A young man finally gathers enough courage to ask out his dream girl for Friday night, and, unbelievably, she says yes. The next few days he stumbles around with a stupid grin on his face, until Friday morning when he peers into his wallet, finding only eight dollars and half a stick of gum. That's when panic sets in.
It's a sad truth: Teenagers and large amounts of cash rarely go together. And unfortunately some teens are under the misconception that a big wad of money is required for a great date. A fun date can happen on only 10 bucks, as long as imagination and creativity are brought along."Cheap dates are the most fun, because you have to make it fun! You also get to know the person much better," says Jonelle White, 17.
"I'm more impressed by a guy's ingenuity than the size of his wallet," says Adria Parker, 18. "Anyone who complains that there is nothing to do in Utah without money just hasn't taken the time to try hard enough." A plenitude of activities exist, ranging from outdoorsy to slightly mischievous.
With summer coming up, a wide range of free activities will soon be available, such as hiking, climbing, biking and swimming. Try commandeering a hot tub some night, and string out a TV and a VCR. Dinner and a movie - and all without ever leaving the water.
And never forget the power of the stars, especially since they're free.
"Once, my date and I found this great semi-makeout point where you can sit and just stargaze!" says Karl Jensen, 18. "It's awesome!"
Throw a small astronomy party with a telescope, say from a grassy hill or desert seclusion. Expect to be surprised at how beautiful the desert is under a starry sky - especially when the lights of big cities are out of sight.
Anything that can be snatched from home is a good thing, since it's usually free of charge. Raid the kitchen and make a picnic meal, or if a particularly loving parent is available, convince him or her to do it.
It's time to let the creativity fly while deciding where to have the picnic. "My idea of a perfect date," says Laura Paulsen, 18, "is to ride around on a public bus for three hours with a picnic basket while watching the people and talking to the guy!"
If a safer approach is better, try having the picnic at the zoo or by a duck pond. Leftovers won't be a problem with the horde of hungry animals close by.
Another unfailing way to dazzle any date at home is to show off cooking skills. Some guys might have to practice before the date, because getting take- out or making peanut-butter sandwiches isn't really cooking.
Don't strain by whipping up a seven-course, gourmet meal, unless you really like your date. Make something uncomplicated, like pasta, or if a more interactive effort is in order, try making brownies with your date. Even if the two of you scorch them to harden briquettes, you'll have something to laugh about.
For those who aren't put off by a little roguishness, here are some activities that might satisfy a naughty nature. (These are not recommended by this newspaper, for obvious reasons.) Take a trip to a grocery store, preferably not one where you usually shop. Pull out a cart, and as a couple, proceed to fill it up. When the cart is finally brimming with items, leave it in the back aisle and casually walk, not run, out the doors. Without laughing.
After that, stop by Toys 'R Us and play with anything and everything. Time yourselves to see how long it takes before you're politely asked to leave by security. To speed up the process, try throwing balls back and forth, or race on the displayed bicycles.
"We were once tossed out of Toys 'R Us because we ran around shooting each other with the guns that make a bunch of noise! Now that's fun," says Sammy Fan, 18.
If all else fails, and your mind has completely fizzled out of any new ideas, try the most radical idea of all - simply find a place and talk. "It's wonderful to find a guy who's interested in just listening to what I have to say . . . without looking bored," says April Brown, 17. Almost any place can suffice, try talking over hot chocolate at a coffee shop or maybe on the roof of your house under the sky.
Another smart tip is to remember that cheap dates aren't an excuse to forget to plan. "One time," recalls Laura Anderson, 17, "Two guys came all the way down from Layton to pick me and a friend up for a double date, but they wouldn't tell us what we were doing!
"We spent the next 20 minutes driving up Emigration Canyon. When we finally stopped, they told us we were going to look at the stars. Maybe they hadn't noticed, but the sky was completely cloudy and overcast! They turned the car back on and drove down the mountain and proceeded to drive around aimlessly for the next hour while trying to decide what to do!"
But, unfortunately, there are many guys out there who aren't just stupid, they take cheap to a new low. "Cheap dates can be fun," fumes Loni Joos, 18, as her eyes fire up, "except when guys take it to the extreme, like one time when the guys started the night by feeding us bowls of cereal for dinner! They had turned it into a contest to see who could spend the least! The night just got worse! Guys are so cheap!"
As sad as that is, what's even worse for guys are the girls who can't stand cheap dates. "I prefer men who spend money," says Sarah O'Leary, 18. April Lijenquist agrees, "What's the point to having a boyfriend if he doesn't spend a lot on you?"
Basically, it's as impossible to always go to an elegant dinner and a Broadway premiere by limo as it is to spontaneously combust. Except when the bill comes.
Teens need to remember that it is not the money that's meaningful, but rather the person you are with. As long as you can both enjoy each other's company, there's no need for panic, worry, or stress-induced baldness.