I’ve always wanted to try speed dating. I have no idea why. Maybe because that particular scene in the occasional rom com always looks so delightful. Maybe it’s because my least favorite part of the pickup is the part where you have to actually walk over to the human person who piqued your interest and speed dating has that approach built right in. Maybe I’m just a sucker for awkward situations and forced connections. And hey, it’s blessed by a rabbi!
Whatever my twisted reasons were, when given the opportunity to try out this creative take on arranged unions, I jumped at it.
The whole thing took place at a friend’s apartment complex, which seemed to mean we would get absolutely no variety in personalities. I also quickly realized that dudes have no idea how to diversify their relationships. Most were in the IT field and they invited their friends, also in the IT field. Anyway, we were each provided with a nametag, sheet of paper and a number. If we felt a love connection within six minutes of talking to a complete stranger, we were to write their number down. We would receive their contact information at a later date.
Though we were provided with unique sample questions it seemed difficult to diverge from the standards: “What do you do?” “Where are you from?” I even got a, “What was your major?” Yep, five years removed from the ivy-covered halls (who am I kidding my Alma Matter just had a few bushes outside the registration building) people are still using the “what’s your major?” line.
I was just as guilty of monotony as the next person, but in my defense when I tried to throw out something different, but it hit a hard wall, never to return again. I told one guy I would not answer the “what do you do?” question and asked who his favorite super hero was. I might as well have asked who his favorite 19th Century Russian realist fiction novelist was (Tolstoy being the correct answer of course) because he couldn’t even muster up a “Superman.” So I tried something different, favorite word. His response? “Pass.” Not because pass is his favorite word, but he just couldn’t name a word he liked (serendipitously being the correct answer of course). To be fair, not everyone is word nerdy like me (thank God for that). So the fault may have been my own. Maybe I should have asked his favorite computer program or something.
I think part of the problem existed in the sheer number of participants. It was nice that plenty of people were rowing along side me in the good ship Desperation, but six minutes with 20 people starts to get a little long. This was exaggerated by the fact that we had an inelegant happy hour prior to the event itself. Kudos for lubricating everyone’s conversational wheels, but who really wants to drink cheap beer with a bunch of strangers they are about to have forced, stilted conversations with?
I wrote one number down as a match and it was apparently not a love connection on his part, because I never heard anything further from the sadist architects of the event. I don’t know why he wouldn’t have written my number down in return. Probably he couldn’t see it. Or probably he thought I was a pretentious shrew who talks unintelligently about her favorite 19th Century realist fiction authors.
All in all, it wasn’t a terrible experience altogether. It was good for me to practice striking up interesting conversations with strangers. A useful skill in dating and in life commonplace. I would probably try it again in a different setting. One that would foster a little more variance in personality types perhaps.