A Step Below Tinder: I Tried Speed Dating And Will Never Do It Again
Why the f*ck did I decide this was a good idea?
Well, to be fair, I didn’t.
When Sheena suggested going speed dating, it’s not like I leaped at the idea. I thought of the whole thing as very old-school and riddled with horny old men.
Besides, I already had Tinder for awkward one-liners and terrible pickup lines. I was starting to think the night would have been better curled up in bed with my dog, tea and "Game of Thrones."
Several men had already gathered outside the bar where we were supposed to meet, an unremarkable Irish pub in the Financial District. A couple of Russian women were talking about their plans to get green cards out of the night.
That's a starter, I thought. At least the women will be just as sad as the men.
Before the official speed dating began, we began chatting with two men wearing business casual. They introduced themselves as Samuel* and Camden*.
Camden, who was Australian, made a beeline for Sheena. I talked to Samuel, but his gaze kept flitting around the rest of the bar, as if he were scanning for other prospects.
I couldn't believe he was rude enough to make his boredom known. I also can’t remember the last time I finished an entire glass of wine that quickly.
Speed dating is either a fantastic idea or a terrible one. If you don’t have the balls to approach men at a bar (or if you don’t have the patience to wait it out until they do), this is a sure-fire way to buy five minutes with any man in the room.
On the flip side, there’s nothing quite like speed dating to make you realize just how long five minutes can be.
When seven o'clock struck, we began settling in booths and tables that had been set aside for us. Women stayed in the same seats throughout the night, and the men moved counter-clockwise. It felt a little like musical chairs, and I was betting that most of us would strike out.
My first real “date” was a man named Reggie*. He was obviously the oldest man in the room and clearly way over the 30-something age cap. In fact, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in his 50s. Sir, why are you still here? Why can't you follow instructions? This is why you're single, Reggie.
Every exchange felt like an interview, so I started using an interview format with the men I didn't particularly like. I found myself asking different men the same questions:
“Is this your first time?"
“What do you do?"
“Do you have any hobbies?"
“Are you originally from New York?"
After a few forgettable dates, I met Tom*, who handed me a rose and shook my hand. There was just something so try-hard about this that it was hard not burst out laughing.
Seriously -- this guy bought an entire bouquet of roses so that he could sweeten up his predictably mundane dates. He also took notes, like an overeager kid sitting in the front row in class.
No one likes a teacher’s pet, Tom.
Vishnu* followed. Poor Vishnu. He was short, and he spoke in such a soft, thick accent that I had to ask him to repeat himself after almost every sentence. His palms were visibly sweaty. I felt so bad for him that I almost wanted us to be a match.
Mitch* was the only one who truly irritated me. He could have been attractive -- with his dark complexion and his broody eyes -- if only he didn’t tell me to “be calm in [his] presence” after I mentioned that I was tired from work.
People like this exist, ladies, and they’re hiding in plain sight, waiting to pounce on your unsuspecting, single ass.
Ricky* gave me his phone number after our conversation (illegal in speed dating). “I don’t care about the rules,” he said.
The fact that I have dogs was more than enough to get his engine revved. He had a farm -- a f*cking farm -- and was looking for someone to help run it. I mean, there's a great pickup line on its own: "Hey, girl, want to run my farm with me?"
Let's be honest -- I probably would have said yes.
I can’t remember the next guy’s name — Paul? David? Ellis? — but our exchange was memorable enough to make my night.
I asked him a simple enough question: "So, what are your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?"
He responded with a typical list: hanging out with friends, the gym. Oh, and traveling. He loved to travel. Emphasis on travel.
The most rational follow-up question to this declaration was where his favorite places were to jet off to. He responded back, in total seriousness: “Florida. I love Florida. I’ve been to all the theme parks."
I was waiting for a follow-up, a “just kidding. I’ve been to Timbuktu, and it changed my life,” but none came. He really f*cking loved Florida.
“Have you been anywhere else besides Florida?” I asked, hoping for a way to salvage this conversation.
He looked back at me meekly. “No. Just Florida. Well, I’ve been to Jersey, if that counts."
By the time Sheena and I left (with Ricky and Samuel hot on our trail), I was horrified.
This was dating these days? Had we come to this -- to treating matchmaking like job interviews, with the same asinine questions and even more asinine answers?
I used to make fun of the girls who turned their noses up at everyone and thought they were too good for dating. But I slowly felt myself becoming one of them.
It took a few hours for the guilt to hit me.
In making fun of the try-hard Vishnu or old-fashioned Reggie, I realized I was acting like a majorly stuck-up bitch. Many of the men I met that night were simply too busy to meet women organically, like at work or a party.
Who am I to judge? I thought. I basically live my life on dating apps, and who’s to say those are any better?
Ricky texted me the next day, all smiles and excitement. I still haven’t responded. I mean, I'm not sure I want to run off and start my farm family with him.
I think I’ll still try my luck on Tinder.
*Name has been changed.