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How to Go on a Date, According to Beowulf

If you’re anything like me, your dating life is a lot of hot garbage, and you need help. Fortunately, there are experts on hand to handle this sort of thing. One of those experts is Beowulf. I don’t know why you’re looking at me like that. Even Geatish warriors obsessed with honor culture have love lives, and if I’m being honest it was kind of rude of you to suggest otherwise. Let’s just see what he has to say, okay?

Q: So there’s this boy I like. I want to go out on a date with him. What should I do?
A: Does this involve dragons, death, or the feudal system? I don’t really know how to do this if it doesn’t involve at least two of those things.

Q: No. No dragons. Just a date with a boy. That is all.
A: That’s kind of like slaying a dragon.

Q: It’s not even a little bit like that.
A: Look, I’m going to level with you here: I’m the slayer of Grendel. I’m a king, a hero of the ages. I don’t get out of bed in the morning for anything less than dragons.

Q: Can you try?
A: I guess. What’s the problem, exactly?

Q: The problem is I want to go on a date and I’m not currently doing that.
A: Oh, right. Of course. Okay, let me think. What we seem to have here is your classic hero’s journey—full of trials and tribulations, a quest or two, probably a voyage at sea. To get us in the right mindset, I’m going to tell you the story of how I once triumphed over adversity. I’m going to take approximately 3,000 lines of alliterative verse to do this.

Q: Please don’t.
A: And it’s all going to be in Old English.

Q: Oh, God.
A: You’re right, that’s a tad excessive. I’ll just give you the abridged version. One time I beat up a troll-monster named Grendel. Beat him up real good. As soon as he was dead and one arm poorer for his efforts, I also murdered his mother. Truthfully, that one was kind of a bonus. I didn’t really need to do that. Hey! Perhaps that could be a good way to get the attention of this boy you want to date!

Q: What, by murdering someone’s mother?
A: I don’t know, I’m just throwing it out there. You’d need a sword, though. You could borrow the sword of Unferth, if you want. He gifted it to me. Called it Hrunting. I never even used it, I just punched Grendel to death with my bare hands. Everyone was impressed.

Q: Why on earth did he name his sword?
A: It’s just something you do, like holding your breath for hours at a time or ripping off your opponent’s arm and displaying it prominently in your mead-hall. You name your sword.

Q: I’m going to try and get this thing back on track for a second. What’s a good first date idea? Dinner? Bowling? A museum, maybe? Where should we go?
A: That depends. How many mead-halls are readily accessible to you?

Q: At the moment? None.
A: None? What kind of palace doesn’t have a mead-hall? Don’t answer that. Maybe try something underwater. How long can you hold your breath, do you think? Don’t answer that, either. Hmm. This is tricky. Okay, I’ve got it. Nothing brings people together quite like a battle to the death and the promise of eternal glory. What’s your experience with hand-to-hand combat?

Q: Should I answer that?
A: No. Your answer will only depress me. Do you even want to go on this date?

Q: Yes.
A: Then you might as well die and let your betrothed light your funeral pyre by the somber glow of a setting sun, because I’m officially out of ideas.

Q: We could go see a movie.
A: That’s the coward’s way out. You know this and I know it, too.

Q: Sorry.
A: But I suppose it will have to do. Go on, then. Enjoy your movie. I fully expect the two of you to hit it off, consummate the relationship within a fortnight, and ultimately bequeath a thriving kingdom to your children. One day I bet you’ll even have a dragon making a ruckus in your mead-hall, and when that day comes, you know where to find me.

Jane Austen, Steve Rogers, and Jay Gatsby also have some CHOICE dating tips. Who do you want advice from next?