I Feel The Need... The Need For Speed (Dating)
I’ve been pretty openly and vocally against online dating recently and it’s partly because I think it’s weird to know things about someone before you ever see/talk with them. And it’s also party because since returning from New Zealand I have a deep seeded desire to push technology away. I deleted the Facebook app off my phone so the push has been AGGRESSIVE and irreversible.
I’m not sure what my newfound attraction towards ‘simpler times’ is all about but I’ve self-diagnosed myself with a Benjamin Button-esque dating syndrome where everyone else ages and conforms to the new, progressive dating methods while I age but lean towards arranged marriages.
Call me the Benjamin Button of the dating game but I believe I can meet a social, cool dude the old fashioned way: with my face and words. I was determined to find at least one and I knew just where I’d find AT LEAST ONE: speed dating.
I know, I know, speed dating? What is this “The 40 Year Old Virgin”? But I weighed the potential outcomes: best case scenario: I meet a great guy; worst case scenario: a guy confesses to a gruesome murder. But then I report him, I’m a hero, maybe a good looking police officer takes my statement, maybe we fall in love, now all of a sudden that worst case scenario is the new best case scenario. Best, BEST case scenario? Ryan Reynolds is that police officer.
In the days leading up to speed dating, I talked about it a lot because I was excited; excited to prove myself right about face-to-face interactions being more revealing and personal than the swipes, clicks and texts of online dating. So I gathered questions that – on the surface – appeared to be basic conversation starters but were actually very subconsciously revealing.
“What do you put in your Chipotle burrito?”
“What, if any, ties do you have to Colorado?”
“Do you have a good relationship with your mom?”
I was subtle. I was chill. I was keeping my expectations very ‘middle-of-the-road’. I. Was. Ready. For. Anything. Except having to tell the hostess of the cool, trendy sushi restaurant that I was there for speed dating.
Talking about speed dating with my friends was fun and it seemed like a cool idea but when facing the alternative of just going into this cool, trendy sushi restaurant and striking up conversation with a guy at the bar, speed dating seemed like a dumb idea. But I told myself that since I was a fun, normal girl doing speed dating, there must be a fun, normal guy also doing speed dating (side note: this is a terrible and disappointing approach to dating.)
Actually finding the speed dating group within the trendy, cool sushi restaurant was an emotional roller coaster in itself. We were first directed to a group of 60 year olds dressed in suits and wearing name tags. They must have seen the fear and disappointment on our faces because they pointed us upstairs with a “mmhmm, speed dating, huh? You’re not better than us” nod.
We followed their directions and found a cluster of attractive young bros. They asked if we were there for something that was NOT speed dating, and without a word we turned and walked away. I was not going to come clean to these potentially eligible, good looking young guys about our plan to meet as many strangers in 5 minutes as possible.
Finally we found our spacey hostess at the bar, handing out name tags, ordering drinks for herself, flirting with the male participants, ya know, the usual unbiased hosting behavior. I assumed we were convening at the bar before heading to a private room they’d reserved. But instead we were ushered to a series of long tables pulled together in the middle of the restaurant.
The girls sat on one side and the guys on the other, forming a nice buffet-style setting, where the guys rotated every five minutes to scope the options. This sounds like I felt like a piece of meat; I didn’t. If anything I felt like the restaurant’s evening entertainment. We weren’t set to the side or separate from the general public in anyway. Regular customers surrounded and faced our public dating service, their tables forming a semi circle around us. It was like a real life reality dating show being streamed directly to their eyes. So, ya know, it was just life.
I don’t know how I was expecting the whole thing to start (maybe a buzz? A ding? A starting pistol?) but when my first date sat down in front of me and started talking I stopped him: “I – I’m not sure we’ve started yet. Can you not – just hold that thought. I don’t think we’ve started yet.” I whipped my head around for a signal from the hostess as if anything he said before the official start of speed dating would be inadmissible in matching us.
But eventually the whole adventure did begin and before I knew it I was three dates in! And I could not, for the life of me, get these guys to stop talking about traffic and weather. I wanted to talk about my psychologically probing questions, I wanted to talk about Ebola, I wanted to talk about the woman a few feet away from us pouring baby powder all of the floor but NO let’s talk about how ‘sure, the the 405 has bad traffic but people forget how bad the eastbound 10 is.’
I ended up having two good conversations, one with a guy who dotted the ‘i’ in his name with a heart and one with a guy who had the same name as my silly college landlord. One felt like gabbing with a girlfriend and one felt like joking with a cousin (bet you can’t guess which was which).
I’m not particularly interested in dating my girlfriends or my cousins but desperate to prove I can have success without online dating, I put Deepak down as a match. And he put me as a match! And we never saw each other again. There is a very specific window of possibly for speed dating success and I believe that window to from right after speed dating ends to 20 minutes after you get the “You’ve Got a Match!” email.
And that was that. Fortunately no one confessed to their involvement in a cold case but unfortunately no one confessed to what they put on their Chipotle burrito either. In the end, it was a great learning experience. Thanks to long pauses I learned that five minutes is actually a length of time not just a figure of speech. Thanks to our hostess asking me to wrap things up at the end so that she could move her car, I learned that literally anyone can host a speed dating event. And thanks to the woman pouring baby powder on the floor I learned Wokano Sushi on 4th and Santa Monica has swing dancing lessons on Thursdays at 9pm.
Looks like another chance for a fun, normal girl to meet a fun, normal guy. See ya on the dance floor!