Okay, I know I just finished writing “enough is enough” (and subsequently cancelling all of my online dating subscriptions) but my little “breakthrough” took place after I’d already committed to a night of speed dating. (Leave no stone unturned, and all that.) For those of you who’ve somehow managed to escape the many trials and tribulations that comprise dating in the 21st century, speed dating is the Russian Roulette of romance. You pre-register (in order to ensure that there are an equal number of men and women), dress to impress, head over to your local bar and take a number.
If you a girl, you’re lucky: you find a table, take a seat and wait for the men to come to you. The men have to make the rounds, sitting down at the start of each “date” and moving on to their next victim/PSM at the sound of the bell.
You make small talk for a minute or two with each prospect (hence the “speed” part of speed dating), mark their name or number on a clip board if you like them and take a second to regroup and get ready for your next “date.”
At the end of the event, you turn your clip board over to the organizers. If your regard for someone turns out to be mutual (as indicated by matching names/numbers on both of your clipboards) the organizers will send you their contact info after the event.
It’s more triathlon than Russian Roulette actually, and I know this because I’ve already been speed dating.
I was 20. It was for charity. Valentine’s Day was just around the corner and I had ZERO prospects.
Also, I was living in Oxford at the time and Operation Acquire a British Boyfriend was failing miserably.
As such, when two of my equally ill-fated flat mates decided to try their luck at speed dating, I decided to tag along—not because I was desperate or anything, but because all the proceeds went to charity, you see.
Having never been speed dating before, I had no idea what to expect. Conversation has never been my forte and although it’s definitely gotten better over the past fifty-something dates, I was a total novice at age 20. Also, I wanted to be taken seriously (as only an ardent feminist-in-the-making can) so I decided to wear a blazer.
A freakin’ blazer.
As if I’d be meeting a bunch of future MPs and Rhodes Scholars!
No, I was meeting a bunch of horny undergraduates who wanted to get laid. Maybe there was a future MP or two in the group but if there was, it didn’t matter: you never stand up during speed dating so it didn’t matter how great my jeans looked with my new Primark heels. The blazer was a total turn off.
(At least, I’m going to pretend it was the blazer. It could have been any number of things: my inability to make small talk, my American accent, my preoccupation with meeting a boy who went to one of the good colleges and avoiding the interlopers from Oxford Brooks…)
Lo and behold, I did not meet the love of my life. I ended up with only one “match” and he never replied to my email.
To add insult to injury, my flat mate (who had agreed to be my back up date for Valentine’s Day) landed himself three dates—and he wasn’t even wearing cool jeans!
So this time around, I’m going to channel my old flat mate. And wear a more revealing blouse. And try to concentrate on— you know— having fun, as opposed to meeting the love of my life. Stay tuned.