Speed dating is probably one of those things you should only do once…kind of like taking five shots of tequila in a row, reading any book by Tolstoy, helping your grandma learn the Internet, eating an entire tub of ice cream or vacationing in Siberia in winter. I told a guy I know that I was going to try it out and he said “speed dating? Like, for serious? That still happens? Are you sure you aren’t an extra in an early 90’s romantic comedy?” Yes, I was for serious, yes, it still happens, and yes, I am sure I’m not an extra in an early 90’s romantic comedy. Just a single lady in my late twenties trying out different ways of meeting people. And in my defense it wasn’t my idea but I figured it would make for an interesting blog entry.
Really, it wasn’t terrible. My two gin and tonics greatly helped. And if this particular experience is indicative of speed dating in general, this thing is the way to go if your dream guy is an engineer or a government contractor working in the IT sector. I’m speaking only for D.C, but the room was full of them! In case you’re curious, this is how it works: You walk into a bar or restaurant, make yourself comfortable among your fellow speed daters (in my case, I made myself comfortable at the far, far end of the bar), drink a couple cocktails in quick succession, shuffle into the “speed-dating room,” and sit down at an assigned table while 20 guys rotate around the room to talk to you. That’s two full hours of talking! Two full hours of introductory small talk and valiant attempts to be as charming, cheerful and intelligent-sounding as possible. If you know me, I’m sure you’ll understand this was no easy feat. The event was well run and seemed organized….my only complaint is that I would have preferred to talk to no more than 12 guys. There were 20 guys there and at six minutes per guy, that’s a lot of talking!
So, if ever you are thinking about trying speed dating these are my recommendations:
1.) Calm down. I was so nervous beforehand that my stomach hurt and I was on the verge of telling my friend I couldn’t go through with it. Then I saw the men I’d be talking to for the next two hours slowly trickle into the bar and my nerves started to ease a little. It was like watching a convention of Computer Geeks United in action.
2.) Drink. This is not something I recommend embarking on in a completely sober state. Sure, each interaction is only six minutes long and if it’s really awful you only have a few minutes of suffering in front of you, but drinking helps. Especially when every single guy you’re talking to is an engineer or IT guy.
3.) Don’t pay full price. We got a $15 Groupon through Professionals in the City. Really, this isn’t something you need to splurge on.
4.) Read the fine print. My friend and I were running late and couldn’t find parking. We eventually found a parking lot that charged $24 for 24 hours. Because we were in a rush we decided we’d just have suck it up and pay. After the event, we were leaving the bar with two other friends who drove separately and they asked us if we’d already had our valet ticket validated. Apparently, parking was free for those participating in the speed dating event! My heart still hurts a little that I paid $24 for three hours of parking, but I guess it’s my own fault for going in uninformed. That’s a whole Friday night’s happy hour provision down the drain :(.
But despite my complaining, I have to admit I kind of had fun. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. It was a one time kind of thing. But I got to practice my elevator pitch (adapted for the dating world rather than business world). Mine went something like this: Hi I’m Jisel, nice to meet you. Well, I recently moved back to the U.S after four years of living abroad and I’m still adapting to life in the U.S and that 9-5 job (slightly sarcastic laugh). But you have to pay the bills somehow right? (giggle, giggle). What’s that? Oh yes, it was a fantastic experience, so interesting to immerse yourself in different cultures…yes, the food was great and so cheap! Why did I give it up? I have no idea…What do I do now? I help people fill out benefits applications all day. I know, not as exciting as living abroad and working as a travel writer. What do I do in my spare time? I love hiking and biking — there are some great trails around here, do you know of any worth trying? Your job as a satellite engineer sounds so interesting…what exactly does that entail? Wow! Sounds cool! OK, nice to meet you, enjoy the rest of your evening! I realize my recently-moved-back-to-the-U.S schpeel is getting old as it’s been over a year and a half since my living abroad days…but I plan to milk my years of international poverty for all they’re worth. Personally, I think 20 guys was a little too many and I would have been happy talking to 10 or 12, but that’s just my opinion. Overall, I’d say it was a fun, interesting experience.
If you have any speed dating related questions feel free to ask! And if you want to read more about my recent dating experiences, click here.