Zee: I woke up last Saturday and just blurted out “Let’s pretend we’re having our first date today!” Our first date has always been a point of contention as we started out as Twitter friends and eventually friends IRL and everything just magically fell into place (Okay, fine. It wasn’t like magic. MDJ struggled hard. Haha). I guess I just wanted to see how a “first date” with Mark would turn out.
MDJ: Here’s a painful truth I’ve long known about myself: I make a horrible first date. I’m painfully shy and introverted—let’s be frank, I hate people—and when I get nervous, I overcompensate and start blabbing to balance off the awkwardness I feel. And so to be completely blunt, I didn’t much like my chances when Zee suggested a “first date.”
Our Brief: Casual first date through a set-up/ blind date. Mark wanted it to have a millennial twist and said we met through Tinder. Ergo, we do not know each other and will have to get to know each other as we are now.
And so… game on.
Zee: At 2:30, we left our place and left behind our wedding rings. I was off to a derma appointment at 3:00 p.m. and pretended I was riding a cab on my way to the Belo Clinic at Bonifacio High Street. I left the house in a black sleeveless dress, patent leather, mustard yellow “boy shoes” and a Guns & Roses scarf (just in case it got cold). I never really thought about my outfit. I just thought I would wear what I usually would on a Saturday.
MDJ: I don’t really dress up much, so I just packed some good dark jeans, a pair of Doc Martens, and a navy v-neck shirt—I kinda wanted to rock a Chris Hemsworth sort of vibe, and he looks good in just a t-shirt and jeans.
How did you feel and prepare before the date?
Zee: I was pretty relaxed given it was my idea. That was until an hour before our date and realized that the person my hubby fell in love with five years ago has changed so much. It hit me that my date would not find me as interesting. Then I got nervous, panicked, looked at the red face that came from the derma and the girl who left the house with wet hair and rushed to the salon to have a blow-out and fix my face up with the three pieces of make-up I had in my bag. I mean, if I can’t be interesting, may as well look good. Right?
MDJ: I knew there were two things I wanted Zee to notice on our first date: That I was swoll, and that I was rosy. I hear chicks dig buff, mestizo boys, so that was my peg.
I figured I’d spend a couple of hours at Gold’s Gym to get my pump on, then get a facial cleaning at Belo for that pinkish, fresh-faced glow you usually get after a trip to the derma, as long as you’re not bleeding. I also read an article on the 15 best questions you should ask on a first date, since I know I’ve got no conversation game and needed all the help I could get.
What was your first impression of your date?
Zee: I got the same first impression I did when I first met MDJ in 2010. He was confident. He had funny messages, a hat and obviously worked out. He talked a lot and took charge of the date. I didn’t know if I liked the over- confidence or not so I automatically went on defensive mode. Stranger danger.
MDJ: She was a knockout. I literally didn’t see her coming until she was standing beside me, so I was genuinely surprised by how good she looked. My wife has great legs, whether she admits it or not, and the sun was setting just right to give her a dyosa aura. I also noticed she’s very proper and polite. She held out her hand and introduced herself as Zarah, which is name I hardly ever call her.
What were the highlights of your date?
- The food at Stella because we didn’t order “first date” food and ordered bone marrow, prawns and crispy pata.
- The “palm reading” trick just to hold my hand that he said he learned from his cousin. This is like the fourth time I’ve had a guy read my palm on a date. I never knew there were so many male palm readers out there and why their force is strong during first dates. He was cute doing it so, you know, I let him finish reading my fate.
- My stomach going hyper-acidic on me and I wanted to puke halfway through dinner and the rest of the night. I tried my best to keep it in and manage the discomfort because I didn’t want my date to think that I was “making up an excuse” to ditch him and he bought tickets to Ant-Man. Unfortunately, we got the 10:15 p.m. movie schedule and I had to find a way to return to normalcy, so we ended up inside the mall hoping the air-conditioning would make me feel better.
- Going inside Nars at BHS Central with a guy you’re on a first date with and the first thing the sales staff says out loud is “Ma’am, wala ka nang mabili dito. Meron ka na lahat.” *cringe*
- One of the most important things to me is that a girl should love to eat. For me, it speaks volumes of how in touch she is with her senses, and how carefree and un-self-conscious she is. In all honesty, I get annoyed with a girl who would order a salad nicoise and a glass of water on a date; it makes her seem so fussy and conscious. So I was so in love with how Zee just said yes to bone marrow, crispy pata, and prawns, and ate two women’s worth. That blew my mind, man. Finally, worthy competition.
- I love listening to her talk about her art to someone she was treating as a new person. Her face just lights up and she’s so engaged and energetic. I love her paintings because I’ve seen them, but just hearing her talk, I fell in love with the concept and the thinking behind her painting, even without seeing a single piece.
- Her daughter is the single most important piece of her life. She talked about her non-stop (and fine, Luna the pomeranian too), and while that would be a red flag for most dudes, I found it fascinating, and was honestly touched by how she was letting me into the personal part of her world on what was for all intents and purposes a first meeting.
What did you like most and like least about your date?
Zee: Apart from being tolerant of my stomach pain needs, I liked how sweet he seemed to be by serving me food and putting it on my plate. Unfortunately, what I liked least was also the fact that my date cleaned up the prawn shells on my plate after I ate them. I have, you know, personal space issues. Strangers can can put food on my plate but not take out from my plate. If my date got a piece of crispy pata from my plate, then that would be war.
MDJ: I guess the thing about pretty girls is that they learn to be cold and frigid on a first date, really making a dude sweat. I hated how the warm, funny, loving woman I’ve been coming home to for over two years was just transformed into a total snow queen. Even my killer palm-reading trick to hold her hand didn’t melt her like I thought it would.
What I loved though was how committed we both were to conversation. We’re normally such addicts to our phones, even on fancy dinners, and it was wonderful how for three straight hours, we didn’t check our phones even once except when the other left to powder their nose (her) or let out a fart that had been brewing (me).
Did you learn something new about each other?
Zee: That he liked wrestling. Five years ago, he never really brought up his obsession with wrestling. Just in passing, but now, he’s a loud and proud wrestling fan. I also got to clearly see what I loved the most about the man I married—he took care of me and served me during dinner and took care of me when I wasn’t feeling too well. Though I could see he didn’t know what to do when I said “I’m not feeling too well, I feel like puking.”
MDJ: That her art isn’t a hobby, but her life’s calling. It’s not something she’d had a lot of time for ever since I came into her life because I’m very selfish with her time, but I do realize I need to be more sensitive to it. I will be more respectful of it in the future. I also learned how lucky I am to be honored by her warm, secret, gentle side, because that’s not something she shows most people at all—it took ages until I met that side of her in real life, but not at all on this date.
Based on this date, would you proceed to have a second date?
Zee: Yes, I felt so bad wasting his money on cinema tickets and leaving because of my stomach ache. I really did try to keep it in but I was already having cold sweats and was scared I might puke at the fountain we ended up resting on. He deserves another date… to take away my guilt.
MDJ: Objectively and strategically speaking, the best thing for me was her canceling out on Ant-Man because of her tummy; it obliges her to see me a second time, she’d have her guard down a bit, and we’d have a laugh over an inside joke. She terrified me, and I don’t think I was at my best over dinner, so I’d definitely have welcomed a second chance to make a first impression, if that’s at all possible.
What was your key learning from this exercise?
Zee: Key learning is that going on a “first date” takes a lot of introspection and I am glad I’m not dating anymore. Secondly, God is the best matchmaker. I don’t think Mark and I would have ended up together if we met this way. We met in such a way that I had my guard down and the friendship was already established, it was perfect. The exercise also made me appreciate being married to Mark more. He definitely takes care of me. It was also so difficult not being able to touch him all through out the night, it felt weird not having my rings on.
MDJ: Just because people believe they’re “meant to be” means that you’d have ended up together no matter what circumstances you come together in, with zero effort whatsoever. We’re so blessed that we never really had a first date; we’d never have hit it off if our first time out was over a proper expensive dinner at some fancy restaurant. I guarantee if you’d put MDJ and Zee on a hundred first dates with each other, we’d probably never shoot for a second date 99 times out of it. We got lucky meeting the way we did, and that just means I need to treasure what we have even more and more.