Friday, July 13, 2012


The Best Time I Went Speed-Dating

Approximately two months after the man I thought I was going to have babies with and I broke up, I decided to plunge back into the dating scene. I hadn’t had any kind of rom-com meet-cute with a hunky guy, no friends were begging to set me up, and my last experiences with online dating had gone like this: guy who cried on our first date because his dad left when he was a kid, guy who farted in the movies so loudly that the old lady in front of us shushed him, and guy who called me a whore during brunch and then asked me out again.

I’ve always believed that dating is a numbers game wherein you have to kiss a large number of frogs, so Speed Dating seemed like an efficient way to evaluate the toads. When the Miracle of Google turned up a “Single Jewish Professionals, 23-33” event only 10 days later, I felt like it was fate. I forked over my $35 and wondered how bad it could really be?

When the day arrives, I don a suitable work-sexy outfit, duck out early to meet my cousin for an early drink to celebrate her birthday, briefly and unsuccessfully beg her to come with me, and then walk to the bar where the event was being held. The entire walk over, I repeat to myself, “You can leave anytime you want, you can leave anytime you want, you can leave anytime you want.” I consider throwing up in the alley next to the bar but think better of it.

When I get inside, the hostess gestures generally toward the back room. I'd received three warning emails since I signed up a week ago, urgently warning me to ARRIVE 30 MINUTES PRIOR TO THE EVENT OR MY SPOT WOULD BE GIVEN AWAY. Imagine my surprise when, a mere 25 minutes before the dating was to begin, I enter the room to find a clearly drunk 40-something in a suit slumped in a chair by the entrance, a woman with oily hair talking to a guy who seemed to have never spoken to a woman before, and no one else. It feels fitting, in a way. 

I decide to try my luck with the drunk. “Are you the organizer?” I ask him. He looks up at me and says, “No. Are you the organizer?” Juicebox, yeah, I’m the organizer but randomly ask other people if they’re the organizer. I wander back out to the bar because wine could only help this situation. At the bar, I meet a somewhat cute guy who nervously asks me if I'm here for “the event,” because clearly saying "speed dating" to a girl at the bar would be too mortifying. He was also looking for the organizer.

Back in the room, there are now two girls, three men who seem to have never spoken to women before, and a handful of men cute enough to maybe make out with drunk in a bar. Still no organizer. I decide to check back in with the hostess, only to find a very cute guy in a nice suit gesticulating wildly and demanding to know where the heck the organizer was. I join in. We become friends. He is a boxer. Well, an attorney who boxes semi-professionally for fun. This is Single Jewish Professionals, 23-33, after all.

It’s now 30 minutes past the time that the event was supposed to begin. The organizer maybe should have read those emails about arriving 30 MINUTES EARLY OR YOUR SPOT WILL BE GIVEN AWAY. The boxer and I notice a live microphone in the corner of the back room.

The good news is that with an iPhone with an interval time app, three dozen cocktail napkins, thirty-some single Jews, and a live mic, speed dating is not that hard to run. I leave the bar with everyone’s contact information and who they like, promising to match them up and send out emails.

The boxer and I are the most requested people there. We pick only each other.

Rease Ruben lives in Philadelphia and wants to believe that she is much less bossy than this piece would make her appear.  She is done with dating until at least 2013.

Photo by Clarence Bowman, via Shutterstock

51 Comments / Post A Comment


Maybe that was the organizer's game all along...? Genius, really.


"The good news is that with an iPhone with an interval time app, three dozen cocktail napkins, thirty-some single Jews, and a live mic, speed dating is not that hard to run." This is amazing.

Also, I have been on diatus (dating hiatus) for a while now, and plan to continue until forever or crippling loneliness eliminates all my standards, whichever comes first.


@kellyography I see your crippling loneliness and raise you booze.

Faintly Macabre

In the corner stands a boxer,/And a lawyer by his trade
And he carries the reminders/ Of ev'ry speed-dating organizer that let him down/ And cut him till he cried out/ In his anger and his shame,/ "I am leaving, I am leaving."/ But the fighter still remains


@Faintly Macabre I cackled at my desk. Also, this is not helping my (bordering on inappropriately excessive???) Paul Simon streak.


@yeah-elle No such thing as inappropriately excessive Paul Simon.


@Blushingflwr I'm struggling with the concept of whether there's even such a thing as "excessive Paul Simon." I may be missing parts of his solo career/suppressing aknowledgement of his contributions to late-Beatles weirdness, but at least all the Simon & Garfunkle now floating through my head seems like the very definition of smart, well-executed moderation, all the things that moderation can bring to the table.


@Faintly Macabre you win for the day.


Aw. Good for you!

Lily Rowan

So amazing! Makes me want to run my own speed dating thing, since the only ones I've turned up in Boston have me at the very top of the age limit, and I don't know about that. Although as I type this, I remember that older guys show up anyway, but do I want a 40 year old who is actually looking for a 25 year old? Probably not.

....Thank you for joining us for "Lily Rowan muses about dating."


@Lily Rowan I've been thinking about hitting one of these up in Boston. We should have a Pinner outing to one! That would be hilarious.


@Kirs I would be so in for that. For the comedy, of course.

Lily Rowan

@Kirs That would be a riot. But totally unsuccessful! You can't talk to your friends at speed dating!!

Hello Dolly

@Lily Rowan Hand signals?


@Lily Rowan But only people who really wanted to be there, right? I think that might a pretty dirty trick to have all the women in the room be there only because it's funny.


@Lily Rowan I went out with a guy who apparently goes speed dating (also in Boston) for fun. I don't really get it because I had a hard time believing he had any trouble meeting people in a normal way. After he told me this, though, I had the revelation that he had basically speed-dated ME (eight thousand fast paced and personal questions) which I had been interpreting as genuine interest. It did make me a little curious to try speed dating though.

Reginal T. Squirge

So you married the boxer, right?


@Reginal T. Squirge If she married the boxer that is a pretty good meet cute!


@Reginal T. Squirge two highly awkard dates only. seriously though, would have been adorable had it worked out.


@ReaseRuben Aw, nuts! I was getting pretty excited about the boxer.


@ReaseRuben Change that ending and you have a rom com pitch waiting to happen.


This story is great! It's so perfect I can't believe it's real. I mean, I do believe you, but it's so perfect.


Even though he's not a Single Jewish Professional, 23-33, I immediately pictured Tom Waits when I read the words "clearly drunk 40-something."

Judith Slutler

@frigwiggin omg me too


Oh my god, I just about died when I got to the end and saw that this happened in Philadelphia. Because the one time I tried to go to speed dating in Philly, it was at this horrible bar in the SEPTA station (I didn't realize this when I signed up because I was new in town), and I walked in and NOBODY WAS THERE. There were just a couple of seemingly random bar patrons sitting at the bar watching sports, and the area where the event was supposed to be was totally dark. I walked all around the place and stared at everyone (who all stared back at me, somewhat hostilely) and then I was too embarrassed to ask the bartender if there was speed dating happening there so I just left. I never found out what happened with that.


@WaityKatie What bar in a SEPTA station? These exist?

Faintly Macabre

@travelmugs 30th Street has a kind-of cute tiny old bar in the food court. By "horrible bar" and the size though, I assume WaityKatie's talking about the one in Market East, which is a big dark sports bar and indeed horrible.


@Faintly Macabre Yeah it was the market east one, although I have since spent many muddled hours in the 30th street one! It always baffles me that that one doesn't have a bathroom though.

Ivona Poyntz@facebook

Hilarious and sad at the same time


Baaaaaaaaaaad asssssss. A friend of mine once printed his own photos and checked himself out at Walgreen's (not at the self-checkout, there was none, the actual counter) after waiting half an hour for an employee to appear. Just as he was about to leave from behind the counter, another customer came, so he had to print their photos and check them out as well. I basically want to be him when I grow up, although I think he's actually a month or two younger than me.


@Probs Ahahahhahaaaa! That's awesome! And possibly a crime, but people have stuff to do, Walgreens, and can't be waiting on you all day!

I once got up in a diner, went behind the counter and got the coffee pot my damn self, in full view of the waitress who was ignoring me. The funny part was the guy at the table near me beckoned for coffee (while wearing an "I know, right?" face) so I had to do his too.

mc coolfriend

@Probs I paged an employee for myself at Walmart once, for similar reasons (that is, you know, I had to have an employee for what I wanted and none was forthcoming). I'm not allowed in that Walmart anymore, but that's not why. It's b/c of something else totally unrelated.


@mc coolfriend AND...?... finish the story!

rianne marie

@Hellcat I use to frequent a restaurant where this sort of thing was totally kosher. One of those places that has been around for ever and half the restaurant is old men who are there every day. The coffee machine was within easy access of the customers and it was normal and expected that people helped themselves to refills. Pretty frequently someone would grab the pot, fill their own cup, and then do the rest of the booths too.

The servers were all great, that was just how it worked there. I miss that place.


@rianne marie I remember an episode of Roseanne where she did the same thing (aww, I miss Roseanne).

mc coolfriend

@PistolPackinMama Oh, god, this doesn't make me sound cool or dangerous or anything. I couldn't figure out how to reseal the feather hair extension--and I had opened a bunch of them, they were in those clamshells--so I just shoved them behind some other packages and fashioned a sort of elaborate display stacked in front of them. It was too ambiguous to be stealing, but there were feathers and clips everywhere, all mangled and encroaching upon the OTHER As Seen on TV products and the Walmart's on the outskirts of a smallish town so there's not really a ton of professional boosters for me to pale in comparison to. This would have been forgivable, it actually was forgiven, if I didn't later eat all the tops off a box of chocolate muffins while I put my hands all over all the books, and then discard the muffins b/c I didn't have my debit card, instead I had two bus passes. (They kind of resemble a credit card in size and shape). So I DID steal, but not like, in my heart, you know? They remembered me from the time with the hair extensions! And I actually was WEARING some of those same extensions b/c the Dollar Store started selling them a few weeks after the Walmart but I'd just destroyed the ones at Walmart and probably no one was able to buy them. Maybe even they had to ship them over to the Dollar Store as damaged.


@mc coolfriend omg omg dyingggg; I'm sorry you got banned but those are both great stories!!


@mc coolfriend There will, always and eventually, be another Walmart so just be patient, bide your time... and plot your revenge!


@mc coolfriend the words "haplessly endearing" come into my mind.

Can't imagine why.

(I can totally imagine why)


@mc coolfriend you had me at "but not like, in my heart, you know?"

never were truer words spoken by a Walmart thief. "IT WAS NEVER MY INTENTION. PROMISE."


I was kind of excited when I misread the title as "The Best Time I Spent Weed-Dating." But this was good, too.


@wanderingvaguely I would sign up for Weed-Dating in two shakes of a spice grinder.


@wanderingvaguely @Charlotte You guys know that "weed dating" is actually a thing, right?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher that link was mildly disappointing, but still - that's a great way to meet people!
I adore the idea of casual farming (you know, the kind where you have a brown thumb but want really high quality produce for cheap so you just help harvest and get free fruit and veg).


@TARDIStime I know, I don't think it lives up to the potential of the name "Weed Dating," but I had to share anyway. :) And yay, casual farming!


Did anyone edit this? The verb tenses are glaringly inconsistent. The fourth paragraph, in particular, is disastrous.


Late to the game here, but this was great. Also: bossy ladies are the best, own it.


I enjoyed reading this, but you got me thinking bout my dad. He's been a widower for more than 15 years, and still hasn't found anyone, despite trying all kinds of dating for seniors, and going out to meet people. I hope there's someone for him out there too.

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