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Staring a conversation with a complete stranger is difficult work. That’s why speed dating was once popular, and online dating is such a hit. Instead of having to go on a blind date (which, outside of staving off nuclear war in the 60’s, is about the most uncomfortable and difficult thing ever), through the magical power of the interweb you are given a chance to ease into the conversation. At least, if nothing else, you’ll know whether they’re a cat or dog person and what their body type was once upon a time. (I DEFINITELY have an athletic body! Or at least did when I was 9.5 years old. That still counts, right?) You might also get a chance to see something that resembles what they have looked like at some point in the past decade or so. (In a related story, Photoshop recently wins the Dating Tool of the Year Award!)

At least when you show up for a date these days you have some idea of who the person at least claims to be, or at least who they would like to be in an ideal world. So at least you have pieces to try to put together in that particular conversational puzzle. Sure there are times when you wonder if – like many high school students throughout history – they just got someone else to write their paper for them. Or maybe just not everyone knows the meaning of the words “outgoing and people person.” At any rate dating now has become more user-friendly, because the task of creating a conversation out of thin air has been alleviated. Dating sites are the cliff notes of the modern age. And all the social slackers of the world rejoice!

Yet, for those of us who have a difficult time talking to members of the opposite gender (We all have cooties, just time to embrace it. Science will catch up someday.) there are plenty of blogs and sites offering advice on discussion topics. Typically they come in the form of questions. And if a question has formed in your mind and that question is: how do you know about these sites? The answer lies inside the first sentence of my blog post. Words are hard; that’s why there’s Snapchat.(Plus you can make your hair all the exotic colors you’ve always wanted them to be, without fear of your mom yelling at you or staining your scalp.) Many of these questions seem to be pretty good at getting the conversation going. Questions like:

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? (You can tell whether they’re adventurous or they just Google the wrong stuff.)

or

What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday? (This is very informative as to their interests, but it’s also a great way to gauge how well the date is going. For instance, if you’re on a date with this person on Saturday and they answer some other activity, then you’d better either step up your game or get the check and get home in time for SNL – it hasn’t been that great lately, but apparently neither was your date.)

At the same time there are many sites who seem to think – like many elementary children – that there is no such thing as a dumb question. Let’s all be honest here for a moment; dumb questions exist in the world. If you work around or with people in any way, you are probably quite familiar with the various forms these dumb questions come in. Here are a few questions that particularly struck my idiotic fancy:

Do you Believe in Aliens? Clearly you need to find the right moment to throw this gem out there. “Hey, how is that salad? It looks really green. Speaking of green, do you believe in aliens?” Or “This water is delicious. Hey did you ever see ‘Signs?’ Bruce Willis killed aliens in it with water. Do you believe in aliens? And if so, do you leave glasses of water randomly lying around your house just in case aliens are allergic to water?” Awkward silence….”No, me neither.” Check Please.

If you just won $1 million what would you do with it? Only ask this question if you’ve taken her to a nice restaurant. Cause if not, the only appropriate response to this question is, “date guys who don’t take me to Olive Garden.”

What are the ingredients of your ideal burrito? Once again, know your terrain. If you’re at a Mexican restaurant chances are they already ordered their ideal burrito, and this line of questioning only indicates how unobservant you are. Plus, let’s just be honest; burritos improve the likelihood of causing gas (that’s just science), so why would you bring up flatulence on a first date? May as well ask, “Hey, do you ever light your farts on fire?”

Where exactly do you live in (insert city here)? At this point do you hand them your phone and have them put their address into your phone so it makes it easier to stalk them later? Creeper alert! And definitely don’t follow up with “I’ve lost my address, can I have yours?”

Are you as tired of KimYe as I am? (Admittedly I had to look up exactly who “KimYe” was.) If they answer YES, then there’s really nowhere to go. They just said they’re tired of talking about KimYe. Smooth. But of all the dumb conversation starters, this one did have one of the nicest added benefits. If they do actually answer NO, then you know it’s time to get home before the SNL cold open. Only to find out KimYe is hosting….There’s no justice in the world.

Do you have any specialty cooking dishes? First, there is no juicer topic than dishware to get that conversation rolling – except for possibly talking about various rock formations. (If I were to really be honest, I’m more of a metamorphic rock kind of guy myself. I hope she’s open-minded.)  Second, be wary of questions with limiting answer fields. The only appropriate answer to this question is: “Yes, I’ve got a frying pan. I use it as a weapon to ward off bad guys and save princesses.”

What is the last kind of vegetable you would ever want to be? (I’m honestly not making these up.) Answer: “The kind that isn’t stuck here on this date with you. At least if I were a vegetable there is a chance someone would eat me, and I wouldn’t have to answer these stupid questions.”

At the end of the day, talking to people can be hard. But be original. Be you. Even if you have to talk about Dungeons & Dragons all night – and please don’t talk about Dungeons & Dragons all night! – talk about the things that interest you. They’re either going to be interested in you or not. And if they’re not, I’m sure a new online dating site will be stalking you on your Facebook feed tomorrow. Apparently when God closes a door He opens an app.

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