Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hurry up & date...

Since I took the step of creating my own blog, I've been keeping my eyes open for any opportunities that might have potential for an interesting entry. So when I received an email from a popular singles event planner inviting me to a "Make your Own Margarita & Speed Dating" event yesterday, it seemed like it would be good for at least a couple of paragraphs. The night did not disappoint...

The event was held at Bourbon Blue, a very cool bar that features great Cajun food and live blues music. The night was split into two halves: first, everyone took turns behind the bar learning how to mix their own margarita, and then the men and women were randomly paired off at numbered tables to mingle for five minutes, after which the men got up and moved on to the next table. Everyone was given a form to write down the names and table numbers of the people that they were interested in contacting again. The coordinator would sort out the replies, and send an email to each individual in a couple of days with their positive responses.

I had never been to a speed dating event before, so I didn't know what to expect. To be honest, I went in with a pretty amused attitude towards the night. I had got stuck at the office at end of the day, and due to the bad weather (and a serious traffic jam) I didn't get to the bar until just before the end of the warm-up bartending class. I hopped behind the bar, whipped up my drink, and then it was time for everyone to line up for the starting gun and speed date!

The first thing that you realize is that the five minutes are over before you can get through asking the first question, "So where do you work?" And what really surprised me was the lack of self-awareness in alot of the people there, where you would think that people would really be trying to make a positive first impression. Four out of the five women I sat down with had launched right into their own individual monologues and hardly came up for air before the next round started with a new partner. Here were some of the highlights:

1) Stacey--an environmental scientist in her early thirties. As soon as I asked if she had ever been to one of these types of things before, she went off on how: "I had gone to an event by this same organizer last month, but when I got to the door they couldn't find my online registration (or payment). I had to pay again and was promised a refund, but when it finally came it wasn't as much as I expected and... " All the time she had been relating this, the anger in her voice kept getting louder and more strident, and started to become focused squarely at me (as I was sitting three feet directly across from her) to the point where I had to fight the urge to move all of the sharp utensils on her side of the table to a spot just beyond her reach. Fortunately the time quickly ran out and I was off to the safety of the next table.

2) Kelly--an accounts receivable clerk in her mid-twenties. When I asked about her job, she went on to describe it and mentioned that she had just enrolled in a two-year program to get a degree as an X-ray technician. Then began four minutes of her financial woes, starting with her mountains of school loans from college, her past due bills, the upcoming loss of her salary, and the addition of even more school loans. I felt so bad for her that I began to quietly check for loose change in my pockets. The more she talked about the crushing oppression of her financial situation, the more she began to resemble that little girl on the poster of 'Les Miz'.

3) Lisa--an economist in her late thirties. When I asked if she had ever made her own margarita before, she held forth on the evils of tequila, and how she usually blacks out or throws up after drinking it. I found myself backing away ever so slightly on the other side of the table, just to give myself those few extra precious seconds to dive out of the way if necessary. She thankfully managed to hold her passion fruit margarita down during the rest of our session together. Right before I got up to move for the beginning of the next round, she noticed that I was drinking an Absolut & tonic and began to relate her digestive problems with vodka. Alas, the eligible bachelor who sat down at the table after me will have to fill you in on all of the details from that point.

4) Danielle--actually, I never did find out what her job was. She was there as a wingman to support her friend Kelly (bachelorette #2, Young Cosette, from above). I think she had also been the one to drive them there, as I'm pretty sure Kelly's car had been repossessed and sold for parts earlier that morning. She was very laid back and spent most of the five mintutes actually asking personal questions to find out more about me. She seemed to have a really good sense of humor about the whole situation.

5) Irene--an insurance adjuster in her late forties. When I asked if she had ever been to one of these singles things before, she spent the next four-and-a-half minutes running through a litany of the events that she had been to just in the past month. Let's see, there was the single's happy hour on Friday, the single's lock and key party last week, and the single's "quiet" party (where apparently everyone could only communicate by writing notes to each other for two hours) a few weeks ago. I think she mentioned something about attending a single's Wiccan fertility ritual in September, but my pen ran out of ink trying to take notes as she kept talking.

The men at the event seemed to be equally lacking in self-awareness. The one that stood out the most was Todd, a late thirtysomething guy dressed in an ill-fitting dress shirt buttoned all the way up to the top of his neck, and sporting a plaster cast on his right arm. When I asked him how he injured himself, his voice strived to drop an octave lower as he answered "weight lifting." I complimented him on his inspired choice of such a macho-sounding cover story, but privately reflected that the fact that he was 145 lbs soaking wet might have undercut the impact with the ladies.

Since there were more men at the event than women, each guy had to sit out for two five-minute rounds until he could jump back into the rotation. When my turn came, I made my way over to the bar, ordered another drink, and began to chat up a woman who was not one of the speed daters. It turned out that we both went to the same college a few years apart, and had a couple of things in common, like being the oldest child in a large Irish Catholic family. It seemed like the flirting was mutual, and it got heavier after the two of us moved to another bar down the street, and eventually led to us hooking up later in the night.

And let's just say that at that point, speed was the furthest thing from our minds...