First dates can be awkward; ridiculously painfully awkward. In my case they've been particularly awkward because not everyone involved has always known it was a first date. Yeah. It's been cringey.
One Reddit user asked:
and that sent me down this weird rabbit hole like ... how many servers were fully aware of all the cringe that happened? Did they go back into the kitchen and talk about it? How many people now know??? After I stopped spazzing I realized that situations like watching someone get shut down, stood up, awkwardly fumble their way through first dates, etc. must all be pretty commonplace for servers. These responses totally confirmed my theory, it happens a lot and sometimes it's just as awkward (and in at least one case potentially dangerous) for the servers as it is for the people on those dates. Brace for cringe in 3...2...1...
Expect The Unexpected
The biggest sign is when they order something the other doesn't expect them to get.
"I'll have a Guinness"
"Oh you like Guinness?"
One time I had a couple who were talking about what they had been doing the previous summer, indicating that they didn't know each other until recently. They ordered a bottle of 100$ red wine, and when I came back with the bottle the guy had started telling a gross story. He was bragging about how he was so hungover on vacation that his friends had to carry him inside the airport, where he had puked multiple times on various people/things etc.
The girl left the restaurant before she even finished her first glass of wine, and the guy stayed and drank the whole thing himself without ordering any food. The best/worst part was when he also chugged down her half finished glass before he left as well.
Weird lulls in the conversation that consists of information friends/partners should already know. Like how many siblings they have, desert island movies, etc.
Figure It Out
Staying way beyond being done with their meal and drinks, usually because they don't want to try to figure out if they're meant to be going home together or not.
Still Not Sure
On my first date with my now wife, our waiter figured it out for us.
We had been acquaintances for years through mutual friends and when we agreed to grab dinner that night, neither of us were sure if the other was in it for a date or just dinner with an acquaintance/friend. I guess we were being just awkward and giggly enough that our waiter (who had known us separately as regulars at this restaurant) blurted out "oh man, are you guys on a date?!?" We both just started laughing nervously while looking at each other and flop sweating. The waiter felt the awkwardness multiply and backed away like Homer Simpson into a hedge.
9 years later we're married, the restaurant went out of business, and I'm still not sure if it was a date or not.
Stop Talking About Your Ex
Not a server, but a former barback and one of my favorite things to do while working is to eavesdrop and try to figure out what the deal is between people having meals together. Here are some things that tell me that it is a first (or possibly second) date:
- "What do your parents do?" / "How many siblings do you have?" / "What do you do for work?"
- A surprising number of people (mostly male patrons where I work, no idea why) will ramble on about their past relationships. I've learned to use this as an indicator that they are on a first or second date. I notice it so frequently that I've been tempted to tell them to stop.
- If the couple gets quiet after disagreeing about something trivial like an opinion of a certain band or activity.
- Uncomfortably long pauses followed by something like: "It's been so cold out lately".
The Spilled DrinkGiphy
That giddy little laugh at jokes that aren't funny. The look of new love. The awkward trying to get close but shyness overpowers and maintains a distance. Also had a few women straight up tell me, so I'd help get them out of it. One woman paid me $50 to spill a drink on her, so she'd have to leave. Lol.
Yes, I did spill the drink on her. When he was in the bathroom she prompted me for help. I agreed and didn't ask her to pay me or anything, she came back afterward and tipped because of his behavior, but let me start at the beginning.
She ordered an iced tea and I "spilled" it when I brought it. When I did, the guy went nuts on me. Up until then he seemed like a nice, polite, and totally normal guy. He was terrifying. Had me in tears. She left even faster than she originally intended. He paid after more yelling and complaining to my manager (who was in on it) then left.
She returned and tipped me the $50. Her phone was lit up with messages from him, he was quite aggressive. Totally dodged a bullet there. She and I have since become friends. She always brings first dates to my job and we have a code worked out now. Although she hasn't needed it in a while since she is currently dating a good friend of mine. They are super cute together.
We also have a note in the woman's room that explains if you order xxxx drink (changes regularly) we will help you leave without causing a scene. We have a similar note in the men's room, with completely different appetizer instead of drink (yes, men need an out now and then too).
The Employee Discount
When he leaves before the food he ordered is made. I brought it out and she asked for the bill because he left. Brutal experience. She had to pay for his drinks and food. She didn't even want to packed his dinner up to eat later. This was not a cheap restaurant but the tables were close together so it must have been mortifying. I gave her the employee discount.
Get A Drink
The dead give-away is the conversation; it's always about mundane stuff that people would know if they were friends, colleagues or had been on a few dates before; childhood stuff like schools and towns you lived in, vacations which were cool, first date topics.
Not ordering booze whenever the person who ordered first doesn't order booze is a good one to. If you go on a date and you want a glass of wine, beer or cocktail; freaking order one. Doesn't matter he/she just ordered a sparkling water; they are nervous too. Take the lead, get a drink.
The Blind Date
When they come in and ask for tables separately, then sit across the restaurant from each other for ten minutes before realizing the other was there. (It was a blind date.)
Bartender here. I work at a cocktail bar that has a nice ambiance and gets a ton of people coming in for dates.
First dates take the longest time to order- they have the introduction/ice breaking to overcome before they even look at the menu. Then, when they get to the menu, they are often still kind of interacting with each other "what do you like? Bourbon?" And not really taking in what they're reading.
Once they finally order, I like to make their cocktails right in front of them, maybe do an extra fancy garnish, give them something to talk about!
The best dates are of course the ones who don't even notice me there, they're locked into their conversation and don't have eyes for anything else around them. They drink their drinks really slow, more likely to get another round. And they could be talking about their childhood dog or how many brothers they have. The worst trouble they got into while growing up is a topic I've heard a few times.
And then there are those dates that fizzle out. These ones drink their drinks very fast, or don't finish them. Lots of people sitting in silence, both credit cards out.
When they're sitting at the bar top playing 20 questions and both are too nervous to get more than one drink and actually eat something.
When the wasted guy went to the restroom and the girl took the opportunity to ask me to cash her out as quick as I could so she could get the fuck out.
I ended up getting her an Uber home.
It was how slow and carefully the guy ate his food. Gently wiped his mouth and chewed all the food before talking again. Also, not constantly on their phones.
I waitressed at a somewhat fancy family restaurant. Our menu was in the 15-25 dollar range for entrees, and the atmosphere was very cozy. Full bar, great appetizers, and awesome desserts... Usually, first time dates would be slightly too dressed up for the atmosphere, and generally the guy would be really nervous.
I will always remember this one time a gent came in dressed up and got a table in the quieter part of the restaurant. He was very friendly and did tell me he was on his first date with his crush of 3+ years. He only got two waters on the table and was fidgeting around. Unfortunately, he waited at least two hours with no texts or calls back. I could just tell he was super crushed. He left without saying a word, but I saw him crying as he left the building.
Its pretty easy. Their face expression is very awkward. (Most) don't have their phones out at all. If you are on a 5th or 20th date. Chances are you'll have your phone out or at least on the table. How they posture themselves is also very alert. Not a lot of comfort.
Get The Fried Pickles
I once stopped by the table while one of the parties was in the bathroom and had the girl ask me "We're on a first date, what food should I get?" And I was like whatever you want - but she was concerned about what her date would think of her food choice. she wanted fried pickles and a quesadilla but thought a salad would look better. I told her get what you want cause if a boy doesn't like that you are eating fried food he's a tool anyways.
When he eats pizza with a fork, probably, which is what I did on the first date I had with my GF of three years.
I still get sh*t for it. I was nervous.