Four First Dates
This week, I ask four Muslim couple friends one simple question – “Where did you have your first date?” Let’s read what they have to say, and deconstruct each uniquely Singaporean venue where once, an awkward first date turned into something magical.
[box_light]“She smelled like Dengdeng and Kebabs..” “He was so nervous – he kept pointing at carpets and songkoks and capals!”[/box_light]
Well he was probably trying to distract himself from an apparent urge to eat your face. I bet she had no idea at the time that she was giving off the sweet fragrance of Eau De Buffet all night long! Hari Raya shopping at Geylang Bazaar is something that every couple goes through once a year and it gets pretty methodical five matching baju kurung sets and three kids later, but you never forget your virgin experience together.
Think back and you can almost taste the Air Katira and feel the pain and sacrifice of knowing that for the first time in your life, you have to share your Dengdeng with someone else and nothing is ever going to be the same again.
Pros: You have the best kind of food guest starring along your entire route – budget food! Bouquets of roses are so 90s; sticking to our Melayu roots is what our generation is all about and you can’t do better than a steaming bouquet of Apam Balik and Ramli beef burger. Besides rows and rows of food, you will also have “duyuns” and “duyuns” of Makciks to look at you up-down-up-down if either of you are ever tempted to get frisky or hyperactive with the hand-holding.
Remember Munahhirzi’s infamous “Dah kahwin ke belom?” YouTube video? Our Geylang Makciks, aka the federal bureau of in-your-face-tigation, can laser and scan and verify your single-but-dating status with one look. So you can be rest assured that you will have plenty of chaperones with you on your date.
Cons: Let’s face it, oily food is not great for your breath and Geylang bazaar has almost nothing but oily food. It’s almost like an ode to the flamethrower’s diet, and you want your conversations to be hot but not to the point of being literally flammable. Plus, oily food leads to thirst, and thirst leads to Bandung and Katira, which will inevitably lead both of you to the stunning realization that there are absolutely no bathrooms around! And the natural cycle of bodily fluids is not something you would want to be discussing in great depth (and in deep panic mode) on your first date.
It’s also really hot, so girls – you might have to choose between letting him see you without make-up on or having your microsoft paint melting all over your screensaver like a tragic windows virus, if you know what I mean.
[box_light]“We were too busy to go out on a real date that month lah. She left her highlighter at home that day, so I got to be the hero and I borrowed her mine!” “He brought epok-epok and teh tarik from the canteen; I was quite happy because I was really hungry that day! I was stressing out because my highlighter was missing and when he said, “Hey you can use mine,” my heart just melted. The funny thing was that his highlighter was bright pink!”[/box_light]
When I first heard the story of the great highlighter treaty of lecture theatre 4B and how it was the sweetest memory they could recall from their first date, I realized the importance of keeping our stationary inventories up to date so that we can free up our brain cells for actual romantic memories. Really guys? A lecture date? Oh well, these two ended up happily married so there must be something to it!
Pros: Good lighting, I guess? And if you fall asleep and drool all over your precious highlighters, you can always blame it on the lecturer.
Cons: It’s a lecture theatre date. This is the place where dreams are made, quite literally. Unless you’re really talented at multi-tasking, you can either have a good date or you can have a good understanding of the lecture; but you can’t have both. And HDB flats are getting more and more expensive these days, so I’d kindly recommend the latter. Worst of all – if it doesn’t go well, that lecture theatre will forever be the lecture theatre where the living nightmare of a date happened and you will have to revisit the scene of your great romantic tragedy every week for the rest of the semester.
[box_light]“I was actually just accompanying him to buy minyak attar and the seller asked us, “Are you two together?” And we were like, nooo nooo no way not at all nope! And then he said, “You guys look good together,” which made me blush for a moment. I mean, who says that?!” “We ate at Banquet at Raffles Hospital, our favourite Halal foodcourt that’s now no more.”[/box_light]
Hello, don’t you know that “Hey, wanna follow me buy some minyak attar?” is code for “I wanna smell like a heavenly body for you”? For future reference, ladies, guys don’t generally bring smell testers to their minyak attar shopping sprees for no reason. Also, you guys DO look good together (wink wink) so I guess people with good romantic judgment and excellent writing skills say that.
Pros: Arab Street is not just for Arabs anymore; it’s become very mainstream and up-class. Isn’t it ironic how these two qualities go hand in hand? Only in Singapore, where the mainstream IS up-class. You can find all types of food and all manner of shopping at Arab Street (where over-priced is oddly a plus, since you won’t be tempted to shop!) and you can take glam shots with the ultimate glam diva of masjids as a backdrop. I’m talking about Masjid Sultan and her shiny golden dome, of course. It’s a great place for both of you to do your prayers too, because halal dating is not just about “see, no touch”!
Cons: I can’t really think of any cons to having your first date at Arab Street, unless you’re allergic to sunshine and Sheesha smoke and the occasional Arab carpet dealer with his own chest carpet that is not for sale.
[box_light]“We walked through Borders and looked at books, and then we had some dessert. She said that she didn’t like cheese but she tried my favourite cheesecake just for me.” “He called me on the day he finished his exams! He gave me a single red rose in a plastic bag with some books he thought I might like to read. I didn’t fancy the cheesecake lah, but I hope to make it for him one day.”[/box_light]
Wow, it’s so sweet that he wanted her to try something he loved so that she could better understand him and appreciate his tastes. When I order food that my date doesn’t like, it’s usually because I just don’t feel like sharing.
Pros: Orchard Road is easily a great place for a first date – you can catch a movie or catch up on your credit card debt with some shopping. It’s also a good chance for you to survey your date’s shopping habits and whether he or she is more inclined towards Chanel or Charles and Keith. (The latter being the better indicator of girlfriend potential, unless you drive a Ferrari yourself) You can also observe how long he or she expects you to wait and hold his or her bag or purse while he or she tries on shoes and clothes. Okay let’s face it, I think we all know I’m generally talking about a she.
Cons: You might find out horrible things about your date too early on in the game – shopping does bring out the worst in women! Or you might find your man sitting in one corner, hugging your purse and trembling uncontrollably – there is no greater test of stamina than watching your date try on shoes and standing there looking bewildered as other women look at you with Darth Vader eyes for blocking the way. Yes, clearly I have had some experience with this.
So I guess my advice would be this – try to stay away from shoe stores on your first date. And guys, “I’ll wait outside” is always the best response to “Oh my god I have to try those shoes, give me ONE second!” because the laws of time and physics do not apply to a woman trying on shoes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my rundown of 4 great places to have a first date in our crowded little city![divider]
Rafiq is the resident funny guy at Muzlimbuzz.sg. A big fan of movies and television, he is a freelance writer who blogs at www.omgsianz.org