Monday, November 10, 2008

The Unabridged, sad, tale of my misadventure into Speed Dating.

..A couple minutes shy of 2 am, I am unable to sleep.
Now is just as good of a time to relay to you the ordeal of this past Wednesday.

My anninimity already gone, I will attempt to keep it for all others involved.
(All names have been changed)

Buster and Keaton are both single like me.
Amongst our normal "guy" talk consisting of the current fantasy sport issue or recent NetFlix title viewed - we've shared our various reports from the war of single life of the modern era.

Online winking there, blind craisglist dating there, coworker allegiance misinterpretations of the past and neighbor interactions of the future...

When Buster brought up the idea of attending a Speed Dating event it was mainly presented as:
"When we've been trying all these other methods, how can we not give this a shot?"
I was on board as long as Buster and Keaton would be in - I thought (at least) I'd be writing to inform others of an entertaining story.
Keaton, I sensed, was not fully on board.
After a year of joking and batting around the idea, we all committed.

Registration was to open at 8 pm, with the event starting at 8:30.
Buster arrived at my curb at about 7:50.
Keaton was already in the car.
Buster flipped on the dome light in his car, to make sure I wasn't wearing the same shirt.
We weren't... But in all respects - we were.

The striped shirt has become a massive cliche in the single guy wardrobe.
A slow plague of striped shirt dominance has appeared in my closet.
If you were to catch me stepping out to work, you have an over 80% chance of seeing me wearing a striped shirt.
It has become the new prison uniform.

We arrive at the location: a hotel in Rosemont (another suburb known for their... well, hotels to be honest with you).
Specifically the hotel bar, where we register.
Keaton first, followed by me, and finally by Buster.
Keaton has been assigned number 35, me 36, and Buster 37.
We were all handed sticker "name tags" with just these two digits markered onto them.

Now just killing time before the "first date" we attempt to scan the crowd for a sneak preview of our future.
I see no women with nametags.
I barely see any women at all.
There's the cocktail waitress, and a young woman playing at the pool table located just beyond the limits of the bar's seating area.

This bar is classically lit - for a bar....
Which means, dimly lit.
The music playing makes me feel like I'm at a junior high dance party.
The air is cold, thanks to a propped-open (for reasons unknown ) door.

A bit of future foreshadowing:
The most attractive girl I saw was our cocktail server.
The second most attractive girl I saw was the pool player, who quickly left the area before the monstrosity began.
The most interesting person I met was one of the other MALE speed daters.

Keaton was to begin at table 7.
I was slotted for table 6.
Buster got pegged for table 5.

Although I'm loosely using the term "table" here. The respective areas were more like lounge/booth setups than chairs with a table.

GIRL 6
Carol is an assistant buyer for a large retail apparel chain.
She quickly announces her single motherdom.
She is an attractive woman, and has positive qualities.
The six minutes we spent was unspectacular.
I mentioned liked going to the city for concerts.
She recommended a pizza place nearby one of the venues owned by her friends.
After the debriefing with my two friends, it's learned that she has two children, aged 3 and 5.
Also learned is her age - six years older than I - and that she supposedly made out very well in a recent divorce.
Ladies and Gentleman, if you were a cougar hunter - I think Carol might have been your pick.
Truthfully, not for me.

GIRL 7
I'm in the lucky position of being between Buster and Keaton. I don't need to wander around looking for numbers - just follow Keaton. Also, I don't have to worry about the next guy blowing up my spot because I'm confident that Buster won't be interrupting me looking to get a head start.

Here's how ROUND 2 began, word-for-word:
TQ: Hi, my name is Tom
Eleanor: Hi, I'm El- Tom [MY ACTUAL LAST NAME!]?
TQ: (instantly looking to my name tag, confused it just has "36" and not my name) yeah.
Eleanor: I went to Grammar School with you.
TQ: Eleanor Roosevelt?
Elanor: (nods head approvingly)
TQ: Oh, hey.

So let me fully illustrate how insulting me forgetting Eleanor Roosevelt is.
I went to a small Catholic Grammar School.
TEN PEOPLE GRADUATING CLASS SMALL.
(By the way, let the record show I graduated first in my class)
Also, I went to this school from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade with Eleanor.
But she didn't look insulted in the least, for she used to have a crush on me.
I know this because I was invited to her 15th birthday party.
I have yet to find anybody else who was invited to that party in 1994.
It's safe to say, I went the last 15 years without thinking of Eleanor Roosevelt.
And now, I had to do nothing but think of her for the next six minutes.

Eleanor: I was just thinking of you, when I was walking my dog past your parents' house-
TQ: (interrupting) My parents don't live there anymore.
Eleanor: Oh, where?
TQ: Arlington Heights.
Eleanor: Oh, where in?
TQ: Lake Arlington
Eleanor: Oh, in one of the town homes?

ROUND THREE
Buster tells me, one of the first things Eleanor said to him during ROUND 3 is that she went to Grammar School with me.
Buster informed Eleanor that he was my friend, and wanted to know what I was like back in the day...
Buster told me she said, "He was wonderful."
He also told me that Eleanor said, "You know, I'm afraid you may stalk me - because your friend knows where I live."

So after I left the dark alley falsely disguised as memory lane with Eleanor, I looked to find Keaton - in order to find to whatever girl he just "dated."
But instead I saw Keaton sitting in the corner of the bar alone - not moving.
"Welcome to the bullpen" he says to me as I walk over.

Turns out that "Girl 7" is the end of the line, and because there are 11 guys at the event, you have to wait until the bottleneck clears up before you can talk to "Girl 1"
Keaton had just spent, in his terms "the longest six minutes of my life here with my tail between my legs." He was one fourth of his way into the bullpen experience.

Again, my position proved to be my advantage. I was able to spend this time - not alone - but talking and joking with Keaton... Six minutes later Buster would join us in the bullpen. And it was in this time period that the cocktail server came by to ask us if we wanted another drink. A cruel irony to have that attractive women talk to us at that point in the evening.

Keaton finally broke out of the bullpen to go back into the fray, and Buster and I talked with another guy newly arrived to the bullpen...
This was the most interesting person I met.
He was tall, like Barrack Obama.
He was slender, like Barrack Obama
He had a slightly darker skin tone, had short hair with a hairline like... you guessed it.
This guy, if he wanted to, could make a career as an impersonator of the man who was elected the night before to be our 44th President.
The story he told, of how he was able to get a blind date to the Grant Park Rally because he looked like Obama, was the best story of the night.

GIRL 1
The first question that Debra asked me was, "How old are you?"
I didn't think this was appropriate to ask, I certainly didn't ask her in return.
TQ: 29, will be 30 in January.
Debra: Oh, when in January?
TQ: The 24th.
Debra: Oooooh, you're an Aquarian - that's gooood.

Later I found out that Debra grew up on the East Coast - went to a school I seemingly knew more about that her, and works for a major Airline. Also, I found out that Debra did not pay for this event....

Oh yeah, I had to pay $35 to attend such a circus.

...Debra was brought in by the event's organizers because too many men had signed up. She was brought in to even out the numbers. This was a clear example of having the "B-Team" brought in to the game during a blowout.

GIRL 2
Gweneth is here with friends. She's happy to hear I'm here with friends too. She wants to know who my friends are - but I politely don't tell her.
She, in not a polite of fashion, wants me to guess who she's here with.
Because I later find out that she is an Air Traffic Controller, I don't have a hard time guessing.
Also, I should point out, that I'm noticing the intoxicating levels of alcohol being ingested by these women.
Gweneth has a difficult time connecting her lips to her wine glass on first attempt.
The only thing notable about Gweneth is her accent, she was born in England.
It's the only thing I found interesting about her... Something that was not of her control (like her drinking).

GIRL 3
I'm not going to change this girl's name, because I think it's fake.
"Dream" is the name she told me.
I bet she wanted me to say, "what was that again?" but I heard it.
I bet she also wanted me to compliment on that name's beauty or originality, but I wasn't.
Midway through our six minute semi-interview for her courtship the beautiful cocktail server interrupted us to refill her triangular shaped liquor fueling system. She (the server) was doing a lot of this - which Keaton told me later he didn't appreciate.
Personally, I could have used more of it.
I was already beginning to mentally check out of this affair. Growing more upset at the level of drunkenness at the other end of the conversation.

GIRL 4
Petria asked me 3 times in six minutes what I did for a living.
I answered truthfully everytime, but using different word choices.
My idea was to avoid the same words sparking a "oh, I already asked that" in her mind.
A potentiallly embarrassing situation.
But I think I overestimated Petria, it probably just confused her more.
This girl's best story was told to Buster one round (and another drink) after me.
I really wish I would've heard first hand how she reacted on the morning of September 11, 2001. Especially how the role of moving around her with her ex-boyfriend was involved. Supposedly, it involved someone dropping to their knees.

GIRL 5
And then we came to the end.
Sharon, I thought, was the drunkest.
Turns out, she was the dumbest.
After this event, when Keaton went to the Mens Bathroom - he saw Sharon walking in when he was walking out.
Sharon is taking courses at a local community college to be a web designer.
Sharon does not know how to work an iPod.
Sharon, when asked by me what she does for fun, said, "I have a cat.... and I walk my two dogs."
I mentioned that I like to go to concerts - asked her the last show she saw was.
Sharon said, "I saw Carrie Underwood in Peoria, do you know what Peoria is?"
I told her the next show I had tickets for was My Morning Jacket.
"What's My Morning Jacket?"

Meanwhile the organizer comes by to tell us that he's not going to blow the whistle, because this was the last round.
Yeah, if I forgot to mention it before, the organizer had a gym-class-issued whistle he's blowing every "six" minutes. (Reports vary on just how accurate his timing method was)
I was nearly visibly angry at this lack of whistle blowing. I wanted to grab it from him and blow the holy hell out of it myself.

Next to me, I see Keaton walking away from Carol, girl six, who I started my night with and now Keaton was ending. Keaton was walking away, but Carol was now ordering another drink. I was thankful I got to talk to Carol before the liquid got to her.

Finally, when the organizer asked for my "card" it was my excuse to bail on Sharon.
This card was where you wrote down who you had interest in.
The girls supposedly do the same.
Buster wrote "no" for all seven women.
Although Keaton and I were not as decisive in our summary of the night - we all hope to never see any of these characters again.

---
Was it worth it?
Honestly, I don't know.
Yes, I got a story out of it (which was my only goal).
People who I told this story to last week laughed (which made me smile).
But I feel awful for having gone through it.
Humiliated.
Exposed.

Monastic life looks better and better.

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