There are many ways to meet new friends. Some are better than others. Speed dating, for example, is better than never leaving the house and hoping you will find true love with a pizza delivery person, but objectively worse than standing on a street corner downtown shouting incoherently about space lizards who are controlling you with rays.
For those who still can’t shake off a sense of optimism (or if there’s a waiting list for all the good street corners in your city), this is what you can expect from a speed dating event.
1. Wildly inappropriate age groups
No matter how old you are, the event you attend will specify a broad age range where you fall at one end, and everybody else will be at the other end. You will spend all night trying to politely act like you’re on a date with people who either look like your grandparents or make you feel uncomfortably like a paedophile.
2. People who have no realistic chance of getting a date any other way
You are not going to find anyone at a speed dating event who is physically attractive and capable of having a normal conversation with another human being. No, you’re not. It won’t happen. You may find a person who is ONE of those things, but if so, they will fail so hard at the other thing that it won’t matter. And yes, I realize I am saying this as a person who has attended speed dating events and must therefore be failing at one or both categories myself.
A major hazard of speed dating for women, the pick-up artist is a strange and obnoxious creature who follows a bizarre set of rules, gleaned from various books and websites, based on an unshakeable belief that women are not individual human beings but some kind of gameable system in which entering the correct combination of pre-memorized words and phrases will result in sex. There’s usually at least one of them at these events. He will be dressed inappropriately, because PUAs believe looking unusual makes them irresistible. When I say “dressed inappropriately” I mean you will literally assume he is mildly retarded or has some other kind of actual clinical mental problem. Since they do this on purpose, and believe it’s helping their chances rather than the other way around, your assumption may be 100% accurate.
When a PUA starts talking, it’s immediately obvious he is following a script. He will ignore all attempts at conversation from your side, and relentlessly plow forward with his patented Enter Phrase A, Await Response, Enter Phrase B, Touch Hand, Enter Phrase C method. He will supply your side of the conversation in his own head, no matter what you actually say.
At one of these events, I happened to be wearing a ring on the little finger of my right hand. “That’s an interesting ring,” slimed the PUA, taking my hand and holding it while stroking my finger, 30 seconds after meeting me, because inappropriate touching is another thing these weirdos think women like. “Why do you wear it on that finger?” I withdrew my hand and answered the question: “Well, I’m a silversmith as a hobby, and I made this ring as an exercise to learn a new technique. Then I decided to keep it, but it only fits on this finger.” To a normal person, this sort of thing is conversational gold. Suddenly you know about a hobby of mine, and hell, you even have an opening to say “Wow, you made that? How cool!” You can then lead into talking about your own hobbies, or ask how I got into this hobby, or any of a hundred other possibilities, and before you know it, we’re having a real conversation and finding out about each other, perhaps even bonding a little.
This did not occur to the PUA. He was going to follow his script no matter what, because that is the guaranteed way to a woman’s heart and related body parts. His script had started out with “Mention item of clothing, ask question” and damn it, he would follow that road to its end. He ignored my response and started talking about how [insert item of clothing: item=RING: beep boop] rings are very interesting because the ancient Romans believed blah blah blah about [insert item of clothing: item=RING: beep boop] rings and in fact the ancient god of love always used to blah blah blah. As I sat there, jaw dropping at the amount of utter made-up bullshit he was spewing, I thought about telling him I’m very familiar with Roman history, that they didn’t believe anything even remotely akin to what he just told me, and that four seconds on Wikipedia to check the name and gender of the Roman goddess of love would have been time well spent.
But I didn’t. Because fuck PUAs, and I don’t mean that the way they wish I did.
4. People with no life
It’s a safe bet that if you are at a speed dating event, it’s because you haven’t been able to meet people through your other interests. In 90% of cases, the reason will become obvious: the person HAS no other interests.
One guy said he liked music. I said, oh cool, I go to shows all the time myself, and I play the guitar; what sort of music do you like, what bands? Mumble, mumble, mumble. “Oh … all sorts of music … you know.” Fuck off. You’re saying you like music, yet you can’t name even one band in any genre that you like? You can’t even randomly pick the Beatles or some other band that even single-celled microorganisms have heard of, and just fucking fake it?
Another guy said he loved to travel. I said, awesome! I love it too! I’ve had some good times in the southwestern US states, been to Japan and Vanuatu and Samoa, would really like to see Iceland next, where do you mostly go? Well, actually, he said, he mainly just travels within the state. Oh yes, I said, seeing where this was headed but trying to throw the poor guy a bone, there’s some amazing stuff to see here in Colorado, what are your favorite spots? He looked at me like I was cheating. You see, you’re not supposed to ask for details. You’re not supposed to have real interests yourself, or expect that your date might have some.
Here’s a clue, speed daters: stop trying to guess the right lies to tell. Get some actual interests and fucking DO them. Nobody cares what it is. Having even one genuine interest that you can talk intelligently about is going to set you miles above the rest of this crowd of damp, morose human fungus. I don’t care if it’s making your own barbecue sauce or collecting misprinted Kleenex boxes or studying dental diseases of the 17th century. JUST. DO. SOMETHING.
5. People with no social skills
There was the guy who responded to my statement that I enjoyed listening to live music by saying “Oh, you’re a groupie?” I guess my expression clued him in that this was possibly not a great conversational move, and he hastily added, “Ha ha! Just kidding!” Yes, there’s nothing smoother than asking your date if she’s an actual whore within one minute of meeting her. There was the guy I overheard talking to the poor woman at the next table, opening the conversation with a loud and awkward, “Well! So you’re … black … obviously.”
I can only assume it’s a similar experience for the guys. At this very moment, there’s probably more than one disgruntled speed dater telling his friends about ME and they’re all agreeing he dodged a bullet there. Perhaps we can meet up later, down on the corner, if the space lizards don’t get us first.