Some of you may remember my first foray into speed dating last summer…which, aside from the entertaining story it provided and a friend I made in the process, was a colossal failure. When you endure a 5-min. long detailed description of a man’s recent toe surgery, you pretty much know you’re not walkin’ away with a life love… or a man who can walk correctly at all, really.
But this week, I participated in Match.com’s version and it was considerably more successful. Sit back and let me tell you the tale.
Let me begin by saying that I DIG the idea of speed dating. I think anyone on the dating scene can agree that in 5 minutes, you know if your date is someone you want to spend the rest of your date with or if you’d rather be home watching Storage Wars. So, the premise is simple and reasonable – 5 minute dates with several men, and if you liked what you saw, you could contact them (or they, you) for a real date.
The event was held at the charming Prohibition-themed “Eighteenth Cocktail Bar” near Rice Village, and Match.com had supplied SEVENTEEN dates! Not shabby.
I was greeted by an enthusiastic woman who gave me the run-down of the night and passed me on to another fun, charismatic personality (I would later covet her job) who signed me in. There was about a half an hour of mingle time where people could get drinks, food and chat. That’s the only part I would’ve done differently had they asked ME to run the show… not everyone is comfortable making conversation ex nihilo. I think an icebreaker type of cheesy game would’ve helped the non-extroverts of the group ease into the night.
I was fine because I ooze conversation, but even for me, it was a stretch – so I can only imagine how the less “Sarah-ish” folks fared.
So, I got my perfectly crafted mojito and sidled up to a few folks to start chatting. The girls were great and the guys seemed …well… normal! I didn’t see anyone right from the beginning who caught my eye on looks alone, but the personalities were enjoyable for sure.
Finally, the woman in charge (did I mention I want her job?) got everyone’s attention and gave us a run-through of how it would work, including directing everyone’s attention to things like table numbers, list/notes for the night, and suggested icebreaker questions/conversation starters for those people who can’t think of how to move conversation along for the ENTIRE five minutes… hmmm… She was great, though. Her introduction helped bring a shared humanity and recognition of a collective nervousness to the event that evened things out a bit.
We got started and I sat at table 12 (I’d like call it “the best table” from here forward…) to await all my 5-min. suitors.
And they trickled in, one by one, shaking my hand, introducing themselves to me and asking questions to get to know me. I will say this – most of these guys were quite lovely – they have good jobs, they were intelligent, capable of making conversation and asking me about myself and they were (mostly) appropriately complimentary.
There were exceptions, of course… a couple of the guys talked WAY too much about themselves, filling the entire 5 minutes with talking about the details of their jobs and how important they are, and never asking me anything about myself. But, hey – that’s life… better to happen on a 5-min date than a 45-min one (or worse!)
Some guys were simply drinking too much. When a guy sits down and he’s obviously drunk…well, let’s just say – you’re grateful for the 5 minute limit.
(related note…any blurry photos were taken by people who couldn’t master the button pushing because of inebriation. Let me apologize in advance for them).
One gentleman was especially smarmy. He started out great…asking me a unique ice-breaker question, “What were you doing on New Year’s Eve?”
I answered him, telling him I was at a party with a singles group I coordinate,
and he went on to ask what the IDEAL New Year’s Eve night would look like for me…
“Um….. thank you? …man I’ve known for 42 seconds…?”
So, that was fun.
About halfway through the evening, the MC announced a short break and, as I’m sure you can imagine, the ladies’ restroom was abuzz with debriefing. It was like a sociological study in there – listening to all of us exchanging stories and anecdotes and talking in general about the world of dating…fascinating stuff. If Match.com wants the REAL scoop on what people were thinking of the event, all they’d need to do is plant a mole in the Women’s restroom and listen.
I honestly could’ve ended the evening there – conversing and laughing with the other women – but duty called and I returned to my post.
At the beginning of the night, I’d tried to make contact with all the people in “charge” of the event, including a manager of the restaurant and the bartenders helping us out. I guess I made an impression because right smack dab in the middle of one of my 5-min-dates, the bartender came over to me and brought two shots of some delicious melon drink – one for him (the bartender! Not my date!) and me.
It cracked me up – and I didn’t quite know how to navigate the situation except to diffuse the awkwardness with humor, so I thanked him and told my ‘date’ that he was probably making up for snatching my not-yet-finished mojito from the table while I’d been in the bathroom. Still… it was hilarious and flattering to be interrupted during the shortest possible date, by a man offering me a free drink.
SO… there were several men who helped vindicate my enduring faith in online dating – that is,…they’re great guys who will make someone very happy I’ll bet. But none for me.
Although…there was ONE guy there who was quite fascinating to talk with… friendly, handsome, engaging, witty… sound familiar? Yup – it was Raul! (For those of you who haven’t been reading the blog long, Raul is a close friend I made via online dating. We simultaneously and mutually agreed that we weren’t a romantic match, but we’ve had a fantastic friendship ever since.)
He was there! What are the odds? (OK, maybe he heard me talking about it and decided to go WAAaaay outside of his comfort zone and come check it out. He’s guest posted a couple of times on here, and… he’s going to post TOMORROW about HIS perspective from the night!
At the end, I snapped some photos with folks who agreed to let me splatter their faces all over the interwebs, said my goodbyes and went on my merry way.
In retrospect, there’s really only one thing I would’ve done differently. I think a classy move all around, would be to put a tip jar on my table. You know – I’d pad it with a couple of ones and let the cash roll in. I mean… as each guy left his 5-minute date, I could give it a subtle tap-tap with my fingernail, as if to say, “I’m not saying a sizeable tip would increase your chances of another date……but…..”
Hey – money talks. Let’s make it rain, boys.
What…?? I might be sassy and confident, but this single mama’s gotta make a living!
As Daniel Tosh says, I’m a baller on a budget.
The next day, I got a few messages from guys who were there…but not many. I suspect that Raul got considerably more… we’ll have to wait and see. But, I hypothesize that my lack of enthusiasm over any one guy was obvious…I’m known to be pretty transparent. I don’t think I was at ALL rude or unkind. I had FUN with these guys. But, I also think they walked away thinking, “that was fun. But, I don’t think she likes me enough for a date.”
All told, I consider the event a success. I didn’t go in thinking I’d probably find love, so I wasn’t disappointed… but I WAS encouraged by a room full of well-adjusted (mostly) folks looking for the same thing I am… that connection with that one person… and they haven’t given up hope. THEY are all still searching like I am – still believing that it’s out there to be found. And that’s nice to see.