While not necessarily "invited" to this thread, I did RSVP before crashing. Sounds like a wedding I once went to. Yeah, my date caught the bouquet. We were LOVED! But that's a story for another day.
Please read SouthernBelle's take on this issue HERE and TishTash's HERE first. But don't get too caught up in their blogs not to come back.
I'll also try to address specific issues these ladies posed.
Disclaimer: First a little background, incase you are gnu here: I'm 42.9999 years old, never married, straight bachelor, currently in a very deep, very meaningful, but very uncommitted relationship. (It's complicated.) Obviously, the opinions and beliefs here are my own, and may surprise you, but I grew up in the country, which in a lot of ways, is a bit like the South.
Dinner Dates: A dinner date on the first date is a fine idea, AS LONG AS THERE'S PLANNING. This is for my brothers out there: After your days of hooking up at raves high on X are over, you need to have a legitimate first date. Don't care if you've already done the deed after that night at Slugger's; That's not a date. On the real first date, she wants a few simple things from you: 1) Plan, but get input. You pick the place, but based on her likes and dislikes. 2) Pick a place where you BOTH will feel comfortable. Things are stressed enough, you don't need to be worrying about 18 bits of silverware on the table if you're not used to it. But, don't take her to the sports bar where everyone knows you. 3) This date is not about you. It's about her. TREAT IT THAT WAY. Cell phone and BlackBerry OFF. Not vibrate. Silent. Out of site. Don't care if you’re the chief thoracic surgeon in the city, OFF. 4) Eye's up HERE, sailor. 5) But get caught sneaking an approving glance. Lady likes to think you find her sexy. 6) You pay EVERYTHING on the first date. Cabs. Dinner. Drinks. Condoms and a new toothbrush. Doesn't matter. Can't afford it. Go someplace within your means. I understand equality. I understand that it does not apply here, either. 7) Simple manners. Doors. Chairs. Breathe while wolfing down your chow at least once. 8) If you can't tell if the good night kiss is going to work or not, it's probably not. 9) Call the next day, even if you want her to BURN IN HELL!! You still have to call.
Flowers and Gifts: I'm a flower giver. First serious girlfriend pounded that into my head. But also, don't get caught up in the fake anniversary flowers (really, you expect them on the 2 month anniversary of our first date.) But random, just because flowers are great. The grocery store sells nice roses for a couple of bucks. She's worth it. When you need to say, "I screwed up," say it with jewelry. If you need to say, "Sorry I slept with your friend," say it with your 7 day AA token. You need help or you want out of the relationship, but are too gutless to be the one to leave.
That said, know your lady, if she doesn't like flowers, there are places like Edible Arrangements that do some cool stuff with fruit.
Also, under no circumstances do you buy her shoes. You take HER to the shoe store, tell her that you are going to buy her a pair of shoes. BE interested, don't ACT interested, she can tell. Even if you have to imagine her naked wearing just those shoe. When she finally picks a pair, say, "You know, I like those, but I really like (second runner up), too. Why don't you get both?" Later that night, maybe you won't be just imagining her wearing nothing but the shoes.
Children: I love them. They taste like veal. Never really saw myself with them, and the prospects are pretty slim, unless I "Tony Randall" some chick. But I agree that the closer the family reflects the culture they are living in, the better. Doesn't mean it can't work.
Commitment: I don't commit easily, I admit it. But I do commit deeply. But, like I said. Never married. 42.99999 years old. Maybe not the best source. But have I ever been down on bended knee and asked a woman to marry me? Yes. In the last 6 months? Yes. I may propose again tonight over the phone. (Sometime over the course of a week, I suggest us getting hitched probably 3 times on average. She doesn't have to say "Yes" she just isn't allowed to say "No." Oh, and we're not dating. Have never dated. And I think I've known her for maybe 17 years now.)
Holidays: I like them. Go home to the 'rent's. Since I "travel light" (no baggage) it makes that real easy. Not to say that there aren't issues sometimes, but probably a lot less than most people have. I used to get the "why aren't you married" but from mom, until my brother did me a solid and married a woman who my mom HATES. Suddenly, me being single and available for family things didn't suck nearly so bad.
Victoria's Secret: From the women I've talked to they say that the reason they buy bras that are padded even if the girls do JUST FINE on their own is to hide the high beams. And maybe I'm stupid, but I agree. Whatever makes you feel pretty, I'm good with. Don't need to see industrial granny panties, though. And for God's sakes, if it's early in the relationship, and especially if you've planned our trip to second base in advance (and you have), wear something with a simple method of removal. Odds are, well be too excited to work something more complex than hooks or a clasp.
Conclusion: Yes, I'm straight. And thanks again for letting me play.