Speed Dating

By staff November 30, 2006

Like being single, only faster.

By Hannah Wallace


I told my mother last weekend I was going speed dating. She responded, “Oh honey, be careful.”


I’m not sure what she thought I meant; in her mind, “speed dating” may be something involving methamphetamines. In fact, I was headed to a very structured environment at the Five O’Clock Club, where I’d carry on six-minute conversations with a procession of single men. Organized by, this event was officially called “Pre-Dating”—a way to meet a high volume of single people face-to-face, then check online to see if any of the people you like actually like you back. Consider it a sterilized, mass-produced, confrontation-free way to plow through six months’ worth of first dates for a $34 registration fee. I was very excited.


But because I always need a social safety blanket—a need which very probably contributes to my singleness—I brought along a male buddy, Big J. As we stood around the Five-O’s courtyard surveying the gathering speed-daters, Big J hit the nail on the head: “This looks like it’s becoming more of a fiasco than anything else.”


I should’ve smelled the fiasco coming. Participants had signed up according to an idiotic age/gender discrepancy: “women, 27–43/men, 31–45.” Ok, fellas, go ahead and cruise for chicks 18 years younger—more power to you, really, and I myself do enjoy the older men. But God forbid I should meet a man in his 20s, much less one who’s—gasp—younger than me.


The “dates” themselves were painfully familiar. Conversation after conversation—11 in all—about hometowns, occupations and the weather. It was no one’s fault, but there were no sparks to be seen. I overcompensated by acting way too excited about financial services and guys from Ohio.


After a while, my voice grew hoarse and my sentence structure went to pot, and I resorted to asking my dates what they were drinking: too many gin martinis; not enough bourbons. The story of my life.


Finally, Big J showed up at my table, the evening’s penultimate date. We joked and swapped notes. He’d fared better, at least, meeting a couple of nice gals and suffering through only one painful experience, when apparently he’d offended a cat-lover by lamenting his childhood case of cat-scratch fever.


Afterward, people mingled and chatted up their favorites. I ordered a Jim Beam and sat at the bar watching football.


The final verdict, revealed in the following days: only three “Yes” votes for me, all from guys I’d labeled “No, thanks.” I pondered responding anyway, just to show my appreciation, but decided to leave it be.


Ah well. The search continues.
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