Sunday, September 19, 2004

Adventures In Speed Dating

So, the rumours are true. I went speed dating on Friday night.

I know what you’re thinking. And I was thinking the exact same thing. “Seriously, what kind of freak do I expect to meet at speed dating?”

But my friend Jenny (a real friend, not a “friend”) knew the people that were organizing the event, and sent an email begging us to come along. Mary Jane* convinced me to go, as we both suspected it would be hi-freaking-larious. After I mentioned it at work, my friend Lois* decided to come along as well.

Imagine, if you will. Willesden, North London. A rainy Friday night in September. Lois and I arrive at the speed dating venue. It’s a totally empty restaurant. We almost immediately decide to bail. Before we could flee, however, Jenny** spotted us lurking around outside and lured us in with the promise of free champagne. I don’t drink champagne, so I had a free glass of crappy red wine. Oh yes, the evening was off to a promising start.

We’d been there about half an hour when we started to get a teensy bit worried that the whole night would be the four showed-up-on-time girls talking to each other. Apparently speed dating is quite popular though, and people actually did start turning up. Amusingly, the guys were whisked away to the back of the restaurant, so that we wouldn’t be tainted by pre-meeting the other speed date victims. The speed date shenanigans were scheduled to start at 8:15, and by about 8 there were approximately 14 girls to about 6 guys. I’m not sure that I want to know how they managed to get 8 guys to turn up in 15 minutes, but somehow they magically did. So, by the start time, it was a pretty even ratio.

The idea behind the whole thing is pretty straightforward. In theory, you’ve only got three minutes to talk to each person, then you put a yes or no next to their number and the next person turns up at your table. If you’re both interested, they email the girl the contact details. In reality, no one knew where they were going, people weren’t filling out their forms properly, and the whole “three minute” thing was really anything from three to about five minutes depending on how closely the timers were watching the clocks. The organizer in me was severely pained by the disorganization of the whole thing, but what’s a speed dater to do?

Shockingly, the speed dating itself was kind of fun. I’m a relatively chatty person, so it wasn’t hard to talk to people or think of stuff to say. Of course, I can’t see myself meeting up with any of the people I met – not so say that Crazy Polish Guy, Unemployed Australian Guy, Aggressive Drunk Guy, Guy Who Tried To Set My Form On Fire, Guy Who Told People We Were Getting Married and Waiter In A Relationship Who Was Dragged In To Even Out The Numbers didn’t have their appeal.

Most of the guys were quite normal. That’s just my opinion, of course. The girl in the queue for the toilets felt that they were all “losers” and she’d have been better off staying at home. Of course, I noticed that one of the guys (Guy Who Told People We Were Getting Married) had written “bitch” beside her name, so the dislike was pretty much mutual.

I realized that the organization fiasco was complete when it seemed that the whole “anonymous” idea was pretty much shot and they were just encouraging anyone who fancied each other to exchange numbers. Which essentially defeats the whole purpose of the thing.

There was a bit of a drinkin’ and dancin’ session after, which quite a lot of the people stayed for. Mary Jane did some mutual eye catching with a sassy Norwegian bongo*** player and they got a little friendly. Lois got hit on by the organizer of the event, which seems a little unfair. He really shouldn’t have been poaching the hotties from under the speed daters’ noses. She also did a touch of kissin’ with Smooth Operator Australian Guy as we were leaving, which was most amusing. The awkward looks exchanged by the friends of the snoggers always make me laugh. “Hey, we’ve got nothing to talk about but we’d better make small talk since our friends are fused together at the lip”

Was I entertained by the whole experience? Yes. Would I go again? Maybe, but again only with friends. Was it hi-freaking-larious? Oh, hell yeah.

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent and/or very guilty
** Name has not been not changed. She has nothing to hide.
*** Country and instrument have been changed for because bongos are funny. As is Norway.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand this whole incognito thing. A person should be able to go speed dating and not be so ashamed that their name would need to be changed in blogland.

So in the interests of openness, I'm going to Out our protagonists. "Mary Jane" and "Lois" are the names that Alice finally chose for her fish. There, I've said it, it's out there.

Yours transparently

Norman the friendly budgie
(posting anonymously because I'm too lazy to sign in)

Anonymous said...

So, wait. Alice went speed dating with her goldfish who are named after drugs or comic book love interests. Not Dead Generals. Freud would have a field day with this. Me, on the other hand, well, it's monday morning and I got nuthin.

Forever anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as Mary Jane (actually a rather fine song by Alanis Morrisette) I'm not sure I did anything that I need to be ashamed of, especially as I had a hot, hot date with the Norweigen Bongo player last night!
See, speed dating can work, but only if you remember not to take it at all seriously.
Alice, love you longtime.
Mary Jane