I am a huge fan of R. Eric Thomas. I first met him when he hosted the Valentine’s Day First Person Arts event I participated in earlier this year and he had me in stitches backstage. He’s side-splittingly funny and incredibly talented in all that he does (which is a lot!). He writes plays, tells stories, and basically makes Philly a more vibrant place to live. So I asked him some questions about dating dudes and here are his answers:
1. What’s your idea of a perfect date?
Something activity-driven and sun-dappled and peripatetic, like going to a Farmer’s Market and then the zoo. Although I feel weird about animals in captivity. So, perhaps a safari? But that sounds like a recipe for bug bites and mauling. Maybe just, like, walking by a friendly dog and waving. And then getting Federal Donuts.
2. What do most guys do wrong when they’re out with a dude?
Split the check. If I wanted to pay for my own food, I’d stay home, order Chinese and watch “Orange is the New Black” in my underwear. I’m kidding. I’ll pay for my meal. BEGRUDGINGLY.
3. What’s the worst thing a guy can do on a date?
Not talk enough about Beyonce. I’m sure your hopes and dreams are very interesting, but let’s acknowledge that we’re both here to discuss our common love of great female artists.
4. Tell us a secret!
Dating-wise? I really want to be on the NY Times’ Weddings & Celebrations page. It’s shallow, but I just love it. I love reading it; I love the How We Met stories; I love the descriptions of the cakes; I love how they subtly tell you what caste the couple belongs in by including details about work, education, celebrity association and family history. I love it all.
R. Eric Thomas cracking up an audience, presumably
5. What advice would you give a younger version of yourself about dating?
"Be bold; if you like someone tell him. Your self-worth isn’t dependent on his opinion of you. Stop being weird. And don’t judge yourself so harshly. Appreciate your hairline now, please. Bros before hos. Also, steer clear of prostitutes. Brunch is a great idea (this is just general advice). Being alone isn’t the worst thing in the world; not being happy with yourself is. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll always feel a little alone. Also, you are amazing. And I love you."
6. What would you put on a mixtape for a dude that you liked?
Oh my God, can I tell you a story first? It’s really quick. It’s actually 7 hours long, but I’ll summarize. So, my friend Danielle had a yard sale with her roommate, whom I didn’t know. Turns out, he’s super cute, gay and charming. Just wonderful. He was selling an old iPod for $1, so I bought it because if we’ve learned anything from Pretty Woman it’s that the best way to express interest in another person is to give them money.
He said to me, “You can delete what’s on there and load up your own songs.” And I was like, “Don’t tell me what to do.” When I got home and charged it, I discovered the iPod was FULL of all of my favorite music. The popular, the obscure—Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Regina Spektor, the two best songs from the musical Ragtime. Everything. And so I entertained this fantasy that we would fall in love over a mixtape on an iPod! It hasn’t happened yet, but I continue to passive-aggressively hit on him by talking about it in interviews. So…we’ll see.
I think my mixtape would probably include: “I Don’t Know What the Weather Will Be” by Laura Mvula, “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac, “Hot Knife” by Fiona Apple, “I Care” by Beyonce, “Without You” by Usher. And “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” because I’m not a Communist.
The man is a national treasure. He’s appearing in "The New Century" by Paul Rudnick through August 24th at The Adrienne Theatre, he’s hosting the First Person Arts Story Slam at L’Etage on August 27th, and he’s teaching a class called “Laugh! Cry! Gasp — The Anybody Guide to Teling Your Stories” starting September 11th. You can always read his writing, see his videos and get a sneak peak of “Short & Sweet”, his cooking and storytelling show at rericthomas.com. Follow him on Twitter at @oureric.