Blast From The Past: Speed Dating

Mood: Giggling @ Memories

Many many moons ago, when I was still single, I went to a Speed Dating event.

It was back in the day when Speed Dating had just hit our shores, and it was a new and exciting way to meet single people of the same age over drinks and nibblies. At the time, I was exploring the world of Internet dating with interesting results, so when I first read about Speed Dating events, I was keen to attend one to see what the fuss was all about.

Below is the email I sent to my friend Andy the day after I attended my one and only Speed Dating event. I had promised to recap the entire evening for Andy, who was too chicken to go to an event himself. I found the email when I was going through my old papers, and had a big giggle when I read through it again.

====================

From: G
To: Andy
Date: 10/09/2003
Subject: Read this only when you have time!

Well, I can now say I’ve speed dated!

Last night, I attended my first speed dating event at Circular Quay. Being the tight ass that I am, I chose not to pay for parking, and ended up running quite late for the event as I circled the streets, looking for a parking spot. When I did eventually arrive, I found a lovely cosy little café (Café Selah) and a room full of people – all expectant and excited about the prospect of meeting a bunch of new people.

My first impression of the room was that it was very small. Cosy is definitely the word to describe the size of the room. There were other diners in the café as well, which I thought was a very interesting concept. It had been confirmed that there would be at least 28 people (14 males and 14 females) attending this speed dating event, so I wondered what went through the café owner’s mind when he/she received diners last night.

I was greeted at the door by my two hostesses for the evening, who gave me a name badge (with my first name and a number written next to my name – I was lucky 14 last night), a “Match Card” with my name and corresponding number, and a voucher for my two complimentary drinks. With a glass of white in hand, I looked for a spot to rest my weary mind and a lovely group of girls asked me to join them. We discussed our “tactics”, had a few giggles, tried to calm each other’s nerves and sneaked peeks around the room.

Finally, the hostesses called everyone’s attention. They asked everyone to move to the table which corresponded with their number, so I made my way to table number 14. I was one of the lucky ones who had a table which was set a good distance from other tables – there was one long table in one back corner of the room, where they sat 4 couples. With the room being so small, it was inevitable that the conversations would get louder and louder, as everyone struggled to hear their partner speak.

For no apparent reason, my first match was not to return to the café. He had registered, and had in fact reported to the hostesses before disappearing into the sunset, never to return. Mr No. 14, the loss was entirely yours!

There was no Miss No. 15, and hence Mr No. 15 became Mr No. 14, and we were introduced. Rules of engagement were then conveyed: 7 minutes is the amount of time you get to spend with a person before a bell is run to indicate the end of that session, the guys were to move around the room while the girls remained at their posts, and no-nos were stressed (can’t ask where your partner lives, where he works, his last name, etc. – basically, no questions that would identify him, and we were also warned to not use any sexually explicit language as any complaints received about such language being used will see the offender being asked to leave). We were sown how to fill in our Match Card – if, after the 7 minutes, you wish to see this person again, you tick “yes”. Otherwise, tick “no”. It was explained to us that if my ticks were reciprocated (i.e. I tick “yes” for No. 14, and No. 14 ticked “yes” for me), then the organisation would arrange for our email addresses to be given to the other. Then the stopwatch commenced.

Let the games begin!

Here’s how my night went:

No. 14 – Tony – a fireman by trade, he is funny, easy going, gorgeous to look at, very charming without being sleazy, and was genuinely interested in meeting new people. He got into speed dating when his friends asked him to go along to the Ralph/Cleo cross promotion that was held a couple of weeks ago. He found that evening too intimidating – there were 50 girls for him to meet, and he only got to spend 2 minutes with a person. There were no breaks either, so by the end of the night, he said he was exhausted from talking to so many people. He had actually practised what he was going to be talking about for 7 minutes at home the night before! The bell rang way too early for this guy!

At this point, I was asked if I’d like to move to the comfy leather couch to continue the evening. I, of course, said yes. The comfy couch proved to be a great tool in starting conversation or being a point of conversation later in the evening.

No. 13 – Scott – also a fireman. He and Tony are friends and work together, and Scott also attended the Ralph/Cleo function. He had a great leather jacket, so I made a comment on that. He was very sweet – not as outgoing as Tony, but a great chatter nonetheless. The bell rang to early for him too!

No. 12 – Matt – also a fireman, and friends with Tony and Scott. He didn’t go to the Ralph/Cleo promotion, but he was asked to attend this event by Scott and Tony. He said that he was tired of the bar/club scene when it comes to meeting people, and thought this would be a more civilised thing to do.

So far, so good!

At this point, a film crew came into the café, and asked if we would let them film us doing the speed dating. The answer was a resounding “no” – even though we were fine with being there, most of us didn’t want to be seen to be there! The next request was to film the proceedings, but without faces. Still, most of us were against being filmed, and it took quite some time to get the ball rolling again.

No. 11 – Ryan – English, arrived in Australia in 1996, has been working overseas for the past 2 and a half years, spent one year working for the Sultan of Brunei, spent a lot of time travelling, never really had a base, was sick of living out of a suitcase, and returned to Sydney only 8 weeks ago. Bought a property recently, and added a boy’s toy (big Plasma TV) a couple of weeks ago. Looking now to settle down. Can someone please ring the bell, NOW???

No. 10 – Conrad – um, I don’t think I actually listened to him at all. He was a bore – in fact, I think I had a micro-sleep when he was with me – a 7 minute micro-sleep.

No. 9 – Nicholas – a public indemnity underwriter, he was very quiet, and sat very far away from me. I tried to move closer to hear what he was saying, and he would move further away. I guess he had a huge personal space. Being half deaf (yes, I am – I have only 50% hearing in my right ear), I was only able to catch a small percentage of what he was saying.

I guess I must endure some good and some bad. Moving right along …

The film crew was back. They were quite persistent about filming the event, and finally, those who were completely fine with being filmed were asked to speak to the film crew during the upcoming break.

No. 8 – Esko – had a Finnish father who came to Australia when he was 12, married an Australian lady and produced 5 children, with Esko being the middle child. Bit of a diamond in the rough, he was quite nervous and talked very fast. He told me his turn-ons and turn-offs (he doesn’t like dominating personalities), and his favourite movie was True Romance. I was undecided about this one, and actually can’t remember if I ticked “yes” or “no” for him.

No. 7 – Rodney – a police officer specialising in the counter-terrorist unit. We basically talked about his work and ran out of time completely!

No. 6 – Tao – Chinese guy who recently got into car sales. He’s also studying, but I didn’t hear what he was studying – he was very quiet also. He was there looking for a wife. Then he gave me the once over. BELL!!!

At this point, we were to have a little break. The bathroom was rushed, where a number of girls congregated and compared notes – all appeared to have met the firemen and all were impressed by the firemen. The food was delicious, but everyone was too polite to wolf it down – we were all starving by this point! The break was good – it provided us with more of a chance to mingle and talk to those we had already met and meet those we are yet to talk with. The film crew was there, doing their thing – it was for Channel 31, a little watched community station. (Yeah right! Channel 31 has a cult following – I know this because I know people who has the station fanatically tuned into their TV!) A few more people were convinced to talk in front of the camera, whilst the rest of us kind of looked on and tried not to laugh.

It was time to start again – only a few more people to go …

No. 5 – Desmond – lawyer/litigator – boring, blah blah blah, boring, boring, blah blah … bell please!

No. 4 – Paul – shortest guy there, little cutie, set up by his best friend (engaged female) to attend. He said he wasn’t meeting many new people, and thought it would be a good chance to meet people at something like this. Plays touch football, loves roller-blading, so we swapped stories about hurting ourselves whilst roller-blading – him with a cracked rib that was only discovered after 2 weeks of pain, and me with a cracked tail bone.

No. 3 – Eddie – dickhead. There must be one at every party, and this was him. He was in real estate, he was drunk, and he loved the sound of his own voice. In fact, all we did was talk about him. He had no interest in me, and didn’t bother to ask me any questions, so I thought the easiest way would be to ask him a question, tune out, be aware of when he stopped talking, ask another question, tune out, and wait for the bell.

No. 2 – Mattie – Eddie’s mate, and better than Eddie. He is in advertising, and … wait for it … we talked about Cameron … what a crack up! [Andy and I use to work with a guy called Cameron – a dodgy, shonky bloke who has been on the run from the Australian judicial system for the past few years after swindling millions of dollars from a large number of little Aussie battlers.] When Mattie mentioned he was in advertising, I told him I worked very briefly for an advertising company. So, of course, he asked where, and I told him, and that’s how we started talking about Cameron. Mattie didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about Cameron, so I won’t repeat them.

No. 1 – Steve – he ‘s a money broker, and we had the most fascinating conversation about human behaviour and body language. We were last on each other’s list, so we knew we could keep chatting after the bell. We recapped the evening to each other, and I mentioned that one of my pet peeves is that when I speak to someone, that they spend more time looking everywhere else but into my eyes. I don’t like it when they keep staring at me, but when the person I’m speaking to doesn’t even bother to make eye contact, that’s what I couldn’t stand. So we got into a discussion about body language – how if someone is looking away from me to their left, that means they might be trying to come up with something clever to say (the left brain is apparently the creative side), and if they are looking to their right, that means they might be trying to remember something. It was very interesting, and that conversation was definitely a great way to finish the night.

More food came out, and although a few people rushed off, most of us stayed around for a bit. Esko [No. 8] and I found ourselves next to each other, so we talked a bit more – he was so much more relaxed now that he didn’t have to get it all out in 7 minutes. He was lovely – told me he comes from Bega, plays rugby, and at an age now (all of 29) where he just wants to meet people without any expectations. I told him that my basic expectation from the evening was that the people I meet would talk to me, and that was all. He thought about what I said, and then agreed wholeheartedly (“I didn’t think of that – yeah, that’s what it should be all about”). We compared notes for the evening, and he said it was mostly enjoyable, although he did meet someone who said to him, the moment he sat down, that she was “over it”. Esko tried to get the conversation going a bit more, but all he got was “I’m over it”.

We talked for about 20 minutes, by which time I said I had to go. He looked at me, and quite genuinely asked “Will I see you again?”, to which I replied “Definitely”.

The evening was quite an experience – your head does spin a bit when you meet this many people in one night, and have to talk to everyone. I found it OK, but then, you know what I’m like – I can talk the hind legs off a chair!

And to make the night even better, when I got back to my car, which was parked in a lane way in a “P15 any time” spot, there was no parking ticket.

Of course, there’s always an idiot thing at the end of all my stories. I couldn’t for the life of me remember if I ticked “yes” or “no” for Esko, and had to write to the organisers today, asking them to change my preference to “yes” if I had ticked “no”. So, a request was sent, and a reply has already come back, confirming I had ticked “yes” for Esko. We will now have to wait and see if he ticked me.

So there you have it. It was a fun way to meet people, and I had a great time. As Paul [No. 4] pointed out, you’d pay more than $55 to meet 27 people, 14 of whom you may have a chance of getting to know better as potential dates. Until I see what happens in the next few days, I might attend another event down the track some time.

I’ll keep you up to date with any future happenings.

This email has gotten so long – it’s taken me all day, in between stuff, to write this!

Love,
G

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It’s been a while since I’ve thought about that night, and the content of my email has made me smile. I have long forgotten what any of the people look like, and have lost touch with those who I received contact details for, but I do remember opening the email notifying me that Rodney [No. 7]) and Esko [No. 8] (amongst others) wanted to stay in touch.

Rodney and I corresponded for a couple of years, on and off, until we stopped writing to each other. The emails were few and far between, and life happened, and after I stopped writing, Rodney stopped replying.

Esko and I exchanged a few emails, but then the trail went cold after a few months. Rodney told me Esko moved to the Gold Coast to be with his daughter (his ex partner had moved away and he missed his little girl enough to move to be closer to her). Esko and I never did see each other again.

Andy never went to a speed dating event, even though he said he would go along to one just to see what it was all about. Soon after this email was written, Andy met Kerry, who would become his wife.

Upon further consideration, all I have to say is: I’m so glad I’m married to the most wonderful man in the world. I’m not sure if I can stomach the dating scene again!

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