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Modern Dating 101

"There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainmentcan be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted. " - Source Unknown

The modern world is definitely one with a new set of challenges and rules. This was recently brought to my attention in a very personal way - a flight to Florida with the great guy I'm dating. Enter into the mix the magic of airline upgrades and you have a modern day dating conundrum. Ready to weigh in?

If one of the two of you is offered a bump to First Class, is it okay for a) the guy to take it - after all it was his mileage that qualified him, b) he makes the gallant gesture to decline and sit with his now-stranded date back in coach, as originally planned, c) the woman agrees to take it - her date immediately offered, or d) both decline and remain in coach, thus ensuring the upgrade gods never visit their house again.

As it turned out, the woman (me) would not take any upgrade earned by her date to leave him languishing in coach on their vacation trip across the US. He earned it. It's his, fair and square. Post-feminism at its finest. Thus my date did take the seat in the cush section, a look of duress on his gentle face as the flight attendant slid the curtain closed. "They were supposed to upgrade us both," he whispered, perturbed. "We're on the same itinerary!" She handed him a chilled glass of wine. I folded my knees to my chest and settled in. The demarkation of social class was complete.

My seat mates, having gleaned the details of the unfolding mini-drama from the last minute upgrade call, smiled at me in jovial comraderie. Within moments an informal poll had taken place in rows 26 and 27. The Army Captain shook his head, "No way he should have taken that seat, man, even if you wouldn't. Not if he expects you to date him long, I mean no way." The Gramma in 27E pulled out her knitting and studied me kindly over the top of her half-glasses. "Dear, the time will fly and we'll be there in no time." Her husband grunted, "At least one of you will be rested." The tall guy in the neon orange hunting cap and camouflage jacket stared at the closed curtain in horror - "My girlfriend would have killed me." I texted my daughter and son at their respective colleges. My son, captive at the US Naval Academy laughed, "Haha, poor you. You're going to Florida." My daughter, the Yalie, "Oh, poor form!" The older guy in his wrinkled brown suit unlocked his laptop and merely sighed. I began to think about the dilemma as a rite of modern dating: The Issue of the Upgrade. What is the chivalrous male or female to do?

While it feels on the surface that the best idea is to just not take the upgrade for either, and thus nullify the angst, the entire purpose of the airline reward program is sidestepped by such a choice and the considerable benefit missed. Why fly if you don't utilize the benefits earned by that frequent do-si-do down the coach aisle? On the other hand, most of the single men voted for "decline and offer to the lady." The intrinsic value of the gesture, combined with any actual pleasure your date gleans sitting in the luxury seat is worthy of the sacrifice. "Date with your best foot forward" seems to be the gist of the single male argument. The married men were by far more practical - trade it off, take it yourself, whose driving when you get there, whose got the bad back? The single women, especially the business travelers, voted most for "decline and sit together." The point apparently the date itself - travel chat, seating side by side, an opportunity to nod off and sleep on someone's shoulder.

Now while I didn't nod off and lean on the Captain's shoulder, and Gramma and I ran out of conversational steam after the first row of knit-purl, and my date later informed me food service in his leg of First Class consisted of chips and flat wine, I decided this was just one of those issues you couldn't really answer right or wrongly. We agreed to hope it didn't arise again. Click the upgrade option "Together or not at all" and that would be that.

The next leg of our trip we paused in the terminal and eagerly looked up at the upgrade board. Maybe this time they would take us both! There it was, the upgrade priority list. He was #7... I was #19. Can't beat the peanuts.
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