So when I heard about speed dating, I figured, what the hell. The allotted six-minute relationship is great for commitment-phobes, pre-arranged dates eliminate the likelihood of a woman pulling out pepper spray when you're initiating a conversation, and since actually asking anyone out during the event is off limits, guys can prolong the illusion of being civilized even though most of us can actually barely walk upright. With any luck, maybe speed dating would prevent an epic sex drought.
But I wasn't sure how to approach it. Should I really take this seriously? Should I just have fun with it? Partly, I decided to use it as a purely scientific task to elucidate the human condition - mainly, what the hell do women really respond to?
I did have reservations, though. First, how do you explain to your future kids that you met their mother during a round-robin interrogation? Second, I knew it would be very hard not to take notes. If history is any indicator, I knew there would be times when I would find my jaw in my lap and I would have to stop my date and ask her to repeat what she just said so I could tell my friends later. I certainly wanted to avoid the typical situation where I think I am an absolute riot but am paired with someone whose sense of humor was apparently surgically removed. I also knew it would be imperative to have on my poker face, because I have learned over the years that it is a huge turnoff to show genuine interest in a woman. I knew I had to be able to sit across from a Cosmo cover girl without wishing I had worn a bib to protect myself from my own drool. Finally, I wanted to make sure I had sufficient "rap" in store to make it the full six minutes without my counterpart checking her watch or putting a dry-cleaning bag over her head.
But since Jillian's at Colorado Mills was the venue (a guy's paradise: multiple giant screen TVs, trivia and video games), I figured that if the night was a bust, at least I was somewhere I could entertain myself. Cheri Collins, who brought speed dating to Colorado with her company, Rapid Fire Romance, had our banquet room set up with twenty-plus numbered tables. (Collins once had an attendee's ex-girlfriend infiltrate the group, so she tries to keep things private.) I registered and received a report card that told me where to be and kept track of who I met -- lest I mix up the Cosmo cover girl with the one with the mullet. It also had room for notes, such as "Appetizers in teeth" or "Perfume probably from bargain rack at Wal-Mart."
When I first walked into the room, it was the typical sausage fest. The guys were all waiting to see who they'd be paired up with for the evening. Apparently, the women were congregated in the bathroom doing whatever the hell it is they do in there. As I paced through the lumberyard, I noticed something very peculiar: These guys were all checking each other out! I wasn't sure at first, but I became convinced after receiving several very dirty looks. I checked to make sure my zipper was up but then realized some guys were just staking claim to their territory. In fact, I spent much of the first half hour wondering when I was going to be called out to the bike racks to fight.
Remember, this is a setup where there are an equal number of men and women, all of whom are looking to meet someone, or at least fulfill their end of a dare. So theoretically, you should meet a new person every six minutes; there shouldn't be the typical bar-like competition. Shouldn't be. But when I sat down at the first table, I was saddled with...no one. In a situation as close to shooting fish in a barrel as is humanly possible, I got stiffed. I knew right away things could only get better. In fact, it did, once the waitress came by with a beer.
After that, most of my night was spent talking to two local nurses, Allison and Kelly, though we'll protect their anonymity with quotation marks and call them "Allison" and "Kelly" from here on out. I had spoken to both of them prior to the start of the event and had been immediately swept off my feet when they asked who I was rooting for in the hockey game on TV. The beautiful thing was that they waited for an icing call before striking up conversation.
In fact, the spontaneous, unarranged conversations arguably provided the best entertainment of the whole night. During breaks, everybody was loosened up -- but not yet to the point that anyone was dancing on tables or showing tattoos -- and talking freely with the other participants. The undisputed highlight, though, was standing and talking with "Kelly" while "Allison" was being hit on by someone who could only have been her grandfather. And this guy was aggressive. I heard questions about marriage, kids, etc. I have to hand it to "Allison" -- she refrained from outright laughter until the guy asked about her opinion on dating older men. I personally choked on my beer, because the only way for this guy to have asked this question fairly was to add the word "really" before old. This situation was the feminine version of that Coors "Wingman" commercial. Unfortunately for "Allison," neither "Kelly" nor I could provide effective air support.
I did have a few pleasant planned interrogations, but I'm not sure I found a Hermione to my Ron. However, this event was ideal for fulfilling every guy's immature yet highly satisfying pubescent fantasies of dating a teacher or a nurse. They were everywhere. And Jillian's is a great place to take a date. If you're flailing, you can always fall back on the gaming section to salvage the night. If you can show your carny-game prowess and present your lady with a gigantic Sponge Bob Squarepants that cost two cents to make in some sweatshop in the Fifth World, she'll leave knowing what kind of thoughtful stud you are.
Maybe you'll see me there next time, but I might just stick with Harry Potter. Women are still as much of a mystery to me as the reason that I can apparently leave my cell phone's service area simply by turning my head. Magic may be my only hope.