Photo by Kyle Phanroy

Trust Niko Savvas… he’s a professional

 

In Vietnam, dating is like singing: most people are terrible at it, yet they do it all the time. The problem is endemic. If you’ve lived here a while and are or were single, you’ve probably had at least a handful of truly awful dates. And each time you likely found yourself thinking: Dear god, when will this be over?

 

You are a busy person, and your time is valuable. You can’t afford to waste precious hours of your life listening to ugly, boring people talk about their ugly, boring problems. You’ve got more important things to do. If you wanted to hear a tedious spiel about deadbeat fathers, you’d answer your kids’ phone calls.

 

There’s a simple and effective way to avoid these unpleasant situations: don’t go on dates. Unfortunately, most people refuse to take this advice. Hope springs eternal in the human breast, though it probably shouldn’t, and nothing is more hopeful or stupid than a person who hasn’t gotten laid lately.

 

With this in mind, here is a guide to making your next inept foray into romance as swift and painless as possible.

 

Choose an Unsuitable Location

 

Think of the last place you had fun on a date (then weep at the thought of your wasted youth). Call to mind the music, the food, the ambience — what were the specific reasons you felt happy there?

 

You’ll want to pick a spot that is the exact opposite of that place. If your date is lactose-intolerant, a frozen yogurt emporium would be perfect. If his English is poor and you are hard of hearing, choose the loudest discotheque in the city. If he can’t swim, go to the pool — your problem may resolve itself quicker than you’d think!

 

It’s important for both you and your date to dislike the venue equally. If you choose a place that your date can tolerate with little effort, you may find yourself trapped there for hours, lingering like a stale elevator fart.

 

Dress to Depress

 

According to National Geographic, roughly 30 percent of neurons in the human brain are devoted to sight. We place a great deal of importance in what we can see. Coincidentally, the other 70 percent of our brain’s neurons are devoted to criticising what we see. The clothes you wear can send a clear message to your date about how little you value his company.

 

It’s common knowledge that horizontal stripes make you look taller and eyeglasses make you look like a f***** nerd, but why stop there? There are literally thousands of fashion don’ts that can smother your date’s libido before it stirs. Here are some of the more popular ones:

 

Choose a heavy, stiff-necked shirt that will cause you to sweat profusely. In Vietnam’s humid climate, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for large, dark sweat-rings to start leaking from your armpits. Around your neck, drape the fur of the most endangered animal you can find. Flaunt your stretch marks.

 

Bore Them to Tears

 

There’s still a chance that your date will be so starved for human interaction that he won’t notice your elaborate attempts at sabotage. You’ll need to ratchet up the intensity if you have any hope of binging on Game of Thrones and microwaved Indian food later.

 

While politics, religion, and your grandmother’s views on late-term abortions are normally excellent conversation topics, try to avoid controversial subjects that might pique your date’s interest. Instead, focus on the horrific injustices you have endured since early childhood.

 

Were you a better fingerpainter than Bart Larsen? You’re goddamn right you were, even if you don’t have the smiley-face stickers to prove it. Don’t stop there. No schoolyard anecdote is too hackneyed, no familial quarrel too insipid, no venereal disease too pus-filled to refrain from mentioning. Be careful, though. If your date finds anything relatable in your stream of inanities, you may never get to find out whom Khaleesi is pissing off this week.

 

If That Doesn’t Work…

 

The ancient Japanese practice of Seppuku, literally “stomach-cutting”, was once common among disheartened samurai. While sliding a razor-sharp sword into your abdomen might seem like a drastic measure to get out of a date, it still beats nursing a watery glass of ca phe da at 2am.

 

Niko Savvas

Niko Savvas is the online editor at Word. He is biased against your favorite things. Correspond with him via niko@wordvietnam.com, an electronic mail address on the World Wide Web.

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