You know the economy is bad when two different men at the same event (one of whom prefaced with the explanation, “I’m not really a 9 to 5 guy”) tell you that their current occupation is “background work.” What is that, you wonder? After some prodding, I found out– they each spent a day as a movie extra.
Some people might see a business trip to Washington, D.C., as chance to tour the historic sights, or eat in nice restaurants, or even do some work. For me, it was an expenses-paid opportunity to meet a whole new crop of speed daters!
And a bumper crop it was. Unlike Philadelphia, where the pickings have been slim lately, the nightclub where this after-work event was held (and yes, it’s weird to line up behind a velvet rope in broad daylight) was packed. The daters were seated on opposing rows of bench-style couches, close enough to touch and hear your neighbors. It made it easy to meet the other girls. The first one I talked to seemed almost as experienced in the field as me. She had taken off early from her 80-hour-a-week job for the event, but after assessing the available men, she left before the dating started. On her way out, she warned me to stay from a guy named Shiva because “he’s at all of these events and dates all the girls.”
After my first few speed dates, I would have settled for a guy who I actually believed ever dated girls. Having spent a couple years as Grace to the ski town equivalent of Will, I pride myself on my gaydar…and it was blaring. Take, for example, the guy who told me about the renovations on his house. “You should see the bathroom floor,” he gushed. “It’s gorgeous.”
And no, I don’t know why he thought his home improvement was a good subject for our four-minute conversation. But it was a common one. The guys who weren’t gay were, for the most part, unusually, impressively BORING. When asked about the area where he lived, one said, “It’s good. Houses retain their value around there.”
To be fair, he probably thought real estate was a relevant topic because I said I was planning to move to DC. I knew attending an event in a strange city would seem even weirder to speed daters than it does to you, so I started with this as my cover. But after wasting a couple entire dates explaining the elaborate story, I gave up, adopted some parts of my DC friends’ lives, transferred my job from the Philly branch to the DC office of my company, and started saying I had “recently” moved to the city (to avoid those pesky questions about where I like to hang out). I was nearly busted when a guy asked the location of my office, but thankfully he was willing to settle for “near Capitol Hill.”
I’m not sure whether it was the lying, the boredom or the TWENTY-THREE dates I had been on, but after two hours I was exhausted. Earlier in the evening, I had gotten some breaks because there was the usual imbalance between men and women, but I didn’t see any upcoming gaps in my line-up. I was just pondering my escape route– could I leap over the back of couch wearing heels and a pencil skirt in the time it took a guy to slide across one seat?– when, at last, the event ended.
Disappointingly, I never did get to meet Shiva.
Between my inability to walk in heels and my tendency to forget to shower, I’m not the girliest girl in the world. But my status as the more manly of our pair wasn’t officially established until you identified the frosty pink beverage with which you were speed dating…a watermelon-lemonade martini.
Alright, speed dating fans, cancel your plans or set your DVRs because Speed Dating Girl is making her television debut.* The next episode of Dinner Impossible (no, I never heard of it either– it airs on the Food Network) takes place at a Philly speed dating event.
It was a crazy scene, with 52 speed daters and a crowd of hottie extras, brought in to elevate the room’s median attractiveness to a TV-acceptable level. The planners must have focused on beauty at the expense of time, however, because we started out with five-minute dates but we had to gradually pick up the pace until our dates consisted of, “Hi, nice to meet you. [Insert joke about how little time we have.]” DING!
Eventually they cut us off altogether for an incomprehensible staged encounter between a crazy foreign chef (the star of the show, apparently) and an old dude who I later learned was the former host of Double Dare. (Talk about the disappointment of an unrecognized celebrity encounter. I would have speed dated me some of that for sure!)
Then, finally, it was time for dinner. I was highly anticipating this, ignorant as I was of the concept of the show– the chef has to make the best of a gross ingredient. I learned this right after I bit into a juicy piece of Tempura SPAM!
At least, I consoled myself while sucking down post-event beers with my speed dating buddy, the weirdest part of my night was not the speed date with a man who we think started life as a woman. I’m pretty sure the Spam was worse.
But decide for yourself this Wednesday at 10 pm on the Food Network.
*And by debut, I mean I was in the same room as television cameras. No actual footage of me is guaranteed or even likely.