CHRISTIE SHELY / THE HOYA

We’re all extremely busy. If I finish this paper quickly, I’ll have time to run by Saxby’s before my next class. I can go to Yates for an hour and a half if I go straight to work afterwards without showering. Class to class, basketball game to basketball game, club meeting to club meeting, our days are not merely filled — they’re stuffed. So, we find things to cut out of our schedules.

With all the time we spend stressing and desperately looking for shortcuts, it’s no wonder someone created a way to speed up the dating process. As technologically savvy as our generation is — with our iPhones, BlackBerrys and Facebook stalking — it seems appropriate that the dating scene has now moved online. I’m not talking about dating Match.com. I’m talking about an online service that helps you plan your date. Think of all the work that goes into planning an evening out. Once you finally get up enough nerve to ask someone out, you have to come up with a restaurant, a date and an outfit. I mean honestly, who has time?

Date Nights DC is a website run by the “Department of Love and Relationships,” a subset of the tourism organization Destination DC. This website helps socially inept — er, busy — people plan dates. It features two handy columns to help you customize your special night. First you select the person(s) who you want to accompany you. Your choices range from “my guy or gal” to “all in the family” to “flying solo.”  Next, you choose a short description of your date, for instance, “romantic,” “on a budget” or “wild card.”  Then the website generates a night of activities including restaurants, shows and galleries. After listing three places, the website describes the place you should stay that night. Hey, he did buy you a meal first.

But the real kicker is that when you ask for a single date, the website lists a series of 14 dates. That’s a little optimistic, don’t you think?  I mean, she went out with you once, and you had to rely on a computer to tell you where to take her. The odds that you two will be going on a second date seem pretty slim.

Then again, at least you opted for the semi-respectable option. You could have used Date Nights DC’s “Date Concierge.” The concierge service is a tool for people who really have no business being in the dating world. Why else would you want to email a complete stranger, asking her to create your perfect date for you?  “I think it’s a little creepy and desperate,” Alex Livesay (COL `14) says.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable with that,” Colton Malkerson (COL `13) says of the automatic service. Normally it might be weird to ask a stranger to plan a date for you, but the dreaded Valentine’s Day is fast approaching — a day where boyfriends everywhere feel the need to prove that they are actually closeted romantics.

Or it’s a day where single people stay home. A day created in some cruel, manipulative deal between the chocolate companies and the flower stores.

“In its essence of being about love it’s a nice idea, but there’s too much pressure,” Charlotte Japp (COL `13) says of the infamous Hallmark holiday. As this stressful day approaches, is it any wonder people turn to gimmicks like the Date Concierge?  

However, “it’s not as romantic. It takes the spontaneity out of things,” Dave Barton (NHS `13) says. Marya Pulaski (COL `13) agrees. “I’d rather them plan it themselves. It seems more sincere. It should require work. It should require creative energy.”

But not all of Date Night DC is creepy and contrived. Some of the suggested places to visit are enjoyable whether you are irrational and enamored, or even bitter and single. The website’s list of top 25 most romantic spots includes charming locations such as the World War I Memorial, the United States Botanic Garden and the Einstein Memorial. Hidden among holly and elm trees, the giant bronze statue of Albert Einstein sits near the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue. But the giant statue isn’t the only reason people visit the memorial. The foliage keeps cute couples away from prying eyes while simultaneously hiding singles from view.

Another great place to visit is the World War I Memorial. Located on the edge of the National Mall in West Potomac Park, the WWI Memorial is a 47 foot tall marble temple. One of the quainter memorials, it’s secluded with a nice view of the Potomac. It’s a perfect location for either a romantic evening or a relaxing night with friends.

If you think it’s too cold to be outside in February, you could always visit the United States Botanic Garden. Another of D.C.’s signature free attractions, the Botanic Garden can be found at 100 Maryland Ave, SW. A greenhouse filled with exotic plants from all over the world, the gardens are a steamy setting for a tryst — because of the indoor sprinklers, of course.

As you wander around each of these suggested places, you can truly take in the District for the beautiful city it is. This appreciation is really what Date Night DC is all about. It might be out of the ordinary, but it does promote all the lesser-known places that D.C. has to offer. Who knows?  It could help us escape the Georgetown bubble. So this Valentine’s Day, get a little creative — or have a website do it for you.

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