College is where many of my generation, and maybe yours too, met and developed relationships. It still happens, but now for a bunch of reasons people are waiting before making longer term plans. Anyway, school was the place where people like us came from far and wide, met new people and left for wherever life led, with or without someone. For those who survived the long haul another place to meet people is at the other end, in a senior living community where some of us are now.

I heard about an incident occurring after dinner in the formal dining room in the facility where I now live (menu, table service extra forks, butter knife and ‘coats for gentlemen’ recommended). As often happens, hosts who had dined at separate tables paused in the lobby after dining to introduce their non-resident guests. These dinners were often poorly disguised ‘recruiting’ efforts by those proud of their new digs; old friends might choose to sign on.

In this mélange two guests from different parties were introduced. It turned out they had attended the same university and were undergrads at the same time. This led to a quick rundown of people they might have known in common. In the process George said, “Yes I had a coke date with a….” “That was me” blurted an embarrassed Sally to an equally embarrassed George.

This brief exchange where the two had unwittingly reconnected was followed by an awkward chuckle as each, unconvincingly said they had a dim memory of this ‘non-event.’ This meeting ended with each saying what they were doing now, and the groups went on their way. I wasn’t there but this came from a reliable source and besides, it was too good to not believe it because it demonstrates the contrast between then and now.

Before the internet, in our time, a ‘coke’ or some called it a ‘coffee’ date was how we checked each other out. Now, people are likely to ‘meet’ on the computer. It’s the rage today. In our time a young man would call or personally arrange a meeting with a girl he had his eye on. The girl could accept or decline.

The date usually happened in a familiar ‘hang out’ and lasted an hour or so, just enough for each to decide if there was any reason to take the next step, a ‘real’ date like a movie, dinner, or a house party.

Today instead of arranging a ‘coke’ date in the old way, people are meeting online. This serves a similar purpose to the way it used to be but with a wider reach. An advantage of the ‘coke’ date was it was with a real person instead of a picture and in the process, there is the opportunity for ‘cross examination.’

With a generation where the internet is a ‘first language,’ meeting online is the way to go for many and I expect the small risk is worth taking.

I think I liked it better the old way.