Ned Greene has been a bartender in the Boston area since the ’90s. His current post is behind the bar at Highland Kitchen, where a great many ‘Villens have taken dates, be it their first or their fiftieth. Greene took a break from stocking the bar to share a few of the highs and lows and tips and tricks of dating that he’s picked up over his many years of observation.
Don’t kill your date.
“If someone’s allergic to peanuts, on your first or second date, don’t order the dish that has the peanuts,” Greene advises. (It sounds like a no-brainer, but he says you’d be surprised.) Less intense restrictions like lactose intolerance can get a pass, but if you hear your date reveal an allergy during their order, try to avoid ordering something that could send them into anaphylactic shock.
Alcohol is a social lubricant, but try to “stay in the same canoe.”
Greene is a bartender, so he knows quite well how that first drink can calm your nerves. But he warns against ordering a second drink too quickly, or trying to match your date drink for drink. “They’ll order another drink, and not that they shouldn’t have, but the timing is all weird. They’ve had one sip out of their glass of wine and they kind of look at you and say, ‘OH, I’LL HAVE ANOTHER GLASS OF WINE,’ and you [think], ‘Oh, well you’ve just had one sip,’” he says. Getting tipsy—or even drunk—is bartender approved. But make sure to drink at your own pace so you’re on the same level!
Be yourself, be polite, and be present.
If you want to make it to a second date, or even the altar, “you don’t want to have the Queen’s manners and then, you know, you’re picking your nose on date four,” says Greene. This is a careful balance to strike. We all have our flaws, ranging from the familiar to the freaky. Exposing enough of those flaws to seem human while holding back the other stuff until it’s safe can be hard, but focussing on the “polite” and “present” parts get you most of the way there.
“I don’t know [how] they met, but this was clearly an early date and she was not going to have anything to do with this guy,” Greene recalls. “[She was] just literally watching him eat, and he wasn’t even picking up on that … I think that compounded it and made it worse … She was looking for Prince Edward, and he was Oscar the Grouch.”
No judgement to the serial daters—but don’t think it goes unnoticed.
Highland Kitchen is a classy joint, so Greene didn’t have too many salacious stories to tell us. But he did say that the folks serving your drinks notice when you have a routine. “We also see people that have been in for a second or third date, and then you say, ‘Wow, they really have a type,’” he says, “or, ‘Is that the same guy? No, that’s not the same guy. You know, he’s just really stocky with with short blond hair. I guess that’s her scene.’”
Bartenders want you to succeed.
Greene cares about his customers, so when he sees that you’re on a date, he’ll do what he can to help. “We can tell, sometimes, like, oh, we’re going to leave them alone, they’re hitting it off. And sometimes … you can tell that it might actually work, and you can play a little bit to break the ice, make some stupid joke as a bartender, make fun of yourself a little.”
If it’s a blind date: DO NOT HUG THEM.
This is perhaps the most emphatic piece of advice Greene had to give us. If the date is wrapping up, you’ve had a good drink or meal and it feels right, then maybe go for an embrace. But pressing your entire body against someone who’s never met you is probably not the most comfortable way to make an introduction.
“It’s a little too much, too soon. You might even have a rapport online that would justify it … but I’ve definitely seen a dude go for the hug (this happened to be a heterosexual couple), and she was like—” Greene cringes. “You can have a really nice handshake with someone and be totally fine.”
It’s a wild world out there for the single soul, but Greene left us with inspiring words. His sister met her husband online during the ‘90s—truly a pioneer of internet dating—and they’re still together.
No word, though, as to whether or not they hugged on their first date.