My favorite date in the history of all dates

 Posted by on June 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm  Season 6
Jun 112013


I don’t know what you’re expecting. I mean, a couple of alter kockers arrange a meeting like this. It sounds very old world, but it doesn’t feel like it. I mean, you’re a sexy girl, and you smell great. You don’t need to be set up. And I sure as hell didn’t arrange this. I mean, I’m sure my father told you what a Lothario I am but I’m not. I’m very anxious about it. I’ve never had sex, not even once.

Let me just first say that the whole premise of fix-ups and this manner of dating just melts me. And it is probably its own version of nightmare, but I don’t care–in the entirety of my 48 years, all of them unmarried, I’ve never encountered it. I’ve never been invited to a dinner party at the home of my married friends* only to be seated next to a dashing, or desperate, age-appropriate single male co-worker of one the hosts. I have never so much as heard of a real-life (as opposed to “Happy Days”) situation where a guy has asked his girlfriend to bring along a friend for his friend–this universe, awkward as it may have been, is science fiction to me.

Beverly knew she was a heading into set-up; Michael did not. In fairness, his father probably made the right, albeit manipulative call–Michael would have never agreed to it, certainly not coming from his father. Beverly, as it turns out, had seen a photo of Michael, which piqued her interest.

Poor guy was not prepared–he would have showered, etc. AND HE SAID AS MUCH. I love that. And yet? HE TOOK HER TO A DINER. Why you gotta do that? Now, I don’t know if a diner was precisely the same squished head on the restaurant totem pole then as it is now, but it was definitely down there; distinct from fine dining. So, was it that he didn’t have reservations? Felt under-dressed for something better? Even taking into consideration that he is likely paying the bulk of he and his father’s living expenses–he can afford it. He should have a halfway decent income–maybe not as much as if he were a family man, but still. Ginsberg is an important team member. And also, as such, he has been around the world of clients; he’s been out of the lower-income all-Jewish neighborhood, and he knows how to impress a girl. Is he just cheap? I’m going with the theory that he already assumes this thing is destined to be a disaster, so why put in effort; why look like he’s putting in the effort. He’s fulfilling on his own insecurities. Later on, when he calls himself out; “I ordered soup?” it is probably the same thing–I think right there he could have said, “I brought you to a diner?”

Let’s walk through it, shall we?

He asks her if she likes kids, then realizes how intense that sounds, then says as much.

She is a student teacher, getting her Master’s at Hunter. Yes, she likes kids. Some kids = a glimmer of her feist.

(My mom went to Hunter, though did not graduate at that time–too busy with the marrying and the having kids. Hunter, in Manhattan, had been an all-women’s school until the 50s, and was an elite public college.)

: I just really can’t believe he brought you to the apartment.
She: Stop saying that. You don’t know where I live.
He: Well it’s kind of early to find out. Isn’t it?
She: Yes I suppose it is.

He was amazing– it was a great flirt, just one side or the other of too much, and he made terrific eye contact. And her response was just as great. These are two adults, being playful.

Then his panicked stream of vom-consiousness. I usually do a first viewing uninterrupted, but I had to rewind my DVR–did he really just say that he’d never had sex? OUT LOUD? And how can that possibly be? Again, returning to the moment just before; I saw confidence. He knows how to be with women. He may be guileless, but he seems like he’s in the game. He is handsome, he is a character, and he has a sexy job–anyone remember the boys in the pilot at the burlesque show? He smokes pot**, which certainly lowers that particular guard. Whatever the anxiety is about; whatever code he is adhering too, it must be fierce.

And she is delicious. Smart and comfortable and beautiful. She manages to set a boundary and still let him know she’s interested and probably a yes down the road.

But I just fell all the way in love with Michael. Direct, clumsy and elegant–all in one mess of a perfect date.

Of note–they’re drinking coffee with dinner. That’s how they used to do it, coffee with your meal in a diner.

*I know, Anne B.; you’re going to read this and tell me if you lived on my coast you’d already be on the phone arranging such a dinner. And I’d come.
**Well I thought he smoked pot when I wrote this, but in A Tale of Two Cities, he says he doesn’t touch the stuff. So um, never mind.


  25 Responses to “My favorite date in the history of all dates”

  1. Watching old movies, I’ve always noticed how people would drink coffee with their meals, something my parents did as well. Although I’m a devoted coffee-drinker (black coffee, at that), it just never seemed appropriate for washing down your meat and potatoes! Before dinner or after dinner, particularly with dessert, fine, but never WITH the meal!

    • It may be a mid west thing. I do this as do half my friends and relatives. Maybe a rural thing. Anyone out there from Kansas/ Oklahoma/Texas?

    • They may still do it in England. When I was living there and teaching at a college, although back in the 1980s, maybe early ’90s, some of my *students* would drink coffee/milk/sugar with spaghetti bolognese at lunch. It seemed astonishing to me – and I’m someone who was their age in the ’60s.

    • People drink it with breakfast, of course, but I never see people drink it with lunch or dinner anymore. This may be partly due to the fact that the consumption of regular of coffee has declined with the last couple generations.

    • It may be related to age. My grandmother always ordered coffee with meals in restaurants.

      • My husband’s mother and grandparents drink coffee with every meal. She’s in her 50s and they are in their 70s. We live in Kentucky.

    • My husband, Canadian and in his fifties, does it quite often when we’re in a restaurant or diner. I only do it if it’s a particularly cold day, or if I could really use a dosage of caffeine.

    • Yeah, my parents and grandparents did the same. I don’t know how they ever got any sleep!

    • My mother (born in 1947) will drink coffee with any meal, even in the summer. She grew up in New England.

  2. I loved this scene. It was so early Woody Allen. I hope there’s a second date.

  3. I get the idea there was no second date, not yet anyway. Hope I’m wrong

  4. I always saw the Bradys (from the Brady Bunch) drinking milk at dinner.

    • Isn’t drinking milk at dinner, when you’re a kid (surely Mike and Carol Brady weren’t drinking milk) totally normal? I drank milk with dinner every night throughout my childhood until, oh, at least high school. In fact, at our house, there was a rule that if you spilled your milk, you didn’t get dessert. (I grew up in a big family, and my mom must have come up with that rule after wipIng up one too many glasses of spilled milk. She wasn’t a Betty about it — she didn’t freak out — but she was no Megan about it either. And I suspect that Megan’s Disneyland reaction to the spilled mIlk(shake) wouldn’t have lasted past the, oh the 20th glass of spilled milk.)

  5. First, thanks for the Lady and the Tramp image. That was the first movie I was taken to see in a theater, at about age 4. My mom didn’t approve of most Disney movies (as with those “family” sitcoms of the 50s and 60s that we also never watched, she thought they painted too rosy a view of love and marriage); but she liked dogs and I guess thought this story might be safe. Of course it backfired on her–I ended up marrying two “tramps” (poor guys instead of the rich ones she would have preferred).

    On the coffee thing: my family (parents born 1916/20) often drank it with meals in restaurants, although they never bothered to brew it for lunch or dinner at home. There, we had it after dinner with dessert–but only if there were guests. We were from Louisville KY. I remember going to a Howard Johnson’s circa 1960 (again, around age 4), They had these little demitasse coffee cups already at everyone’s place setting and Mother let me have a cup–with lots of cream. Yum.

    Possibly the reason M&B went to the diner was that it was kosher. I remember thinking that as I watched the scene and tried to read the stuff on the walls to see if it referred to milk or meat. (I’m betting it’s the same set that they’ve used for “Peggy’s” coffee shop & Harry & Paul’s “veggie” meal. It’s TV, kids.)

    As for the cost of the meal, I remember M’s dad thrusting $ into his hands to take her. And knowing his dad, the amount wouldn’t have bought a fancy meal. Remember, Michael borrowed lunch money from Megan all the time. I bet he goes home, gives Dad his check and buys almost nothing himself. Gets sent to work with cheap bag lunches (a la Peggy Olson, circa 1960). Maybe doesn’t even have a checking or savings account. (And who buys those clothes? Him? Dad? Yikes.)

    I do think we’ll see or at least hear about Beverly again. Matt doesn’t invest that kind of time and $ in a scene unless it’s going to have a plot payoff. (I still think we’ll hear back about Paul in LA too, and was disappointed there was no reference to him in the recent Tale of Two Cities visit; but the audience expected that, so Danny Siegel was a nice twist.)

    Thanks for bringing this up. There’s been a lot of rich character development this season, but it’s gotten buried by the sheer number of new and old characters they’ve had to keep spinning in the air.

    I’d really like to see them “kill off” some of our darlings in the next two episodes. Would make for great online chatter over the summer and for a much tighter final season. But I know that’s hard if the combined agency is taking off, as it seems to be. I really expected the biz to tear apart by the end of the season. It’s still possible, and I’m glad it won’t be due to Ted and Don. That would be too much Don and Duck in Season 2.

    • If the company’s demise does occur, I’m thinking Cutler will be the cause. He seems to have been working against the new agency being successful, almost to the point of deliberate sabotage. Sending Benson to the Manishewitz meeting in his place is the one example that comes to mind.

    • L’il Sally, you have it wrong. Megan borrowed lunch money from Ginzberg (she owed him $15 when she left SCDP), not the other way around.

  6. Thanks for the link that defines “alter kocker.” Being a Catholic from California, some of these Yiddish terms are over my head.

  7. At least Ginsberg did not get set up with the route man Peggy’s mom had arranged for Peggy.

  8. As bad as Ginsberg’s wardrobe is, it’s improved. He’s spending something.

    The diner reminds me SO MUCH of Silver Linings Playbook.

  9. Was too caught up in the MLK thing to notice what a quietly beautiful, Say Anything like, scene that was. Thank you, Roberta.
    Love Ginzo, have a man-crush on him.
    I never thought anything was wrong with his clothes. Always thought he was appropriately garbed for a brilliant nut.
    I haven’t had a cup of coffee since I was 9 years old. What do people see in it?
    I know—- I’m retarted.

    • I started drinking coffee when I was 15, and I never looked back. A lot of people my age and younger, though, are like you and can’t stand coffee, at least regular coffee. They’ll drink it if it’s iced with lots of whipped cream,

      • Ugh, those milkshake lattes that the pretentious crowd slurps up at deafening decibel levels.
        The pits.
        If you’re gonna drink a cup o joe, have actual coffee. Not basically a child’s snack.

  10. Tom and Lorenzo have called this, and they are right. As adorable as Ginsberg is in many ways, he is suffering from a serious mental illness. Possibly schizophrenia, possibly a version of bipolar disorder with psychosis. But in any case, he is experiencing mental deterioration during this season. He is not capable of dating in a normal way or forming healthy attachments to women. His avoidance of drug use supports this. He cannot afford to tip himself over into psychosis with drugs, nor can he risk getting involved with a woman where he would experience overwhelming feelings that might send him over the edge. We’ll see what happens, but a solid dating relationship is not in the cards for poor Michael.

    • MJ I completely agree– he’s the right age for the symptoms of schizophrenia to worsen. His “I’m an alien” speech has new meaning now.
      I wrote this before that had happened, and I decided not to amend it. This scene is so beautiful, just as it is.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.