I Went on a ‘Penny Date’ and Here’s How It Went

I had seen ‘The Penny Date’ posted several times on Facebook, and the instructions were simple. First, make sure you have a date and a penny. Then, get in the car. Tell your date to pick a number between 1 and 20: Whatever number they pick is the number of turns you have to take. Flip the penny; heads equals a right turn and tails equals a left. Every time you have to stop at an intersection, flip the penny again. On the final flip, turn and see where you end up, and that’s the location your date will take place.

It seemed easy enough and a good way to add some spontaneity to a relationship, but I wondered if it wouldn’t also be a bit of a challenge. We live in a world where we don’t even go to the grocery store without using a GPS. Where were we going to end up with only a penny and ourselves to get us to an indefinite end destination? I decided to give it a try on the last date I went on. We had been out a few times previously, so I felt comfortable enough to risk getting lost with him.

I told him in advance about the idea, and he was actually pretty excited to not have to plan anything, or ask what I wanted to do. He told me it took a lot of pressure off of him, and that he was up for the adventure. Since we live in a rural area, I didn’t think there was much chance of actually ending up at a restaurant, so I packed a picnic first, and then we were off.

He let me pick the initial number, and I picked 6. We don’t have a lot of intersections, just a bunch of open straight roads, and I didn’t want to be driving for hours. I knew it would be enough to get us out of our town, but nowhere too ridiculously far.

Flip 1: It’s Heads. We turn right from my street onto the main highway. We drive about 10 minutes, and then the red light catches us in the next town over.

Flip 2: Heads again. Right turn onto another state road. We pass my old high school, and reminisce a little bit. We end up at a four-way stop in the little town up the road.

Flip 3: Heads. Another right turn. “This thing is broken, we’re just going in a circle back to your house,” he joked. This road leads back out of town, and the next stop sign is at an intersection beside some railroad tracks.

Flip 4: Tails! Finally a left turn! We both cheer about this. This road is county road. It takes us way out to the middle of nowhere, and we are surrounded by corn fields. There isn’t another intersection for miles. We just pass endless cornfields and some old farm houses. A stop sign pops up, the only red thing in a sea of green tassels.

Flip 5: We take bets this time on what the penny will land on. I guess tails, he guesses heads and wins. Another right turn, and more corn fields. This one was a fairly short drive to the next intersection.

Flip 6: The final flip. We bet again and I win this time: a left turn and another back country road. We’re supposed to stop now, but there’s nowhere to pull over, just corn fields on both sides and ditches between the fields and the road. We keep driving down the road and eventually find an old abandoned barn. We pull into the driveway. There aren’t any ‘No Trespassing’ signs anywhere, so we park the truck, pull down the tailgate, and have our picnic right there: home-made chicken salad sandwiches and potato salad. We talked and laughed about absolutely random things. We hung out until dark and looked at the stars.

So even though my penny date ended up sounding like something out of a country song, it was easily the most fun date I’ve ever had. There are no expectations with the penny date: It’s spontaneous, you end up where you end up, and make the best of it. Nobody is disappointed if something doesn’t go as planned, because nothing is planned. It’s the absolute perfect get-to-know-you date, and, heads or tails, it’s guaranteed to be a good time.

Stephanie McNew is just a Midwestern girl with a Southern heart and a gypsy soul full of wanderlust. She is currently working, writing, and dreaming in her hometown again.

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