The Perfect Date

Who doesn’t love a good date?  I’ve been dating for years and always find pleasure in them.    My wife even enjoys a good date as well.  We often do dates together – but not always.  Sometimes she has her own dates and sometimes I have mine.  Either way, we have no complaints.  In this day and age, when so much of what was broadly considered wholesome has been jettisoned overboard, I’ve made it a point to keep healthy traditions alive.  One of those just happens to be dating.   The new generation is missing out almost completely.  Who does dates anymore?

I confess that when I was young I didn’t understand dates very well.  After thinking hard about one, I tried a date at the coaxing of  a friend and found myself rather intimidated by the newness of it.

“Try it!  You’ll like it!” he said.  Where had I heard that before?  Those words, spoken by a close chum, often resulted in serious regret.

“I don’t know about this.  The last time you encouraged to me to try something new I broke out in hives for a week, remember?”

“Yeah, yeah.  How was I to know you’d be allergic to aftershave?”

Maybe if I’d started at an earlier age, like many people do in other cultures, I’d never have thought twice.  Dates would have been second nature.  But I did think twice.  As an American punk I had nothing to compare it to.  As a result, I found it overwhelming and set dates aside until fate handed the whole affair back to me a few years later.

It was in a language class that I took in college.  This, it turned out, marked my return to the world of dates.  The teacher, young and attractive, was from Iran.  Because the semester coincided with Ramadan, I learned a great deal about that maximum muslim holiday.  As the autumn days shortened, sunset came increasingly early until it reached the point where the sun went down during class.  Momentarily suspending our discussions, she would disappear to pray and then return.   From her bag she pulled out a small box of, you guessed it, dates and shared them with everyone.  Muslim custom calls for a date during Ramadan – a date to be eaten as the first food after fasting all day.  That was a date to remember – and I’ve never stopped dating since.

The Palestinian Date Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

The Palestinian Date
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Since then I’ve become an aficionado of sorts, tracking and trying dates from each region of the Middle East.  Dates from that part of the world are the finest.  Certain areas excel.  Saudi and Iranian dates are the most delightful.  I can never get my hands on enough Iranian medjools.  Yet, it really doesn’t matter.  Palestinian, Jordanian, Libyan  – I would love having that kind of a date any day.

Perfect Dates Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Perfect Dates
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

I was recently having a date with my wife at a local coffee shop/bakery.   From inside the goodies case a stack of date bars beckoned.  We each tried one.  Much to our disappointment the date bars contained very little date and much more sugar crumble.

“No offense, but I’ve had better dates.”

“Me, too.  No one seems to appreciate a good date anymore.”

“The best dates I’ve ever had were overseas.”

“I know.  I was on every one of them.”