a nicely dressed woman sitting in the waiting area. She kept futzing with her hair and looking at her watch. A few minutes later, a nicely dressed man walked in. He looked at her and said, "Linda?" She stood up from her chair and said, "David?"
They shook hands and did an awkward half-hug thing, and I thought: "Hmmm? JDate?" They took their seats at the sushi counter, and I spent the remainder of my meal stealing glances at their interaction. And to confirm my suspicions, the word JDate was mentioned twice.
When I see a couple on their first date, I have to restrain the urge to walk up to the female half and ask (in my mother's voice), "So, how's it going? Do we sense a second date here?" I think people on their first date are so cute -- like "adorable outfit in the window of Baby Gap" cute -- that you just can't help but say, "Awww, cute!"
But why should I care so much about two people whom I've never seen before and -- more likely than not -- will never see again? Is it the relief that "thank God it isn't me?" Is it the sense of nostalgia -- thinking back on my first date with my boyfriend (also a coffee date)? Is it our desire to know everything about everyone (thank you, Google)? Is it that Cupid has come through and put another couple on the road to love? I think it might be a smidge of all four. Unfortunately, my datedar doesn't work beyond date No. 1. If you are on your second date or beyond, mazel tov -- but I wouldn't be able to tell. It's like my Kryptonite kicks in after the couple says, "Good night." However, the datedar does have the ability to morph into "newlywedar."
When I was on a cruise with my best friend, I got to put my newlywedar to the test. We were sitting in the ship's theater, waiting to watch a show, when a young couple holding hands walked down the stairs and sat two rows ahead of us. A few minutes later, the guy stood up and began walking back up the stairs -- but not before he gave his ring a couple of turns. As he passed me, I said, "Congratulations."
His new bride heard me and turned around.
"How did you know?" she asked.
"He was playing with his ring," I told her with a smile.
Newlywedar is nice because you actually can talk to the couple -- the only problem you'd encounter would be if you were wrong and he was twisting his ring because he was having an allergic reaction to something that made his hands swell up. Luckily that rarely happens.
It isn't hard to increase your datedar -- or newlywedar -- powers. All you need is the ability to observe little details about those around you -- a la Hercule Poirot or Nancy Drew. However, make sure not to stare too long at the couple or you will just creep them out.
Having datedar won't make you famous, it won't save the world and you don't even get to wear a cool costume -- but it is free, and it makes you feel good. And maybe that's enough.
And to all you singles who will be embarking on first dates this weekend, look for me -- I'll be the smiling blonde waiting for her Banana Mocha.