It’s rare in the mainstream media to find examples of dating to determine compatibility for marriage. Usually it seems that in movies and television, people date so they won’t feel like whores for having sex with the people they’re attracted to. Having some sort of ~relationship~ with someone, even if said relationship has only lasted a couple of hours and has occurred completely within the confines of a restaurant, totally makes sex okay! (Sexual feelings always make everything okay. People freak about the doctor seeing them in a paper gown, but Mr. Tight Abs from the bar seeing the whole kit and kaboodle? Totally okay if a significant amount of time, like a couple of hours or an equivalent amount of alcohol, has passed.)
So color me quite shocked, but in a good way, when last week on Grey’s Anatomy, shameless manwhore Mark Sloan decided that he was (a) lonely and unhappy, (b) wanted a wife and kids, and (c) decided to go out and find a wife who wanted to have kids. I know, I was shocked, too! This happened on Grey’s Anatomy! The show where people regularly have sex in hospital closets and/or empty rooms in the hospital!
Prompted by his best friend/former lover Callie Torres, Mark zeroes in on Teddy Altman, who up until this point has been pretty lovelorn over the taken Owen Hunt. Mark’s first attempt at asking Teddy out goes badly after some misunderstandings about breast implants for her patient (a guy whose heart has fallen out of place). After talking to Callie’s girlfriend Arizona, Teddy decides that it wouldn’t be bad to date Mark — for fun. He, after all, does not have a reputation for seriousness with women.
Later, Mark finds Teddy and tells her that he has some saline implants, and Teddy asks him if he will participate in the surgery. He agrees, and she takes a chance and tells him that she actually is free for a date that night. He is cheered by this news and mentions an Italian restaurant he’s been wanting to try. She dims, realizing he wants a “serious” date, and counters with the idea of the local bar for a drink. He tells her that he wants to have dinner so they can talk, and she freaks out and says she’s not available for dinner.
At lunch, Mark tells Callie and Arizona that Teddy only wanted sex and (not seeing the irony) wonders who treats people like a slab of meat. Arizona reminds him that he does. Later, during surgery, Teddy is impressed by Mark’s confidence and calmness, but when she compliments him, Mark sarcastically says that surgery is only his hobby and that his real interest is in his work as a male escort.
When Mark reiterates his failure with Teddy to Callie, Callie encourages him to move on to someone else. (This is actually good advice. Too many people decide in advance that someone is The One, or the closest thing to it, and then spend weeks or months in angsty agony when they could be out finding someone more amenable to a relationship.) Mark sarcastically says that he can’t wait for dinner and a conversation, but Callie tells him that he should be taking women out to lunch instead. Mark frowns on that idea because it’s not romantic, but Callie tells him that that’s how you get to know someone else: in daylight, in public. (Also good advice. Much less pressure, plus lunch menus are cheaper at a lot of restaurants. Hey, thrift is a virtue.) Mark says it’s the least sexy idea he’s ever heard in his life, but Callie smartly reminds him that he’s had sex and that he doesn’t want sex, he wants a baby. He remains discouraged, and Callie gives him a pep talk, telling him that he’s worth getting to know. (At this point I was wondering why Mark doesn’t get together with Callie, but that’s an issue for the writers to resolve, and the underlying issue is one for a different post by me.)
All of this leads us to this scene:
That’s it, in a nutshell. That’s what dating should be. (And, for the record, it’s not a bad template for asking women out, either. Direct, to the point, with a plan.)