So myself and a friend decided to go speed dating a couple of weeks ago.
We were lamenting the lack of eligible men in our areas – let’s be fair, this is farming county, not London – (and that thing about our areas wasn’t meant to be a euphemism by the way but I guess if the shoe fits..) When chatting about this, and as if Google had read my mind, along the right side of the ad bar on my computer screen an ad for ‘speed dating’ popped up. The powers that be who are spying should probably put their time to better use than finding me a date, however I guess you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
I had never been speed dating before (and neither had my friend.) Would it be crazy? Would they all be trolls? Would Einstein’s theory of time prove that, yes, it really is all relative and maybe 4 minutes (the allotted ‘chat’ time) could feel like 400 minutes? Indeed.
On a complete whim we decided to go for it. We chose the next available date which was actually 6 weeks away. It was a company called ‘Slow Dating.’ – not an especially clever play on words let’s be honest. We had to pay £22 which I thought was a bit steep but we rationalised it in two ways: firstly we could probably easily spend that on a night out and secondly, if they were paying too, they had to be a certain calibre of man….. right?
As the weeks crept ever closer we realised that, oh god, this was going to happen and we would actually have to go through with it.
My friend drove and we parked the car a block from the venue. We gave ourselves a quick check over. We of course, looked banging.
The venue was a bit of a dive. The Glee club in Oxford.
I’ve actually only ever been there when I was pissed and on a night out so I guess I hadn’t remembered what a sink hole this was.
There weren’t even directions on the door. Downstairs was like a saloon bar with one sad man drowning his troubles and it was only 7.15pm. Lowered tones of club music came wailing out of the mini speakers.
We saw a train of desperate women climbing the stairs. Aha! We were in the right place, and duly followed them up.
At the top of the stairs we were greeted by a middle aged woman standing at the door who had an array of ‘speeding tickets ‘ (see what they did there? Oh ho ho, very witty!)
We were given our name badges to stick to our chests and a pen.
This speeding ticket book would prove to be a bone of contention. It was a bit of an awkward prop. Basically it is designed so you can make notes to remember for later – only you had to complete it when they were with you as you had no time between each man. So I couldn’t write ‘bald, hideous teeth, bad shirt.’ For fear they would see.
Instead I was very clever and wrote down a celebrity that resembled them. For the above for example, I would have put Harry Hill or some such.
The upstairs smelt like feet and was very dark and a bit dingy. There were candles on each table and I could see what they were trying to do but.. not sure if it worked.
They weren’t prompt which was irritating as well. Once we had grabbed ourselves a drink at the bar I just wanted to get going but we waited for about 20 minutes.
The middle aged lady arrived and explained that the women would stay seated and as a courtesy it would be the man rotating around.
We sat down and then it began.
A man plopped into the seat opposite me and put down his booklet
He was very friendly, bald and a bit nervous.
I asked him what the craziest thing was that he’d ever done.
‘I just did a wedding speech, that was pretty crazy!’ he nervously laughed. ‘Well, not crazy as such. Not crazy at all I guess.. but it took courage. Do I get points for that?’
I chatted to him about what I did for a living and I asked him ‘what do you do?’
He looked at me and said ‘what, right now? Well I think we’re just… I don’t know, what do we do??’ He giggled. I confirmed that I was actually just asking what he did for a living..
‘Oh.’ He countered. And then he told me he managed some project, something something, I forget because it wasn’t that thrilling tbh
He was very pleasant, if not my type.
Another guy leaned into me and told me my eyes were like whirlpools. What, my eyes were like washing machines? Ha.
Most of the guys I could communicate just fine with.
There was an RAF guy there, who acted as if he was too good to be there. He leaned right back in his chair and put his leg over the other. He was mildly attractive, but only in comparison to everyone else there. He told me owned property. I think he was trying to impress me. It didn’t work. He had no banter or wit, so his property could do one as far as I was concerned. Loving yourself unduly is a very unattractive quality. His ranking in the RAF wasn’t even that high…
There was a Latvian man who didn’t speak much English. I asked how long he had been in England, thinking that speed dating must have been one of the first things he had attempted once getting here. He answered 9 years. I nearly suggested he fire his English tutor. It was painful. I was trying to make conversation and his one word yes or no answers didn’t lead to much.
One of the guys was very chipper. He reminded me of Jamie Oliver. We laughed conspiratorially and chatted like school mates together. Sometimes it is easy to be familiar and comfortable with certain people, if they are receptive to it.
The final guy to sit down was a doctor. He had a lovely personality and was funny and interesting.
The kicker was that I found him very unattractive.
Here’s the thing. I have said this all along. You cannot fake attraction – raw physical chemistry. I’m not saying you have to feel like you could jump someone’s bones straight away (although it does help, and I have experienced this myself) but there has to be potential. If you are repulsed by someone, it’s a no go.
Regrettably, I was repulsed in the physical sense.
My friend had a similar experience. She didn’t find anyone worthy of a follow up.
Later in the evening, the company send you a tick list and this gives you the option for yes and no.
The annoying thing was that you could only view who ticked you if you ticked some people yourself.
I selfishly ticked two people, Jamie Oliver and the doctor.
I was able to view my results. Of the 12 men, 7 had ticked me, which was not a bad return.
Both of my choices had ticked me.
I immediately got an email from the Jamie Oliver alike.
‘Well at least sum1 liked me! Fancy a drink? Let me know wen ur 3’ Oh dear. Text speak. In an e-mail no less.
When I didn’t answer his email within 20 minutes I got a second email from his other email account.
This wasn’t going to go anywhere.
The doctor pursued me for a while, and I tried to be philosophical and not superficial. Maybe he’ll grow on me? I thought.
He requested me on Facebook. His photo was awful. In that moment I knew I couldn’t even meet up with him for a coffee. I let him down gently. He was quite disappointed, but I don’t believe in leading people on.
A few observations:
Paying money unfortunately does not guarantee a certain calibre of man – one of the guys we were sure was in the wrong place; he was about 50 with a dirty leather jacket and a truly pickled face – presumably from alcohol. He was not even on the same planet mentally. He came in swigging a bottle of beer and leaning surreptitiously against a post. We are not sure how he found the venue.
First impressions count. The venue was foul. Dirty, sticky tables and horrible dingy lighting which didn’t add to the ambience, rather, it hindered it. The toilets were regular club loos, one even had broken glass it in, and puke on the side. Quite disgusting.
When they have nothing to say – it’s very hard work. I can talk for England, but it becomes a chore when the person opposite has nothing to offer. Amazingly 4 minutes can feel longer than staring into a microwave and watching a potato cook.
This is a quicker way of seeding the crap out than internet dating. You immediately know who to scrape off. In this case, everyone.
We decided we wouldn’t rule it out, and may even consider speed dating in London.. Because if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
And then after that give up and buy cats. They are guaranteed to be cute at least.