After watching some of the Sevendays series on channel4 this week, where one of the girls, Samantha braves speed dating for the first time, got me thinking about some other disasters I've had when its come to speed dating. And unlike Samantha, I've been on more than one speed dating adventure.
The experience I'm thinking about is the the most recent one. A night in soho (yet again) at a big speed dating group event (more than 300) so the odds have got to be good haven't they?
There were several options on the night:
a) go in the speed dating circle area and mingle in your alloted 2 mins, chancing an encounter with Mr right or Mr very very wrong
b) Wander around looking awkward, grasping your drink like a life bouy while also trying to look interesting enough for someone to have a conversation with
c) or go check out the flirtwall (where photos of everyone attending is up) and rate the talent or lack there of and cast a surreptious look at your own to see if any messages had been left
d) Or better yet play random games . By games I don't mean whips and handcuffs, although that would give an interesting twist to the evening. No games as in the girls wear locks around their necks and boys have keys and each try to see if their's 'fits'.
All these are supposed to be conversation starters but on more than one occasion I felt my lock had been violated. Naturally, the lock hung down low on my chest, nestled amongst the impressive clevage I had broken out just for tonight. Several incredibly shy men would come up with hands and arms outstretched reaching for my chest. The first couple I swatted away thinking they were planning a feel up mission. Until I clicked that they were after my lock, not my nipples for the world's most painful nipple cripple. (Flashbacks from my childhood still haunt me) I was surprised by all this, really, shouldn't you ask my name first before we start sharing parts or putting our bits together? You would think so, but apparently not.
So when the bell rings to start the speed dating session it's safe to say I was more than mildly relieved that men wouldn't be grasping for my chest for the next half an hour.
Contestant No 1: So how old are you? (clearly he's decided to dispense with niceities and just jump right in)
Me: Ermm 26, how about you?
Contestant No 1:So how do you feel about babies?
Me: Erm.. what do you mean?
Contestant No 1: How do you feel about them?
Me: (I honestly can't for the life of me keep up, he's clearly ascertained that I'm still of child bearing quality so he's decided to find out if I want one, but I can't quite believe he's going there and so when in doubt, I respond with funny:) What as, seeing you dressed up as one?
Contestant No 1: No as in having one? (He says this deadpan, no giggle no smile. Tough crowd)
Me: Umm, one day maybe..
Contestant No 1: No with me... in the next six months
Me: Ahherm what?
Contestant No 1: With me.. in the next six months or so..
Me: ahh no, I don't think so, I dont even know you
Contestant No 1: Well we have nothing further to talk about then.
Contestant No 2: Hello there J, nice to meet you
Me: Hi M, are you having a good night so far?
Contestant No 2: Yeah it's going alright, free drinks are going down well aren't they and theres some alright looking birds here
Me: Yes it looks like its going to be a good night
Contestant No 2: So you're a bit of a big girl aren't you.. I'd say..(I cut him off at this point)
Me: Excuse me?? (Telling any girl she is big is never, ever a compliment. Even if it's to say her smile is big. Boys please note.)
Contestant No 2: Sorry, that's rude of me, it's just that it's the first thing I think of because of the work I do
Me: What work do you do? (Still not impressed, but willing to investigate the origin of his rudeness)
Contestant No 2: Oh I make bras, I design them and have my own website (this is a guy who is rather tubby, in his late 30s with a porn star moustache.. seriously?)
Me: Well do you offer two for ones? (Clearly not taking him seriously)
Contestant No 2: Yeah of course we do.. I'd say you are a 38F
Me: Wrong buddy
Contestant No 2: Clearly you aren't wearing the right bra then
Me: Pretty sure I'm going to go with the La Sensa bra measuring expert over a guy I met in a bar. Sorry
Contestant No 2: I've got some really nice red ones which would look good on you
Me: Sorry but I'm going to point out the obvious here mate, but talking about bras, is not suitable dating conversation for someone you've just met. But what I can suggest for you though is a visit to the library
Contestant No 2: Well you asked, I'm just making conversation. What? Why the library?
Me: To borrow out Dating for dummies.. Ok so I think this is where I say next?
Contestant No 3: So J, what's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?
Me: Just trying out something new, go pain, no gain or something like that
Contestant No 3: But seriously, why are you single?
Me: Well that's a million dollar question, why don't you ask me something a bit more simple like my favourite food or something?
Contestant No 3: No really, I want to know your dreams, your hopes, your life. Tell me everything from day one
Me: Ahh what? As in from birth?
Contestant No 3: Yes I want to see the real J
Me: (I've kind of had it by about now and think you know what, I'm a bit sick of the loonyville I'm currently trapped in and decide, its time to turn my looniness up a notch.) Well my story is a bit complicated and not overly happy (I say with a mock sad face and downcast eyes)
Contestant No 3: Go on, go on...lets get down to the real J
Me: Well I was born Jason and it wasn't until I was 5 that I realised I wanted to be a woman. My parents were very supportive and I changed my name to J when I was 16 and have just completed my gender reassignment transistion. I'm ready to meet a man, I have all the right parts and deep down I'm a girl through and through
(Cue silence.. dead silence, his mouth is set in an O and it doesn't look like its going to change anytime soon. His eyes are like saucers, I'm pretty sure if I poked one, it would spin around on the spot. He seems to stopped breathing and his hands have moved really far away from me, to the otherside of his lap, looking unnaturally like he's trying to do some kind of back stretch. I know I've just comitted social suicide but its just so damn enjoyable.)
Contestant No 3: Ahh.. well thats.... interesting
Me: Oh I knew you'd understand. I knew it from the moment I saw you that we'd connected. Now you know it all. What about you? What led you to become you, tell me all your dreams and how I can make them come true (I flutter my eyelashes at the end, playing the act of a bonafide bunny boiler. This is far too enjoyable, I should have broken the crazy out much much earlier in the evening)
Contestant No 3: Ahhemm.. well you see, actually I need to go to the bathroom, do you mind?
Me: Oh not at all, I might join you. (His face was a sheer mask of horror). The ladies of course
Contestant No 3: Of course, well nice to meet you
Me: Oh very nice to meet you, I'll come find you later to hav ea proper chat
Contestant No 3: (cue awkard hiccup of a laugh and the fastest exit I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure he didn't stop running until he'd jumped on the piccadilly line tube)
I know that was a tad mean of me, but it was possibly one of the most exhausting but hilarious nights I ever had. It makes you realise all the many faces people put on when they are dating and how these mask the many other truths beneath. I had fun, that much is for sure, I'm sure there are a few who are mildly traumatised by my actions and I do apologise. I certainly was not born a man and I am not even the slightest bit infected with bunny boiler syndrome.
Verdict on speed dating: 8 parts crazy, 2 parts sane. In my eyes I consider it to be akin to social russian roulette. Only for the brave, stupid and gamblers. Those with weak stomachs should stay home and watch re-runs of sleepless in seattle or pride and prejudice.