Bobby Darin

Conventional Dates --- Phooey!

Bobby and JoAnn Campbell

The article appeared in the April 1959 issue of Motion Picture Magazine.
These were Bobby's ideas on dating and were told to Barbara Henderson.

MOTION PICTURE told me to be frank, but they didn't know what they were saying. I don't date, see. I go out.

I can count on my fingers how many dates I've had. Ten, about.

All this phony talk, and not really getting to know each other because you're both so worried trying to live up to the other person's illusions about you. Very ill.

If you ask me, the only good date is no date. At least not in the "conventional" sense.

Maybe the trouble with me was I had to work after hours when I was in high school, so I didn't have time for luxuries like having a nervous breakdown over what girl to take to the senior hop.

I had lots of friend-girls though. They were mostly girls I could drop in and visit, or meet somewhere and take for a Coke without planning it for a week in advance. Mainly, they were girls I could talk to, because I wasn't strangled by dating conventions. Calling a girl up a week in advance? Who knows what's doing a week from now? Let me give you an example of the kind of thing that can happen:

I met this chick. A real doll. This, I thought, is for me. Then I started talking to her. That was my first mistake.

"Honey," I said, "you are my teenage delight. You are practically my queen of the hop. There is only one thing you must never ask me to do."

So, she looked at me with big question marks in her sugar-coated baby blue eyes. "Honey," I replied, "my life is yours. I promise faithfully to rock when you roll. But please -- no matter what, never ever ask me to take you out on a date."

It could have been beautiful. We were meant for each other. But she didn't dig my line. She took it personally.

I don't know what's the matter with women these days. Dates are harder on the girl than the guy. Especially first dates. They're the worst.

The day before, the girl spends hours worrying about what to wear, washes her hair two or three times, walks around with a mouthful of bobby pins, changes her mind at the last minute, and makes her mother iron the blouse she forgot was in the closet. Then comes the big moment. The doorbell rings. In walks Romeo. Suddenly the girl remembers something crucial back in her room. She dumps the guy on her parents -- usually her father -- and cuts out. Her old man looks him over, and tries to think of something to say that will make the kid feel like less of a cluck. Before he comes up with anything, the girl tears back into the room and snags her high heels on the carpet. The guy helps her on with her coat, a frantic manuever that can take 10 to 15 minutes.

Scene shifts to the movie house. The happy couple pretend to concentrate on the movie. But he's wondering if he should try to hold her hand the first time and where should they go after the show and she's sitting there crushed because he hasn't tried to hold her hand, and what did she do wrong, and will he ask her out again?

Finally, they get around to talking -- if you can call it that. They dig in at a soda fountain table, glare at each other over the top of their straws and fire away. "Great show," says the guy. "Umm," says the girl, still peeved because he didn't hold her hand.

By this time they're really swingin.' Then it's time to go. He pays the check -- three-fourths of his weekly allowance. He takes her home. At the door she gets overcome with tenderness. "A great big thanks," she says. "Great show."

She's crushed again. No goodnight kiss. "Um," says the guy. This dame is a real iceberg, he decides. But he likes to torture himself so he says, "See you next week."

The girl closes the door and faints from ecstasy. He asked her out again! That does it every time. She tells her mom the guy is a doll. She tells her friends he's a dream. When her mom says, "What did you talk about?" she says "Everything!" When her friends ask about his technique, she practically swoons.

Dates are a bundle of fun, bubbles in the wine, whipped cream on the hot dog.

But mainly, dates are poison. Dates are sicker than the Chinese water torture.

Dates are also boring. The formalities of hand-holding. The peck on the check. It's all forced and anything forced is ill.

You can't get to know a girl on a date. I can get to know a girl in ten minutes. Ten minutes of just talking. Whether it's quiet and private or in the middle of a party. But it can't be on a date.

It's hard to be me on a date. It's hard to be anybody. If I feel like swinging like a monkey on the subway strap, I want to be able to do it without worrying whether my date will think it's not the conventional thing to do.

Or maybe something will hit me in the middle of an Italian restaurant and I'll yell for Wonton soup.

If you have a date, there seems to have to be a theme for the evening. Like dancing.

I mean dancing all evening. To have to dance all evening and not want to do anything else may be conventional, may be what everybody else is doing, but it's a drag. Or there's the other theme. You go to the movies. That's the bit for that evening, very educational. A whole evening of dancing and nothing else, or a whole evening of the double feature and nothing else. That's a way to get to know somebody? I doubt it.

The only thing that's worse than a date, is a blind date. I absolutely never blind date. If I ever did, we'd probably both be in for an awful surprise. I've seen my friends get stung plenty of times. The least you can do is do yourself the favor of getting an intro ahead of time.

But one thing a guy should never do is let a girl go home alone. It's not the thing. I'll always take a girl home even if she lives on the tip of Long Island which on the subway at 2:00 a.m. is about as far away from my home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, as California. But I take the girl home.

Probably my main trouble was that I was much more interested in how to get into show business at 10 than how to date at 11. I cleaned stores after school, and worked at hotels in the mountains in the summer. Most of the guys I knew weren't heavy daters either. Most of us had responsibilities at home that came first.

All the girls I knew were lovely, sweet -- and married by now. I cut myself off from most of them because I merely could not take the time for all the ridiculous conventions of dating.

Picking a girl up! Meeting her father! I'm all for the father -- I think more of a father and mother who want to meet the boy -- but that's not for me, Jack. All this censorship!

It's annoying. I'm an honorable citizen. I don't have to answer to anybody. I know what's proper and what's not.

Fortunately, I'm not forced to date the conventional way. My mom, for example. She's there when I need her. Anything I do is all right with her. She trusts me not to do anything sick.

The business I'm in is a fast kind of game. Most of the girls I meet now are in show business, too. They understand that l'm a career guy, and that means very little time for outside interests such as serious involvements with a female.

The way I avoid conventional dates is in asking myself: What's the purpose of a date anyway? It's to have a good time, isn't it? So I do everything I can to insure a good time. Number one, I don't set up any standards or values or expectations. Not about the other person, or the evening.

The only way a good time will come of itself is when two people jell. Not because the guy has a fancy car or the girl bought a new dress, but because they just like being together. There's as much to sitting on the porch holding hands as there is in going to a fancy theater.

That's the main fault with the way kids date. John calls up Jane to go to a show. That's all they should expect. A show. Period. As soon as they start expecting something more, they're disappointed. That's why so many first dates flop. Because the kids never go out for the first time together without building everything in their minds ahead of time. Then comes the letdown.

If they would just go -- and be themselves. Laugh and stop worrying so much, they'd actually have a good time!

Of course, you have to think about certain things. The guy shouldn't come in his sneakers, and the girl shouldn't wear her father's shirt. But aside from looking nice and being natural there's nothing to worry about. The best kind of date -- the only kind of date I ever have -- is one where I don't plan. It's pressureless. Usually I don't even have time to think about it more than 10 minutes in advance.

All of a sudden I look at my schedule. The evening's free. I call up a girl. (I have lots of girl friends now.) A couple of them are very close. Even though I've never actually dated them.

I never worry about what the girl wears either. I'm very uncritical about woman's clothes. I like her hair to be neat and I like a face that's easy to look at. Mainly, I like girls who are young, but have real grown-up think-equipment.

She doesn't have to be well-read. Just as long as she knows how to read. I like a little schooling. Not academically, but socially. It helps if she understands me. You know how it is. Tomorrow I'll be depressed and go lock myself up in my room. The next evening I'll walk out and have a ball.

Mostly, I'm for doing what you feel like when you go out. I'm for what each person feels for the other. Sudden impulses. Sudden kisses. If you want to kiss a girl and it's mutual, then you should do it. If you're going to swing, swing!

It's funny, but I can only remember one of the 10 dates I've been on in my life. What I remember is sitting in a restaurant making a lot of sick conversation, then standing on a street corner for half an hour trying to decide what to do, finding out it's time to go home anyway, and getting to her house, where I gave her a quick kiss on the nape of the neck. I never saw her again.

Oh well. Bobby Darin trying to tell teenagers not to date! MOTION PICTURE told me to be frank but not out of my mind ...

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