Don’t Panic: a new kind of advice column

What’s a good (cheap) first date that I can take my crush on?

As you’ve probably gathered on your own (based on your parenthetical aside), good and cheap are not mutually exclusive. While I could be glib and recommend a romantic weeknight dinner at Chase on the Water, reader, I want to help you out. If “Netflix and chill” isn’t your thing, I’ve come up with some ideas for you. Dates usually happen at night, so let’s start with some evening options. The Loft has great pub-style fare, but may not be a great first date atmosphere. Before a certain hour, it’s silent save for the sound of Comedy Central re-runs, and after a certain hour it’s full of drunk weekend warriors looking for munchies. What I’d do is mosey down Taunton Avenue to the Lyon’s Den. You can ask for a milkshake with two straws, and maybe someone from the Music Co-Op strumming a guitar will write a little song just for you. If it gets too loud (especially if it’s Open Mic night), you can sit on the steps outside, listening to the murmur and looking up at the stars.

I think it’s also worth noting that if you’re willing to cough up a little extra for train tickets, Providence and Boston have many free and cheap offerings. I’d suggest bringing your student ID with you, as it can open the wide door of student discounts. A stroll up College Hill and Thayer Street in Providence is an adventure of its own, but you can round it out with a visit to What Cheer? Records and dinner at East Side Pockets. And a little farther north, Boston Common is particularly lovely this time of year, as is people-watching in Harvard Square. Insider secret: the Museum of Fine Arts is free for Wheaton students.


What can I do to waste time while waiting in line in Chase?

Like I’ve said before, people-watching is fun and free, but you may have exhausted this activity because of our small student body. Personally, I enjoy using the recent Snapchat update to send horrifying selfies to people I know who are already seated. You could always try to start a conga line. Or if you don’t want to cause a fuss, you could play a game I like to call “talking to the person next to you.”

If all else fails, you can always shout the name of a celebrity that seems plausible (Sammy Adams making a sandwich?) and watch people scatter as you serve up some chicken cacciatore.