First: You have to excuse me. I got stuck in a physics class and that basically took every bit of my time since Christmas was over. Ergo, no blogging, no writing. I got a B. It’s over forever. Thank God. Onward:
The funniest thing about speed dating is when you ask people at a speed dating event if they’ve ever done this before, the vast majority of them say: No, I haven’t, I only saw it in Hitch. (Note: I’m drawing an extremely broad generalization from the single speed dating event I attended last month. But it was funny how many of us said that.)
Here’s why I went: It was way cheap ($10), I wasn’t busy, my friend Angi said she’d come with me, I really want to write something like this into a story someday, and it seemed like it could be entertaining based on the time I saw it in Hitch.
Here’s what I learned: Speed dating is like being the star of your own private party where everyone came to meet you. I don’t mean that like everyone did come to meet me, they certainly didn’t, but when it was their turn to sit down at table 19, that’s what it was like. Dichotomy of speed dating: the draw is that you get to meet a whole bunch of guys in in a very short amount of time… and it turns out that meeting a whole bunch of guys in a short amount of time is freaking exhausting. Apparently it’s exhausting for the guys too, because by the time the last guy collapsed into the chair across from me, he just wasn’t even interested in saying hello to me. (Right back atcha, buddy.)
Picture introducing yourself to someone, engaging in conversation (or trying to) and then talking for five minutes (happily or painfully) and then a buzzer rings and that person gets up, and thirty seconds later, another person sits down and you start all over. Repeat 20 times until you don’t even care if the next person who sits down actually is Will Smith. (That’s so far from true of course, but you understand what I mean.)
So here’s what else I learned. With some people those five minutes took forever. Most of them, I don’t think I’d ever want to talk to again… Or to put it another way, “all the attendees minus two” I don’t think I’d want to talk to again. That didn’t matter much to me at all because of what I learned before I went to this shindig.
Someone told Angi this: they were praying that she would treat every man she met like she would want her boys to be treated by every woman they met when they grew up. In other words, kindly, generously. Like human beings with feelings. I have boys too, older than Angi’s boys, who are ten. Mine are actually out there now, meeting young women, going out with them. Potentially being treated like… well, not like I would hope.
The event wasn’t registered evenly, more women than men, which turned out to be fine, because of the exhaustion factor, since every so often the buzzer sounded and no one sat down at my table. Quick trip to the bathroom once. Grab a beer and have a speed date with the bartender. That was unplanned, he kind of started that, but we went to the same high school, he showed me pictures of his dogs, and he called out goodbye to me by name when I left. I’m keeping him in my back pocket just because I want to see my mom’s face when I bring a guy with double sleeve tatoos over for dinner. And then say he’s a bartender. (There are some significant ways I cannot seem to grow up.)
Once or twice I went over to where the women had brought snacks (not me, I was doing physics all afternoon). And these two women were there, and they started talking to me about how they wanted their money back on the first buzzer. And how all these guys were losers. And how they couldn’t believe how bad they were. And once they started talking specifics, making fun of one guy and I knew who they were talking about, and it made my heart hurt.
The reason the word “Christian” means nothing, is because of people like this.
All I kept thinking about were my boys and Angi’s boys. Meeting women like this someday. And the poor guy who had the bad luck to be sincere and honest around people who he couldn’t trust.
The thing is, I kind of went there for stories like that. You know, the losers, the dorks, the ones who would make good material in a novel. And I couldn’t do it. I will use that experience in a scene someday, because now I know how it feels to be in that situation, but I will not base characters on anyone I met there. Because this was not easy: sitting down and meeting 20 men in a row, wondering what they thought of you, wondering how you compared, wondering if you were even the least bit interesting. Even if you didn’t care, it’s hard to put yourself on the line like that once, much less twenty times in a row.
And these guys were doing the same thing. I think they were risking more.
Too long already, and I had another goal when I started writing this, but I’m guessing this was what was really on my mind for now:
Be kind. Be generous. It costs you nothing.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen Hitch? You’ve missed. It’s a movie of kindness and generosity, some great dancing lessons, and of course, Will Smith.