Here’s the thing with me and dating: I don’t want to put forth the effort required to make it happen.
I am fine – happy, even – as a single gal. Sure, it would be nice to have some male companionship from time to time, but I don’t have any burning desire to seek it out. If it happens organically, that’s dandy. If it doesn’t, well then I have plenty of other stuff to keep me busy and fulfilled. (Get your mind out of the gutter! Oh wait, that was me. Ahem.)
Several of my friends have encouraged me to join the online dating services Match.com, PlentyofFish.com or eHarmony.com. But that involves work. I don’t have the time or energy to determine the fucktard quotient of the guys who contact me, or vet hundreds of profiles to figure out whose pictures are from 15 years and 50 pounds ago. Plus, I know from past experience that you cannot judge chemistry potential until you meet in person.
But sit me at a table and ask me to chat with a captive audience of 12 guys, all close to my age, each for only six minutes, then note on a sheet of paper whether I want to further the conversation with any of them, all for the price of a meal? DONE.
I did speed dating once about eight years ago and wrote a column about it for Business First. I remember it being largely a waste of time in terms of dating prospects, but high on entertainment value, so when a friend asked me to go with her to an event for singles aged 38 to 50 this week, I was all, what the hell? It can't be any worse than what I am doing now, which is exactly nothing.
Meeting a bunch of random strangers is not intimidating for me primarily because of all the networking I've done over the past few years for my career. Plus I have finally gotten around to a place where I figure you’ll like me for who I am or you won’t, and it’s no skin off my nose either way.
On Sunday, my girlfriend and I registered to go together to the Wednesday event on a buy-one, get-one-free deal that amounted to $15 a piece, but we ended up on a waiting list. Then my friend decided to forgo the waiting list and made other plans. The speed dating organizer contacted us Tuesday night saying two spots had opened up, and did we want to go. Because my wingman was otherwise occupied and the organizer said I could get the discount with or without my friend, I decided to fly solo.
I got dressed in a cute outfit of jeans and a funky top for a client meeting Wednesday morning and went about my day. About 4 p.m., I considered getting a shower even though I wasn’t dirty, so I could start over with a fresh palette and paint on a little pizzazz. Then I thought, fuck THAT. I looked like me, and if me wasn’t good enough for the jokers at this speed dating event, well they could kiss my ass as it waggled out the door.
Anyhoo, I got to the restaurant a little early, around 6:45 for a 7 p.m. event, still in jeans with my hair artfully arranged in a messy ponytail. Which has nothing to do with anything except that I feel the need to point out that I did not spend hours on my hair, and it looked cute anyway.
(Side note: The event was held at Champps, which for three days I assumed must be the old Champs Rollerdrome where I went to skating parties as a kid, until I Google-mapped the address. Yes, I thought that speed dating at a roller rink was a little wack, but I was actually looking forward to seeing how that venue might play out. Never heard of Champps restaurant until now. But I digress.)
I hit it off with the organizer right away, and we talked a little bit about other events she puts on around town. For this one, she told me we had to wait until everyone got there before what she referred to as “pre-dating” would start. Kind of clever, actually, cuz these are by no means “real” dates. Simply not enough time.
I mingled a bit and met a lovely medical student (pursuing her second career) originally from New York. I’m going to have to look her up because she was cool as hell. Close to 7:30, the event organizer corralled us all into a private room, and instructed us to sit at the two-top table that had the number on it corresponding with our name tags. I was No. 8.
The guy who also had No. 8 on his name badge started at my table, but he and all the other guys moved around, while the ladies stayed put. When the clock started, No. 8 Dude and I had six minutes to chat until a bell rang and he had to move over to Table 9. No. 7 Dude then came over to my table, and so on.
We were instructed to write the name of each person we met next to his or her badge number on a pre-printed sheet, and then discreetly mark either “Let’s Talk” or “No Thanks” by the name after each pre-date. The following day, we received contact information for our “matches.” I marked three men as “Let’s Talk,” and it turns out they also did the same for me. So now I have their contact info, and they have mine.
I also was sent the e-mail addresses for guys who picked me, but I did not pick them. Because I did not pick them, they did not get my contact info, so it’s up to me to make the first move if I so desire. Five men chose me who I did not also choose. I feel kinda guilty about that, but not guilty enough to contact them and apologize. I mean, srsly.
Back to the event: The room had 12 tables set up in kind of a circle, so we eventually got to talk to all 12 members of the opposite sex. We got one break halfway through, thank God. I was about to pee my pants, and I needed another club soda because I was parched from all that yammering.
My observation of the overall event was that the majority of the men were much closer to 50 than 38, highly educated, socially awkward and well, nerdy. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Four of the 12 were engineers and openly professed their love for math. At least two had Ph.Ds, and one was an M.D. Then you had the extreme opposites, who I question if they had jobs at all.
And then there were the token rednecks of the bunch. Good people, those two guys, just not my type (despite my love for Duck Dynasty). One big surprise was when I mentioned my new affinity for charity motorcycle rides, two of the nerdiest engineers were eager to tell me about their own bikes. Did not see THAT coming, so shame on me for stereotyping.
The evening was divided into two acts, if you will. During Act One, I met several very nice, normal gentlemen. No serious love connections, but good conversation. I marked three guys from that group as “Let’s Talk” because we had some common interests. Act Two was a different ball o’ wax.
First, there was a British dude who could not maintain eye contact to save his life. I nearly reached across the table and grabbed him by the ears to focus his attention. When I saw in the e-mail that he had chosen me, my first thought was, how could he even know who I am? He never saw my face!
Then, there was a guy with a girl’s name and a creepy mustache who "honeyed," "sweetied" and "guurrled" his way through our entire six minutes. If this dude is straight, I am Lady Gaga. His parting words to me were, “Well, don’t you just have QUITE the energy?” The way he delivered that comment, I half expected him to follow it up with three snaps in a circle.
There was also a never-married 50-something who was as mellow as a marshmallow (and shaped like one, too). He was as sweet as he could be, but talked about his parents as if he still lived with them. “Mother thought it was a good idea for me to get out and meet new people …” Whaaa?? Hello, Norman Bates. Yeesh.
But the piece de resistance, King Jackass of Dick Mountain himself, was the doctor in the group. He was the 11th guy I met, and by that point in the evening, he was so drunk he had to yell just to be able to hear himself. His spiked hair was gelled to within an inch of its life. If he had fallen forward into his beer, he would have shattered the glass.
I know from personal experience with the many alcoholics in my life that you cannot reason with a drunk, so I smiled my way through an excruciating six minutes and largely ignored him. I made the mistake of mentioning that I had been married twice to the same man, which gave Dr. Douchebag an opening to ostracize me for making the same bad decision more than once. (For anyone who saw my FB status, this is the guy I nearly stabbed in the arm with my pen.)
I also told him I want to travel, and he responded that he had already seen everything he EVER wanted to see and would NEVER travel again. He could not understand my choices and desires and informed me that he had never been married. I CANNOT IMAGINE WHY.
Turns out that this malady of the medical profession has an office not three blocks from my house, right next-fucking-door to my nail salon. Yaay. I did have the foresight to omit what area of town I live in, and I am praying that he was so drunk he can’t remember even meeting me. I may wear a ballcap and shades when I go in for my monthly pedicure next week.
Being judgmental is one of my character defects, so I should quit while I’m ahead ... before I start to backslide into Angry Amy. I am a much kinder and gentler person than I used to be, so I acknowledge that all the men I met are just doing the best they can. They may not be the guys for me, but that doesn’t make them bad people. I think the fact that eight out of 12 men said they wouldn't mind talking to me again is proof that I am pretty fucking pleasant company these days. Right?
I am proud to say that, even in the case of Dr. Asshole, I kept my side of the street clean all evening. I was nice to everyone I met, and not a single unkind word escaped my lips. (I saved them all for this blog.)
All in all, speed dating was worth the money I spent on it, and I may do it again. But even for a chica like me who loves to run her mouth, that was A LOT of chit-chat. Definitely need to pace myself next time.
If you're interested in checking out speed dating for yourself, here's a link to the group that put on the event I attended: Louisville Pre-Dating.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.