My Fair Gentleman
October 16, 2007 8:00 PM   Subscribe

My Fair ... Gentleman? Please give me a crash course on being a gentleman for a date with a lady.

I'm going out with a gorgeous, fun girl whose biggest turn on is a gentleman. I have very little experience in proper etiquette and I could use some simple, subtle, and not super-formal actions and gestures that make me appear confident, mature, and sexy. For example, casually opening doors and walking on the street-side of a sidewalk are good, but standing up when she does and laying my coat in a puddle would be a little much.

Here's our date itinerary with some questions I have:

Meeting at noon (at a climbing gym):
-- A nice small gift?
-- A compliment?
-- Hug? Peck on the cheek?

-- Conversation topics? Something a little different and interesting that keeps the ball rolling.

-- Any good ones out right now?

Kind-of fancy Dinner:
-- Wine... ANY information: At what point do I actually order the wine? Can I just ask for a recommendation, or should I learn something? Respectable price range by the glass? What to do when the wine is brought?
-- Which side of a table I should seat myself?

Drinks and dancing at a bar:
-- Good, fun feminine drink to start her off with? Shots are fine.
-- Good masculine one for me?

Making a move:
-- Any tips will do. As long as the night's not a disaster, I'm pretty much expected to make one.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed to Human Relations (59 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Others will answer your more specific questions, I'm sure. I just want to make sure you remember that, generally speaking, a gentleman is someone who goes out of his way to make others feel comfortable and valued. Remember that and you'll make a great impression . . . on this date and in general. Good luck!
posted by unclejeffy at 8:04 PM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: In the spirit of the theatrical event this date will be:

Ask her if she'd like to order the wine or shall you, and ask her to choose her drink. Shots are not fine - if she wants a shot, I don't think she really wants a 'gentleman.' You could have a neat Scotch, Irish whiskey, or bourbon.

I love gentlemanly behavior myself, but I hate presumptuous controlling behavior. Learning where that line is learning what a gentleman actually is.

No gifts: kiss on the cheek and a compliment ("you're looking beautifully sporty" -- whatever) is the perfect greeting.

Seating: when you seat yourself, the courtly thing is to seat the woman where she can see others and be seen -- basically, she faces the main part of the room while your back is to that part.

Making a move: be sexy but don't be pushy - a deep kiss with your hand sliding around to the lower back, at the end of the date, should be plenty. Then take your ease and see what she does to pursue you.

Before that, a hand on her back as you walk through a door, pulling her chair out and waiting for her to sit before you sit, lingering eye contact with a half-smile, and that sort of thing are all recommended.
posted by Miko at 8:10 PM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]

And what unclejeffy said. Always think "respect" -- "what will show this woman that she has my respect?"
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on October 16, 2007

Which side of a table I should seat myself?

Where you would have the best view of the waiter, you don't want to be craning your head around trying to catch the waiter's eye.
posted by JujuB at 8:14 PM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: I am seriously old-fashioned and swoon over old-school manners. Here are some of the things that thrill me:

• Open and unlock my car door for me.
• Offer me your coat if I seem chilly.
• Take my elbow when crossing the street.
• Ask me what I want to eat for dinner and order for both of us.
• Send thank you notes to anyone who hosts us, especially my parents.
• Pull out my chair.
• I do like it if you stand up when I stand up.
• I know next-to-nothing about wine. But you can either order it at the beginning or with dinner or in a fancy restaurant there will be a sommelier to help you. Do not be afraid of looking dumb, they are there to help you.
• Send flowers the morning after you sleep with her for the first time.
posted by astruc at 8:16 PM on October 16, 2007 [6 favorites]

Out of curiosity, how do you know that her, "biggest turn on is a gentleman?" Did she say this up front?

I tend to be suspicious of women who look for these contrived characteristics in men. It is as if they have read in Cosmo some article about, "How to get him to treat you like a Princess! Step 1: tell him that your BIGGEST turn on is a gentleman!"

That said, in my experience women who are looking for this type of behavior in men are really just looking for an authority figure to direct them from one event or place to another.

So, have a plan. Make reservations, study the menu beforehand... Know what movie you're going to see (hell, buy the tickets in advance if you want.) Know the route you're going to take and how all the logistics are going down. Don't allow her the option of making a choice and she'll probably go ga-ga.
posted by wfrgms at 8:26 PM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]

You might consider finding some other event besides a movie to attend. A play? A concert? Make sure it's something you would both enjoy, but a gentleman might consider supporting the arts :)

Bonus points if you are absolutely well groomed for her.

If you go to a movie or show that might bring about tears (or any kind of sniffles), be sure you have a clean handkerchief.

Ask her about herself, her day, her family, her interests.

She might like it if you kiss her hand. This can be surprisingly sensual - oh, the passion, oh, the restraint!
posted by amtho at 8:31 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

wfrgms, these are not "contrived characteristics", it is a pleasure to be around someone well mannered.

I am the mother of two boys, one a young man now. Manners were high priority in their upbringing. I've received many compliments on my sons' manners. It has served them well so far in life.

I respect the OP for asking this question, notice how the ladies seem to know exactly what he should do. He wants to make a good impression. Good for him, I hope him the best. I bet he won't lick the blade of his knife at dinner!

I get the feeling that you are single....
posted by JujuB at 8:37 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

You may be right, wfrgms. In which case, disregard everything I said about respect and giving her choices.

Personally, I hate being ordered for (I know what I want and would rather talk directly to the person responsible for getting it to me - no interpreter needed) and often I'm the more knowledgeable about wine than my date, so I like being offered the choice.

I wonder how old the both of you are. If you're both on the younger side, she may really find it a "turn-on" to not have to think about a thing - the fantasy of finding someone who anticipates her every need and treats her like a princess. That puts you in a bit of a different position, and it sounds like you're in thrall to her looks, so be watchful of that 'wait-on-me' dynamic and where that's headed, if you plan on dating more than once.

For someone who is maybe a bit older, confident, and established in her own right, you don't want to do anything that implies she doesn't have agency -- though it's alright to do things that are traditionally courtly, especially since she is requesting that sort of experience. Occasionally me and my SO will plan a night on the town, whole nine yards, dress up, eat fancy, and trot out all the stereotyped behaviors - it's a special occasion thing, not everyday life.

The most gentlemanly behavior is simply considerate. Paying genuine attention. Offering a coat over her shoulders if she's cold. Checking to see if she's comfortable. Asking what she thinks, likes, and enjoys.
posted by Miko at 8:39 PM on October 16, 2007

JujuB, you make a good point that good manners are always welcome from both sexes. But presuming to take charge of someone else's choices without their approval is ill-mannered. And the comment presuming someone's relationship status is, too. It's possible to present your opinion without suggesting someone else's is invalid based on some surmise for which you have no evidence.
posted by Miko at 8:41 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seating: listen to Miko, not JujuB.

Wine is usually ordered right after ordering the meal.

You probably know what type of food goes with what wine colour. White goes well with lighter stuff like salads and fish, a nice red goes with heavier food, like meat or italian food, and rosé goes down the sink. So you'll want to order something that will go well with a wine that will go well with her meal. No shrimp salad for you if she's having steak.

You can always casually ask the waiter what she would suggest with what you've just ordered. Maybe you can tell us what sort of food the place serves?
posted by stereo at 8:43 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

The true mark of a gentleman is treating the lowest of the low (ie. someone that you loathe or that has treated you badly) as you would treat the highest of the high (ie. your role model, mentor or parents). This isn't something you can just do while on a date. Once you live it as a way of life, it will be obvious to those around you.

The way I see it, if I am ever half the gentleman my grandfather is I will die happy.

Since you are probably are looking for something more practical, don't touch her unless she initiates it (clear body language works), be modest with your money and don't make that move unless you are sure she wants you to.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 8:47 PM on October 16, 2007

Stereo has me thinking: if you know where you're eating already, you could actually call ahead (or maybe go onto their website) and start working on the wine choice now. Just be honest - say you've got a big date and you'd like to know what some of their best-received choices are and what signature dishes they match.

That way, when you sit down, you can say "I hear they're known for their scallops, and the Fume Blanc will really set them off."

posted by Miko at 8:47 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: These are great so far. Thanks.

Out of curiosity, how do you know that her, "biggest turn on is a gentleman?" Did she say this up front?

We've actually been getting to know each other for several weeks online. There is no doubt that she genuinely likes gentlemanly behavior. I don't think she's looking for someone to direct her, but I'm sure she'll appreciate that I have a suggested plan.

Shots are not fine - if she wants a shot, I don't think she really wants a 'gentleman.' You could have a neat Scotch, Irish whiskey, or bourbon.

Well, she's not a fully proper lady ;). There's a lot of wiggle room. And the shots would be after the dinner where we let loose and have some fun dancing in a bar or club somewhere.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 8:49 PM on October 16, 2007

Best answer: Don't go for a hug or cheek-kiss at the beginning of a first date. What a gentleman does is let a lady offer whatever level of physical greeting she wants. Look at her face as she walks up, and smile. She'll smile and either stick out one hand (take hand, hold for 1 second, do not shake, release), lean in for a cheek-kiss (don't actually smooch her cheek, just bring your lips near her ear), or neither. In any case, you then say, almost as if you'd forgotten, "You look great!"

Miko's right and JujuB's wrong: if the table's by the wall, the lady sits facing the room and the gentleman facing her.

The waiter will come by right after you're seated to take a drink order and explain the specials. Don't try to fake wine knowledge, it'll be obvious. Pick any red wine in the $8-$12/glass range and order it as if you know you'll like it, then smile up at her and say, "Would you like to try that too?" She'll say yes, if she's the kind of girl you describe.

Once you've ordered the food, you could ask the waiter "can you recommend a wine that would go well with that?" - but don't. He'll recommend a good but expensive bottle and you'll either have to quibble with him or tell him your price range, neither of which projects suavity. If you both liked the wine you had by the glass, have a bottle of that, or a glass of something else.

If you've bought a bottle of wine, the waiter will bring it and pour you a little to sample. Swirl it around in the glass a little (do this with the glass still on the table, just moving the base in a little circle), then bring the glass up to your nose and breathe it in fully. No need to taste it; unless it smells like moss or wet dog, say "that's great".

At the bar, just ask her what she wants to drink. If she leaves it up to you, get her an Irish-whiskey Manhattan - it's sweet but not sugary, and the Irish is easier for a young lady to drink than Scotch. If you want a manly cocktail have whiskey and water - again, if you're not used to Scotch have Irish (just order "Jameson and water".)
posted by nicwolff at 8:53 PM on October 16, 2007 [5 favorites]

Oh, OK. That helped.

I think you have more latitude, in this case. She's wanting to make sure you'll treat her well, but she may not be a diva with insanely high expectations.

This may be too obvious to even state, and I don't know what your usual M.O. is, but: one thing she may mean about 'being a gentleman' is that she'd prefer you not try to sleep with her on the first date - not pressure, not hope, not push. You can clearly indicate your sexual interest (if there is such) but give her the kiss, squeeze, and breathless 'can't wait til [day of next date] farewell at the end of the date and leave her with something to think about.
posted by Miko at 8:56 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: Maybe you can tell us what sort of food the place serves?

She suggested Sutra Lounge, which appears to be a fun, atmospheric restaurant which serves just about everything from steak to seafood.

if you know where you're eating already, you could actually call ahead (or maybe go onto their website) and start working on the wine choice now.

Great idea. I think I'll do that.

I wonder how old the both of you are.

I'm 24. She's 23. My general impression is that she likes the fantasy of it.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 8:59 PM on October 16, 2007

Wow - her choice of that place is telling. She does want a romantic evening, to be sure.

Clearly, those folks will be expert at helping you choose a wine. This is the kind of thing this place is all about!
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on October 16, 2007

I'll put myself in time out for the rude remark I made to wfrgms. Sorry
posted by JujuB at 9:01 PM on October 16, 2007

JujuB, I thought your comment was thoughtful. It's nice to know some moms of boys are still fighting the good fight!
posted by astruc at 9:05 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: Wow - her choice of that place is telling. She does want a romantic evening, to be sure.

By that do you mean the restaurant looks up-scale, so she'd like a romantic evening, or are you noticing that it's "aphrodisiac-inspired" and thus she's looking for a romantic evening?
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 9:05 PM on October 16, 2007

And the shots would be after the dinner where we let loose and have some fun dancing in a bar or club somewhere.

That doesn't mean it has to be shots. You two might enjoy Bailey's (with or without ice is up to you), mint juleps, rum and apple juice, mojitos...
posted by stereo at 9:05 PM on October 16, 2007

Sorry for calling you out, JujuB. Your apology is testament to your manners (and probably your sons'...)

The best quality of etiquette and good manners is, as unclejeffy said at the start, that they always make people feel valued, respected, and comfortable. There are a lot of courtesies that we threw out with the bathwater when we got rid of some of society's more limiting prejudices, but it can be so nice to exhibit really fine manners and caring for others. I hope you guys have a great evening.
posted by Miko at 9:08 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That doesn't mean it has to be shots.

Oh definitely. I just wanted to point out that people could make shot suggestions. I'd actually prefer to start with something a little less hard. But I want to be prepared.

Thank you for the drink suggestions stero and nickwolff. I just realized that I could really use more suggestions in this area. I really know almost nothing about drinks and if anyone could give me a little cheat sheet of what the drink types mean, and a masculine, feminine version of each with a description, I'd really appreciate it. Probably asking too much, but you never know ;)
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2007

Something really obvious, but that a lot of folks forget: Be very nice to the waiters/waitresses, tip well, say please and thank you. Even when the busboy comes to refill your water glass, say thank you.

Don't talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open.

I always like it when a guy is protective at crosswalks, but that's because I have a habit of stepping into the street at exactly the wrong time.

Definitely take nicwolff's advice regarding whole bottles. The waiter will expect you to give your approval. He may also hand you the cork. Don't smell it or anything like that. You can just sort of look it over very briefly and set it aside. The cork is only being presented so you can ascertain the vintage and look for signs of rotting.

Keep your elbows off the table.

If, at drinks after dinner, she tells you to order for her, ask if she prefers sweet or strong drinks.

Above all, a gentleman is a good listener and a man who is observant of and attendant to others' needs.

And have fun!
posted by brina at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2007

are you noticing that it's "aphrodisiac-inspired" and thus she's looking for a romantic evening?

I was almost afraid of encouraging that thought too much. She definitely wouldn't pick an "aphrodisiac-inspired" place if she wanted to send a "hands-off" message. But be very clear on this: it's also not a no-holds-barred "do-me" message.

You're going to want to pay attention and respond to her signals on this date. Don't presume that she is inviting you to a night of debauchery. Stay interested in who she is and what she has to say. Follow her lead. Go into it assuming you'll have a lovely date surrounded by good food, music, and a beautiful atmosphere. If you both want to get closer, you can, but leave plenty of room for the mood to be whatever it wants. And if you're in doubt, I've never heard of anyone thinking less of their date because they didn't sleep over on the first date. There's no need to be planning the endgame at this point.

but be ready with the protection if it's even a possibility
posted by Miko at 9:13 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: I was almost afraid of encouraging that thought too much. She definitely wouldn't pick an "aphrodisiac-inspired" place if she wanted to send a "hands-off" message. But be very clear on this: it's also not a no-holds-barred "do-me" message.

I was really just trying to figure out what you meant by your comment. To be blunt, I was trying to figure out if you thought the place looked nice, or if it was only remarkable because of its sexual theme.

I certainly wouldn't presume anything, but without revealing too much, in our weeks of talking it's clear that a *romantic* evening is a possibility. So if I accidentally overstepped my bounds I wouldn't get slapped in the face, just maybe a gentle shake of her head.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 9:21 PM on October 16, 2007

When a girl suggests a place where the average plate is $25, meaning you're looking at a $80-$100 night just for dinner and a couple of drinks, and you've never actually met yet, and she requires explicit treatment as a lady, you're looking at someone who is either ridiculously high maintenance, or completely oblivious to modern courtship. (Especially at the wee age of 23. Trust me, I'm surrounded by enough "older women" (i.e. in their 30s and 40s) to know that she's clearly pushing for something here.)

Maybe I'm a bit off-topic. If I am, sorry. But, and this is just my take, don't try too hard to impress this girl. A small part of me thinks she's taking advantage of you. (Women that young who "know what they want" are, in my experience, likely to "think" they know what they want from seeing one too many movies.)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:23 PM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I thought it looked nice. Lots of tasty spicy multi-ethnic menu options, plenty of conversation fodder, probably great people-watching, and I'm sure the atmosphere's conducive to intimate conversation.

I really wish you good luck and a great date!
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: I should also point out that we live about 3 hours apart. So a 2nd date wouldn't happen for awhile. Not that that makes me think I should or will spend the night with her, but the distance issue might affect peoples' opinions of how the night should progress.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 9:27 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: SeizeTheDay:

Fair enough. However, keep in mind that we're 2-3 hours apart, so our dates will be rare occurrences. So we're trying to make it special. Plus, I told her explicitly "Where would you want to eat if money were no object?" So I don't think there's really an issue.

That said, I'll still be cautious.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 9:32 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: I really wish you good luck and a great date!

Thank you, Miko! Thanks for all the helpful comments. Check back Monday and I may have an update.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 9:33 PM on October 16, 2007

Just a point on the sample wine they pour.

It's not to decide if you like it or not.. it's to decide if it's corked or not, and to look at the actual bottle and make sure it's the one you asked for, not the year before which is $500 a bottle (which happens, often by accident in places with large wine lists)

Have a quick look, a quick sniff, a taste if you like, and simply say "yes, that's fine thanks."
posted by TravellingDen at 9:35 PM on October 16, 2007

Chivalry has some great advice, very up to date.
posted by JujuB at 9:35 PM on October 16, 2007

My dad, who is an old-manners-of-the-wealthy kind of guy, has always told me that officially, old school, restaurant manners work this way:

In a case where one person is paying (assume a man paying for dinner for two), that person is in effect hiring the restaurant staff as servants for a private gathering. What I mean is that the waitstaff will talk to the host, and the host will talk to the guests. So a guest does not order directly from the waitstaff; the host asks a guest what she wants, and she tells him, and the host tells the waitstaff. That's the rationale for the traditional "he orders for her" scene -- it's not that he is deciding what she should get, it's that he is talking to "his" staff about getting her what she in fact wants.

But it depends on what concept your date has of gentlemanliness. She may not be familiar with these rules.

Seconding that "be considerate" should be your guiding rule. Some nice examples here. Some obvious things: You are impeccably groomed and odor-free, ditto your clothes, which are clean and pressed. Your cell phone and other gadgets don't exist during this date. Are you driving her anywhere? Your car interior is clean and odor-free, and the stereo should be turned waaay down, because you mainly are interested in hearing what she has to say. You will open her car door before your own. If you get up to go to the bathroom during dinner for example, you'll just say "excuse me", you won't say "I'm gonna go pee". No mention of bodily functions. You will refrain from, for example, picking at your fingernails and other personal grooming or inspection activities while in her presence. Once you seat her, and sit yourself, you can put your napkin on your lap immediately. (You don't need to wait until the food comes.) If you are presented with multiple forks during dinner, work from the outside of the setting, in toward the plate. Once you're done, your used utensils end up on the plate, to be taken away with it. You will wait until she has her food before beginning to eat your own. (Properly they will serve her first anyway.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:36 PM on October 16, 2007 [6 favorites]

Even if she's the type that tends to volunteer information, ask questions. And then listen to the answers.

Asking a question is the perfect setup for showcasing your gentlemanliness, by allowing you to be a thoughtful listener, engaged in the conversation and interested in who she is and what she's about.

Also, if the date does go badly and/or is awkward, don't despair. Think of it as dating experience and be optimistic, trying to salvage the evening for the highest value you can get...sometimes it's for Worst Date Ever files, sometimes it's to enjoy eating food with a stranger, sometimes it's the night of your life. I hope it's the lattest!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:45 PM on October 16, 2007

LobsterMitten: In my restaurant career (fine dining, 8 years, 4 restaurants) I occasionally came across that approach, but it is archaic and unusual these days. The thing is, though the 'hosts' might think that's what they're doing, the restaurant staff doesn't necessarily know that or know how to provide that type of service- especially not at the young-clientele, hip-ish type of place this is. Today most waitstaff direct their service attention to everyone at the table and assume that each person will place their own order. It's not shocking when it doesn't happen, but it generally does depart from the script.
posted by Miko at 9:47 PM on October 16, 2007

that person is in effect hiring the restaurant staff as servants for a private gathering.

Besides which - that would actually cost considerably more than a basic restaurant dinner ;)
posted by Miko at 9:49 PM on October 16, 2007

TimeTravelSpeed, regarding the drink issue-- I would ask her what she wants. Nic's suggestions for drinks were interesting, but I drink scotch, myself. So you never know.
posted by astruc at 9:49 PM on October 16, 2007

Miko: that approach... is archaic and unusual these days. The thing is, though the 'hosts' might think that's what they're doing, the restaurant staff doesn't necessarily know that

Yeah, I agree. I'm not even endorsing it, just wanted to include it for interest. I agree that it's not something one can rely on anybody knowing, except in very old-school restaurants maybe. And your comment about hiring private staff being much more expensive than typical restaurant dinner is on the mark - restaurant dining used to be a rarer and more exclusive thing, with professional maitre d's and so on; it's a very different world now. If someone wants a "gentleman", it's hard to know what era they want the gentleman to come from.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:59 PM on October 16, 2007

If someone wants a "gentleman", it's hard to know what era they want the gentleman to come from.

Totally true. Looks to me like they're both after the experience of romance and mutual fine treatment..effort alone should be worth a lot if there is basic goodwill.
posted by Miko at 10:02 PM on October 16, 2007

Woah - I just looked at the restaurant link. Golly. I was working under a different set of assumptions. I think you're going to have a fine time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 PM on October 16, 2007

As far as making a her body language: i.e. looking at you and slowly smiling, little touches on your arm or back, touching the side of her leg to yours while you're sitting next to each other--all good. If she edges away from you, respect that and don't move in closer.

The movies playing within 30 miles of you I'd recommend for a date are: Michael Clayton, The Darjeeling Limited, and Into the Wild; Across the Universe wasn't as good. The Jane Austen Book Club is too much of a chick flick (but hold back your tongue if she chooses it). I liked the Jesse James movie, Into the Valley of Elah and Eastern Promises , but they aren't really date movies (ESPECIALLY not the last). My Kid Could Paint That has gotten good reviews, but I haven't seen it yet.

Sutra Lounge seems like a place which would have a cocktail menu...ask for it if they don't present it.
posted by brujita at 10:09 PM on October 16, 2007

So, LobsterMitten... is your dad single?
posted by astruc at 10:23 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Um, well. I am not really sure about where the aphrodisiac inspiration comes from in the otherwise fairly standard high-end menu, but we'll leave that aside (OK, just one thing, what is aphrodisiac about "sliders" as an appetizer? Blech, never mind, I'll stop).

Some advice from a man raised by a feminist in the South to have manners, who is also a foodie and wine nut, so may be somewhat conflicted.

I would never presume to order for my companion on date unless she specifically asked for it. If she does, go for it. She should of course order first if she orders.

Let her taste in food somewhat dictate yours, in that you don't eat too much more than her or something wildly different.

Wine: stereo earns my annoyance for suggesting that rose "goes down the sink." There are some very fine rose wines, such as rose Cotes de Provence, and if you turn up your nose at them you are suggesting a certain ignorance of the current state of wine. In any case do not sniff the cork; you may squeeze it a bit to see if it's corked, but a better gauge is to smell and taste it; if there's an unpleasant woody, rotten, locker room "musty" smell the wine is corked. Even if the wine isn't great try to avoid sending it back unless there's sonething really wrong with it.

If you need help with the wine that's what the sommelier or wine steward is there for, and if they try to sell you something out of your budget they're not very good at their job. If this happens begin with something more along your price range and they'll get the hint. Do not blindly order the second-cheapest bottle (or the most expensive for that matter).

Also, don't order shots for your date unless she specifically requests them. I also wouldn't order an extremely alchohol-heavy drink like a Manhattan or Sidecar. I think a gin or vodka tonic might be just the thing, and you could do this too, or go the very manly route and get a whisky. Keep in mind that sugar and variety increase the possibility of nausea and/or hangover (so expect one or both of you to spend time in the bathroom if you order a wide variety of sugary shots).

All night, be kind and generous to the people serving you. It really reflects on your character. Don't fuss about the tip and err on the side of generosity.
posted by lackutrol at 10:49 PM on October 16, 2007

Does anyone else think that based on the resturant that he needs 'other' kinds of gentlemanly advice?

I think you are covered manners-wise.

All of the following implies you have gotten consent. I know, it might not happen, but just in case...

Go all out. Candles, soft seductive music. Follow until it's time to lead. Bring your own protection. Please her first. Lots of foreplay. Be gentle until/unless she begs you not to be. Go slow - take your time and enjoy her. Show that you are having a good time as it is happening. Cuddle after.
posted by jopreacher at 10:51 PM on October 16, 2007

LobsterMitten's dad is kind of old school in a way almost no-one appreciates now. Did he mention that you are to place your knife and fork together at an approximate 20 degrees to the right from the center of your plate to indicate you are done? Cause I've heard that. Apparently they don't tell the waiters this anymore though.
posted by lackutrol at 10:58 PM on October 16, 2007

Being a gentleman means being attentive, interested, thoughtful, respectful and considerate. And not only to your lady, but to one and all.

It does not mean being patronizing, or overbearing.

Finally, it shouldn't be merely a play to get into her skirt. Wanna show her a *real* gentleman? At the end of the evening, escort her to her door, give her a lingering, scorching kiss on the hand while gazing adoringly into her eyes, and then let her know you will count the hours until you can call on her again.

posted by deCadmus at 11:01 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

A gentleman isn't going to have his end goal of the evening being that moment that he can make a move. If he does, then everything leading up to that is just bravado, smoke and mirrors and not really being who you are.

A gentleman is there to enjoy getting to know the young lady, regardless of what they are doing, eating, drinking, etc.. The devil is not in the details so much as in the attitude and motivation of the young man in question.

If she invites your move at the end of the evening, feel free to take it, but a true gentleman is the one that can leave her doorstep smiling at the end of the night because he had a great night just being with her.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:07 AM on October 17, 2007

for the record, i don't think asking her "where would you like to go if money was no object" was a good idea. not because she's chosen a bad restaurant, and she obviously hasn't chosen the most expensive one in town - but that it could set a false impression that you want to wow her financially.

it seems though that you've really put the effort it, and if you take being a gentleman to heart, then i'm sure the date will go great. good luck!
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:19 AM on October 17, 2007

"I really know almost nothing about drinks and if anyone could give me a little cheat sheet of what the drink types mean, and a masculine, feminine version of each with a description, I'd really appreciate it."

I didn't see a drink menu on the site but I would guess that they'll have some specialty cocktails such as martinis and so on. Those will be safe bets -- get whatever sounds good.

If none of those do it for you, go with the classics: gin and tonic, vodka tonic, martini, bourbon (neat, which means it's not on ice), a Manhattan (bourbon and sweet vermouth martini, basically), jack and coke or rum and coke. Don't order anything overly sweet like an amaretto sour. Don't order stuff with a cute name ("I'll have the Electric Rooster") or pink.

If you're going to order a martini, they'll want to know what type of liquor you want and how you'd like it (olives, dirty -- which means there's olive juice in it, with a twist of lemon, etc). So a martini order would sound like this: "I'll have a Plymouth gin martini, up with two olives." Up means it'll come in a martini glass. Some people like it on the rocks. That's not a martini then, but that's another discussion.

Wine is a colossal subject. I'd recommend Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine Course, but you'll find plenty of wine books at the store.

Lastly, don't overthink this and spend all your time stressing out about doing something "wrong." Have a good time and let us know how it went!
posted by Atom12 at 6:55 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are, IMHO, five rules for being a gentleman:

First... you never let on how much you like a girl.

Two, you always call the shots. "Kiss me. You won't regret it."

Now three, act like wherever you are, that's the place to be. "Isn't this great?"

Four, when ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you. It's a classy move. "Now, the lady will have the linguini and white clam sauce, and a Coke with no ice."

And five, now this is the most important... When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.
posted by wfrgms at 7:40 AM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

One thing I didn't see mentioned (I hope I'm not too late) is to take care of the logistics that are easy to overlook.

For example, does the climbing gym have showers? Do they provide towels/etc? I climbed for long enough to know that having a romantic afternoon/evening after climbing without a shower is probably not going to go quite according to plan.
posted by JMOZ at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2007

So, LobsterMitten... is your dad single?
posted by astruc at 1:23 AM on October 17 [+] [!]

Nope; married to my wonderful mom.

wfrgms: being very decisive != being a gentleman. Some women do liek a man who's very decisive, but that doesn't mean it's gentlemanly to insist on being kissed. It ain't.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:53 PM on October 17, 2007

As a woman who loves to be treated to an evening of gentlemanly behaviour, I have the following suggestions.

- Offer her your arm as you walk.
- eat and drink neatly; place your fork down between bites of food, tines downwards.
- pace your eating to hers; you should both finish at the same time
- get her door and her chair
- of course, be impeccably attired and groomed (not necessarily formally)
- have bookings in advance
- consider a concert or theatre instead of a movie
- perhaps a corsage for her(small flower arrangement intended to be worn pinned to clothing, similar to a buttonhole but for women)
posted by ysabet at 6:19 PM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: To whom it may concern, here's an update:

The above-described date was canceled for reasons I shan't disclose, but I managed to pull together a last-minute date with her for the following day.

We went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and saw the Dali exhibit. We planned on going to donate blood after (long story), a nice lunch, then a movie or shopping or whatever struck our fancy.

-- I ended up getting her a small gift ("The Dubliners" by James Joyce, I'd suggested the book to her in our correspondence).
-- I was dressed well and was well-groomed.
-- We hugged, I said she looked great, and we proceeded to the museum.
-- I opened her car door every time
-- I gave her my jacket, and my arm
-- I paid her a few blush-inducing compliments
-- I'd accidentally memorized a poem ("Sweetalk" by Billy Collins) by her fav poet a few days prior, and recited it one line at a time at random intervals throughout the day. Pretty good eh? ;)
-- Had a great dinner at a small atmospheric restaurant on Melrose. I gave her the seat facing the people, but it was an installed bench, so I couldn't pull out her chair. You could see me visibly stall for a few moments as I calculated which was more important, haha :D
-- We drove around aimlessly quite a bit listening to each others' music and talking.
-- Gave her a light shoulder rub in the car
-- At the end, I gave her a kiss on each cheek, and directions home.
-- I sent flowers to her office the following day.

All in all it was a very successful evening. There will definitely be a second date, and hopefully many more. Thank you all so so much for your suggestions. I wasn't able to use all of them (no wine for example) but I felt totally prepared for all kinds of possibilities that day thanks to your help. They'll be used in the future for sure.

Wish me luck!
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 7:59 PM on October 23, 2007

That sounds like a terrific date, and very promising. Wishing you the best of luck. Your good intentions go a long way. Thanks for the update!
posted by Miko at 8:16 PM on October 23, 2007

Well done, sir. Well done.
posted by deCadmus at 8:37 PM on October 23, 2007

Great update - art museum ++.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:22 PM on October 23, 2007

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