Fresh dates (the fruit): tell me about them

So there’s this great little produce market near me, and whenever I go, I try to find something I’ve never eaten before. I bring it home and try to figure out what to do with it.

Today, I came home with fresh dates. They’re still on the stem, greenish yellow and hard. I bit into one and it’s very astringent. (I spit it out, it was also not yummy and seemed very not-ripe).

So what do I do with them? Leave them on the counter until they soften? Stick them in a dark drawer? Put them in the fridge? It’s pretty humid here, much more humid than in the desert I presume they came from, so should I wrap them loosely in paper towels or something? How do I know when they’re ready to eat?