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Life

Where's the Best Place to Go on a First Date?

Time for your weekly edition of Drew Magary's Funbag. Today, we're talking about pepper, flossing, Alex Trebek smoking weed, and more.
March 10, 2020, 6:35pm

Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Your letters:

Ethan:

Can we get a ranking of choices for where to have a first date? In my mind, going to the movies is a much worse choice than it's made out to be. You don't get to talk and spend time fretting about how to evenly share the popcorn. My top choice is minor league baseball game, especially if the person is even a little into the sport. You get to talk, it's a fun, entertaining environment, but not so much as to distract from the person you're with. Am I right?

Do people even date anymore? I thought you filthy millennials killed dating off for good with Tinder. Do you know what I would have given to have Tinder around when I was 22? I would have paid at LEAST six dollars for that shit. But instead, I had to DATE. I had to sit there and genuinely get to know people before figuring out if I had any shot to at least cop a feel. Horrible.

Anyway, I don't agree with Ethan here about movies as a bad date spot. A movie is a good first date venue SPECIFICALLY because you don't have to talk. You're not even obligated to look at one another. You can just sit there in silence and enjoy a screening of Invisible Man. Totally relaxing way to get off on the right foot. If she holds your hand during the movie, you're gold. If she doesn't, you have work to do. The signs are as clear as they can be. In an analog world, hitting a movie for a first date reduces the whole ritual down to its simplest possible form. Then you get to walk out of the movie and be like, "You know if I ever became invisible I would NEVER do any of that shit to a lady." Boom. You're clearly one of the Good Ones.

I'd rather take a date to a movie than to a minor league game, because I don't wanna be on some date where there's pressure to have fun. Does that make sense? I have three kids now, so whenever we're out on family excursions, I have to sit there and gauge the Fun Being Had in real time, like I'm a CNN focus group tester asking voters to man the dials during a presidential debate. If I gotta turn to a woman and be like, "This is fun, isn't it?" at any point during our first date, I'm gonna need more to drink. So with that in mind, here are my extremely dated and basic rankings for first date ideas.

  • Drinks. But not dinner. Provides an easy out for either party. Worst case scenario is you got free taquitos with the happy hour menu.
  • Dinner at their place.
  • Movie.
  • Cookout. The fast food chain. Not an actual cookout.
  • Medieval Times.
  • Something in a park of some kind.
  • Miniature golf. You can teach her to putt by standing behind her and helping her with her grip! Such a subtle move. No one suspects you have hanky-panky on the mind when you do that!
  • The beach (if you're good looking).
  • The zoo. One of the very first dates I took my wife on was to Central Park zoo. I remember it well because after we strolled through it and paid obligatory attention to the elephants and polar bears, I said to her, "Are we boyfriend and girlfriend now?" And she said "Yeah!" and that was fucking sweet. Would a zoo be a good date choice for you, a less charming man? Possibly not. But it worked for ME and that's all that matters.
  • Drive-in movie. These still exist. I think. You can pick up Babs Jansen in your new Chevy and take her to the soda jerk beforehand! YOU MIGHT GO ALL THE WAY TONIGHT, BIG BOY! The modern alternative to this is free outdoor movie screenings at a local park. You bring a blanket and bottle of white granache, suddenly you're a true playboy.
  • Dinner outside. Like at a restaurant that has a patio. Dining al fresco makes everyone horny.
  • Actual cookout.
  • Dinner inside.
  • Minor league sports event.
  • Dinner at your place. Sounds like a coup, right? No need to worry if she'll come back to your place after dinner. You're already there! Meanwhile she's like, "Oh god I hope this guy isn't the fucking BTK killer."
  • Dinner AND a movie, provided you eat fast.
  • Actual sports event.
  • Bowling. I scored my first kiss after taking a girl bowling. After that, I took EVERY girl bowling, assuming it would always work. It did not. Still, bowling is fun.
  • The beach (if you're ugly).
  • A museum.
  • Dave & Buster's.
  • Gun range.
  • Lunch. It is NOT just lunch.

I have no truly innovative dating ideas for you, because you don't need them. I know shows like The Bachelor have conditioned viewers to believe that dates should be EVENTS, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to take a complete stranger hang gliding on a Saturday afternoon. You don't ALWAYS want to be a memorable date, you know what I mean?

Seven years ago, I went on Kid Rock's cruise for GQ. This was before Kid Rock went full Nazi and before cruise ships became test incubators for the Rage Virus. Anyway, one of the guys on Kid Rick's management team—extremely pleasant fellow—brought a woman with him for the whole trip. It was their first date. The man asked a woman to go on Kid Rock's cruise for five fucking days as a first trip and she said yes! I'll never get over how bold that was. I hope they have seven kids now.

Dylan:

Does Alex Trebek smoke weed? I don't mean for his cancer treatments, I mean recreationally, putting on a classical record and musing on French literature. I'm 50/50 on this and you've met the man, so maybe you can provide some insight.

I have? I've never met Alex Trebek. I would smoke a bowl with Alex Trebek. But I don't think he'd take me up on the offer. Alex Trebek is chill for a professional tightass, but he's still a professional tightass. I'm sure he retires to his study on off-nights to drink a tasteful amount of Scotch and partake of only the finest Scottish cheeses. But I don't think he's into "the marijuana," even if conservatives like him have come around on weed since my childhood. Successful guys like Trebek are very into keeping control of themselves. They don't wanna be in some altered state where they lose the thread and eat a whole box of Cheez-Its. For a lot of these guys, drugs are a form of self-betrayal. Now booze? Booze is TOTALLY healthy and normal. But weed is too far too unpredictable for their tastes. It's a shame, because I'd love to see Alex get high and blurt out, with no goading whatsoever, "Hey, you know that Buzzy guy … pretty big dipshit."

I think whoever hosts Jeopardy next (I'm available) SHOULD smoke weed. It's a perfect weed show. One second you're contemplating Historic Thirds, the next you're learning semi-obscure facts about metallic liquid hydrogen. It's the perfect environment for having your small mind blown. I know because I've WATCHED Jeopardy while high. I sit there, alternating between trying to guess the answer before the contestants do, which is pretty standard home viewer shit, and then going WHOA when I'm wrong about something. Stoned Jeopardy makes it fun to be wrong. If I hosted, I would smoke up before every taping. We'd only make it through five clues per segment. It'd be great.

Joel:

I take the subway to work and on hot summer days will often get sweaty in the process. Now I know you're not a fan of spray deodorants, but I really like the some of the new dry sprays. What I've found is that if I spray a little on my chest and back before I walk out the door I'm much drier when I make it into the office. Am I a genius or just halfway to early-onset Alzheimer's??

Whatever works for you, amigo. The first deodorant I ever used was a spray deodorant. I remember it far, far too vividly. I was in middle school in Minnesota and I'd grown some hair in my pits and I was like HELL YEAH I AM A FUCKING MAN NOW. I proudly asked my mom to buy me some Right Guard at the local SuperValu. She brought it home and, true to teenage form, I used half the can on my first day. I was like, "The more I use, the fresher I'll smell!" I sprayed my pits down like I was about to bake cupcakes inside of them. I liked how the spray turned my new arm pubes white. Like I was flocking a Christmas tree. Very elegant. I figured every girl at school would wanna ride my dick the second they caught a whiff.

They did not. Later on, I used the spray without remembering there was a patch of chafed skin on my pit and HOLY SHIT. My spray days were over. I tried the clear gel sticks first, where the gel pops out of a little grid like Play-Doh coming out of the fun factory. This did NOT get me laid, but at least I wasn't dousing open sores in aerosol vodka. Then I switched to a regular-ass antiperspirant/deodorant stick and one phase of my physical hygiene was set for life.

But that doesn't mean my habits should be universally mandated. Quite the contrary. I still smell like my age. Also, I still pit out shirts, only now the sweat is mixed with aluminum chalk and gets so deeply embedded into my shirts that the fabric gets permanent dark spots, which is quite fetching. If using a spray keeps you smelling crisp and doesn't have as much nasty residue, I can't blame you for giving it a whirl. Also, if an intruder breaks into your place, you can hold up a lighter in front of the spray can and torch that fucker. Is there anything a can of lethal industrial chemicals CAN'T do?

(By the way, the wife and I did try switching to "natural" deodorants over a year ago. One stick costs $10. Extortion.)

Patrick:

What famous band or artist do you think has gotten laid the least relative to their global fame? (Not counting Christian rock or other religious artists).

I was gonna joke and say Raffi, but Raffi probably gets laid all the time. Yummy mummies just throwing themselves at the man every time he tears into "Bananaphone." You could find the ugliest, thirstiest, lamest singer in the world, and they're still probably gonna do well for themselves in the sex department. It's an idiot-proof situation when you're demonstrably rich and famous …

Unless you're Moby. I bet Moby had problems getting laid. People rushing backstage like OMIGOD I GET TO MEET MOBY, and then Moby comes out of the dressing room looking like a geologist and offering everyone a cup of tempeh salad, and then they're like UHHHHH NEVERMIND.

Also, John Popper hit on one of my wife's friends once and she rebuffed him. He should've invited her on a Kid Rock cruise.

HALFTIME!

Kurt:

Do you floss the top of the bottom row of teeth first, left or right side? Do you do a whole row and then go to the other, or are you a weirdo like me and start in the (upper left) back and then go to the bottom set since you're already back there? I then go top middle, bottom middle, top right in the back and then bottom right in the back. Is this insane?

I go top middle first. That's the crown jewel if the flossing experience. I do not save the best for last. I get right to the good shit, just in case a nuke hits and I've wasted my time flossing my stupid bicuspids first, like a TRUE LOSER. After I hit the sweet slot, I usually work my way out on top from there, first to my right and then to my left. Then I go down to the bottom row, starting at the middle again and working my way right and then left. I never even realized I did this until you asked. So thanks. Kind of.

One exception to this practice is if I know there's a piece of food lodged somewhere in my teeth that I desperately need to floss out. That bit of flank steak takes immediate priority. I MUST HAVE IT. Ever have the floss break when you're trying to get that shit out? Dastardly. I feel so defeated when that happens. Plus I don't get to eat that steak bit just yet. A loss from all sides.

Chris:

What was the first ever prequel? Did George Lucas invent them when he made those three Star Wars movies on his computer? I thought maybe The Godfather Part II. But it isn't really a prequel, it just has flashbacks. (Plus it's called Part II)

No no no, prequels date back way before shit like The Phantom Menace. There was even a prequel to Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. It did NOT star Paul Newman and Robert Redford. And who can forget Missing In Action 2: The Beginning? That's the one where they show you all the action that was going down WHEN the troops went missing, or so I would assume.

The only reason prequels feel new to you as a cultural phenomenon is because Lucas made a trilogy of them that co-opted the "prequel" name forever, even though they don't deserve to be considered definitive for any category of anything. Also, there are more prequels now than there have ever been. Everything is a fucking prequel now, because every movie franchise needs an origin story for every character in its orbit. Ned from Spider-Man will get his own origin story, starring Casey Affleck. Also dipping into prequels allows studios to kill off characters without ever killing off the precious branding that went into that character. They don't have to be slaves to linear storytelling.

That's why you're getting a Black Widow prequel. Black Widow is dead, but not on a profit sheet. If they can squeeze in more stories about a character that transpire before they get killed off, or ones that take place in an alternate universe where Cap'n Crunch is the President, they'll make it. They don't give a shit. Like I've said before, they'll never let any story end. You'll just get spinoffs and prequels up the ass until you bleed.

Matthew:

When you are reading a book that hasn't already been adapted into a film or TV show, are the mental images of the characters you're reading about being portrayed by real (famous) people or imaginary people?

They're imaginary. Sometimes I like to stunt cast the movie of a book. But normally, I just let the story play out in the darkened theater of my brain … with characters I can kinda picture but can't quite make out clearly. They're like wisps of pictures, and I kinda prefer them to remain ambiguous. When you read a good book, you're looking INTO the character, not necessarily at them. It's like seeing people in a dream. You get a sense of who they are but they're not crystal clear because, in part, your imagination craves a bit of leeway.

This was true for me even when I was reading the Harry Potter books (the first four of which I read before the first movie came out). I knew Harry had a lightning scar and a thatch of black hair, etc. I knew what he looked like on the cover. But my brain didn't conjure an EXACT person to visualize as him. This is because, frankly, I CAN'T just create an imaginary person in my head. The possibilities are too vast for me to sketch it down and animate it to the last detail. I'm not fucking Rembrandt. Like Carl Sagan said, the number of POSSIBLE human beings that could exist far outnumbers the number of human beings that have ever existed. That'll always be the case. So I'm all right with characters staying a touch blurry in my mind as I get swept along. Even after the Potter movies came out, I still had a vision of the title character that was different from old Deadspin friend Daniel Radcliffe. I dunno why my mind clung to that particular literary ghost like that, but I don't want to question it.

This also happens for me in nonfiction, by the way. I'll read about some 19th century explorer who got lost in the Sahara Desert for nine years and I'll have an idea of what the guy looks like in my mind. Then I'll hit the picture section in the middle and it turns out the guy looks like Babu Frik. People in the old days were ugly as shit. Don't let any book fool you into thinking otherwise. We're a much more attractive species now.

Monty:

Are you aware that there is a small but vocal faction of people who are against the classic salt-and-pepper method of baseline food seasoning? I'm very much of the Tom Colicchio "season your food" school of thought, and the idea of not using pepper has me shook. Have I been missing out on subtle nuances of food this whole time? Can you imagine your food this way? Everything would taste hollow, yet now I wonder, have I been masking flavors in my cooking?

Let's take a look at what the pepperphobic lady has to say…

In fact, after years of reflexively adding freshly ground black pepper to everything I cooked, I've realized that I actually prefer the way most dishes taste without black pepper. My tomato sauce is just a touch sweeter, with the flavor of the oregano gently shining through. My salad dressings still have a touch of sharpness from minced shallot, but lack the coarse, distracting bits of pepper that used to drive me crazy back when I felt compelled to add a few grinds to every vinaigrette.

Annnnndddd I think I've read enough, yes I have. There have been times when I've sat back and asked myself, "Why always salt AND pepper?" Like I get how salt became part of everything. Saltiness is a primary color of food. Pepper, by contrast, is one of those fabled spices that whole civilizations slaughtered one another over just so that kings could enjoy a bit of extra seasoning on their mutton. Once Europeans got a hold of pepper, they kept it at the table permanently so that they could feel like rich assholes for every meal, and there it stayed. It's the perfect seasoning for people who want things spicy without making things spicy. It's Michael McDonald of seasoning. Gizmodo uses Louis the XIV as the prime pepper demo:

Black pepper's spiky, pungent flavor provided just enough kick to the King's meals without overwhelming the taste of the underlying foods to satiate his needs.

Kudos to Louis for being the original mayo boy. And he wasn't even from England! Remarkable. Anyway, pepper is good on virtually everything so that lady can go chew on a wad of toilet paper. Some grains aren't worth going against.

Jason:

Listening to my local internet radio station, they suggested that Liam Gallagher's song "Shockwave" should be the new arena anthem, replacing Gary Glitter (for obvious reasons). I do not disagree with this statement, but was curious as to your take, as the resident dad rock expert. Also, if not "Shockwave," what do you see as the heir apparent?

Yeah I don't think "Shockwave" would make for a suitable replacement. It's not even a very good song, and I'm a pathetic apologist for both Gallagher brothers. Besides, "Rock N' Roll Part 2" already has been replaced at stadiums and arenas by "Seven Nation Army." That song is just as loud and just as simple AND it's performed by pretentious redass instead of a convicted child molester. So that's an improvement. OHHH-OHOH-OH-OHHHH-OH.

When I was a kid, I used to dream about being a pro wrestler, because that's what you do when you're 12. I had my entrance music all thought out, too. I was gonna blow the crowd away by coming out to "Orion" by Metallica. All eight minutes of it. The fans would be so awed by my taste in thrash metal that they would will me to a trilling victory over Adorable Adrian Adonis, in which I finish him off with a triple Atomic Nutkick. And THAT is the story of how I became WWF Intergalactic One-Man Tag Team Champion.

Ben:

What's the optimal level of nudity for the post-workout walk to the shower in a company locker room? (Like all your coworkers and up to the highest management are in there.)

Underwear

Towel

Bare-assed

Something I haven't considered

Deadspin had no locker room when I worked there: An ironic oversight given its chosen subject matter. I also currently have no access to fitness centers at VICE or Medium, if said fitness centers even exist. But if I DID have a company gym that I could use freely, and I did not live 238 miles away from it, I would just wear a towel to the shower, same as I do at my regular gym back home. I don't walk to the shower nude. I don't wear undies to the shower either, because what would I do with them once I get there? Hang them on a hook? Fuck that. I don't want coronavirus inside my asscrack. A towel is enough.

My gym offer free towels but they're very small. Always fun to work out and then grab a towel that reminds you, "Hey guess what? Nothing still fits, you fucking fatass." Anyway, I cinch this terrycloth fig leaf around me as best I can and then make the dash. Sometimes it comes loose and then everyone can see Lil Drew flopping around. But I can deal. I'm not gonna wear khakis over there or anything.

By the way, I did once work at an office that had its own gym. This was in 1997. It was located in downtown Manhattan and the gym was located on the roof, with an oval track running along the outside of it. You could do laps and stare at the World Trade Center and all the other skyscrapers kneeling before it. I ran around that track and "Let The River Run" played on a loop in my head. ONE DAY I'LL OWN THIS CITY BABY! Then I'd head back inside to the locker room and have to look at the COO blowdrying his testicles.

Email of the week!

Ryan:

I was assigned a random roommate my freshman year. We hit off pretty well and became actual friends. For the most part.

I won some really nice sunglasses during some contest during my senior year of high school. I naturally took them with me to college and didn't bother hiding them. It was just me and my roommate. Why would I have to hide them? Made no sense. One day I went looking for them but could not find them anywhere. In my bed. Behind my bed. On the floor. They were nowhere. A day or two later, one of my roommate's fraternity bros stopped by with some pictures from their date party from the previous weekend. It had a beach theme. People wore Hawaiian shirts. And shorts. And straw hats. And sunglasses.

As I looked at the photos, I noticed my roommate, drunkenly smiling, wearing my sweet sunglasses. I looked at him. I looked back at the photo.

"Dude, you wore my sunglasses this weekend? I never said you could wear them. And you saw me looking for them. You could have at least confessed to losing them."

"Oh, uh, I forgot I did that."

He said he had no idea where they were or how he lost them. I assume he still wears them to this day.

Also, I once walked in and found him sitting in his chair, trimming his balls. No trash can. No towel. No pants. Just over our floor. Spreading them all over like a dandelion dick.

What a treat!