One of the advantages of speed dating is that the relationships end simply. The whistle blows, you say “Nice to meet you” and you’re done.
Obviously, ending longer relationships is a little more complicated, but I used to consider myself pretty skilled at this. When my roommate was so nice about dumping a guy that he didn’t get it, I crafted a polite but firm email for her to send. And when he still didn’t get it, and showed up on our doorstep in the rain, I sent him away with reassurances that although it was definitely over, it wasn’t him, it was her.
But the more opportunities I get to practice the skill, the worse I get at it, it seems. I’m sure Miss Manners would be disappointed to know that I’ve dumped by email. I’ve also done it at 8 a.m. (In my defense, I had been itching to end things since about 4, so it felt like I had exercised eternities of restraint.)
That’s why I would like to propose some national standards for dumping. The solution could either be a form (“You are (blank) but this is not working out because (blank)”) or, better yet, a service. In his new movie, George Clooney flies around the country firing people for employers who are too chicken to do it themselves. Why not do the same for dating? I would gladly pay $100, maybe even more, to avoid that awkward final conversation. You, as the dumper, provide your reasons and any items that need to be returned (a complication I failed to consider before the email dump) to the consultant. They set up a meeting with your soon-to-be-insignificant other and offer an explanation and a shoulder to cry on.
Now I just need to find someone who wants to be a professional dumper. If we could get George Clooney to do it, that would definitely soften the blow.
Readers have asked whether I’ll ever tire of speed dating. I think I can honestly say that no, the occasional series of 4-minute encounters with all the weirdness of humanity will never get old. But I was getting bored with my usual speed dating company–the same format, the same bars, the same guys. Then they sent me a half-price coupon, so I had to give it one last try.
The event was officially a FAIL. Only 6 guys showed, and 5 of them I had already dated. If that isn’t evidence that it’s time to move on, what is? But because the date was such a dud, they gave me a freebie. I couldn’t let that go to waste. In search of a different crop, I decided to try a Jewish speed date.
It was, as you might predict, loaded with enough doctors and lawyers to please any Jewish grandmother. The only thing missing was the organizer. But we didn’t lead ourselves out of Egypt for nothing. Under the direction of one particularly bossy girl and using our collective expertise (no, I didn’t blow my cover as a semi-professional speed dater), we put together our own event. It went pretty well, although the anonymity of matching on the internet was lost. And facing rejection where you thought there was a connection is a little harder in person. After suffering a couple of those, I decided maybe I really was ready to take a break from speed dating.
But then the company emailed me to apologize for the organizer’s no-show and offered some compensation for the hassle in the form of… two more free events. You know where I’ll be next week.
Usually I play the straight man in these encounters. I’m not sure if it was the several glasses of wine or the bad previous dates that turned me into the psycho of our couple, but he was a perfectly normal guy making perfectly normal conversation. Sure, we weren’t clicking and he was going on and on about a recent trip to Vermont, but that was hardly justification for my breaking out the roadkill dinner story.
It happened in high school. One of my friends lived on a street that was high traffic but close to a forest. Her father was a not terribly successful hunter. So, one day when an unlucky motorist hit an unlucky deer that had emerged from the woods, my friend’s dad considered himself lucky that the carcass had landed outside their front door. He did what any suburban caveman would do and strung the deer up in the garage to gut, clean and butcher. My friend was a little shocked when she went to get in her car later that morning.
My speed date was a lot shocked by my unusual taste in small talk. I’ve never seen someone so happy to hear the switching whistle. I don’t think we’ll be sharing a piece of venison jerky anytime soon.
I was just making small talk when I innocently asked, “Do you have family in the area?”
“No,” he said. “They’re pretty much all six feet under.”