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On Your Mark, Get Set, Date!

It's amazing how Valentine's Day can bring out the very worst in single women. Four months later, I'm still suffering the aftermath of this year's Valentine-induced decision: Speed Dating.

Someone once said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I bet they were single. Personally, I really empathize with this statement. There are few measures quite as desperate as speed dating and fewer people who have actually tried speed dating. 

February was a difficult month. It was dark by four o’clock every day, it was cold, and all the radio stations were talking about the Valentine’s Day season. Really? Christmas gets its own “season.” Valentine’s Day isn’t even a real holiday because no one gets February 14th off work, regardless of how “in love” they are.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I don’t hate love. But for the February Singles' Awareness campaigns, a little bit goes a very long way.

Naturally, with love hanging so heavy in the frosty air, my boss and I got to thinking. Last year, we went out for an anti-Valentine’s Day party on the 13th. We dressed to the nines and hit Wicked Wolf in downtown New Haven (formerly called The Playwright).  All I’m going to say about that night is, I gave my number to a dude named Sparkles and he never called.  Obviously, we needed a new game plan, so the Boss suggested speed dating.

“Speed dating? They still do that? I thought it went out with 1997,” I said.

“No, there’s an event on Friday,” she replied showing me the website.

I considered the idea for about two seconds before saying, “Welp, I’m down for it.”

We decided not to sign up ahead of time. The plan was to show up at the door and play it by ear – no commitment, no pressure.  

On Friday night we went to for dinner and a quick pep talk from a few sets of married friends. They regaled us with “how we met” stories and offered tips for our big night. None of them had ever been speed dating.  Still, they were happy to quiz us with likely questions and acceptable answers. After an hour, the consensus amongst the happily marrieds was we should just smile and let the guys do most of the talking.  How encouraging.

We arrived at Terminal 110 just in time to sign our name tags and fork over $40. Cash only. Sketchy, I thought as I relinquished my two $20 bills.  Knowing that the cost wouldn’t matter if I met my true love, I decided my goal would be to go on enough dinner dates to get my $40 worth.  

The people running the event gave everyone a number and two pieces of paper: one to circle the numbers of the people with whom we felt we were compatible and the other to take notes so that we could remember who was who at the end of the night. They explained the basic concept: the girls would sit at little tables around the room and the boys would move around, changing stations and meeting a new girl every five minutes.  If a boy did not move immediately upon the five-minute buzzer, he would be escorted out of his chair to the next one by the event organizers. No excuses, no exceptions.  At the end of the night, the organizers would collect our sheets and send e-mails exchanging contact information for mutually compatible people.

I sat down in my chair and pulled four pens out of my purse. I was ready. The first guy to introduce himself was named John…or Tom…or Tony? I don’t remember because I didn’t take any notes! All those pens at the ready, and I felt bad about breaking eye contact to write notes on people, so I just tried to pay attention. I also made the fatal error of not circling yes or no on the number sheet right away. I was mortified that a guy might see me circling the “no” by his number and feel rejected. Or, even worse, he might see me circling “yes” and know I like liked him!

After talking to about 25 men over the course of two hours, I’d lost my voice, my head ached, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much, and I didn’t stand a chance of remembering which numbers I wanted to circle “yes” by. I used logic and memory tricks to take a few wild guesses, but defaulted to eeny-meeny-miney-moe. I turned my sheet in with a few of random numbers circled. I called it “Speed Dating Roulette.” I had no idea who I would hear from in the end.

A few days later I got an e-mail with four matches!  It didn't even matter that I couldn't remember who any of the guys were–four matches? I must be a really good speed dater!  I was so excited; I happily set up dates with the guys right away. Unfortunately, I hadn’t compared matches with the boss first…

Tune in next time for Lessons Learned from Accidently Dating the Same Guy Your Boss is Dating and to see what kind of return I got on my $40 investment!

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