—Wednesday, July 27, 2011—
Once you get me going, I tend to be long winded. I like to talk, but for that to come out, I usually need to be in my comfort zone. Otherwise, I’m actually a little bit shy. I’ve never been one of those salesman or politician types who can bullshit with anyone right away.
Even by this point in the project, I had noticed that most of my dates tended to be fairly lengthy because of all the talking. Speed dating did not seem built for a guy like me. I liked to take my time with people, digging into specific topics as we grew more comfortable. From that perspective, the whole idea behind speed dating seemed odd.
I was supposed to find someone I liked in approximately 5 minutes? I’d always been quick to fall in love, but even I was skeptical.
In order to have some fun with the experience, and gain some outside perspective on it, I enlisted my friends Austin and Tim to go with me. All three of us were roommates during my senior year of college and for the first time in a long time, we were all single. Maybe the first time ever. I couldn’t think of two other guys I’d rather be on a date with. Wait…well…you know what I mean.
The agency that ran the thing had us arrive 30 minutes early so we could get liquored up at the bar. The social lubricant that is alcohol seemed only necessary to move the evening along at a reasonable pace. The three of us joked around, caught up and I made friends with our bartender Ally. We asked her about the typical crowds for speed dating and what the lounge was like on a regular basis.
We also met another one of the eligible guys at the bar. He’d been to these things before. In fact, he spoke like a pro, having done it 11 times. However, if he’d really been a pro at speed dating, he seemed to be batting a very low percentage. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have needed so much speed dating in the first place.
This was the set up:
There were ten women and six men.
The ladies would stay seated and every few minutes, the men moved on to the next conversation.
Each round, we were told, would last 6 to seven minutes.
Each partner was to be graded, and at the end, each player would select their favorite matches.
We were called over to where the women were positioned and everyone was off to the races!
Date #1 –
Neither of us were certain the time had begun so it was a tiny bit awkward waiting there, especially since the whole thing was to be so brief. Then, we started! We talked about pretty basic things until we stumbled upon The Cave & The Creek. We’d both been to shows at the restaurant/bar/alternative comedy club in Long Island City. “Do you like comedy?” I asked. DUH DUDE. Who doesn’t like laughing? She was nice, but not my cup of tea. Before I knew it, time to move!
Date #2 –
She was kind of quiet at first, and seemed a bit awkward, but fought through it pretty well. She was from the Bronx and had been involved in international law, so I mentioned that I studied international business in college. It wasn’t much of a connection but it was something, right? She asked where I worked, to which I pointed out the window at the top half of my building and said, “Right there.” Ok, gotta run!
Date #3 –
My third companion had been in NYC for almost 11 years and, at the time, resided in the Bronx. She did not seem nearly as old as her work experience would indicate. She must have been one of those people who ages incredibly well. She had worked for an international corporate insurance company the entire time she’d lived in NYC. My international business degree came up again, but this time it was slightly more topical. Bam, it was time to hustle!
Date #4 –
I couldn’t help but feel like the fourth woman didn’t date much because she immediately started asking textbook questions. So, where are you from? What do you do? Where do you live? Etc. She was from the Bronx, near Riverdale, which I could only place on a map because of Manhattan College, where my Wedding Date and all of her friends had gone to school. I could only put so much hope into a date that closely resembled a job interview, so this one didn’t go much of anywhere.
Date #5 –
As soon as she told me her name, I dove into a story about about a theatrical production from college in which a father dies, the family grieves, a baby is born and heaven and earth overlap. She shared a name with the baby and angel from the story. It was a lot of exposition, and a bit heavy, for the first topic of conversation, but it drew her in. She lived in Philly, so I had no idea why she was at a speed dating event in NYC, but she was very nice and probably the best looking one there. She was tan and overtly Greek (last name). I suspected that telling her that I lived in Astoria would score points and I was right. Originally from the northeast Bronx, she used to go to Astoria for Greek Easter every year. She told me to go to a Greek taverna at midnight and order some Greek soup and to eat lamb. I mentioned my friends from Pelham, which is just north of the Bronx, and my one friend from the BX. She gave me credit for even knowing the area, but I didn’t make much of an impression otherwise.
Date #6 –
Immediately, I noticed she had an accent and I prayed it was British. She told me she was from London when I inquired and it immediately made me comfortable because that was the one place I’d been (from the world of accents she could have had: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa). I’d visited London twice at the time and loved it. Plus, I’d been living with a Brit only four weeks prior. I told her all of this and found out that she’d been in the US since March of that year. I did my very best to play the part of Humble American, telling her how the Underground in London was better than our Subway, and how Americans were fat (probably). I felt good about this one and was pretty sure I’d be one of her favorites.
Date #7 –
It seemed like she had done this before. Something about her confidence with the format. She was cute and worked in international education, which interested me greatly. I asked some details about her job and then told her about my experience working for the study abroad department at my college. I mentioned that international education was one job I might actually enjoy, and just as we were told to move on, she said her company had job openings. I didn’t have enough time to get her email address, but hoped that she’d pick me as a favorite and we could go out for real.
Date #8 –
She seemed super laid back, like the speed dating thing was a joke. It was an attitude I could appreciate. She asked me if I’d done this before and then told me about the guy here who had done it 11 times. She said she needed another drink after hearing that from him. I felt good about saying it was my first time. We had a good laugh at the poor guy’s expense. Somehow, we stumbled onto a discussion about languages and, since we’d both been there, we talked about Tokyo before moving on. Arigato! Sayonara!
Date #9 –
My ninth date was from Dominica originally, but grew up also in upstate New York, so she was cross-cultural, which I found immediately intriguing. Her first question to me was to ask about my passions. I ran my mouth about improv comedy before hearing her answer to the same question. From there, we got onto the topic of the Caribbean, where she was from, and we talked about the food almost right way. I had been to Jamaica eight months prior, so I felt comfortable discussing what little I knew of Caribbean culture. She laughed a lot, which I took as a good sign.
Date #10 –
My tenth and last date of the night! Honestly, this passed like a flash and I don’t remember anything about her aside from the fact that she was unoffensive and fairly cute. Win!
With all the dating out of the way, the men retreated to the bar to fill out our review cards. Once that was done, Austin, Tim and I saddled up to the bar to have a few drinks and discussed how we did. By this time, the women had all left and it became evident as they exited, that a number of them had come in groups, same as we had done.
We all muttered things about how we felt confident the whole way through and that, compared to the other losers there, we would certainly make the top five (of six men) on any woman’s card. You see, the favorites mentioned earlier were capped at five. Tim and I had the same top five and Austin only one different. Not too surprising since we were friends and all.
We stayed for another drink and it was quickly decided that I needed to ask the bartender for her number considering we’d spoken to her more than anyone else that night, even the dates. I waited a while for a good opportunity, and once Tim took off, I asked her. She said she had a boyfriend, otherwise she would have happily given me her number. It was probably just an out line, but she was nice about it, so no harm. I knew it would be hard to land a Bartender Date, so I figured the practice would be good for me.
The bartender suggested we shift down to the end of the bar and talk to a middle aged guy in a seersucker suit. He was from LA and produced TV shows. His friend next to him created America’s Most Wanted or Law & Order or something. He talked to us about the speed dating, being an old gay man and then, about One Hundred Dates. He told me it had been done and that it was too nice. Not enough drama, he said. It wouldn’t make for good television or even a movie really.
“One hundred pleasant dates? Good for you but it’s a snooze.”
We would have to wait see about that.
Austin and I paid our tab and left the bar. I gave him a manly hug outside and we went our separate ways.
Sometime in the week that followed, we received our matches from the speed dating. We were only matched if someone in our top five also had us in their top five. We each had two or three matches and I was pretty disappointed that mine were among the bottom of my top five. Neither the Brit nor the international education professional wanted anything to do with me. I had been so confident of those! Oh well. It was only a speed date, after all.
I received and email from one of the women I was matched with: Date #9 from Dominica. She had a very active online presence, so I figured she would be pretty open to the whole blogging as dating thing. As it turned out, I was wrong about that. She didn’t have any interest in being a part of OHD, but I think it mostly had to do with the fact that she was looking for something long-term at the time.
Very shortly after those email exchanges, I received an email from the speed dating company that organized the event saying that they’d received multiple complaints from women who attended the event that I was writing about it for a blog. They were upset with me and even got their legal team involved, but nothing ever came of it. I’m not saying that Date #9 reported me, because I have no proof, but I asked Tim and Austin if they’d mentioned OHD to any of the women and they had not, so she was the only one who knew.
I didn’t worry about it for long though — I didn’t have enough time for that.