Kaback: A guide to a successful bro-date

By Andrew Kaback

I went out for dinner with a male friend of mine the other night. Now, bromancing can be kind of… I went out for dinner with a male friend of mine the other night. Now, bromancing can be kind of like trying to take a trip on the Titanic without James Cameron: cold terror with no romance or profitability. In fact, the only thing I would dislike more than going on an unprepped bro-date is having to sit through “Titanic 3D” for $13.

I guess that there are more awkward things than a bro-date: realizing your best friend likes Taylor Swift songs, forgetting the recipe for ramen noodles and watching Alex Trebek do anything. But the fact is that finding yourself on a bro-date is like listening to Motion City Soundtrack after eighth grade and realizing everything that was wrong with you when you once thought they “really understood your life.”

Let me be clear. I am a major fan of having a core group of bros. If they were an NHL team in the playoffs, I would resist cutting my beard for them, or as in Sidney Crosby’s case, my prepubescent peach fuzz. It’s not that I don’t like what I hope the eventual outcome of bro-dates is (watching reruns of meaningless regular season sports games and ordering outrageous amounts of pizza), it’s just that I can’t stand the process.

For example, paying the bill at a dinner. I understand the basics of check paying with girls; here’s the game that everyone knows you’re supposed to play:

Guy: “Oh, let me take care of this.”

Girl: “No, at least let me pay for half.”

Guy (with cheesy smile): “Please, this one is on me.”

But paying for bro-dates is the most uncomfortable thirty seconds life has to offer, outside of strep throat checkups.

There’s nothing to say in that moment. Inside of your head, you know the answer: “Damn right you’re going to pay for all of your food! We’re not going ‘halfsies.’ Did you really order two appetizers? And chocolate mousse for dessert? Chocolate mousse!? For eight dollars, you better be getting season tickets to the Pirates with that! What do you think I am, made of money? Half of the reason that I’m here is because you said you had a coupon, but you forgot to mention that it expired three years ago. In fact, why don’t you pay for all of it!”

But you can’t say that. That’s not how the bro game works. After that pause, where every guy thinks the exact same thing, comes the inevitable reaching out of the arm. The clasping of the check. The reach to the wallet. And the final, gut-wrenching, insertion of the credit card. The tragic hero ruins his credit score at the expense of bros again.

So what is the solution to the bromancing crisis? Simple. In my experience, there are a number of tips that I have learned and will share with you. You may think they sound meaningless or unnecessary, but all of these items have been known to destroy a fine evening.

1) Ask if he’s a vegan. Many will say that this is unethical as it will inevitably lead to a potential “Sorry, I can’t make dinner and I’m busy pretty deep into next year” if he says yes. But beware, failure to know will lead to almost certain disaster. There’s nothing worse than planning a barbecue worthy of Ron Swanson only to find out that he thinks killing animals “is kind of messed up, man.” Upon asking, use a website or guidebook to pick a place to eat. I know it’s tempting to think of a place on your own, but have you ever actually tried seitan?

2) Drive. If you do nothing else correct in your entire bromancing experience, please be the driver. The point is that driving in Pittsburgh is widely regarded as the third most stressful experience of most people’s lives behind not knowing what you want at Chipotle and deciding between deal or no deal. Take this into your own hands! If “Law & Order” has taught me anything, it is that the driver always gets away.

3) Sports and Cars. Honestly, stick to them! Last time I tried to talk politics with a bro we got into an in-depth debate over whether Dennis Kucinich or Joe Biden would be a better wingman at a poetry reading. Sports are the best for conversation because, no matter what, Jim Thome and Mario Lemieux will come up. Just learn two or three of their statistics, and you are literally set for hours. Steer clear of anything that can’t be explained by the sentence: “He’s got a couple more miles left in him.”

So if you’re on the fence about starting a bromance, I understand. I’ve been there, and you are completely justified in being scared. Nobody can predict what’s going to happen in the future of your bro-dates. But if you follow these simple tips, I’m confident that you will be one-upping Barney Stinson for many years to come.