Dating at the Speed of Life

I’ve decided to exhaust every possibility of finding”the one”.  To say yes to more things, to take more risks and to be open minded, knowing that finding You, may no longer be the strait and narrow path I imagined as a boy, but some per-chance-happenstance unexpected twist of date.

So… I signed up for an evening of speed dating.  All I’ve known of speed dating, is what I’ve seen in the movies and on television.  It’s always some comical plot point:


So in truth I had no idea what to expect.  I get to Bar 35, and the back area is partitioned off for a private event.  The place is beautiful, the right mix of dimly lit atmosphere and interesting architecture.  A tiki-styled bar with pseudo-thatch roofing.  A raised area with low booths and chic’ glass tables, counters and high stools lining all the walls and bamboo.   High surfaces and low tables, open spaces and closeness, organic expansiveness and solid brick and mortar.  I make a mental note to add this to my list of places to bring a date… assuming it’s not a girl I meet here.

bar35

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The hostess greets me warmly.  I give her my name and she gives me a name tag.  She asks me if I have a preferred nickname, and I wisely decide against “Optimis Prime” for the evening.   I look around and  I notice there is just one other guy standing there holding a beer awkwardly.  Yikes, I’m too early.  Should’ve hung out in my car and sung more karaoke.    But I’m already here.  At least it gives me more time to acclimate to the situation.  So I start chatting up lone-guy-with-a-beer.

“What’s your name?”

He hesitates.

“JP.”

“It say’s Patrick on your name tag.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Where does the J come from?”

“Umm…

“So what do you do? ”  I ask him.

“I work at a hotel. ”

“What do you do there. ”

“Just… hotel stuff.”

I hope you’re slightly more forthcoming when ladies talk to you. I suspect he is some sort of janitor.

More people begin to trickle in.  Guys, one by one, looking frightened and overwhelmed, and girls in pairs or trios clinging to each other for safety like gazelles entering the lion’s den.  I introduce myself to everyone.  People start forming into protective huddles of conversation.  I  wander aimlessly, never staying one spot for too long.  Like oil separating from water, the crowd inevitably shifts with all the guys panning to one side, and all the girls to another.  It’s beginning to look like a freshman dance.  I point this out to the guys, and they chuckle nervously.

Finally everyone arrives.  Thirteen girls and thirteen guys, and lucky me I’m starting on table thirteen.  I love it.  The hostess explains the rules of speed dating: each person has seven minutes with their date, at the sound of the bell it means there is one minute left.  Each person has a card; if you like the person you’re chatting with check yes, and if they check yes for you then your contact info will be exchanged the next day.  So paper-and-pencil-Tinder.  Got it.

And we’re off!

It’s funny, how you can boil down what a person is, into five short minutes.  It’s funnier still, how after saying this abridged version of who I am over and over I begin to question what it is exactly I’m doing with my life.

“I’m a manager/server at a restaurant.  Kinda fancy-ish… steaks, pork chops, beef cheeks.  Have you ever had beef cheeks before?  It helps if the cow smiles a lot…”

“I’m writing a Vampire novel.  It’s about how being 200 years old and hanging out at a high school makes you a pedophile, not a teen heart-throb…”

Everybody is extremely nice and polite.  No weirdos, no psychopaths, no crazy cat lady like on TV.  Everybody is strangely normal.  As I’m on my third or fourth “date”, I begin to get the sneaking suspicion that I’m the weirdo, the hyperbolic characterization of comical-crude and intrusive-incarnate: I’m the one asking the workplace safety inspector what’s the most horrific injury she’s ever seen.  Limbs?  Toes?  Noses?   I’m the one asking the civil engineer is there some conspiratory plot to keep the roads in disrepair so the people who repair roads are forever employed?  And I’m the one starting the date with, “Hey let’s do shots!”  Well I did that one time, as she recoiled in horror, clutching her water to her chest, and squeaking out a tepid, “No thank you”, as if I had offered her rat poison.

And the I met The Ringer.

What happens if somebody has zero matches?  Thirteen new potential loves-of-your-life in the span of two hours and nobody likes you back.   That must be a soul-crushing realization: out of all these strangers– nobody likes you.  Nanny nanny boo boo.  But it must happen, I’m sure.  There must be a way to give each person at least one “match” so they can walk away from the experience with positive feelings and a sense of hope.

This girl was gorgeous.  Prettier and more put together than most of the other girls at the event.  She sat with an air of confidence, with her back leaning against the wall and her chin tilted in the air.  Why didn’t I see her earlier?   She had spent most of her time chatting with the hostess of the event.  That was my first clue.

We start chatting and she’s friendly and charismatic.  I ask her questions about herself, and she keeps giving me short, concise responses before turning the questions back on to me.  I can’t really figure out too much about her, but she seems interested in me.  Like really interested.  I feel the spark of hope ignite in my stomach.  I begin to imagine standing at the end of a long aisle as she slowly approaches me in a white dress with her face veiled and our friends and family on either side.  I imagine how our children would look.  I imagine her naked.  Okay, maybe I imagined that first.  But still.

The Long Aisle
(Funny how in my own imagination I still create the girliest of weddings)

 

I start talking about vampires, and she doesn’t recoil in horror.  She doesn’t burst into peals of laughter either.  She just says, in a very soothing and encouraging voice “Oh that’s very nice.  I think you’ll do very well”  Or something to that effect.  It’s reminiscent of  being in pre-school and showing the teacher my finger paintings, and she ooh’s and aah’s over how good it is.  Up until this point I was lapping up all the good feeling and encouragement, but this sits funny with me.

I start giving her all the gory details of my writing.

“He doesn’t survive by biting people on the neck, no instead he tricks high school girls into letting him go down on them on their period…”

“Oh and there’s another vampire, she looks twelve and all she does is spend all day masturbating and luring men to the house to eat– Chris Hansen style…”

She doesn’t flinch.  She’s not grossed out.  But she doesn’t get excited the way fans of my work do either.  She just endures it, like a power point presentation on the migratory habits of the red breasted finch.   At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve tanked any chance of getting a second date with this girl.  My mouth has a way of doing that.  I’m trying to come up with more ways to weird her out when the bell rings, and I’m off to the next table.

– – – –

I go through more people.  I’ve got my canned questions down now, and I’m hitting a cadence and a stride with these dates.  Ask her about that thing she just said.  Okay laugh now at her joke.  Okay now a funny anecdote.  What does she do again?  Oh crap.  Ask her about hiking, and waterfalls…

Everybody is polite.  Everybody is nice.   But nobody is that right mix of proverbial freaky-fuzzy to stick to my wall of emotional Velcro.  They just roll down the side and are soon forgotten as soon as that bell rings.

– – – –

Finally  I’m at my last table.    I’ve had three beers so I’m at that right mix of honest and brave, but with no bathroom break, so I’m just waiting to make a mad dash to the restroom.  This girl is cute, with an easygoing smile.

“Drinking Guinness?”  She asks me as I sit next to her.

“Yeah how’d you know?”

“I’m a bartender.”

“I’m an alcoholic.”

“We’re going to get along great.”

What unfolds is perhaps my most genuine conversation of the evening.  No canned material.  No pre-conceived questions.  We just talked about beer, and the service industry.  Heck, I didn’t even ask her who her favorite Disney princess was.  Maybe it’s because I had to pee so badly, but time has snarled to a slow crawl.  I’m literally hanging on her every word, each syllable one second that separates me from that blissful stream of urine exiting my body in a torrential hiss.  I’m torn between my urge to soak her up like a sponge, and my urge to unload like said sponge twisted and wrung dry.

The bell rings.  I thank her for a lovely evening and make a mad dash from my seat.  When I return the hostess is giving everyone directions on how to fill out their cards.  Check anyone you want to talk to again.  At the end of the night I checked three yes boxes.  The Ringer, The Bartender, and one engineering girl who was mousy and boring, but had really nice big pair of… eyes.

I hang out for a bit.  So does the Bartender.  We sit we talk and we laugh.  I offer to buy her a drink.  She says she’s got a long drive home, but she hopes to see me again soon.  That’s got to be a good sign, right?

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– – – –

I got my emailed results the next day:

The Bartender and the Ringer would like to hear from you again.

I’ve yet to reply to either.

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