As a 24-year-old single lady with a crappy dating history and a hard time meeting decent dudes, sometimes I just gotta take on the more unconventional opportunities. I’ve tried online dating on-and-off for the past year. But there’s always a time to try something even crazier and whenever I want to try something new, LivingSocial usually implants the idea into my brain.
Sometime late last year, my new BFF of a website offered a deal on speed dating from Speed USA Group. At about 50 percent off the regular admission price, I thought “Why not?” I redeemed my voucher for one event shortly after my purchase, only for a company rep to inform me about a week before the scheduled event that many of their customers had cancelled and rescheduled. So I checked for the next available event to use my voucher on and that ended up getting cancelled too…and then the same thing happened for another event I wanted to go to a week later! I wasn’t angry—in fact, maybe it was a blessing that all of those events got cancelled as I wasn’t feeling and looking my best—but a little annoyed with the yo-yo’ing. Their customer service rep made it up to me by offering me an extra admission ticket, which was an especially nice surprise since I did not openly complain about the cancelled events.
I did not get any cancellation notices about the event I attended at O3 Bistro and Lounge last week, so it was a go. To my surprise, our host for the event was one of my TA’s from a college class I took during one of my last semesters in school. I felt more comfortable than awkward, as I went alone and found the familiar face to be welcoming. It turns out that she was actually the makeup artist for the ladies (The event fee includes makeup touchups if you opt for it) but they were short on staffing, so she could only host and not do touchups. That meant there was more waiting involved, which blew. The arrival time for women was 7:30 with the event start time at 8, but it actually started at around 8:40. But for what it was worth, the whole thing lasted long enough. I did not leave the place till 11PM.
When you check in, you receive a score card and are assigned a number. You write down the name and assigned number of each person you meet and rate them on a 1-5 scale, except the rating system uses cute wording. 5 is nice—“Definitely fancy a go!” 4 is “Maybe one more drink?” 3 is “Not my cup of tea” and 2 and 1…well, I don’t remember, but they were pretty harsh with those two. There’s a little space for you to leave notes and at the end of the night, you pick the top five daters you’re most interested in. However, it’s completely optional and you can write in more or less than five, so forget the “Top 5” heading. Also, the table was set up with conversation starter cards with random questions, but our host advised us not to even use them. (Then why bother setting them up?)
The ladies sit at a table with their assigned number while the guys rotate after about five or six minutes. A good fraction of that time is spent writing each other’s names and numbers on the scorecards. There are no stopwatches, whistles, or gimmicks—here, the host simply taps the guys on the shoulder to signal their time is up and that they have to move on to the next number.
The two most common things I experienced during each mini-date was that 1) apparently a lot of guys recognize that Karen can be spelled a lot of ways, but many of them assumed mine might be spelled with a ‘C’ instead of a ‘K’ because I got a lot of “Karen with a K?” inquiries and 2) there was no number 11 in the rotation. I was number 12 and literally every guy wondered out loud “Where’s 11?” After about the fifth or sixth date, I just told them all that there was no number 11.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the type of crowd that was there. I apologize that I can’t really speak for the ladies since we were all scattered around. The website advertised the event as being for those who are aged 24-39 but I could’ve sworn there were some men in their 40s there. It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t creeped out by anyone. I was there to meet people, not necessarily find a soulmate or a hookup. I do think most of the men were in their late 20s to late 30s than on the younger end of the spectrum. Ethnicity-wise, a lot of White and Asian guys for sure and even a few European imports. One of my favorite moments of the evening was talking to a guy from Liverpool who had earlier met a guy from London and they were back-to-back in the rotation. I didn’t know this until Liverpool dude told me, but the way I interpreted, it’s like a Union versus Confederacy thing with those from Liverpool and London. So Liverpool guy kept warning me about him and when it was time to move, London dude kept giving Liverpool dirty looks and whispered to me about him. Who knows if they were kidding around, but it surely was entertaining. Occupation-wise—assuming they were all telling the truth—a lot of the guys worked in tech, which is not surprising for being in the Bay Area. There was one screenwriter and a couple of musicians. One of my top-rated guys was a gardener.
My go-to questions were pretty basic: “Are you originally from San Francisco?” “What brings you here?” “What do you for a living?” “What do you do for fun?” I guess that’s why most of it felt more like job interviews, yet it branched off to a lot of fun conversations about writing, food, travel, movies, music, baseball, and football. One guy who originally told me he was from Israel and made grilled cheese sandwiches for a living admitted that he was making up different stories about himself and presenting them to each table (He was really from China and working at some start-up, unless he was trolling about those too). Another date was cut short because both of us thought the plate of fries at the table next to us was looking very lonely.
I rated a lot of guys 3s and 4s, and a few 2s for those I didn’t connect well with, but no 1s because I didn’t think anyone was particularly off-putting. I gave as much 5s as 2s, and the 5s weren’t necessarily the most attractive or the most I had in common with. They were ones I had great conversations with and hoped to continue.
Since you’re all wondering what happens after the 20+ dates, you’ll be sent an email the next day with the name and email address of your matches. I was only given one mutual match, and it turned out to be my fellow number 12, the gardener. At the moment I am writing this, I have not sent an email. Everyone I spoke to that night knows I keep a blog, so I hope that doesn’t put me in the doghouse. He was definitely attractive, fun, and interesting, and being knowledgeable and cool about the Giants always gives a guy a one-up for me.
We did talk a little bit about The 40-Year-Old Virgin. He was on the speed dating circuit previously and assured me that it was nothing like that “overdramatization.” I think the actual experience might’ve been more interesting if it were more like it.
(NSFW WARNING for the following clips from one of my favorite films)
However, I do hope no one wrote “hurtin’ for a squirtin'” or “ho fo sho'” by my name on their scorecard.
(IMAGE SOURCE: IAMNOTASTALKER | Universal Pictures)