“Matched” Speed Dating

That’s right, I went speed dating. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But if you’ve read my previous posts, you know it’s pretty bleak out there. Not to mention this company had been blowing up my Instagram with ads and trying to get me to an event, so I finally gave in and attended one. If nothing else, I could always write about it. (Hi.)

First, I went online and set up a profile. They made it sound like they were going to pair us up based on our interests and commonalities, but that was bullshit. They just wanted a photo so people could find each other at the event. You meet your dates by wandering aimlessly around the bar, holding up your phone, looking at a photo, and matching it to a stranger’s face in the bar. Charming.

I was disappointed to find that they didn’t reserve a separate area of the bar, so we were just wandering through all of the other patrons at the bar looking for our blind dates. As if this wasn’t awkward enough already. I had arrived at 7:00 for a “7:30 sharp!” start time to leave myself time to grab a drink. I’ll need one to get through this. We didn’t start the first date until 7:50 because a couple people were late, so the evening was off to a great start.

My first date was with Gevorg. He was Persian, relatively handsome; dark hair, tall-ish, nicely dressed. We sat outside on the patio where it was quiet and we had a nice conversation. We talked about traveling, living in LA, and that’s about all I can remember. He was nice but there were no sparks. Turned out eight minutes was just the right amount of time to find that out.

Suddenly our phones went off with a text alerting us that it was time for the next date. I opened my phone to see who I was supposed to find next but first, it asked me to rate Gevorg. While he was sitting right across from me! Seriously? Could this BE any more awkward?! There were five smiley faces, well, faces.  One was open mouthed frowning, like an appalled face; one was calmly frowning; one was neutral; one was calmly smiling; and one was grinning. So you select one of these faces as a general note, and then they want you to judge them more specifically. There are buttons you can click to specify your feelings, such as:

“Not attractive” 

“Just friends”

“Intelligent”

“Friendly”

“Boring”

These buttons vary depending on which smiley face emoji you select. So I selected my emoji and subsequent judgmental buttons, and wandered off to find my next date: Marc. 

Marc had round, black glasses and dark hair. All he needed was a lightning scar on his forehead and I would have asked him to show me his magic wand. He had an unusual accent that I couldn’t place, and it turned out that he was from Hong Kong. He seemed either anxious or uncomfortable because he was fidgety and kept looking around. I honestly can’t even remember what we talked about. Like, not even one thing. It was pretty underwhelming. It felt like a while before we got the “on to the next date” text. I apparently took too long selecting the proper emoji face to summarize my feelings because it just jumped straight to the picture of my next date; Victor. I would have to judge Marc later.

Victor was my least favorite date. He just did not make anything easy. First of all, I couldn’t find him because he had posted up at a table in the corner. He wasn’t up walking around or making any sort of effort to find me. Cool cool. So I see him sitting at his table and approach. “Victor?” “Yes, Kelly.” He says, as if I should remember him from the time we met before. (We’ve never met before.) He was sitting with a beer and a big plate of fish and chips, chewing loudly, and not giving a fuck. 

Side note: Can you imagine a woman EVER doing this at a speed dating event? There’s just no way. We would feel like the fat girl in the corner if we ordered a full meal and posted up at a table when everyone else was mingling. 

Anyway, I found him, I sat down. We were on opposite sides of the table in a very loud bar. I couldn’t hear a damn word he was saying. He was from Nigeria and had an accent, which made it even more difficult. But despite me saying “What?” or “Sorry?” or just staring blankly at him, he made no effort to raise his voice or lean towards me to help the situation. So we had a strained conversation that I could barely hear. He mentioned that he was brand new to LA. I asked him how he liked it. He shrugged. Then he told me it was his birthday. OOF. This is not how I would want to spend my birthday. I did not know what to say, other than to offer him a sad Happy Birthday. We pressed on, using the awkward ice-breaker prompts on our phone provided by the dating app. That didn’t help. He offered me a French fry. I declined. I finished my wine. Finally, I got the text to move on.  

Next up was Peter. He was a tall, bald, good looking white guy. Right off the bat, we were laughing. He asked me how it was going so far and I told him about the fish and chips debacle. He joked that he had just proposed to his last date. Okay, so slightly different experiences. We laughed about the awkwardness of this whole thing and I realized that this was the first time I had laughed since the dating started. Wow I needed that. Peter was from San Francisco and was giving LA a test run to see if he wanted to move here. I’m originally from Northern California and we’re both skiers so we organically had more things to talk about. I was actually caught off guard by how quickly we got the “on to the next” text. Next up: Dwight.

In his picture Dwight was wearing a newspaper boy cap, and when I found him, he was wearing a newspaper boy cap. Thank you for making that easy on me. He was a white guy with a beard and a very friendly smile. We sat at the bar and got to talking, which was surprisingly easy with him. He just had one of those positive energies that makes you feel at ease. He works as a grip and is clearly very passionate about what he does, so he talked about that for most of our eight minutes. I didn’t talk as much on this mini date but I didn’t mind. It was nice to just have a conversation that flowed and felt relaxed. I was not attracted to Dwight, unfortunately, but I was grateful for his company and I was not anxiously waiting for the text. But of course, it came. I bid Dwight farewell and we exchanged genuine appreciation for the other’s company. Next up: Sean.

I had walked past Sean earlier and noticed him looking at me. He was a little on the short side, with longish dark hair and a friendly smile. He was also quiet, which made it difficult for me to hear him. This date felt the most like an interview out of all of them. He was just telling me what he wanted from a relationship; listing his expectations. How much trouble he had trying to date in Los Angeles. How no one here seems to want to commit to anyone. How badly HE wants to commit to someone. It was a little much. You can’t ask someone to commit to being in a relationship with you within the first five minutes. 

He was the only one of my dates who had been to one of these events before, and he said that even the women he met at these events didn’t want a committed relationship. I didn’t want to tell him that these women probably just weren’t into him… Once we got on the subject of LA dating it was downhill from there. Just ragging on past experiences and such, which is never fun. I mean, with your best friends and a bottle of rosé, yes. With someone you’re on an eight-minute date with that’s supposed to be pleasant, not so much. We all have trouble dating dude, why else would we be here?

Finally, the text came in. I looked at my phone but Sean just kept talking. He was leaning in and speaking so intensely that I felt rude checking my phone, even though I knew he just got the exact same text. Finally, my next date, Rick, came over and found me. He introduced himself and told me to come see him in his office when I was ready, motioning towards a table by the window. I chuckled and excused myself as gracefully as I could. Then I went and sat with Rick. 

Rick was fun. He had a great smile and good energy. He made me laugh right off the bat. He asked me an ice breaker question to start things off: Would you ever want to be famous? Well, yeah. I’m a comedian and actor so I wouldn’t say that being famous is my aspiration but it does go with the territory if I’m successful. He said that he’s a comedian too and we were off to the races. We talked about all things comedy and how much we love it. He said I was pretty and cool and was wondering why I wasn’t dating anyone. So basically, how are you still single? I told him I was just unlucky and diverted the conversation elsewhere. Rick told me that he liked me and he felt that we were hitting it off better than anyone else he had talked to. I wished in that moment, once again, that I was attracted to him, but he wasn’t my type physically. I know that sounds shallow but I can’t help it and neither can you! We want what we want, or, we don’t want what we don’t want. Soon enough we got the text and I bid farewell to Rick and said help to my new date, Hossam. 

Hossam was quiet and a bit shy, but he was very nice. He was Iranian, older than me, and a bit on the short side. He also was soft-spoken with an accent so the noisy bar was my nemesis once again. He worked in the car business but he was taking some time off to figure out his next move. I asked him if he was going to travel anywhere and he said no. Interesting…. To me, the best thing about taking time off is going somewhere new, but obviously not everyone thinks like me. 

This date felt longer than all of the others, and I realized that it actually was when the hosts came around and alerted us that it was the last date and we were all done. Hossam asked me if I go to Burbank often and asked me for my number. I froze and said “Umm, not right now” and immediately felt stupid. As if there would be another time I’d give him my number? He said okay and abruptly got up and left. Not in a rude way, I just think he was embarrassed. I felt bad. I didn’t want to be mean, but there was no point in me giving him my number. 

I could not wait to get out of there. They told us we could linger afterwards and talk to whoever we wanted, but I wasn’t interested in making any more small talk. I was in a sorority in college and this night reminded me of rush, only worse. On my way out I walked right past Hossam, who saw me, ducked his head down and turned the other way. Cool. Sorry bud. I felt like a real dick but I marched on and left the bar. 

I had survived the night. I was supremely disappointed, mainly because I had paid $40 for this event and not gotten so much as a glass of champagne or a cheese plate. I can’t blame the company for not finding my husband on the first try, but I did feel pretty ripped off. I assumed the $40 would include a separate area for us speed daters, plus maybe a drink and some snacks or something. There was nothing. So I have to say I would not recommend. I’m not going to put the business name in here because this is a blog and not Yelp, but if you see an ad for a similar service, you’ve been warned.  

I think a better alternative to speed dating is a singles party. I’ll invite all of my single friends and they have to bring a single friend of the opposite sex with them. And a bottle of booze. Then everyone is vetted, and if nothing else, we get drunk at my place and it doesn’t cost $40. Who’s in?