“Pulling a Perry”: 5 Ways to Fix a First Date Gaffeby Scott Alden on November 10, 2011
Being on a date can feel a lot like taking part in a nationally televised presidential campaign debate: one wrong move might blow the whole thing for you.
Take, for example, Rick Perry’s monumental gaffe last night. Perry stated that he would cut three agencies from the federal government — “Commerce, Education and the – what’s the third one there? Let’s see…”
But, forgetting one of the major agencies that you intend to cut from the federal government is the kind of thing that happens all the time during presidential debates, right? It’s not that big a deal. At least, that’s what Perry would like us to think.
“Any time you’re standing in front of however many million people we were and you have a loss of train of thought, sure. It impacts you,” Perry told CBS, “But the fact is one error is not going to make or break a campaign.”
Whether or not this “loss of train of thought” will ruin Perry’s chances of clinching the GOP nomination remains to be seen. But, it does make us wonder: will one slip up ruin your chances for a second date?!
Well. It all depends on how you recover. And we can learn a lot about how to handle (and how not to handle) it when we say something to our date that we wish we hadn’t from Rick Perry. For example:
1. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen
If you happen to temporarily forget what you do for a living or say “I love your breasts” instead of “I love your dress,” or you have to at least acknowledge that it happened, just like Perry did. But how?
You don’t have campaign managers to give you talking points on the fly, so you’re on your own. Take a breath, then speak. Don’t fall all over yourself trying to make up for the slip. Something lightly self depreciating will do, e.g. “I swear I’m employed, I just can’t remember by whom.” or “Wow. I wish I had said something very, very different just now.”
2. But don’t make a huge deal out of it either
You screwed up. It’s funny. Move on. Don’t bring it up again unless they do.
3. It’s okay to address the real issue
Perry is not in a position where he can simply ask the voters if he has ruined his chances and ask for a do-over. On a date, however, if you think you’ve been guilty of an irredeemable gaffe, it’s okay to ask — “Am I blowing it, here?”
If your date says “No, you’re fine,” move on immediately, hopefully on to a topic that will get them talking for a minute while you regroup.
If your date says “Kind of, yeah,” it’s still not a lost cause. In many cases, you can ask for a “do-over.” As long as you don’t spend the whole night talking about it, you’re nervousness is likely to come across as evidence that you are sincere.
And, whatever you do, don’t tell your date that you’re nervous because you like them. That is the kiss of death.
4. Turn it around
Hey, if America’s the kind of country that’s going to judge a candidate for president based on his ability to remember important facts in high pressure situations, then maybe they don’t deserve you, Rick Perry. Maybe you’re too real for them.
But seriously, if your date is the kind of person who is going to judge your entire character based on one slip up, you really are probably better off without them. Remember, they should be trying to impress you as much as you’re trying to impress them.
5. None of this stuff works if you actually meant it
Of course, there is the possibility that, rather than a simple brain fart, Rick Perry’s forgetfulness is actually indicative of an embarrassingly shallow understanding of the workings of the US government. If that’s the case, then Perry should probably just admit it and bow out gracefully.
The same goes for you on a date. If your date is truly offended by something that you said, and whether you meant to say it or not, it is something that you believe? It’s probably not going to work out.