Today was probably the longest first date I've ever been on: almost, if not precisely - 5 hours. I totally lost track of time and didn't even check my watch at some random interval (inconspicuously of course). I've gotten better at weaving in that "looking a the watch" move into a gesture related to the conversation, such as a remark someone made about looking at time or something... I try to be nonchalant about these things - without offending people. As they say, time flies when you're having fun - and the conversation is flowing, personalities are meshing well, hashkafic similarity becomes evident, and the interplay of give and take of ideas feels natural. It also didn't hurt that unlike last time (and a few others before then), I thought she was fairly attractive.
This was also after a very positive, nearly 3 hour long initial phone conversation last week. I get the feeling that first phone calls really aren't meant to be nearly that long - basically the length of an actual date. But as with the date itself, what's wrong with prolonging the experience if both are enjoying the other's company and positive relationship-building is occurring?
Onto things to consider....
One concern that has become apparent this time, which I've never encountered in this fashion before, and is actually no fault to the person, but still something to consider: family medical history. I'm not talking about her grandfather died of a heart attack, but rather there is a much more immediate family member that suffered from a certain disease, and was successfully treated (thankfully), but statistically could mean that she is almost certainly at a higher risk for developing the same condition herself at some later stage in life.
Now, you could say to me, "Grey, you're being far too nit-picky about these things, give her a chance, and think about that sort of morbid topic later." While I admit that revealing the fact that a grandparent died of some ill-health related circumstance would certainly reflect negatively on me as well (paternal grandmother had Alzheimer's for 11 years, and her husband, my paternal grandfather had cancer, twice I think, and eventually died from it), and I would assume that most people's grandparents, unless they died relatively young, developed something that contributed to the end of their life, since as people age, things in the body start to go wrong. However, something like say, a parent, makes me a bit more anxious. Total family genetic history aside - a direct connection like that gives me a cause for concern.
I'm not going to go off the deep end and not have a second date because of this family medical history revelation (which I did not know beforehand, but maybe I just didn't ask the right people when I did research, or perhaps I should have let my usual research people do their job instead of me feeling all gung-ho and wanting to do things on my own). This is not something that can be entirely ignored and placed out of mind, particularly when I recall the recent panel discussion on the BRCA gene (breast cancer gene) that occurred at the Medical Ethics Conference (see audio files here: medicine, ethics, halacha). However, I fully realize that there is no guarantee of anyone having these sorts of inherited diseases (unless their entire immediate family and other extended family members have/had it, and their statistic risk goes through the roof), and this is not something I should be worried about at the moment.
She did freely offer the information unprompted, and seems to be not so concerned, I would presume since, thankfully, the condition was diagnosed in the early stages and proper treatment was sought and administered successfully. It was still a bit jarring to hear that mentioned so readily on a first date. Reality is what it is, and certainly everything that needs to be disclosed needs to be told over at the appropriate time in the dating process so that one can make an informed decision about this person as a viable marriage candidate. Maybe I was just thrown for a loop because of how early this was brought up (and rather early on in the date as well, even though it was semi-quickly dealt with and we moved on to other, more interesting topics).
Also, no one is perfect, and no one has a perfect personal or family medical history. I must learn to be non-judgmental about things like this, or perhaps that is overly judgmental, since nothing of this sort can be entirely ignored or denied.
It's up to me to focus my attention soley on her now and delve deeper into what makes her such a great person (as her friends attested to, and I'm just beginning to find out myself). Where we go from here, who knows? It's time to look forward to the second date.