Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dating Randomness

Despite my better judgment, I replied to Midwest. I figure my chances of ever meeting the guy are almost nil. At this point, it's just entertainment to see what he'll do with my inane e-mail:

"Hope you had a good time at the benefit. I assume you were somewhere near Ord. It's been weekends of catching up with friends and running errands. Keep hydrated and stay cool these next couple of days."


I received an offer to attend a speed dating event last week. My girlfriends could not attend with me. I wasn't sure I wanted to make the long drive alone, but I made myself go. I left early to avoid traffic which gave me an hour to do a little shopping.

At around 5:30pm, I parked in a perfect spot that was labeled a commercial loading zone. The parking meters run until 6pm, but I've generally heard that the meter maids are rather lax in many neighborhoods. There was a woman reading in the red Camry parked ahead of me. She was likely waiting until 6pm to ensure she didn't get a parking ticket. I, however, didn't want to lose 30 minutes sitting around. Every car I walked past showed an expired meter. I prayed that the parking gods would be kind.

Two hours later, I headed over to the speed dating event. I don't think I've ever been to the same location twice with this organizer. It's an interesting way to get to know where the nightlife is located.

I pulled up and parked next to what I thought was the entrance to the club. A guy sat in the Corolla next to me. When another fellow walked up to see if the gate was open, the guy in the car got out to chat. Since it was apparent the place was not open, I chose to stay in my car and read a book.

A women then walked up to the two guys. They stood around for several minutes talking. Every so often a confused person would ask them about the speed dating event. I felt a little lame sitting in my car with them standing right in front of me. In my mind, I scolded myself a little for being anti-social. I also realized that maybe parking near the entrance wasn't a good idea since everyone could see me and would know what car I drive. (Noted for future reference.)

The doors to the club opened finally at the time we were supposed to start the speed dates. Instead, we sat around for another 30 minutes. I thought it was rather inconsiderate of them to keep us waiting when the confirmation was clear that our participation was contingent upon us arriving on time.

The turnout was low compared to previous events I attended. I estimate there were 18 women and 25 men. (Compared to the 80+ they have at more successful events. Ouch.) When I checked in, I peeked at the list and observed that at least one third of the women participated in the event for free (myself included).

As I sat waiting for the dates to start, I thought about how to improve the conversations I was about to have. It becomes pretty boring when every single guy has the same questions:

- Do you live around here?
- What do you do?
- Have you done speed dating before?

I purposely sat back a little this time to assess the guys' abilities to drive the conversation. (I have a habit of taking control if it looks like the guy is flailing or boring.) ARRRRRGH!@! Surprise, surprise; every single guy asked me these questions. Some guys stumbled to even mutter these basics. For some reason, I was particularly annoyed by the string of canned questions more than past events. But then, sadly, what can one expect from an Asian speed dating event.

With a couple guys I tried to move things along by asking what they had for lunch. It seems like a very innocuous question, but it helped move the conversation a different direction both times. It was much more fun talking about cooking or good restaurants near work.

Half the men said they were finance heads. I always manage to meet one dentist and one physician. One guy was preparing to join the police academy. Another had just moved back after a two year stint in Korea. Some of the guys lost my interest when they couldn't demonstrate having a life. There's something wrong when the first thing I hear is that you watch DVDs at home when the questions is what you like to do in your free time.

Whereas there was clearly chemistry with people I met at previous events, no one stood out this time. Of the 11 guys I talked to, I ended up circling two that I wanted to contact in the future. I question whether I need to be more open-minded. There may have been a few that I felt guilty about not circling. Some just seemed too young and one was also rather chubby. Another guy didn't have a college degree and was considering going back to school. If there's one thing I've learned from speed dating, it's that I judge people quickly on rather superficial traits. I wonder whether I've missed out on some decent guys because I couldn't see beyond their chubby cheeks or quirky accent.

Date #6 (Biker) was my longest "date" because of some confusion. After introducing ourselves to one another, he sat down, paused, and said, "let me give you some basics about myself. I'm 38, divorced, and originally from Maryland."

I wouldn't exactly give him high marks for that opening statement, but at least he was honest. At that point, the couple next to us walked away from their table. I turned and asked people still sitting what was happening. Apparently, the organizer called for a five minute break.

Biker asked if I wanted anything to drink. I declined and thanked him for asking. From there, we continued our conversation despite the break. The conversation went from talking about Maryland to living in California. We chatted about biking to work (because he does that now and I may start once my company moves). We also talked a little about traveling and hiking at national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone.

So rather than a five-minute date, we had 10+ minutes to talk. I wouldn't say there were any fireworks, but it was a nice chat.

Date #11 (Henry) was one of the men that stood on the sidewalk in front of my car. Generally, he just seemed more socially adjusted than the other dates. He's an engineer in product management which probably explains his better people skills. He said he belongs to a street hockey league. Later, he mentioned that he's originally from Canada, so I teased that that explained his hockey interest. ;) I don't remember much else; it was good enough that he could carry a conversation.

No results have come back yet. I'm thinking I'll at least match up with Biker. I have to admit that part of me thought that maybe I'm getting too old for speed dating. Who knows. At least I picked up a cute skirt at H&M and a hot top at Nordstrom's on the trip.

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