OK, I give up. What do you consider to be a "normal" dating ritual? Is the man expected to get to know the father really well first, prove that he is a decent chap by doing odd jobs around the family homestead, and then ask the father's permission to write to the young lady, or perhaps, even (if he is very bold), ask permission to sit next to her on the porch swing and exchange pleasantries over tea and crumpets?
Normally Americans meet through mutual friends, or at church, work, school, through hobbies and/or social groups, or maybe they meet at a bar or club, and have a conversation. If they like each other, then they make arrangements to meet again. You consider that to be odd, do you?
I forgot; now-a-days, people meet through Internet dating sites, and exchange a few e-mails or IMs before giving out their phone number and having a live chat. I guess you could call that "odd".
But as for making new friends in public places, by saying hello to strangers, being "odd" or "creepy", as some have alluded to, I've noticed that people in other parts of the world (like Australia, for example) do the same thing, if you believe what you see on the Internet: