Tales From the Trenches: Adventures in Speed Dating


Our 2-part Dating series is written by our guest blogger, Jenn. See part one here. This piece originally published in 2008 on Jenn’s blog.

So in honor of Valentine’s Day (otherwise known for us single folks as Singles Awareness Day), my fellow single gal pal, Rachel, and I endured our first speed dating event. Now our Sex and the City moment had finally been actualized. We went into this with no expectations (actually very low expectations, which by the way, Rachel, you owe me money; I was right! Socially awkward or what I like to call, Aspy engineers galore!). Being a Behavior Analyst who works with Autistic children, I should have been in my element being surrounded by so much social awkwardness.

No amount of behavioral training or dating could have prepared me for this.

The event was at a small, trendy-ish lounge bar. When we got to the place, there were only 5 guys, and 1 other girl at the bar. Right. I entertained the idea of giving a fake name – something I probably did a dozen times in college when out with my girlfriends – except we’ve already registered online, and the girl running the whole thing already has our names. Oh well. Rachel and I sit down in one of the booths, waiting to see if any more people will stroll in. We people-watch the bar, and notice that all the guys there (all 5 of them) have that Silicon Valley, techy look, complete with the (fill-in-the-blank) tech company embroidered polo shirts, and jeans. Given my past experience with dating introverted engineering-types, I can already tell that this night is going to be fun. Anyway, at that point, the only real way we’re going to survive this night is to get a drink (or two or three), but I refuse to step foot anywhere near the bar, which was kind of ridiculous in retrospect seeing how I am supposed to spend 5 min INDIVIDUALLY with each of the guys anyway. That’s when Rachel reminds me,” do you really want to do this sober?” She has a point… Off to the bar we go…

We stand at the bar where we instantly make friends with the bartender. I love making new friends. Especially bartender friends. I wonder how many of these events our friend has worked. I’m about to ask him and that’s when I notice HIM. Him, is “Stanford”, a guy who I dated for a couple weeks, who then broke up with me through a text message. You don’t text message breakup! Ever! Anyway, he inherited the nickname, Stanford since he went to Stanford for grad school and always managed to mention Stanford at least a dozen times every time we talked. It was almost like a drinking game, which probably would have made things more interesting. At this point, the alcohol is kicking in, and I can’t really tell if it’s really him or if I’m making it all up. I don’t want to stare so I try not to make direct eye contact and silently hope he doesn’t recognize me.

4485593338_85a612b175_zWe go back to our booth, and watch as more people arrive (by more, I mean 3 others). A girl comes in and sits with us in our booth. She smiles at us, but clearly looks annoyed. I feel you, sister. The girl running the event announces that we are going to start. There are 5 girls, and 8 guys. Apparently, because of the low turn out, the next speed dating event is supposed to be free for us. Our hostess reminds us of the rules, and tells us that spending 5 minutes with someone doesn’t obligate you to be their boyfriend/girlfriend, you are not dating, etc. I’m kind of disturbed that she had to remind us in great detail the social rules about what constitutes a boyfriend/girlfriend, which seems to be common sense. Anyway, the girl instructs us to sit around the bar, a girl at each station, and the guys are supposed to rotate to each station every time the girl blows the whistle. The women are arranged around the stations, and for some reason, the whole experience brings me back to learning how to square dance in the sixth grade. The event starts, and here are my highlights of the guys I “dated” that night:

The Perv
He was the first guy I talked to, and wasn’t quite socially awkward as I initially assumed. He seemed pretty cool and was able to carry on a reciprocal conversation, except for the fact that he totally stared at my chest the entire time. He never looked up once. At one point, I thought a boob had popped out, or I spilled something on my shirt, so I looked down and behold, nothing! Just cleavage. Somehow, 5 minutes was up and I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was “eye molested”. Later I asked Rachel what she thought of the Perv, and the first thing she tells me was, “he was alright, except he totally stared at my boobs THE WHOLE TIME.” NEXT!

The Russian Hater
So I told myself I wasn’t going to put the guys’ real names on here, just in case, but I have to put this guy’s name because it doesn’t do my story justice. So the Russian Hater sits down, and I look at his name tag: Nicholai. I greet him, “Hey, Nicholai.” That’s when he corrects me, “Yes, I’m Nicholai, but I’m Romanian so it’s pronounced Nichol-laiiii. For the Russians, it’s just Nicholai.” I apologize, take a deep breath and greet him again, “Hi… Nichol-laiiiiii.” That’s when the boy spends the next 4 minutes telling me of his hatred of Russians. In the end, I learned from Nichol-laiii that the Russians are evil people, and are bad, but I wouldn’t know such a thing because the Russians I know are the ones who grew up here, and they are not as evil… Where is the damn whistle!?!

The Lefty
As soon as this guy sits down, the first thing that comes out of his mouth is, “Wow, you’re left handed too?” I finish writing ‘left-handed’ next to his name, so I could remember him. “Yes, I’m a lefty too,” I tell him. He then complimented me on my nice, left-handed writing and informed me that I don’t write like most left handed people. Then he tells me in a very serious, monotone voice, “Do you know who else is left handed? BARACK OBAMA. BARACK OBAMA is left handed. I saw him signing stuff on TV and he’s left handed too. Can you believe it? BARACK OBAMA is left handed.” Then he asks me, “Do you know if Zuckerberg is left handed?” I tell him, “I don’t know,” and the boy looks crushed. I offer to look it up on my phone, but he has already beaten me to it, taking out his Android so he can look it up himself. The rest of the time he talks about how hard it is to be left-handed in a right-handed world. I feel for you, man, I really do…

Stanford walks over, and to my relief it’s not really him, but we’ll still call him Stanford anyway, because he too managed to mention Stanford a million times in our 5 minute conversation. He starts off by telling me that I look familiar. I’m not expecting this so I laugh, and I tell him the same thing. He then asks me if I had been at the last couple speed dating events. Last couple speed dating events??? I tell him, “no,” and, Stanford tells me that he loves speed dating because there is a process to it and a predictable routine. He then tells me that he met his last two girlfriends at speed dating events, and that he is fairly certain that this will be the way he meets his future wife. Oh… Good luck to you.

Somehow, I don’t know how, but we got through the night. The event ended, and as soon as it’s over, Rachel and I leave before we can be cornered by any of them. Luckily we make our way out, as Nichol-laiii and Stanford have gotten to the poor hostess, who is now playing the role of conversation hostage. Where is Ali, our bartender friend when you need him? Oh well. She doesn’t need any rescuing. I’m sure she is used to this by now.

So the take home message from my first speed dating event, if you’re feeling so brave: Have fun and enjoy it for what it is… just fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll have better luck and meet someone who’ll catch your attention within those five minutes. Or maybe, you’ll be conversation hostage for the next 5 minutes, but really, who cares? It’s 5 minutes, and if it doesn’t work out, then you have an interesting dating story to share with your friends…


The Mix Lounge, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas image by www.bluewaikiki.com via Flickr

Hipster Speed Dating image by Todd Shaffer via Flickr

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