09 April 2011


I was recently watching an episode of "1 Girl, 5 Gays" where the question, "Would you ever speed date?" was posed. The immediate response from one of the cast members was "No! Its desperate." A few rallied to the defense of speed dating saying that when you're either a.) older or b.) not into the club/bar scene--speed dating is a viable option. I also found myself on the defensive however it isn't because I'm old or uninterested in the club/bar scene. It's because I find it can be a nice warm-up for the real thing. There's nothing like having 40 rounds with a 2 drink minimum to prepare you for a full-on date night (you know, with a meal and stuff). I should know, I've done it.

A year or so ago, while on a break from an on-again/off-again relationship, I stumbled across a website that offered various speed dating events throughout Manhattan. On this site, you create a profile and sign up for an event. My event: "Boys Night Out". After you've attended the event, you log back into the site and the profiles of the other attendees appear and you can select who you thought you had a connection with. Once you choose your match, your contact information is sent to them directly. In a nutshell: fucking brilliant.

On the night of the event, I slurped down two personality drinks before heading over. When I entered, I was given a number and told to relax with a drink and they would alert us when the event would begin. They explained odd numbers would be sitters while the evens would be rotating around the room and each mini-date was over after 3 minutes. I was a rotator (which wasn't the first time I've been dubbed that).

My first date was with a cute twinkish black kid named Marc (that's Marc with a 'c', not a 'k'). He was essentially me with a fro. We instantly laughed and clicked--deciding that this whole routine should have been split based on bottoms vs. tops. We spent the next two minutes scoping out the rest of the room and deciding who we would each take notes on our fellow singletons for each other. *Ding!* Rotate.

My next few dates were somewhat of a wash. I had spent a series of 3 minute insta-dates with 3 lawyers, 2 pre-med students in rotation, a die-hard gay Jew, and one Indian-Sociology major from Columbia (who I still run into on occasion). * Ding!* Rotate.

Those were the good ones. The rest of the room consisted of a classic-NY gay who quizzed me on gay history post-Stonewall, a "Star Wars" fanatic, and a guy who demanded I finish my beer in front of him so he could watch. He explained he hadn't had a beer in close to 6 months because he was preparing for Fire Island. He then asked if I eat cheese. *Ding!* Rotate.

As the night progressed, I slowly pieced together that most of the group had arrived in pairs. They sat next to each other, so it was strange to go on a date with Thing #1 only to have a following date with Thing #2 right after. What was a girl to do if she found herself crushing on Thing #1, only to find that Thing #2 was crushing on her? *Ding!* Rotate.

The last date of the night was with Roger. Roger became stuff of legend within the course of the two hours because he (like myself) had decided to have a couple personality drinks before arriving. His personality, however, was of every guy in the room's alcoholic father at their family's Fourth of July BBQ. Drunk, loud and sweaty, Roger was mentally voted least likely to be anyone's future husband.

At the conclusion of the rotations, I found myself back in the safety of my chocolate doppleganger, Marc (with a "c", not a "k"). Marc had also brought with him some friends, most of them rotators like me. What followed was a mass huddle of us dishing on our mutual dates and our ideas of whom we'd be checking off once we got home. We talked about the pros and cons of each person's dating, sharing what one should do and should never do on a date. The group of us then went out, got hammered, and became fast friends. Each of us adding each other on Facebook as the night progressed.

When I arrived home, I had surprisingly found a few of the dates had selected me as their match. Although I didn't respond (I didn't feel any sparks with any of my gentleman callers), I did have a new found confidence in myself and my dating skills. It was as if I'd gotten a report card back and didn't need to flush it down the toilet before my mother could see. Turns out, I was a pretty damn good speed-dater, so why not go on some that lasted longer than 3 minutes. *Ding!* Rotate.

Point of Conversation: Like they say in theatre - the worse the dress rehearsal, the better the performance.

- Lean

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