For you particularly daring boys out there who my be considering asking that cute, adorable priest out for coffee or drinks or a movie - some tips just for you.
1. Avoid detailed and ongoing references only to Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, your current view on church issues, which liturgy you prefer, or other theological and/or spiritual talking points. Really. We don't want to spend the evening doing what we do every day and twice on Sundays. Assume we watch current television shows (no 7th Heaven conversations, please, but we all love The Vicar of Dibley), listen to music other than hymnody, and enjoy the parts of sporting events that occur after the moment of silence/prayer.
2. If, for some ungodly reason, the priest of your romantic attentions is wearing a collar on your date (and ladies, really - there isn't a good reason to do this on a first date. I'm just saying...), it is simply an annoyingly unbreathable blend of polyester and cotton with a plastic or, in more pretentious cases like me, starched cotton. Look past the shirt and collar to the woman inside. Just because you notice her curves in a clergy shirt does not mean you will burn in hell. However, if she is wearing her collar on a first date, there may be deeper issues here to give you pause. Again, I'm just saying...
3. Don't talk about the Bible to impress us. We probably know more about Holy Scripture than you, anyway. Refer to tip #1 for further explanation. I once had a date who said to me, "The two parts of the Bible, the King James Version and the New Testament, make for interesting reading." Yeah. I know. And if you don't know what's wrong with what he said, don't date clergy.
4. This should go without saying, but the following topics are no-no's for first dates with priests or anyone, for that matter: how you feel about your ex-wife; your teenage daughter's criminal misconduct; engaging conversations with your therapist; personal fantasies that may be illegal in parts of the South; and any story that includes the phrase, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" We are women. We expect to be treated like women, not a free psychologist. And no one wants to date Woody Allen.
5. "So what's it like being a girl priest?" is not an original question.
6. Don't ask us out for a late Saturday night date. Unlike the rest of the known world, we work on Sundays. Oh, and don't ask us out because YOU are interested in being a priest. Dating a priest and being a priest are not the same thing.
7. Yes, girl priests are girls, first. Yes, we like to kiss and canoodle, too. No, this isn't something you should ask on an early date, but I'll tell you so you can know.
8. If you ask a priest out for lunch and/or dinner, we don't all pray before a meal. Some do. Others don't. You'll just have to figure this one out, awkward as it may be.
9. Just because you aren't Christian or Episcopalian doesn't mean you can't ask a girl priest out. We Episcopalians recognize that God is bigger than anyone can imagine. And love has it's reason of which reason knows nothing, so ask her out.
10. And if you ask a girl priest out in the South, she expects you to a) hold the door open for her; b) pay for the meal; and c) compliment her on her clothing, smile, football affiliation, or sense of humor. Some things are holy mysteries. Just accept them and move on.