In which, I meet more single men in one night than I would in five years, find one I really like, then discover I’m never going to see him again.
Much like a serial killer on death row, my contact with the outside world is, ideally, limited. I’m quiet, I keep to myself and I’m content. But every now and then, I feel an impulse to “get out there” and
kill again meet as many new people as I can.
So, last week, I attended a speed dating event.
For the uninitiated, speed dating is just like a blind date. Only instead of making pointless small talk with one person you have nothing in common with, there are 15 of them!
Personally, I find it to be one of the few organised dating activities I can really get behind, mainly because it’s over quickly. There’s a quick exchange of names, 4-6 minutes of chit chat, a bell rings and a new fella appears.
Most of us have had more meaningful encounters sitting next to a stranger on a bus than speed dating but, as shallow as it is, it’s an excellent way of meeting 12-15 men I would not have otherwise met in a day, or even a year.
Or five years, if I’m honest.
During these brief encounters, participants are encouraged to drink heavily whilst also paying an enormous amount of attention to detail.
Thankfully, notepaper is provided.
So is a scorecard, that gives you a choice of three words with which to judge the complex, nervous human beings you meet:
At the end of the night, scorecards are collected and 24 hours later, if the speed dating Gods were smiling upon you, you receive the contact details of your matches. Which you can then ignore, follow up on or obsess over.
Strictly speaking, a match occurs when both parties have ticked YES. However, there’s usually a bit of wiggle room at events, meaning that an UNSURE matched with a YES is usually regarded as a ‘soft’ YES.
Therefore, should the person you’re unsure about be a lot more certain about you, most event organisers consider this a “match” and contact details are forwarded.
So, even though the scorecards at this most recent event read: FRIEND/DATE/NO, I assumed it would work the exact same way and it was on this understanding that I embarked on the evening.
I had one goal in mind: To thine own self be true.
I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I tend to overthink things. Because of this, I decided on this occasion I would put instinct before intellect. I would only tick YES if I got a good feeling and I legitimately wanted to see a dude again and not because I felt like I “should”, or I “had to”, or because this really could be my last chance at happiness and the only way to avoid a future in which died alone and my corpse was feasted on by feral cats.
A third of the way through the night, I was holding firm to my pledge. I hadn’t ticked Yes to anyone yet, but there was a contender. A former pastry chef turned banker.
Wouldn’t you want to know more about a man who traded dough for more dough? I sure did. So I made a point of checking in with him again during our first assigned break of the evening.
My theory was, if he was as affable and warm during the break as he had been during our speed date he would be a definite YES.
Unfortunately, when I tracked him down and tried to pick up our conversation, he pointed me towards a platter of greasy appetisers and said, “There’s food over there”.
Sure, it could have been nerves, mild awkwardness or a genuine concern for my nutritional well-being, but following my instincts, as I had sworn to do, I read his behaviour as DEFINITELY NOT INTERESTED and moved on.
Later that evening, I met M. He was cute, we had similar backgrounds, our 240 second conversation flowed well and he seemed solid. Interesting. So, when he struck up a conversation with me during our second break I took that as a very positive sign that he was also interested and he received a very emphatic Y-E-S on my scorecard.
I think I even underlined it.
In fact, I was so chuffed, I briefly considered circumventing the whole matching process and just handing him my number.
But I didn’t. I decided to play it cool. Besides, I knew I was going to see him again. What was there to worry about?
The next day, I received my matches and there was no name, no number, no email. Nothing.
I was floored.
I couldn’t figure it out. We’d talked, we’d laughed, he hadn’t pointed me towards a plate of soggy spring rolls. In my mind, things had gone well. So, what the hell happened?
There were numerous theories running through my head, but rather than run away with them, I decided to read the email again. Properly this time.
Turns out, in my excitement to get his details I’d skipped the preamble of the email.
This time, I read the whole communique:
One friend match.
One date match.
Neither were him, of course, but the wording of the email made it clear; Matches were literal matches. A date with a date. A friend with a friend.
I instantly felt better. I knew what must have happened.
I’d ticked DATE. He’d ticked FRIEND.
It was maddening. Off I’d gone, being clear and direct with my intentions when what I should done was been a bit more vague. Less decisive. More wishy-washy.
I should have hedged my bets.
If I’d done that I wouldn’t be sitting at home alone right now. I’d be sitting with the guy I like, smiling, nodding and eating out my insides, while he describes his latest random hook-up in graphic detail.
I could be the girl who settles for being the friend just so she can be close to the guy she wants to date. The girl who thinks if she just hangs around and tolerates enough garbage for long enough, he’s going to get it. How could he not?
I could have been that girl.
Instead, I’d chosen to be true to myself and now I’d lost him forever. And afterwards all that remained were questions, like:
Was there a point to this experience?
Was this the Universe’s way of welcoming me back to the dating pool?
Is it better to have chatted for the cooking time of a microwave burrito than to never have chatted at all?
Was I reading too much into this?