My dad once brought up the mind-blowing question, “Can you imagine what it must be like to see ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and not know how it ends?” I honestly cannot. By the time we reach 4th grade we’ve all heard some version of the two “star-crossed lovers” who can’t bear the thought of being alive without the other. By age 25 we’ve analyzed their deaths to death in a multitude of classrooms, seen every movie version (including the one with Leo at least five times), and memorized certain lines.
Dating in our digital age has become just like that story of Juliet and her Romeo: we have so much access to personal information (hellooo creative investigation) that by the time we actually sit down for date number one we can practically predict the outcome. Or at the very least, we create self-fulfilling prophecies based on too much information at hand; we either like the person prematurely due to facts we dug up that sounded appealing — He saves orphan seals!! — or conversely, we accidentally sabotage the whole thing due to facts we dug up that sounded unappealing (for instance, maybe you hate seals).
The interview format of a typical first date has become an unnecessary formality too. As with Romeo & Juliet, we’ve memorized the lines before meeting:
“Oh, you’re in advertising! How interesting! I absolutely did not know that because I 100% did not stalk your LinkedIn account via my friend’s LinkedIn account so that you wouldn’t know that I was looking at your profile.”
God help you if you’re one of those people who can’t help but mouth along with the dialogue.
I’ve often wondered, much like my dad did about the Shakespeare classic, what it would be like to go into a date knowing nothing. No premeditated expectations, no bullshit reasons for why “I already know it’s not going to work,” per my most frequently uttered line. I wanted to experience a true blind date, like the kind before Facebook and Google. So I did what any other investigative journalist would do: asked around and got myself set up.
Securing the date was the easy part. Not resorting to my usual researching techniques, however, took more restraint than I’ve ever had to exercise. I felt like one of those poor dogs with a treat sitting on my nose; all the information I could want was right there and I wasn’t allowed to consume it.
Considering that I’d have no real “story” if I cheated, I stayed strong.
When it came time for the date I realized I’d done such a good job at my own assignment, I had absolutely no clue what he looked like. (Fun fact: if one my contacts fell out, which it almost did, it would have been a literal blind date!) Cue me sending one of those awkward texts like, “Hey…what do you look like?” He provided an adequate description, I located him in the restaurant, and from there we fell madly, deeply, head over heels in balcony climbing, I-would-die-if-you-died love.
But I did have a fun time, and I spent the evening learning new things about someone who I’d never met before. It was refreshing to walk into a situation without prejudgement, to be able to ask genuine questions without fear that I’d let some research-accrued fact slip. Was it as revolutionary as my dad’s concept about Romeo and Juliet without the spoiler alert? No. But it was nice not knowing the ending.