I'm a hypocritical feminist.

I believe that women should get equal pay for equal work. That women should be seen for who they are and what their capabilities are and not their gender. That men are just as capable of doing the dishes and raising the children. I like good scotch, bold red wines, a hearty steak, baseball and football (OK, those are just because of the tight pants), and my movie choices lean towards action and sci fi. I hate pink and gossip and most of the "stereotypical" female traits.

Unless I'm on a date. Then I want to be treated like a Lady (capital 'L').

Saturday night I had what may be my best first date ever. My parents had come into the city for the Air & Water Show and we were chatting while I got ready. Mr. Date (I think it's only right that I protect his anonymity, since it was our first date) called to get exact directions and said he would be out front in an RX-8 at 6 o'clock. I mouthed to my mother "he drives an RX-8!" This has absolutely nothing to do with materialism. When I was a teenager my mom's dream car was an RX-7. She got one when I was 15 and that's what I learned to drive stick in - manual steering and all. When the RX-8 came out, she simply had to have one. In her book, Mr. Date had already shown exceptional taste (besides the obvious fact that he's interested in her daughter).

When I came outside he came around to open the door for me. This is where I'm a hypocrite. I know I'm perfectly capable of opening my own door, but there's something about that gesture that resonates with romanticism. Even so, there were several times during the night I had to hold back so I could let him make that gesture. Romantic or not, I'm still a fiercely independent woman.

Our reservations were at Brasserie Jo, a French restaurant on Hubbard Street in between a parking lot and an adult bookstore. (Don't get any ideas - at no point in our date did we cross that threshold!) Considering what I do, Mr. Date suggested I choose the restaurant. I'd never eaten there before, but my parents have several times, I'd met one of the chefs earlier in the week, and I know a few other people who work there.

My acquaintances include bartender extraordinaire Phil, so we had a cocktail first. The first time you go out that's generally a good idea anyway. Sitting immediately at a table requires deciding your entire meal right off the bat. A leisurely drink at the bar - even if it's soda water - gives you time to get over the first awkward moments and get beyond stilted small talk into a more conversational rhythm.

Since the server I'd requested wasn't working that night, the Maitre'd said he would give us his favorite table to make up for it. Gentlemen - if you want a romantic restaurant to take a lady to, bring her to Brasserie Jo and ask for the corner table. You get to sit next to each other without doing the cheesy side-by-side arrangement, and you get a view of most of the restaurant.

For obvious reasons I did not take notes, but I'll give you the basics on the meal itself. Chef Jose sent out a fantastic appetizer of trout, dill, and cheese on toast points. Our dinners were the steak frittes with roquefort butter and the filet medalions, and dessert was a tall glass of banana and caramel and ice cream goodness. Everything was delicious. Our server, Cassidy, was pleasant, knowledgeable, and - very important - non-intrusive.
After dinner we headed to J Bar, the bar for the James Hotel.

J Bar is not a date bar. It's a pick-up-a-date bar. At 10:30 we'd already witnessed one scantily-clad 20-something fall off a white leather ottoman. Mr. Date realized quickly this was not the proper environment and said "Let's go dancing." I wasn't sure I heard him correctly, because the only men I know who like to dance are either my very hetero friend Mike who moves like he's auditioning for a Michael Jackson video, or they're gay. And I love to dance. I used to teach, but I'm not a big fan of the club scene so I get an opportunity about three times a year.

I told him he'd said the magic words. We headed to Cabaret. That may seem an odd choice for a date, but it was close and it was suggested by the bartender at J.

Cabaret CAN be a good date bar, but you have to do it right. Guys, there's a raised platform against the wall with strip poles and women dancing in lingerie. Do not look at the girls for any length of time. If you do look at them, make sure your date is also, and looks at them longer. Mr. Date was smart. He kept his back to them and looked at me.

After several hours of dancing we made one last stop at O'Callaghan's. Personally, I needed to just sit. I'd dressed for dinner in pants, a sleeveless v-neck sweater, and stilletos, so I was hot and my feet hurt. Then he took a cab with me to my place to make sure I got home OK, at 3:30 in the morning. I felt like a teenager, leaving for my date while my parents said "have fun" and trying to sneak in quietly in the middle of the night.

Total date time: 9 1/2 hours. You know it's a good date when it lasts longer than the average work day. The next morning my parents commented that we basically had three dates.

Another sign it's a good date is when you set another one immediately. Tomorrow night we're going to the Outdoor Film Festival to see "On The Waterfront". And just to prove that I'm not entirely hypocritical I'm going to surprise him with the picnic basket. Unless he reads the blog...

Brasserie Jo
59 W Hubbard St
(312)595-0800

J Bar
610 N Rush St
(312)660-7200

Cabaret
15 W Hubbard St
(312)245-3100