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Blind Date, Shipmates, and others:

posted by Jen on 11/29/01

At a bar. Through a friend of a friend. In class. Sitting right next to you at a wedding. We’ve all dated someone we have met in one of these venues. For whatever reason, we are mutually attracted to one another, we establish some common interests, we find ourselves in a nice conversation, we exchange numbers, and in some cases we end up spending the night together. After a week or so, we’re happily dating. It’s a simple formula, it works relatively well, and it’s been in operation for ages.

Marked by hopefulness and nervousness, pretending not to care and wishing the other person would, self-flattering and self-effacing, deification and disillusionment, the game goes on until we’re happily attached or frustratedly listening to Phil Collins sad songs. Some of us date up to 5 people in one week, others only have the patience for 5 dates a year. In any case, whether the motivation is discovering true love, finding a fun companion, or satisfying lusty urges, it has to be done. Many are willing to wait for that serendipitous encounter or the drunken lapse of judgment to fulfill the motivations. For others, dating is a whole different beast…requiring a forced TV setting.

Now, for those of us who have seen Blind Date and/or Shipmates, there are a few basic premises on which we can all agree:

1. The hosts, Blind Date’s Roger Lodge and Shipmates’ Chris Hardwick, are unabashedly making fun of the contestants.
2. Almost all of the contestants deserve it.
3. It is unclear whether the producers of the show actually care if the contestants successfully make a match.

With that said, it is time to take a look at our contestants:

The name's Tate, as in Tate Donovan? You know, the guy whose career went
nowhere after Jennifer Aniston left him?

Contestant #1: The Fame Seeker

The outfit:
For females: silver/gold tank top, tight pair of Diesels, knockoff Prada/Gucci bag, French manicured nails, head of hair just blown out and highlighted by Frederick Fekkai, mother’s diamond earrings.
For males: typically Armani Exchange. Single pleated black pants, just-shined Bally loafers, carefully chosen blue shirt to match eyes (the ones that remind people of Sinatra), head of hair just blown out and highlighted by Frederick Fekkai, father’s Rolex.

The dialogue:
“People always tell me I should be in the movies, but I’ve never really thought about it seriously before…why, do you think I should go for it?”
“It’s the weirdest thing…I was just walking down the street singing the theme song from The Bodyguard, when this guy came up to me and said I should sing for real! Want to hear?? (Puts on best voice) “AND IIIIIII EEEEE IIIII….”
“Seriously, I’m not much of a dancer…but I’ll give it a shot….” (slides out on dance floor, does over-exaggerated mashed potatoes)

The obvious distinctions:
Looks at camera more than date, smiles gratuitously, laughs inappropriately to show off silvery giggle and glistening white teeth

The subtle distinction:
Pretends to respond to date, but somehow manages to turn conversation back to self. Date: “I’m really excited to go to that Mexican restaurant tonight.
Fame-seeker: “Yeah….I enjoy Mexican food every once in a while. But the thing is, I work out so much and totally watch what I eat just to stay in shape, you know. My abs are really hard.” (the fame-seeker then flashes perfect abs but, and this is an important distinction, he/she doesn’t then offer the date to feel the abs…the fame-seeker just wants potential agents to know that the abs are tight)

Reason for going on show:
Illogically hopes to break into stardom by appearing on one of the seediest shows on TV.

The ideal mate:
Someone with connections or a potential piece of arm candy.

OMG, does your hat say "asshole?" JTT, you are SUCH a badass!

Contestant #2: The CRAZZZY date

The outfit:
Multiple piercings and tattoos (99% of which were done the day before the show), a positively WACKY shirt that says “Ice Princess” or “Da Fly Supergrrrl” (for males or females), a pair of pants with holes intentionally cut in the butt-cheeks, hair cut and styled to make contestant look positively DANGEROUS

The dialogue:
“Dude, I am just so one of those people who does whatever wild (expletive deleted) pops into my head, name the time and the place, and I am THERE. I just like totally don’t give a (expletive deleted) about rules or authority.”
“Like, this one time, I was drinking and getting totally blitzed OUT OF MY MIND, and after my friends dared me to do it, I just climbed on top of the bar and started grinding with the pole and making out with someone I didn’t know. No big deal, though.”

The obvious distinction:

Unlike the fame seeker, it is CRAZZZY date’s goal to impress the hell out of the date, even if there is no attraction at all. In an ideal setting, CRAZZZY date will be paired with another CRAZZZY date, in which case, a contest will ensue and each date will try to out-CRAZE the other. The contest loser becomes infatuated with the date who could actually be more outrageous, and the contest winner is usually disgusted with the other’s poor showing. In any case, the CRAZZZY date is almost always the most entertaining, as there is the hope that he/she will make the other person cry.

The subtle distinction:
First and foremost, whatever CRAZZZY date does is self-characterized as “no big deal” to build up the drama. Secondly, CRAZZZY date cannot perform any activity on the date with any sense of normalcy. CRAZZZY date does not walk down the stairs; instead he slides down the railing in a death-defying spectacle. If there is a statue of a lion in front of the club or restaurant, it is guaranteed that CRAZZZY date will stick her head inside the mouth. CRAZZZY date will always suggest something outlandish to stun the date, but in the end, prays that the date will refuse.

Reason for going on show:
Because how crazy is it, that *I* went on this show, really??!

The ideal mate:
Someone completely risk-averse, who will laughingly remind him/her of how very zany he/she is.

so she was all, I play flute, and I was all, get me my penis cream, girlfriend.

Contestant #3: The comedienne

The outfit: A ridiculously cumbersome wig that is often removed after the first five minutes, a Hawaiian or faux-Tuxedo shirt (because that joke NEVER gets old), obnoxiously colored pants/shoes/accessories, a permanently-fixed, irritating grin.

The dialogue:
(almost always relies on nauseatingly over-used pop culture references)
“Do I make you horny baby, really!”
(Puts pinkie finger to lip) “One…million…dollars!!! Muhuahahaha!”
“So like this one time, at band camp…”

The obvious distinction:
Like CRAZZZY date, not a single activity can be completed with any sense of normalcy. Eating sushi will result in a hilarious twisting of events with chopsticks up the nose. If the date is at a pottery class, the comedienne will, no-fail, make a large breast out of his clay. This person is often the product of a parent who at one point in life said, “Do we have any victims…I mean volunteers?” when performing magic tricks for friends.

The subtle distinction:
If the joke wasn’t heard the first time, it will often get repeated another two or three times until a polite laugh is elicited. If the date doesn’t laugh, the comedienne ALWAYS assumes the date has no sense of humor or doesn’t get the joke…because the comedienne’s jokes are just so funny, how could you not laugh?

Reason for going on show:
Can’t wait to go home, rewind tape, and have a good guffaw at hilarious self.

The ideal mate:
Anyone retarded enough to laugh at the jokes

Doesn't my yellow bikini remind you of bananas? I just love
bananas...they're such a phallic fruit, don'tcha think?

Contestant # 4: The Sex Fiend
(we’ll assume that 95% of the males on the show are in it for the sex, so the focus here is on women)

The outfit:
A lacy number just barely hiding the nipples, a skirt just a few sizes too small and always just a few inches below the hips, a faux-animal item of sorts, a racy thong strap intentionally positioned for viewing pleasure, a banana clip or badly teased hair, a few layers of make-up, Lee press-ons that extend about an inch further than the fingertip, Fran Drescher’s voice in a teasingly low octave, and of course, the f*-me pumps.

The dialogue:
Relies heavily on blatantly obvious euphemisms:
“Wow, your hands are sooo big. You know what they say about big hands…”
“I love the way this lollipop tastes in my mouth…I LOVE having things in my mouth.”
“Maybe we should head to the upper deck…I really like being on top.”

The obvious distinction:
Intentionally presses breasts against date when dancing, slowly licks lips and lowers eyelids every two minutes, finds a way to turn a conversation about snorkeling into one about vibrators. Has no problem with sex on the first date, but only if 48,000 people are watching.

The subtle distinction:
There is nothing subtle about the Sex Fiend

Reason for going on show:
The sex fiend is NOT primarily going on the show to get loaded and get laid…the sex fiend is hoping against hope that being sexually liberated will make her seem more attractive to a rich, handsome man. It’s sad, really.

The ideal mate:
Anyone who is a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 and has a penis

You just don't get me...and for that, I put you in headlock.

Contestant # 5: The angry/depressed/suicidal (ADS) date

The outfit:
Everything is black, because life is dark and depressing. Perhaps a tattered pair of jeans, because what’s the use in putting on a fresh pair? Things aren’t gonna work out anyway. A scowl on the face at all times.

The dialogue:
(W-D disclaimer: Jen doesn’t think there’s anything funny about suicidal people. Two people who Jen knew relatively well have commit suicide and it makes her sad. Jen does, however, think suicidal people are funny if they think their problems are going to be solved on Shipmates or Blind Date.)
“See? I KNEW this was gonna happen. (*sigh*) Nothing EVER works out for ME!”
“What do you MEAN you don’t like Greek food? (*sigh*) That’s the only thing I wanted to go right, and it didn’t.”
“Do you see this cut on my arm? Cameras, can you get that? (*sigh*) I did it myself, I was feeling…angry.”
“I don’t know…have you ever thought about ending it all? (*sigh*) Sometimes it’s all I think about.”
“People just don’t UNDERSTAND me. (*sigh*) I’ve always been the girl who got picked on at school…I mean, it’s not my fault I got such good grades without even studying! People have been jealous of me my whole life. And I’m just a quiet girl who never bothered anyone. (cries self-pityingly)”

The obvious distinction:
Fucking complains the entire time. If the date has the patience for it, ADS leeches on and proceeds to tell entire life story, and subsequently falls in love with date. If the date gets just slightly irritated, ADS proceeds to tell date how incredibly selfish he/she is and how he/she will never UNDERSTAND ADS.

The subtle distinction:
ADS is so self-righteously sensitive and emotional, but really, doesn’t give a shit about anyone but her/himself. Will not remember a single personal detail about her/his date and will not try to be personable. Considers self to be authority on all things relating to intellectual and emotional issues.

Reason for going on show:
In the hopes that things won’t work out, so said person can complain that things NEVER go right.

The ideal mate:
Oddly enough, not a cheery person who will help to elevate the mood. The ADS date finds an ironic happiness in the anger. It’s best to pair this person with another ADS. Co-commiserating brings an odd satisfaction.

That's nice baby; just lay off the hair.

Contestant # 6: The *hottest* date ever

The outfit:
Similar to the fame-seeker, although often goes for the understated elegance look; doesn’t need to be loud to be noticed. The female will wear hair swept away from face in dramatic upsweep to show off delicate features. The male will wear obscenely tight t-shirt to show off biceps and smile engagingly.

The dialogue:
“Wait a sec…are YOU really my date?” (looks behind date in disbelief)
“So, tell me what you thought when you first saw me walk through that door in this dress.”
“I hate to say it, but when I want something, I get it. With this face and this fine body, I’ve just never had a problem.”
“People are always telling me that I’m incredibly unusual and unique-looking, like one of those European models.”

The obvious distinction:
Can’t help but stare at every window, not shopping, but checking out reflection.

The subtle distinction:
Since the HDE’s self confidence is 100% based on how he/she feels about appearance, and because appearance is such a tenuous thing, the HDE will worry about appearance all night, in subtle ways. Shortness of breath from sucking in stomach, muscle spasms from holding uncomfortable poses throughout the night, all common side effects. The female HDE will find a way not to eat the entire night, even if the first part of the date is at a restaurant. Will put fork and knife down every five seconds to feign listening to date, will cut up food in miniature pieces and shift it from side to side on plate; the female HDE is obsessively worried about consuming too many calories and hence, not looking as tight as possible. The male HDE will refuse to do normal Shipmates activities like walk in the ocean, for fear of getting salt water on self. If date playfully tries to run fingers through hair, HDE gets unrealistically angry and ruins the nice moment.

The ideal mate:
HDE thinks he/she needs an equally attractive date, but in the end, will never think anyone is worthy. Instead will be happy with someone either extremely funny or extremely intelligent, so can tell friends, “My date isn’t the best looking person…but he/she definitely makes me laugh/think.”

Yo,yo, the name's Vito. I like a girl who makes a good Chicken Parm, ya'

Contestant # 7: The Italian Stallion
(W-D disclaimer #2: Jen is Italian and grew up in New Jersey. The material derived for this section has largely been garnered from observations about her own family. Jen’s family plays bocci on a regular basis.)

The outfit:
For the male, an oversized tank top with an athletic affiliation, most likely the Devils or the Rangers. The male wants to hear date’s opinion on said team; if date doesn’t express love for team, no matter how good looking date is, there is no hope for love. The male’s hair is either completely gone or slicked back in a greasy wave. Zebra/leopard pants are also likely to appear on legs, although unlike contestant #2 or #3, he’s not wearing them for a laugh. Black Reeboks complete the look. Thick chains are a must.

For the female, an outfit similar to the sex fiend is utilized, although she may or may not be looking for sex. Pinch rolled jeans aren’t uncommon. High-heeled sneakers are often utilized.

The dialogue:
(Special thanks to my mom for this section)
Both dates will say certain words with extra inunciation:
The word “all” becomes awwwwl
The word “coffee” becomes cawwwwwwfeeee
The word “her” become huh
If talking about the TV show "Law and Order" it automatically becomes "Lorend Awwdah"
There is no “ing” at the end of words, instead it’s always “in” like “jokin.’”
The infamous “How YOU doooin?” isn’t meant to be a funny pop culture reference, it’s a serious pick-up line.

The obvious distinction:
Loud jewelry, loud voices, loud behavior.

The subtle distinction:
The male will first put on guard and appear to be gruff and uncouth, but will later reveal to date that he is “just a big teddy bear.” The female’s voice will make her appear to be simple and unintelligent, but she can read people better than a book. Be careful when dealing with these characters, The Sopranos ain’t just a TV show.

The ideal mate:
The Italian Stallion will only date other Italian Stallions. Only Italian women know how to make spaghetti.

And those are our contestants. About 95% of people on Blind Date and Shipmates fits neatly into one of these categories. Each of these shows, I’m guessing, has a success rate of about 1%. Now, in real life, happy couples pair up and go home together all the time. Why is that these shows, shows that offer a wealth of fun and games, free food, and romantic possibilities, why can’t people find happiness on these shows?

Well...last night I spoke with someone whose close personal friend works at Blind Date and he gave me the skinny...did you know that a person stands behind the cameras with cue cards, prodding people with suggestions like, "Ask her what she does for a living," or "Ask him if he's ever had a one-night stand." Are we really THAT out of conversation? He ALSO said that all the little dialogue boxes that say things like "Sources say Sarah has been burned in the past by an ex-boyfriend" or "Dan's mom says that he likes to have things his own way" are almost always fabricated. How can these people find happiness amid forced interaction, lies and deception and ridiculously evil partners? In most cases, they just can't. Which just goes to show, there's no substitute for the real thing; finding an acceptable date requires chance meetings, random interactions, and lots of patience. But you already knew that.

W-D's #1 Italian Stallion

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