Editor’s Note: Nope, we are not reporting back from the early 2000s. It appears that speed dating – the very same dating format that once inspired SATC’s Miranda to pretend to be a stewardess for the sake of male seduction – is still a real thing, taking place on the island of Manhattan. While no allure of “blog research” could convince me to embark upon this terrifying venture, a friend of mine, lovingly known as The Log, recently had the courage to sign up for a speed dating event that granted her the opportunity of meeting 15 eligible bachelors over the course of 2.5 hours. “That’s more dates than I have been on in the past 10 years! Why the hell not?” she told me when confronted by my bewildered stare. I promised her not to judge, as long as she agreed to report back with a story. Which you can now enjoy for yourself.
Let me preface this literary masterpiece by stating the following: I am not Marina. I have neither the emotional, nor the mental, capacity, to Tinder (or Raya, or whatever else she’s into at the moment) ten guys simultaneously. Nor do I have any desire to run amok in New York City, picking up every weirdo who crosses my path. (EN: I am happy that my talent and commitment to the craft are being recognized.) I happen belong to the dying breed of people who Marina considers “prehistoric” but I like to refer to as “old school”: people who enjoy one-on-one communication, don’t understand Snapchat, struggle with the concept of dating apps, and actually value face time – and not of the iPhone variety. That said, when a coworker recently asked me if I wanted to sign up for speed dating, a form of organized dating that my “prehistoric” brain could actually comprehend, I figured I had nothing to lose (except for Marina’s respect, apparently.)
A few clicks and $35 later (that’s right, the chance of meeting the love of your life comes with a hefty price tag that can, apparently, buy you 5 months on Raya) I was officially registered for NY Minute Dating, a service that described itself as “the best speed dating NYC has to offer,” responsible for organizing “the most successful and talked-about speed dating and singles parties in town.” A video clip on their site showcased B-roll footage of enthusiastic singles immersed in blossoming bar romances. They all looked quite satisfied with life – who knew, maybe I was next!
On Thursday evening at 6PM, my co-worker and I did a quick outfit change and headed to Belgian Beer Café, a cute NoMad beer bar where the event was set to take place. After registering and receiving our name tags (EN: Oh Lord), we were encouraged to proceed to the bar and get a drink. Now, this is where NY Minute Dating majorly fucks up by allowing everybody to see each other prior to the actual meeting process, which not only threatens to kill the mystery, but can also scare one into fleeing ship entirely. You see, all the guys at that bar appeared to have about ten years on us, with beer bellies and polyester suits that alluded to corporate careers that may have not advanced as successfully as they had anticipated. I was about to invent really great excuse (“OMG SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED!”) and make a run for it, when I saw a cute dark-haired guy who presented some potential, if only because he may have been born within the same decade as myself.
One tequila soda-later, my coworker and I, along with eleven other women, were ushered to our individual tables on the second floor. We were to remain there throughout the duration of the night, leaving the men to do the grunt work of shuffling between tables. The hostess, a lovely young woman responsible for coordinating the event, informed us that we were in luck, as there happened to be more men than women there that night, further raising our stakes at finding love! We were each handled a sheet of paper and a No 2 pencil and instructed to write down the names of all the men we were about to meet, then circle the ones that captured our interest.
Do you remember the moment in The Bachelorette when the limo pulls up and all the guys come out one by one, ready to swoon the lucky broad? Well, this is all I could think about when the NY Minute dating participants started ascending the stairs one-by-one, ready to spend 5 blissful minutes getting to know each one of us. The only hitch was, while the Bachelorette contenders were predominantly model-hot, the options in front of me were more akin to a Biggest Loser lineup.
My other problem was that I was suddenly terrified. While I have been on enough dates over the course of my lifetime, something about the idea of the conversing with so many strangers within a short time frame unnerved me. My hair kept sticking to my stupid name tag as I pulled at it in an effort to combat my nerves, and I yearned to beam myself back to my safe cozy bed, as far away from all these old dudes as possible.
Alas, this was a non-option, and, before I knew it, the first guy sat down in front of me. His name was Mark and he was Parisian, so we bonded over the fact that one of my best friends (Marina) had lived in Paris and it had rained a lot when I had visited. I couldn’t understand much else of what he was saying through his thick accent, but he smiled a lot and I slowly felt myself start to relax.
Promptly five minutes later, a bell rang and Mark was gone. He was immediately replaced by Robert from Jamaica, who was very polite and asked me many questions about myself. Robert was quickly followed by Mitchell, a copywriter with a mild stutter. Fast-forward 5 awkward minutes, and Anastasius, the cute guy who had served as the sole reason for me staying at the event, sat down in front of me. His name alluded to a Greek heritage, and he quickly confirmed that he was indeed part of a “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” style household, consisting mainly of boys. “We are in the market for girls,” he told me with a wink. I decided to interpret this as a sign of interest.
Before I knew it, he, too, was gone, and the conveyor belt continued. Every man who sat down in front of me asked me the same questions – What did I do? Where did I live? And, most importantly, had I ever done this before? Eventually, it became second nature to me, and I almost started enjoying myself, even spicing up my answers with some vaguely fictitious data à la Miranda.
A ten-minute bathroom break was announced, which my coworker and I took as a prime opportunity to bolt. I had already met the Greek guy and there was zero point in sticking out to meet the remaining contenders. However, the nice hostess begged us to stay, fearing that this would tip off the already unbalanced male to female ratio. (Not to mention knock the median age of the women to a ripe 45, if I may add.)
The second part of the event went by faster and blurred together even more, with the exception of one man. He immediately jolted me from my daze with his outfit, which appeared to be a Kung Fu uniform layered underneath a suit jacket. Oh, he was also sporting a toupee that looked like a glued-on weave, and could have easily given our republican candidate a run for his floating beehive. This foreign element on his head distracted me from paying attention to anything he was saying – that is, until he got a stack of flyers out of his pocket and handed me one, inviting me to pop by his celebrity Kung Fu studio on my lunch break for a complementary private session. I politely declined, and he told me he appreciated my honesty.
At 9:30, the final bell rang. The nightmare was officially over. I celebrated with another tequila-soda, then went to Marina’s house, where her Millennial ass Snapchatted my man list and urged me to log on to the NY Minute Dating portal to see if Greek cutie and I had matched.
Twenty-four hours later, it was confirmed that our attraction had, indeed, been mutual, which granted us access to each other’s information. From here on, Anastasius and I were free to continue communication like independent adults.
Two weeks and three cancellations later, we met at Rare rooftop in Chelsea. Over a bottle of wine, I learned that Anastasius had attended Columbia and Oxford University. Ivy League education being a personal aphrodisiac of mine, I quickly bumped him up to soulmate status, which was celebrated with three consecutive tequila drinks. Before long, we were passionately making out in the corner, the Empire State Building glistening a few blocks away. “Kiss me! Kiss me again!” he hissed into my ear, giving my hair a nice yank, right there in front of half of Chelsea. I shuddered at the idea of what he would do in the bedroom. Luckily, I never got a chance to find out, as he put me in a cab and never contacted me again.
And there you have it, folks. Turns out, at the end of the day, speed dating isn’t all that different from real life. Just like in real life, out of all the guys at the bar, you may immediately like one. Just like in real life, this guy may like you back and get your information and take you on a date. And, just like in real life, this person may turn out to be an aggressive alcoholic. Lastly, just like in real life, he may then disappear into the abyss, never to be heard from again. Life, Raya, NY Minute Dating – not all that different, after all.