Speechless in Manhattan

Newsflash: On Sunday, July 13, 2008, I will be going on a SILENT DATE.

You read that right. It will be at the Cloisters (which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and, yes, I will not be exchanging words – much less spit – with the guy for the duration of the date. Initially, I found the idea disturbing on many different levels. First, what kind of person would go on a silent date who’s not (a) a resident at the Sarasota Institute for the Deaf; (b) a rejected applicant to the Carthusian order of monks; and (c) a guy who lives in his mother’s basement and calls himself Norman? Second, is there any New Yorker who would even consider going on such a date with me? But my biggest beef with this has to be the idea that, after deciding to give up sex, I’m now being made to give up speech as well. I feel like I’m in an episode of The Twilight Zone where my body parts and functions shut down one after the other and even the most innocuous organs like pancreas and appendix are besieged by rigor mortis.

So you ask: How did I end up agreeing to go on this silent date anyway? And who,  for crying out loud, asked? Well, last Friday, I posted an ad in the “Strictly Platonic” section of Craigslist – my dignity is taking a little beating now – asking for Better Than Sex suggestions.  I got responses, a number of them tame and well-meaning but rather uninspired and one asking me how much I would charge to write a political blog about “The Republic of Florida”. Then there’s this email:

what a great idea for a blog and a life challenge. kudos to you my sexless friend.

here’s an idea: go on a CL “date” that’s a little different. you and your “date” will go to a quiet part of NYC (i.e. Cloisters in Inwood). neither of you can:

1) talk (or even write)

2) touch in any way

it would be an exercise in non-verbal communication in one of the noisiest, verbal places on the planet.

Overlooking the fact that the writer has a glaring issue with capitalization, I was intrigued by the idea. Calling the date “a little different” would be an understatement but, since I’m on the quest for experiences that could be novel and surprising, I thought I’d entertain the idea and at least think of a guy or two who might be up for going on this date with me. When that mental search yielded zero, I thought that it probably won’t happen but I emailed back the person thanking him for his offbeat idea.

Hours later, he – it turns out he was a guy – replies.

After checking out your delightful blog I gotta say that I would love to be your date to the Cloisters. I actually have never been there either, and going on a silent date has always been one of my life dreams.

Tell me if you’re game and we’ll stop talking ASAP. 🙂

[S.D. or Silent Date]

(pic attached)

Now the guy – if it really was him in the picture – was cute. I’d say a younger, boy-next-door incarnation of Robert Downey, Jr., my favorite ex-convict. Still, this is Craigslist where 48-year-old men in Philly post ads inviting guys to mutually masturbate in their model train room “and then after you finish you can stomp and kick the trains like a monster…also I have lots of imitation crab meat in my freezer that I need to get rid of so you can have a bunch when you leave.” (This is 100% authentic. I would never be able to make this kind of thing up.) Given this precedent, I thought it my moral responsibility to Google-stalk my date right away, whoever he was. I did and let’s just say that I felt a little more comfortable about going out with S.D. I emailed him asking about the specific rules for the silent date and after 20 minutes, he replied:

here are the rules (amend them as you see fit)…

1) we meet at the cloisters — you have the bulldog with you just so i know it’s you

2) we can not touch at all throughout the day. not a handshake hello or even to save the other from a large bear. 

3) we can not speak at all. not even “god bless you” after a sneeze.

4) we can not write to each other. we can only signal with our hands and make eye-contact.

5) we are each allowed THREE accidental transgressions with any the rules above. (bring a writing pad in the event of a communication emergency.)

since i’ve read parts of your blog, it’s only fair that you saw my picture. however it would behoove us to not do any other Internet research on the other person. [Note: My Google-stalking doesn’t count as a violation since I did it before I got this email but I made sure not to look him up again after this.]

the point of this experiment is to see what happens without too many words, expectations (especially of sex), and sounds in general. in other words: the most defenseless date possible in New York City.

Now that I think about it, it does sound very Zen, this silent date affair. See no evil, Speak no evil, Sleep no evil. Will this be actually Better Than Sex, though? I can’t wait to find out.   

This is where we’ll be having our date. 

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3 Responses to “Speechless in Manhattan”

  1. That’s fucking (or not so fucking) awesome! I can’t wait to hear about your non-verbal, alter communicative date. I wish you the best gesticulations!

  2. O…M….G

  3. […] If my date and I hit it off, it will be the meet-cute of meet-cutes – Two gay guys in New York City! The Cloisters! Blind date! No talking or touching at all!– easily beating runaway heiress Claudette Colbert and world-weary ex-reporter Clark Gable fighting over the last seat on a bus in “It Happened One Night” or bookshop owner Hugh Grant spilling orange juice all over megastar Julia Roberts’ white crop top in “Notting Hill”. And 38 years and 3 grandchildren later, this: “Grandpa, tell us again the story of how you and Popo [the nickname I’ve picked for my future husband, whoever he will be] first met!” Besides, the story of how the silent date got set up in the first place is destined to be a Craigslist-era classic in itself. (You can read it all over again here.) […]

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