Tuesday, June 12 2012
I don’t date much. The few meals I ate out with my last boyfriend count, generically speaking, as we gazed at each other over the table and crap. But they could be thought of as more of a blip, or abhorrence if you will, in an otherwise date-less plateau.
I have read so many books and watched so many films in which the word “date” has been bandied about that the concept has become, in my mind, almost mythical in proportion. Like unicorns, leprechauns and the perfect pair of jeans. To be able to convince someone you dig to spend time alone with you (and to keep control of your basic motor functions while doing it) renders you a wizard-god in my book (the title of the book is “normal stuff that people do that shocks you”).
But. As a reasonably capable woman in other respects (I speak in sentences, can knit, and pay rent regularly) I recently decided that the time had come. The white whale was going down.
The most sensible way, I figured, to learn if I am in any way good at dating would be to try it more than once. And the most efficient way to do this (without slipping roofies into men’s water bottles at the library) would be to have someone, or perhaps an agency of some kind, arrange multiple mini-dates for me, in the one location, with free drinks included.
So, on a rockin’ Saturday night, after much manic swearing and the sudden urge to develop a drinking problem, my security friend Renee and I got dolled up and hit the Limerick for some pre-organised, semi-awkward fun. Oh, and by way of illustrating just how little I know what I’m doing, I googled “what to say on a speed date” and “how to flirt” on the tram ride in. I am a poorly organized societal disaster.
The dates themselves were fine—a bunch of nice, fairly polite, passably attractive dudes who rotated through the room in a sort of counter clockwise business meeting/19th century dance mash up. We talked about our jobs, things we had in common, what we did for fun (here I managed to completely stump an unfortunately dull man for around three minutes). It was all very genteel and surprisingly, really enjoyable. I had stumbled upon a rare vein of alarming self confidence en route and was feeling so smugly in my element that I nearly sickened myself. So I laughed and smiled charmingly, was witty and engaging, the whole time amazed that I hadn’t landed seven hundred boyfriends, on account of how totally fucking hot I am. Afterwards, Renee and I ticked our little cards accordingly, downed a couple more arancini balls and took off, secure in the knowledge that we were two of the most desirable women on the planet.
The idea (from this point) is you tell the agency who you liked, and they tell you if any of them liked you back. Tee hee. Then you organise to go on a real, alone-type date. The problem here is that I had been so focused on getting through the big show that I hadn’t actually considered that this could conceivably lead to like, dates. Real ones with adults who will have only me for company and may like, try some moves. I once told the dude from Aldi I was minorly crushing on that things could be worse because he could be on fire.
Leaving aside my dazzling inability to converse with strangers, what I found most fascinating about the time I fearfully booked a place on the web (convinced I was going to see testimonies from others like me the following night as ‘A Current Affair’ ran a special on shady dating agencies) was my extreme reluctance to tell anyone what I was doing. At times, I found the whole thing almost painfully embarrassing. This despite the fact that I know people who’ve done it (and who’ve also entered the world of that other last resort of the desperate, internet dating) and I don’t think any less of them. The fact is that a lot of people legitimately meet that way, but all I could think when saying the words “I’m going on a speed date” was how fantastically pathetic I must seem. When I arrived, though cool and confident, I immediately felt the wait staff smirking piteously at me. I wanted to grab the cute barman and scream that it wasn’t true, that I wasn’t really one of those women. I had made myself tell people after a while, my internal logic assuring me that meeting people in such an oddly cultish way was totes fine—but I would hurriedly add the important caveat “it’s for my blog”, lest they thought it was something I actually wanted to do. So I’m not pathetic, just lonely and deceptive. Sidestepped that landmine.
While I understand there is a general reluctance surrounding this sort of social situation, I don’t really get why. Being a thirty year old who frequents work and uni the most, the dudes I meet are all at least 8 years my junior, married, or checking out dudes with me. Some guys from the date said they work a lot and by and large don’t meet ladies they want to get to know in the accountancy and financial planning industries (rough, but honest). When you’re not twenty-one and life isn’t all parties and kicks and I don’t know, blue light discoes, it can be a difficult thing to meet people organically. And we know from pop music that it’s entirely normal to long for companionship, so why is it so embarrassing to admit that we’ve taken steps to remedy our solitude?
To further complicate my internal meanderings, I got a rude shock along with the results. I had decided magnanimously to just tick yes to those I wouldn’t object to having a drink with. This unfortunately left ‘Too Chatty Fisherman’, ‘Old Guy’, ‘Small Guy’ and ‘Super Fun Party Guy’ out in the cold. I gave ‘Quiet Luke’ a chance, as I thought he seemed nervous but would improve with time, as well as ‘Irish John’ and the lovely room-mates Renee and I talked to.
As much as I enjoy being self deprecating, I was honestly surprised when only one of my picks picked me. It seems I had decided internally that I was a little better than the other chicks because I wasn’t doing it for the same reasons. That is where my wizard confidence had appeared from. I didn’t need this, not like they did. What an ass. This was an appropriate and much needed confidence check, reminding me that people who speed dated (sped date? Sped dated?) were just as likely to be interesting, vibrant and loveable—and to get dates before me—as the people in the real world. They’re just busier, and probably a little more embarrassed.