At 7pm on Wednesday 1st July 2015 – the hottest day on record in the UK, I was in a bar in Monument, Central London with about 7 or 8 other people. I didn’t know these people, I’d never met them before, I may never meet them again but they seemed nice. I was tired and hotter than a bottle of Tabasco sauce in Hell, but I had decided that if I didn’t attend, I’d regret it so there I was, sitting with a bunch of very beautiful ladies and opposite some very ordinary looking guys.
This was my first Speed Dating event.
I won’t lie. I wasn’t overly impressed. Within about three minutes of walking in to the bar and chatting with the organiser I was ready to go home. I was informed that the top floor of the bar, the place where the Speed Dating event was due to be held, was no-longer available and as a result ‘We’ll be having it over here’. ‘Over here’ was a tiny corner of a very loud bar crammed to the rafters with people. ‘Over here’ was not a good spot for Speed Dating’. ‘Over here’ was shite. Still, ever the eternal optimist – okay, that’s a lie, I just wanted to see just how bad things were going to get – I grabbed myself a drink, sat with the other ladies, who were absolutely stunning by the way and totally put my sweaty, blotchy, fat arse to shame, and got stuck in. Turns out that between myself and the three ladies I was chatting to before the event began, all of us were 30, all of us had been single for over two years and none of us were overly excited by the selection of men sitting in a group opposite us. Still, none of us left so if that doesn’t smack of desperation…
Anyway, after a chat and a few drinks the event finally started. Up first was a balding, middle-aged man with horrendous breath. ‘Yes, let’s start as we mean to go on’ I thought to myself, immediately wishing that I’d ordered a large cranberry and vodka as opposed to a bloody lemonade. This was going to be a long night and with no alcohol or access to a cigarette, it was going to be a painful one too.
The man was from India and considering that this particular event was aimed at ‘Black Singles’ as in people of Afro-Caribbean descent, I was surprised to see him there but never-the-less there he was. He reckoned he was 34, I reckoned he was either lying or had an extremely hard life. The dude looked at least 45. He didn’t really have much to say for himself, he talked about work (he was an accountant) and when, after what seemed like hours of him droning on about his boring job, I asked him what he liked to do for fun when he wasn’t working he replied: “I like to go on my laptop” then, perhaps seeing the ‘what the fuck?’ expression on my face quickly, yet unconvincingly added ‘and sometimes I like to go to the cinema with my friends’. I sensed that this too was a lie. I don’t think he has friends, and if he does, I can’t picture them going out to watch Fast & Furious 7 together.
I’m going to pause here because I was under the impression that speed dates lasted for between three and five minutes before the host rang a bell or asked everyone to move along. If I’m wrong, please drop me a line in the comments section and let me know, because after about half an hour – yes you read that correctly – I was still sat opposite this dude trying not to pass out from his halitosis. Despite this I was friendly and even cracked a few jokes because it’s never my intention to make anyone feel bad, but I was desperate to the point of trying to make eye contact with the supposed ‘organiser’ and was seconds away from screaming at her from across the room ‘woman, seriously, do you have a problem telling time?’
At first glance I wasn’t impressed. Visually, he was quite nice; he was alright looking, dressed well, didn’t have any strange odours emitting from him so yeah, physically and nasally he was fine, but his body language seemed a little arrogant. He was laid back in his seat in a way that said ‘yeah, I’m above all of this’ which immediately begged the question ‘so why are you here?’ A few minutes in and I was giggling away. This guy was funny and really down-to-earth. He talked about the fact that he was meant to be joined by a friend but that the friend had backed out at the last minute, but he told the story hilariously. He was well spoken, seemed pretty smart, looked much younger than his 39 years and, as it turned out, wasn’t arrogant at all, which was great because arrogance is something I really can’t tolerate, but then…
I wouldn’t say he had a problem with women but clearly, this was someone who had been hurt before. Suddenly this funny, charming guy turned in to a massive ball of pessimism. It was like he had reached his quota of fun and was now left with nothing but bitterness and generalisations. The conversation turned from his social life, where he lived and what he liked to do to ‘women won’t look at a guy unless he has money’, ‘women earn more than men so tend to call the shots in a relationship’, ‘women are more attracted to men with traditional office jobs than, say a bus driver’, ‘the kind of man women say they want isn’t really what they want at all…’
I like a healthy debate but this guy was exhausting and once again, the so-called organiser who had a problem with time, left everyone languishing so I had a good 45 minutes- if not more – of this shite before we were finally released to the next person.
By this point knackered and bored are the only two words I can use to explain how I was feeling but here I was, opposite another dude. He was nice looking but there was no chemistry. For the next what felt like an eternity he talked about himself: his job, his voluntary work, his family, his friends, what a nice guy he is, what a good friend he is, what a laid back person he is, how well liked he is… blah blah freakin’ blah. Then I did something which I try my very hardest not to do mid conversation. I yawned. I could blame it on the weather, it was after all the hottest day ever recorded in the UK, I could blame lack of sleep the previous night, I could even blame the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day but as true as all of those things are, the fact is, I yawned because I was bored shitless and I couldn’t hide it anymore.
After being talked at by Mr AAM, I gave up and strolled over to the bar. My intention was to order a massive glass of anything alcoholic but then I remembered that I didn’t have any ID. Yes, I’m 30 but I always get ID’d and since I don’t drive, it’s always a hassle because I don’t normally walk around with my passport in my bag. I ordered another lemonade and went to stand in the corner and take a minute to recover from the endless talking and listening. The organiser approached me and said that when I was ready I should jump back in but I took a look at the time and decided I was going home. It was nearly ten past nine. Just over 2 hours had passed and I’d only spoken to three men, the thought of having to spend another two hours speaking to three more made me very sleepy indeed. I finished my lemonade, said goodbye to the organiser and practically sprinted across the road to the tube station.
A couple of things actually. Firstly, not everyone can or should host a speed dating event no matter how good their intentions. Unless you are very organised and know what you’re doing, stay away and leave it to the professionals. Secondly; depending on the kind of person you are, it can be really hard to put yourself out there so we need cut ourselves – and each other – some slack. Yeah, okay, so everything I’ve written, although true, has been very tongue-in-cheek but the truth is, I don’t know any of the guys I was speaking to so for all I know they could have been way out of their comfort zones or really struggling that night. It was a big deal for me too, I’d never been speed dating before and being an introvert, the idea of having to talk to complete strangers for what turned out to be a ridiculous amount of time wasn’t exactly appealing but life is all about experiencing new things so well done me and well done to everyone who attended that night, regardless of how rubbish we may have been.
Speaking of being an introvert, the third thing I learned was that as introverts, we may want to take our time as far as speed dating or other dating social activities are concerned because for us, these things are exhausting. Introverts can find extended social situations very tiring and therefore we need to take the time to recover. I’ll be going to other speed dating events in the future (hopefully better than this one) but not for a while. I need to pace myself.
Finally, I learned that it’s not a great idea to go to speed dating on the hottest day of the year. Who wants to be in a room packed full of people in that heat?
Oh, and here’s a quick update Mr, Halitosis messaged me via the dating site. He’d like to get to know me. I am not amused.