For a few dollars less

By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  September 4, 2007

If you’re not the jealous-dude type, your girl can enjoy a three-course “Ladies Night” meal for free at News (150 Kneeland Street, Boston, 617.426.6397) every Wednesday. Since you’re saving cash, you can blow it on your own meal. Of course, true penny pinchers will be a man, suck it up, and skip ordering dinner for themselves altogether.

Boston abounds with free outdoor concerts and movies, but who wants to watch Shrek 2 at the Hatch Shell? Not your man, that’s who. Take him to sit on a bench and watch the crazies in Central Square, or to see those unbelievably fly hip-hop dancers outside Faneuil Hall. Cheer on a Little League game on the Common, or, better yet, watch a Sox game while plunked on a tiny stool at some dive bar. Or, just have sex.

Women like a little ambiance. A stroll around the Public Garden, perhaps, or a picnic at Arnold Arboretum (125 Arborway, Boston, 617.524.1718). Feed her strawberries at the Saturday-morning Union Square Farmer’s Market. Bring her to watch the sunset from along Boston Harbor, or from the top of the Prudential Center (800 Boylston Street, Boston, 617.236.3100), if you feel like splurging on the Skywalk Observatory fee. Or, just have sex.

No need to get all fancy and shit. Jeans and a decent shirt will do ya. Just make it a clean shirt, please. Maybe even iron it, but only if you’re feeling spiffy. Men always earn extra points for leaving the dingy baseball hat at home (unless you’ve splurged on Sox tickets), and for wearing pants that are baggy enough to mask their inevitable mid-date chubby. Ladies, your best accessories are “the girls,” no matter what they look like. No need to spend big bucks for big boobs, and for god’s sake, please don’t let them hang out all over the place. Be a cheap date, not a cheap ho.

What? You actually want to buy new clothes for this date? Damn, you’ve got it bad. Okay, head to the Harvard Square Urban Outfitters (11 JFK Street, Cambridge, 617.864.0070), skip the overpriced iron-on T-shirt section (it’ll be tough, but stay strong) and go downstairs to the Bargain Basement, where the clothes are cheap and the lighting is terrible. No matter.

Vintage stores are always a good choice, though girls may have it easier, since most men who try to dress in vintage clothing end up looking like pretty-boy hipsters or ’70s disco rapists. Oona’s (1210 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.491.2654) is for iconoclasts, Second Time Around (219 Newbury Street, Boston, 617.266.1113) is for label snobs.

So, how cheap is cheap? A survey of young, broke twentysomethings revealed that most people, regardless of gender, expect to spend around $30 on a low-budget date. Of course, it also revealed that one dude in Somerville finds the best cheap bars to be the ones where “management can’t afford to pay for the stripper’s hearing-aid battery,” but that’s beside the point.

Thirty dollars? Come on, you’re not made of money. It can totally be done for $15, especially if your date’s a lightweight or you’re clever about the timing. A crafty trick of the trade is to arrange your date so that it doesn’t fall during mealtime. A safe range is 2 to 3 pm, or 8 pm onward. Be aware of the time! Don’t let things linger into dinnertime, or, worse, the morning after. Brunch is expensive! And you’ll look like an anorexic douchebag if you make excuses not to eat.

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