Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A mythical event explored: speed dating

I know, I know, I’ve been a lazy blogger and need to write at least one and probably two blogs about my Mexico vacation (which was fabulous, incidentally). But vacation blogs take me forever to write since it also requires sorting through pictures, etc. and we all know I’m incapable of leaving out even the minutest detail, so I just haven’t prioritized that necessary 3-4 hour block of time in my post-vacation schedule. That schedule included a week of sleeping 10-11 hours a night, and then once I snapped out of that it turned out I had a lot to do after 2 weeks out of the country and a week of nothing but work and sleep.

One of those things was – you guessed it – speed dating. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how utterly obnoxious it is trying to date in Seattle. Thanks to the Seattle Freeze, even natives like me have a hard time meeting people, new friends or otherwise. That was one motivation for going to speed dating.

The second and more influential motivation was the shroud of mystery and hilarity that surrounds speed dating; a sort of urban legend, if you will. Think about it: it's often discussed and portrayed in movies, it's sometimes the subject of a joke or funny conversation, but how many people do you know who have actually attended a speed dating event? Very few, I bet.

I had planned on attending an event in January with a friend, but then she decided to go out of town so I conned a coworker into going with me. Neither one of us knew what the night would hold, but we approached it with light hearts and low expectations.

Here's how it worked: Tickets were sold for three age groups, 21-33, 30-41, and 40+ (overlap intentional so people could choose if they were on the cusp). Then, as you sign in, you are given a number. Ever the rule follower, I made sure we got there right at 6:30, and as a result we were the first two women to sign in, so our numbers were F1 and F2. You then go on a 5 minute "date" with 10 men in your age group. I dated M1-M10. After each date, you circle 'yes' or 'no' next to that person's number. If you both circle 'yes,' you get each other's email addresses the next day.

My night couldn't have started on a more perfect note in terms of the awkward/hilarious situations you would expect from such haphazard pairings. My first "date" was a 22-year-old "wealth manager." He was sweet enough but looked like he was 15, and when he found out I had been at my job for 7 years his jaw dropped as I watched him mentally calculate how old that must make me.

I have to point out that of 10 men, 7 of them were not from the U.S. and all 7 of them worked for Microsoft. This appears to have been a coincidence since the event was in no way Microsoft-centric, but it was certainly an interesting element. Probably the most painful/memorable was when my friend went on a "date" with one such fellow who professed that his goal in attending speed dating was to "meet a wife and take her back to China" (to which my friend replied politely, "Well, good luck!") and then in the very next round - i.e. his date with ME - he asked me out on the spot. Yikes.

Overall the people were pleasant and interesting and I only anxiously awaited the 5 minute bell to ring twice. Having the same conversation over and over was a bit tiresome but I tried to mix it up as did a lot of the men, resulting in such questions as "What was the best Christmas present you got?" and "If all jobs paid the same, what would you do?" and "If you could date any cartoon character from your childhood, who would it be?" (My answer was Disney's Robin Hood, of course. What a fox!)

It was a fascinating anthropological event which unto itself would have been worth it. But, at least in my case, it did not fail to produce the results so many people attend these events hoping for, so it was a double success in my book. Overall I heartily recommend speed dating to the curious singleton!


AmberAnda said...

Have I mentioned lately how rad you are? I love that you tried speed dating. You are so right about it being one of those things commonly portrayed or referred to, but few people seeming to have first-hand experience.

Sarah Whitehead said...

My experience with london speed dating went horribly wrong, never ever again, keep your chin up hon!