Romance Your Honey, Save Your Money
By Sean McGrorey
Dating at expensive restaurants is fine for a splurge, but students who do so regularly will end up subsisting on a straight diet of Top Ramen. Fortunately, creativity turns Bellingham and the Western campus into powerful aphrodisiacs.
“I’ve interviewed hundreds of young ladies and women … what makes a date most special for them is if there’s any time, effort and thought that goes into it,” Steven Smith said over the phone. Smith is the author of “Cheap Dates: Fun, Creative and Romantic Dates That Won’t Break Your Budget.”
Men also appreciate thought, says Western senior Jerrod Gonzales, who has been in four long-term relationships.
“The fact that a girl would make the effort to set up a date would be a giant, pleasant surprise,” he says.
FUN FOR NEW FLAMES
“If you can relate to each other on a childhood level and get kind of silly with each other, it’s just one more thing you have in common,” Whatcom Community College student Camerly Cox says.
Bring back fond memories of that time when life consisted of building forts and flying off swing sets. Cox suggests visiting Barnes and Noble and reading each other children’s books, or packing sandwiches and finger painting the sunset at Boulevard Park.
“The best date I ever had, we just went to Seattle, to Gameworks and played video games for four hours,” Cox says. “You’re just having so much fun.”
Download your date’s favorite childhood cartoons or some old-school Nintendo games and laugh about the cheesy animation and two-bit dialogue.
If childhood themes seem juvenile, be creative outdoors. Smith says that one time in college he hid two Diet Cokes with ice in the hollow of an oak tree and took a new date on a jog.
“My date was totally surprised and appreciated that I remembered her favorite drink,” he says. “It made an ordinary jog through the park a little extraordinary.”
Gonzales says one of the best ways to connect to a date is teaching each other something. Some of Gonzales’ fondest memories are of teaching a past girlfriend about football and playing with her on a flag football team. She, in turn, introduced him to oldies rock.
“Even now it’s something that reminds me of her,” Gonzales says.
A TWIST ON TRADITIONAL ROMANCE
Put a creative spin on romantic themes, such as picnics or walks at sunset.
“You’re trying to impress them and trying to get to know them,” Western junior Greg Ward says. “So, learn something about them and use that.”
Ward has insight into dating because of his psychology major and because women feel comfortable telling him about their relationships since he is gay, he says.
Ward says he has seen some of the most romantic sunsets while walking with dates through Boulevard Park. The sound of waves against sandstone is all-pervading, and you have a panoramic view of Bellingham Bay.
“I see other couples always walking around, and they just look so happy,”
Ward sees ample opportunity for romance indoors, as well.
“Some people underrate the idea of a picnic on your own living room floor,” Ward says. “If it’s too cold outside, you can lay out a blanket and some candles and cook.”
Western’s best-kept secret for romantic picnics is next to Parks Hall: a grassy island containing a small clearing surrounded by alder trees. After dark, six floodlights illuminate the leaves overhead. Lay down a blanket and invite your date with a love note.
“There’s a thrill in knowing life isn’t always planned out, especially for a romantic,” Ward says.
Photo Illustration by Sean Mc Grorey.