"Date" and "funny" do not go together in my world. Heck, "date" and "fun" tend not to go together either, but I would have done better with that one. I am assuming by "funny" you do not mean "a really crappy date that was hell in the experience but made a funny story later." I'm also going to define "date" as any interaction with the potential of romance, even if that potential was not fulfilled. This would mean that the funniest "date" was in March 2004 when I went to the OAH conference in Boston, just before I moved there.
I met up with some friends, with whom I had gone to graduate school, at the hotel bar on Saturday night and had a few. This lasted a few hours, after which, we proceeded to dinner in the North End at a fabulous Italian restaurant. Dinner, naturally, went much better with much wine.
Somewhere around midnight, we returned to the hotel in a state of intoxication that lay somewhere between between buzzed and drunk. "Tipsy" might be the appropriate word. We walked into the lobby, where I saw my publisher sitting on a couch with a group of people. I waved "hi," and she signaled me to come over. "I want you to meet someone," she said. "He was looking at your book and considering buying it today." She indicated a older, black man sitting next to her. Who was this man? John Hope Franklin. Yes, John Hope Franklin allegedly wanted to buy something that I wrote! That was about two minutes off of my fifteen alotted for fame, right there.
Well, the lobby was so loud, and the sofa on which they were sitting so low, that I had to bend over to exchange pleasantries. I ended up getting down on my knees so that I could hear him, while my cohort stood over by the elevators laughing their asses off. When I returned to them and told them who he was, they laughed even harder. Getting on your knees in front of John Hope Franklin, they agreed, was probably the biggest, most unabashed schmooze EVAH.
After the mirth, the bulk of them decided that they were tired and went on up to bed. I wasn't ready to pack it in, nor was one of the guys with us. He and I were ready for more cocktails, and he wanted to see Cheers, just to say that he did. So, he and I went off to Cheers, which was really only a few blocks away. When we got inside, he tried to get me to yell "A. Rod Rocks!" I had no idea who the hell A. Rod was, and actually thought he was trying to get me to say something dirty. I asked a waitress what would happen if I followed his directions. "You'd probably get your ass kicked," she said. "Bad."
Later, after a few more drinks, my friend said that, the next day before he left, he wanted to see the State House and the Massachusetts 54th memorial. "Well, they are just down the street about a block, right across from one another," I said. "We could go now." So, we did. While we were standing in the middle of the street, holding each other up, and simultaneously preaching to one another about the aspect of Boston history that we knew best, he noticed a red brick line on the ground.
"That's the Freedom Trail!" I said.
"The what?" he asked.
"It takes you to all of the sites related to the American Revolution," I said, then launched into my History 101 lecture on the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Massacre and so forth.
"How far?" he asked.
You see where this is going, don't you? Next thing you know, we were walking down the Freedom Trail at 2:00 in the morning, which is really the best time to travel the Freedom Trail as there is no traffic or tourists. Plus, the burial grounds are much spookier. We stopped short of climbing the fences to see those any better. By "stopped short" I mean that he dared me to do it, then had to pull me off of the fence when he realized that I was on my way over.
No kissing. No sex. No subsequent romance. He's now happily married. I'm happily single. But that's the closest thing that I can think of to a "funny date," although it wasn't really a date, and you have to be a history geek to find it remotely funny.
2. You can go back in time to the 19th century, any location and time, but you have to be of the same social class you are in now, and have to stay a whole year. Where do you go, and what work do you do (you may switch gender for the year, if you want)?
This question is like an extreme PBS 19th Century House show! This one was very difficult because the one thing that you learn from studying the past is that it wasn't really a great place to live. I like my modern technology and hot, running water. Since it is only for a year, however, I think I could manage.
My choice would be the year that Frederick Douglass returned from England on his first trip. I'd want to be in his entourage in some way while he was there and then return with him to his family. I'd want to be a woman, which would be difficult and require me to have a female travelling companion, and probably require me to either be a speaker myself, or a secretary, both of which would fit my social class. I want to see Douglass speak. I want to know exactly when he met Julia Griffiths. I want to meet William Lloyd Garrison and Maria Weston Chapman. I want to talk to Anna Douglass and Harriet Bailey (aka Ruth Cox) Adams, the woman whom Douglass "adopted" as his sister (and about whom I am trying to finish an article). I want to see New York and London in the nineteenth century. I want to ride a train and a steamship, and see anti-slavery conventions. I have some questions that probably don't have definite answers, but I'd want to go in search of them.
3. What wine do you like?
Cheap, white Zinfandel. Berenger or Sutter's Home does the trick, but Gallo has a darker one that is pretty good. I go for the pink ones on the excuse that they are healthier than the white ones. Yes, I know that red is the type that is supposed to be good for your heart, but I don't like red that much (although Coppola had a really nice Zinfandel). So, I drink the pink because it has both the tannins from the grape skin, but is sweet. This taste for cheap wine runs in the family. My grandfather's favorite was "Wild Irish Rose." Thus, we have reached the limits of my skills as a connoisseur.
4. If you could conjure up a dream job that starts on January 1, 2009, what would it be?
Someone pays me enough to live comfortably above the poverty line, plus benefits, to research and write books (on topics of my choosing, of course!). This job would also be somewhere on a coast, far enough north or south to have four distinct season, none of which stick around long enough to wear out their welcome. Also, I want it to start January 1, 2008.
5. Are you taking any fun (ie not family- or work-related) trips this year?
Trips that do not involve work or family? I do not understand the concept.