Faster than a speeding…

What could be more romantic than sharing a handgun with a potential suitor? Just about anything, I discovered only moments into Singles Night at the Firing Range.

Maybe it was how our retired-cop-turned-gun-safety-instructor led off with an anecdote about a single girl blowing away the knife-wielding guy who broke into her house, or the way he described women as hyenas and men as lions, or just the frequent references to “your assailant.” Something, anyway, was making me feel more queasy than sexy.

But not my fellow attendees. When I signed up for the event, my friends had all assured me that I’d meet a bunch of hipsters, there for the irony or even, like me, for the blogging potential. After all, we live in Philadelphia, where boys wear skinny jeans and flaunt their masculinity by brewing their own beer.

It must have slipped our minds that Philly is also the city that averaged about one gunshot death per day for the past few years. My fellow attendees apparently wanted to get their share of the action–on the dispensing end, of course. I grew up around men who belonged to the NRA and had gun racks on their trucks. But it never occurred to me that there were people would only allow Obama to pry their guns out of their cold, dead hands (to paraphrase the poster in the firing range bathroom) because they wanted to shoot each other.

I learned real quick when my shooting partner (the firing range equivalent of a speed date) broke the ice by asking, “Who do you want to shoot?” I laughed but HE WASN’T KIDDING! Even the more normal attendees could tell I didn’t fit in. Later in the evening, one of the girls who I had thought I got along well with said to me, “You seem really nice. What are you doing here?” It gradually became apparent that they were all violent crazies, even the organizer, who initially seemed like a nice suburban type. (She works in marketing, for god’s sake.)

After my time on the front lines, she asked, “So do you think you could shoot someone?”

“No way!” I said.

“Yeah, it is a little tough to get the hang of it,” she said.

“No, I mean, like morally, I couldn’t shoot someone,” I explained.

“Hunh,” she said.

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Recycling

This anecdote comes from a speed-dating buddy of mine. The official event was over so she had pulled off her name tag and was about to throw it away. “Wait!” says one of the guy daters. “Give me that. I will recycle it.”

I’m pretty into recycling. I even compost. But I can come up with only one way to recycle a written-on sticky name tag. I’m picturing a cold, damp basement with a bunch of life-size female dolls on a perpetual speed date.

Maybe he’s not a psycho, but I’m pretty sure his effort to reuse/recycle will mostly succeed in reducing the number of dates he gets.

Don’t say that #22

You had lost the race before the starting whistle even blew. (And yes, there is a starting whistle at speed dating.) When I walked up to the bar, I overheard you asking the bartender which was cheaper– soda or juice. And when she said that either was $2.14, you hesitated before splurging on a cranberry on the rocks. Suddenly Mr. Moneybags looked appealing.

Deja vu dating

In a dating scene as small as Philly’s, you’re guaranteed to run into some people more than once. The first time this happened to me, I was embarrassed. As the guy sat down at my table, I remembered meeting him, putting him on my “no” list, and getting the email that he had picked me. I assumed that these pieces of information would be equally present in his mind. They’re not. Maybe it’s a difference between male and female brains or my remarkable unmemorability, but on numerous occasions, I’ve had entire conversations, talking about my somewhat unusual job, making the same jokes, without ever seeing that spark of recognition. Once you get over the weirdness, it’s kind of fun to build your own Groundhog-Day experience.

Note: Unfortunately, this strategy does not work when you met the guy at speed dating, dated him for a few months, then dumped him.

Speed dating for cheapskates

Usually, at the conclusion of a speed dating event, the organizer will invite everyone to hang out for a while. After all, they owe the bar some business in exchange for the heap of awkward-karma that’s been created on the premises. 

I often skip these after-parties, but one night my speed dating buddy convinced me to stick around. While she chatted with another speed dater, I fell into conversation with the guy next to me (who had not been part of the speed dating). He asked me a few questions about my night, and then I asked him if it was weird to be in a bar full of speed daters.

Not at all, he explained, since he had done it on purpose. He had seen the event advertised online, but didn’t want to pay for it. So he decided to come to the location anyway and “check it out.” In other words, he had found a bar that would be full of single women looking for a date and already primed to talk to strangers.

I was horrified by the evil brilliance of his sleazy cheapskate strategy.

I gave him my number.