Winter 1998
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Back Issues

TCU Magazine "Purpectives"

If you're not busy, maybe you and I . . . oh, nevermind

By Justin Hensley '99

"Chicks man, chicks! What the hell?" my friend likes to say.

And I think that sums it up best most times when it comes to men and women trying to figure each other out.

Now, I don't intend to even suggest that men and women should even attempt to figure each other out in the first place. Instead, I want to tell you of a crusade that I'm on. I don't know if you can call it holy or noble, but I think it's one worth fighting. I am on a mission to bring back dating in the '90s.

My mom tells me fairy tales about the days before cable and Nintendo when young men and women went on dates. Not only that, they went on dates with just each other and not large groups of people. Somewhere along the way, guys stopped asking girls out. Instead, that awkward phone call conversation that used to end with a clear invitation now ends something like this: "So . . .uh . . . me and the guys and like a group of us were going to like hang out and stuff this Saturday night if you wanna come or something."

The popular "group date thing" has allowed men to steadily become more ambiguous and cowardly while confusing the prospective girlfriend even further. "I think he likes me 'cause when we went out with his friends, he sat next to me during their seed-spitting competition."

The disappearance of dating can also be found in the language itself, as revealed above. It seems the "prospective girlfriend" mentioned may be part of the problem: No one "just dates," they have to have a girlfriend. (When I say "no one," I don't mean that literally but more as a hyperbole.) Granted, I come from a relatively small town in Oklahoma where we mate for life. But then again, there's not that many new people to date. The same people you went to kindergarten with are the same at graduation, (though I never did date my kindergarten crush). The point is, the concept of dating is so foreign it has nearly been removed from the vocabulary.

Speaking from experience, after just two dates with a wonderful girl people began to ask if she was my girlfriend. The weird part was I didn't even know these people! They had tapped into the elaborate surveillance system powered by gossip that was installed at TCU shortly after the practice of dating was put to a definitive end. "No, we're just dating," I would say, only to be met with puzzled expressions and more questions. "Dating? What do you mean?"

Enter the player. The greatest foe of my noble quest. Couples used to go out and have fun, so my mom tells me. If the night ended with a kiss, so be it, and that was that. Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss, and it used to be understood as such. The player, however, has mortally wounded this practice of dating. Instead of being up-front and completely honest about his intentions (an inherently necessary component of successful dating), he (or she) fills the prey's head full of lies with only one purpose in mind: getting a free piece of bubble gum. Due to this unworthy enemy, people have become less trusting of each other, for fear of being the next piece of Juicy Fruit.

It seems these problems were less prevalent in the past. An alumna from the early '30s told me about sneaking behind the bandstand to "dance with the boys" because the TCU administrators wouldn't have approved. Some mothers remember having to wear trench coats to class because they couldn't wear something as revealing as shorts.

But I contend that in some ways, dating is more conservative now than it was back then.

So what can you do to help? Approach the guy or girl of your choice and ask them out on a date, point blank. Being tactful helps, but isn't necessary. Girls are usually so flattered you had the courage to approach them in the first place, they don't even notice that you have no clue what you're doing. Next, go out and have fun. Enjoy yourself. I hate mind games so I don't play them. I can hear my parents now, "Justin, you make us proud, son." Yes, I knew I was doing something right when I had a girl say to me, "I respect that you're so open and honest with me . . . Brad."

Seriously, though, I didn't get to tell you about love at first sight or my "what-if" theory or about true romantic love. I didn't tell you not to listen to anyone's advice . . . that you should follow your heart . . . and that all the beauty, humor, and intelligence that someone may possess means nothing if they don't have a good heart. I won't tell you that there's not a checklist of qualities to be crossed off when looking for the perfect mate. There's an intangible element that speaks to something you didn't know was inside you . . . or perhaps has been asleep for a long time.

There's a revolution coming to TCU. And for me, a personal quest. Now, when people ask my mom at church what I'm doing these days, she holds her head up with pride and says, "He's bringing back dating in the '90s . . . and it's about time."


Justin Hensley is a radio-TV-film and English senior from Bartlesville, Okla.You can get in touch with him "please" at