Nerd Date: Geek Love On A Budget Jan09

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Nerd Date: Geek Love On A Budget


a blogumn by Clark Perry

Dating can be wonderful, amazing, and life-changing. Dating can also be pretty darned expensive.

As someone who just got their pink slip, I’ve been asking friends for tips on dating in these recessionary times. Here’s a rundown of the some of the best advice they gave me.

An Evening at Home:

nerdloveSounds lame, right? We do this all the time so it’s easy to disregard what makes a night like this special. Staying home is our usual fallback position. This is what you do when you don’t wanna do anything special. Everybody needs to just chill in their crib every now and then.

That’s why a special evening requires you to make your home an event, a destination. Clean up, add some flowers, set the mood with candles and music, and dress the part. No jeans or sweats — save that for the next day.

The meal will likely be the centerpiece of the evening. Cooking is one of the most romantic things you can do for a date (provided you do it at least adequately). Nothing shows affection like a home-cooked meal. My evenings almost always start with a little garlic simmering in olive oil, maybe followed by some chopped onion or minced fresh ginger. From there, I can easily steer the meal towards a curry, some pasta sauce, or even a tasty bruschetta topping.

Don’t like to cook? Then choose something easy that can be prepped ahead of time. Marinate some chicken in lemon juice, garlic and pepper. Throw this into a skillet or onto a grill and serve with a side salad and bread. Total cooking time: 15 minutes. Pasta is also easy and quick to make, and can often be as elegant as anything you order in a restaurant. If you’re completely useless in the kitchen, buy a good pizza crust (even Boboli will do) and you and your date can have fun dressing it up with your favorite toppings.

Afterwards, relax with a good movie. I prefer old Hollywood classics because something about black-and-white film sparks the romantic in me. Casablanca is a great date movie, filled with intrigue and romance and one of the most iconic screen couples of all time, Bogie and Bergman. Film noir is also a great genre choice, especially if it’s raining outside. Need something to lift your spirits? Pick a new rom-com or a classic chuckler. For my money, you can never go wrong with the hilarious films of Preston Sturges, especially Sullivan’s Travels.

If it’s the sort of date that’s gonna last all weekend … congratulations! Drink lots of water. For extended viewing pleasure, I’d recommend a binge involving a gripping TV show on DVD like Damages.

There are many ways to be intimate at home besides the obvious one.

It may be a good time to look through pictures of your last adventure together, whether it was a weekend at the beach or just goofing around in the mall photo booth. Framing one of those pictures makes for a great memento of the evening, as well.

And music doesn’t have to be in the background. Ever have an album party with someone? You each bring an album that means the world to you (I’d have a hard time choosing between The Beatles’ Revolver and Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp) and give it a listen in its entirety. Provide a commentary if you want — what you like, what this or that lyric means — or just let the music speak for itself.

In short, it doesn’t matter if your date involves a prime seat at a fancy restaurant or eating take-out Chinese on your couch at home. It’s the connection with your mate that matters. And if you work it right, there’s nothing more intimate or uninhibited than being in the comfort and safety of your own crib.

Mo’ Free Stuff:

What else can you do to have a great date on a budget? It’s a long list but here are some highlights.

Free stuff: Too often we blindly follow the mass delusion that anything good must cost money. Not so! From film screenings to art gallery openings, there are many cultural events out there that won’t cost you a dime. Rent a movie for free from your library for the above evening at home. Thrifty theater-lovers can often find “pay what you can” performances of shows. These might not fall on weekend nights, but the thrifty dater knows to be flexible.

Get outdoors: Spending time in nature makes for a great date. You’re being physically active, seeing the splendor of the world, and it’s the opportunity for great conversation. Hit the beach, take a hike, or throw that bike in the car and just go.

Everyone I talked to was endlessly innovative when it comes to dating on the cheap. I know this column doesn’t even scratch the surface. What are some of your tips for dating on a budget? Please sound off below and let us know.