Tick Tock: The Humiliations of Speed Dating

Years ago, I did speed dating for a feature story I was writing. (Ah, the joys of working at a free weekly magazine, where editorial and advertising happily comingle!) This was the result:

Among my friends, I’m affectionately known as Sweet Charity. Okay, just in my head. But like that hapless Broadway waif, I also have lousy luck with guys. Case in point: The only date I’ve been on in six months turned out to not be a date at all, resulting in a vow to focus on my career. And then my editor asked me to attend a NYC speed dating event. What could I do? I’d taken a vow. I signed up and prepared to go undercover

Accustomed to view any group activity with disdain (mostly thanks to an almost paralyzing shyness), my preconceptions weren’t challenged when I arrived at and found myself confronted with Everybody Loves Raymond on TV and mandatory nametags. But it’s amazing what two huge vodka crans can do for your fortitude.

Ensconced in the back lounge, we fourteen daters settled down in pairs at tables while the host explained the rules. He gave us each a score card for notes and announced that every three minutes he would blow a whistle and people would shift in various configurations. “We have a lot of virgins here tonight,” he squealed. He was jovial. I hate jovial. I took a hefty swig. “Go!”

Bachelor number one was someone I had started chatting with earlier, when I was alone and trying not to feel like a hooker in a lobby. We hit it off, and by the time our allotted time (and my third cocktail) was over, I was beginning to regret my pessimism. Even my next two mini-dates were wholly acceptable, if nothing to write home about. Which is not to say that over the course of the next hour, there weren’t some of the longest three minutes I’ve ever spent. Banal conversation is still banal conversation, even if it’s blessedly brief.

By the time I’d met everyone, I’d had great conversations about Stoli blueberry, Patrick Dennis novels, fifth-graders and—in a buzzed desire to impress—my former job as a casting director for gay porn. My little scorecard eventually boasted four guys marked yes, all of whom I dutifully checked off on the website in hopes that I’d have four mutual matches 24 hours later. It’s been a day, and I’ll spare us the humiliation of admitting how many men gave me a yes.* But ultimately, none of them mattered because I scored a measure of success: My first bachelor** and I ended up having dinner and talking for four hours that night. And right now, just being reminded that NYC is full of cute, intelligent guys and infinite possibilities is enough.

*[NONE. Not a single fucking one.]

**You may remember him from this.

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