I quite like the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye, which makes me the rule, not the exception. It's great (fab) television. (Except for the flippant manner in which a Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter resolution is forced in Episode 3.) Mostly, Queer Eye rules. At its core, the show is about empowerment, no matter how you identify. So at the risk of co-opting advice meant for men, I imagined how the Fab Five would upgrade my first date ideas.
To be transparent about my stance on first dates: I'm in the midst of a podcast in which I have been going on many dates in order to get out there after losing my mom last year and subsequently, the desire to meet anyone new. I have gone on 23 dates so far, to be exact. (Woof.) But grabbing drinks on Tuesdays with nice gentlemen from the same two apps, wearing the same barely sultry sweater has grown monotonous. I need a dating makeover! I need Jonathan van Ness to give me a pep talk! (@JVN, I've definitely watched your Insta stories to pump me up before dates.)
Inspired by the five categories featured on the show — Fashion, Grooming, Food & Wine, Culture, and Design — I dreamed up how the Fab Five would encourage us all to upgrade our first date mentalities. Let's maybe call it manifestation?
Jonathan Van Ness is my personal favorite of the Fab Five. His specialty is grooming, and like Tan, he has many tangible tips for men on how they should cut their hair and why SPF is a necessity. While I don't doubt Jonathan could give any one of us an excellent groom-sesh pre-date, my favorite part of his presence on the show is his unrelenting positivity.
In one of my favorite moments from the show, Jonathan gives some advice on how to de-stress: "Make a phone with your hand. Inhale through your right nostril; hold it. Exhale through the left. Inhale through the left; hold it. Exhale through the right. Repeat the same process for about a minute and watch your worries melt away for a gorgeous day." Breathing exercises are proven ways to calm yourself down, and if you get pre-date jitters, Jonathan's advice is meant for you. (I know I'll be trying it.)
I'm not going to delve into the "Can he?"/"Can't he?" when it comes to Antoni and his ability to cook. Yes, the Greek yogurt addition to guacamole was questionable, but hey, I've never tried it.
I think the lesson to take from Antoni — head of food and wine — is not to stress the small stuff, like the food or drink on a date. I've been guilty of stressing over how casual or formal a bar a date picked, as if somehow this would allow me to read their minds and intentions. Hot tip: it's just a drink. Or meal. It's not that big of a deal.
Antoni told Vulture that he the best advice he's been given since the show came out has been to ignore the press, good or bad. "I maintain a healthy amount of ignorance," he says. I mean, what am I going to do, cry about it? I have to laugh! It just goes with the territory. I signed up for this." Same with dating — some people will like you, and some will hate you. Go into a first date with less riding on it.
Oh, and another important tip to take from Antoni: bring up one cool thing that you're into on a first date. Yes, I'm referring to his band tees and the tee featuring Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life. I wouldn't wear a Strokes t-shirt, but mentioning what you like is always a good move.
Karamo, the culture chair of Queer Eye, is someone you might recognize from The Real World: Philadelphia, which is a fact I can't stop spouting because I love this ascension through the ranks of reality TV from really popular network in 2004 to really popular streaming service in 2018. While yes, Karamo's advice to most of the men on the show is to go out and do things they normally wouldn't, you don't necessarily need to go boxing or to a Broadway show on a first date.
What you can do is pick a bar with an activity like bowling or pinball. But more importantly, I think Karamo's best moments are when he goes full blown life coach on his "clients." In Episode 2, Karamo preaches wisdom we could all use before a first date: "He needs to know that being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows that you're in tune with yourself." SAME GOES FOR DATES! Be yourself, it's v. sexy.
OK, OK, so you might not use a bed on a first date, but you also totally might. In the first episode of Queer Eye, Bobby Berk, tsar of design, shared this advice: "If you have back problems, sleeping on a soft mattress is murder." Which, of course, is very literal. While Bobby seemingly does the most work of the Fab Five on the Domino-esque redesigns of the mens' houses and apartments, I'm not going to suggest to install new countertops as a way to prepare for your first date.
However, I think we can take this as an analogy for dating: if you have intimacy issues (hi! me!), sleeping with an unavailable mattress is murder (great to know). Dating people who are bad for you is never fun.
And all in all, after binging QE twice, the main takeaways I got from the Fab Five is to be true and kind to yourself and to be open-minded and accepting of others. I think this is excellent first date advice.
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