You’ve got to know when to hold ’em

It should be pretty easy to talk to a girl for five minutes without revealing a lot of damaging personal info about yourself. But this monologue, to which one of my speed dating friends was recently treated, proves otherwise. Having speed dated the offender twice myself, I can confirm that this is typical of him.

She asked, “What do you like to do?”

He answered, “Well, I like to drink a lot but I just bought a house so I don’t have money to spend on drinking, which is a bummer. The money’s going into work on the house, so for now, I’m still living in my parents’ basement. But it’s actually a good thing that I don’t have money so that I can’t gamble too much anymore. I do still buy scratch-off tickets, because I don’t really think that’s gambling. Do you?”

I’d guess bluffing wasn’t the main skill that he brought to the table back in his gambling days.

You messed with the wrong speed dater.

Regular readers may have noticed that I scrupulously avoid mention of specific speed dating businesses. Shortly after SDG began, I was offered a free speed date in exchange for a positive post about a particular company. Since I have high hopes of selling out someday for more than $35, I declined. But now I must break my silence to engage in everyone’s favorite new hobby— bitching about bad service on the internet.

The terrible design of dateanddash.com’s website should have given me a hint that they were shady. (I’ve never understood this phenomenon. If you were a Nigerian looking for someone to manage your millions, wouldn’t you spring for a designer and a copyeditor?) But the name was cool, if slightly illicit-sounding, and they appeared to have a lot of events in my area.

I signed up and pre-paid for one. Then, a couple of days beforehand, I got an email announcing that my event had been cancelled, and, because they don’t give refunds, I should see their website for options to reschedule. This is not entirely unheard of in speed dating–after all, you’d probably rather the event be cancelled than have a 10:1 female to male ratio. But when I clicked through to the website, they didn’t have any options other than the event I was registered for (which was listed as “sold out”). I called bullshit, and sent an email demanding my money back. A couple hours later, the owner refused, and said I should check the website NOW, to see what events there were. Sure enough, there was a new event listed. I signed up, feeling very important for having forced them to schedule a speed date just for me!

Little did I know that the event really was just for me, and two other women. We were the only ones who showed up, anyway, at a bar that had no plans to host a speed dating event. I was hopping mad by then, and sent an email threatening to bring down the fires of hell, lawyers and credit card companies, among other things, unless I got a refund. (Scariest threat of my email: “You should know, by the way, that I am a blogger.”) The owner denied not only my request, but that the whole thing had ever happened.

So I disputed the charge on my credit card. The only hard part was figuring out which of the millions of speed dating charges on my statement was the right one. After an “investigation” (I’m hoping there was some waterboarding involved), AmEx sent a letter saying they had sided with me. It was actually a little disappointing, since after consulting with my attorney/dad, I had plans to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of women left standing around in bars everywhere. After all, if anyone deserves payment for pain and suffering, it’s them.

Dating under the table

Providing a counter-example to all my complaints about texting, reader Red13 sent in a story about how texting actually improved communication in a relationship of his. (Although it sounds like just about anything would have been an improvement in this case). Red was on the fifth date with a girl, hanging out in her favorite bar, when the story begins. 

“Then someone she knows from work walks by.  Coworker is nice enough but bizarrely talkative, and then actually goes ahead and pulls a third chair up to the table.  My brain obviously says ‘How is this girl so dense that she doesn’t realize this is potentially a date she’s interrupting?’ but my mouth just smiles and acts friendly.

Coworker keeps talking.  They complain about work.  They talk about friends.  They just generally chew the fat. And then Coworker goes, ‘So, Date, how is your boyfriend doing?’

Date’s face drops.  She’s quiet for a second, then awkwardly tries to answer Coworker’s question without making eye contact with me. I’m very interested in her answer, too.  But a minute later, my phone buzzes, and I check it under the table: ‘I was going to tell you tonight.’  I think my response is along the lines of, ‘Uh, of course you were.’

I suppose I thought it was uncool to bring it up verbally, and so the next hour was a very interesting secret text conversation under the table while Dense Coworker talked herself to death above the table. I’m quite confident she still has no idea what was happening.”

Speaking of participants with no idea, I’m wondering what the girl texted her boyfriend. “Hey honey, it’s probably time to tell you that I’m dating other people?”

Don’t say that #48

Your willingness to fork over the entrance fee and self-respect required to attend a dating event makes it pretty obvious that you’re looking for a relationship. Therefore, it’s really not necessary to drop your desire for a girlfriend into every single sentence.

You: “I would like to travel, if I had someone to travel with. Canada’s the only foreign country I’ve visited.”

Me: “Oh, where did you go in Canada?”

You: “Niagara Falls. It’s nice, but it’s so romantic, I wished I had a girlfriend with me.”

Me: “So you live in New Jersey? Was it a long drive to get here?”

You: “Not too bad. And I don’t mind driving. I’d come visit you even if you lived three hours away.”

To my relief, it was only a three-minute trip to the end of this conversation.

Not the key to my heart

Are there singles events so ridiculous that speed dating seems normal by comparison? Yes, I learned at my first–and hopefully last–lock and key party. And no, this isn’t like the key/wife swapping parties that swinging suburbanites threw all the time back in the 70s, at least according to retro TV and movies (Old people: did these really happen? fill us in! (but not too much detail, please)). 

The modern lock and key party was held in the back room of a bar. Each man gets a key and each woman gets a lock to wear around her………neck (really, I swear, the setup’s just Freudian, not dirty). Then, for the next few hours, you wander the room, trying to match locks with keys. When you find one that fits, you and your match  visit the organizers to collect your prize (some raffle tickets) and a new lock and key.

The purpose, obviously, is to give people who would ordinarily be too shy to mingle at a cocktail party an excuse to do so. The problem is that it doesn’t really work. People who would chat up a stranger chat, and those who wouldn’t either hide in corners or run from girl to girl (I know I’m being sexist, but it’s true) trying locks with a minimum of conversation.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I didn’t have much dating luck at this event. The first guy I ran into was my sparring partner from Thai boxing— yet another indication that I’ve met, if not dated, every fish in the Philadelphia sea. The next guy seemed nice and our lock and key actually matched. But in the time it took to collect our new set, I had learned about his unemployment, his residence with his parents, and his recent lack of dating luck. (Bonus “Don’t say that”: If you don’t have a job, don’t start the conversation by asking what hers is.) I didn’t feel like we were a match, but our new lock and key disagreed, fitting together perfectly. He saw it as a sign, and I began to see that one of the major advantages of speed dating is the clean exit strategy.

I had mine, though, in the group of normal, non-lock-wearing friends I had left out at the front of the bar and needed to “check on.” I did make a couple passes more through the party, to eat some free hors d’ouevres, meet some guys angry about their lack of unlocking success, and chat with a girl who had already heard through the grapevine about my “fated double match.” I was there for the grand finale, too: a drunk girl jumping up and down in excitement over winning $25 for having had the most matches.

You know it’s a lame party when the happiest person there is the one who just got a refund of her admission.