Single and thirty – two words no woman wants to say out loud. I hadn’t been on a date in months. I needed to jump start my social life. Exploring non-traditional and contemporary ways of meeting new people was at the top of my list. I decided to keep a diary about my experience. I hope it has a happy ending!
The first step:
If you are over thirty one of the most annoying questions people ask you is, “When are you ever going to get married?” The next even more annoying statement is, “You know your biological clock is ticking!” Sales people, insurance agents, bus driver all add their two cents on where I should be at this point in my life. Who knew my biological clock would be the topic of conversation for total strangers to editorialize. I tried the online dating services, most of which introduced me to men who were more like my brother than a potential mate. Others seemed to be more concern with how many men they could offer me instead of finding mister right. I wanted to try something different. Like my mom always says,” Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always gotten!” I decided to try something new.
I’ve read about Speed Dating and how a few of my friends have tried it with mixed reviews. Some enjoy the limited contact it involves. Some thought it was way too little time to make a connection. I searched the internet for a site that could assist me with finding a place that offered speed dating. I was surprised to find one of the local restaurants hosted Speed Dating on Wednesday nights. It explained how you arrive at the restaurant at nine o’clock to register. You are then assigned a table number. You wait for your table partner and have three minutes to introduce yourself, find out what you have in common, score from one to ten your experience with that person, and move on to the table to your left. I became anxious just reading the information. I didn’t think three minutes with anyone is enough quality time to size up any individual. It takes me forty minutes to order at a fast food place! I wasn’t sure whether speed dating would be right for me. With mom’s words screeching in my sub-conscious I decided to give it a try.
What to wear:
Once I committed to this I needed to find something to wear. Should I go casual or like a tart in training. Wear the red lipstick or gloss, stilettos or comfort. I started to feel a headache coming on so I took a nap. Naps always calm me and allow me to relax when I’m facing a stressful situation. I remember in kindergarten I once slept through an entire music program and awoke to find myself in an empty elementary school auditorium, but I digress. I find my self digressing a lot. I think I get it from my father’s side of the family, I digress, again!
Advice from a peer:
With much hesitation, I called my best friend who is in a relationship for help. I prepared myself for the thirty minute, “I’m so happy relationship blather. ” I laid the phone on the table and ate my pizza for one while she continued to gush about how she and her boyfriend Joey are “the real deal” and how she couldn’t imagine not having him in her life. How someone can make this determination after three weeks of dating is beyond me. However, I was the one asking for speed dating advice. She suggested I try to enjoy the experience, not take it too seriously and look at it as an opportunity to meet new people.
Time to leave:
“Purse check-money check-confidence, confidence . . . where did I put that confidence. I must have left it in my other purse. What am I thinking? There is no way I can do this!” I stood at the door waiting for the phone to ring saying, “Hello, this is the restaurant. Speed Dating has been cancelled do to an uncontrollable kitchen grease fire.” To my dismay the phone call never came. Speed Dating Night was a go and I was about to meet twenty men who may be mister right or in my case probably mister wrong. Nevertheless, I needed to do this for myself. I had to face my fear. I gave my teeth the once over for smudged lipstick and hailed a cab.
I arrived to find a group of equally nervous women all in their early to mid thirties in the lobby. Some looked a bit older than thirty but who was I to judge. Okay maybe I did judge just a little bit. I thought, “At least I look like I’m thirtyish.” We made small talk until it was time to begin. A younger, attractive girl gave us our number for our starter table. I was seated at number eleven. Eleven! Better than ten but not good enough to be twelve. I was judging my number, what the heck is the matter with me! The restaurant manager came over to each table welcoming us to SDN. I hate when people abbreviate things! I smiled and told him TYVM, oh that means Thank You Very Much! He was not amused and greeted the next table. He then grabbed a cheesy looking microphone encrusted with lots of little shiny doodads and announced, “Welcome everybody to Speed Dating Night! As some of you seasoned SDN attendees know we always have a theme. Tonight’s theme will be Love Can Bistro Good!” I tried not to gag. He seem so please with his wit and play on words. The attractive girl who gave us our numbers brought out a clock with a buzzer. “Okay, at the end of three minutes it will buzz and you will move on to the next table.” She explained it as if we couldn’t have figured it out on our own. I’m pretty sure she’s dating the manager.
Let’s get ready to Speed Date: A few minutes later a younger man ushered in the guys. Some were dressed casual; some were formally attired as though they were hoping to find their bride tonight! I overheard one of the guys saying he rented his tuxedo. Who rents a tux for Speed Dating? A tall gentleman came to my table, not bad, not bad at all. He had number eleven in his hand. I stood up and extended my hand. He put his hand on my shoulder . . . not good! “No need to stand little lady, I’ll come down to meet you!” He pointed and winked! It was the longest three minutes of my life. Finally, the buzzer sounded. I thanked him and went to the next table. A portly guy with sweaty red cheeks stood up and held my chair, nice! He said he came at the insistence of his mother. I told him I too came at my mother’s request. However, after he droned on and on about his mother for three minutes I begged for the buzzer. This type of scenario went on for forty-five minutes.
Finally, the last table of the evening. A fellow who looked to be in his late thirties stood up, extended his hand and said, “Hi I’m scared to death and don’t know how to get out of here without looking like a jerk, and you are . . .?” I shook his hand, “I’m ready to leave now and honestly don’t care if people think I’m a jerk, nice to meet you!” I told him I’d planned to excuse myself to the ladies room and slip out the side door. He said he was thinking the same thing only the men’s room. I thought, “I like this guy!” Before I realized I’d blurted out, “So, would you like to go for coffee?” I expected him to say, “Ah, sure, let me visit the men’s room first.” Instead he said, “I’d LOVE some coffee!”
We walked to a local coffee shop chatting about how lame the Speed Dating evening was and how anyone could decide to date someone after having a three minute conversation. After two espressos and half dozen biscotti we discovered we lived in the same apartment building. He’s the guy who always put a purple sticky on my mail box when I need to pick up a package from the office. He volunteered at the local community center teaching a class for kids called, “Swimming for the timid.” I really like this guy! He asked if we could share a cab ride home. I hailed a cab. As it pulled up he opened the door for me. I could get use to this. The cab driver asked us, “Where to?” In unison, we gave him our building’s address. The driver laughed, “I love it when couples have been together so long they speak at the same time!” My date said, “Who knew love could bistro good.” That was four years ago. Would I recommend Speed Dating as a way to meet people, perhaps, would I recommend coffee and a couple biscotti . . . absolutely!