Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Essay #3: Who Wants to Be a Speed Dating Veteran?

<---Sunday Essay #2: How I Got Fired From Kumon Math and Reading Center
--->Sunday Essay #4: Cracking Open the Mailbag

This is a stakeout.

It's the dead zone of a Saturday afternoon- the sky a gray curtain and choppy winds rippling its threads. In the parking lot of a Dan McGuiness Irish Pub, a 97' Toyota Camry crouches uninspired. Through its pollen-splotched windshield I spy a cute girl on her way to the bar or no, not really, oops, she's probably 57 years old.

It's 5:10pm. I tap my index finger against the steering wheel. Fifteen minutes ago I walked into the cavernous hole that is Dan McGuiness, with tvs bleating professional golf and video slot machines frowning neon. At beer-slickened tables, former frat brothers with distended bellies under Polo shirts commiserated with thirtysomething yellow-haired woman in UMemphis hoodies. Their conversation was couched in the easy Saturday familiarity of friends rather than the awkward energy of strangers. I saw no one wearing a name tag.

Why was I hunting for people wearing name tags?

"Meet Fun Dates is the fun and convenient way to meet single professionals... At these events, you will get the opportunity to meet up to 10 exciting professionals in a single evening."

In other words, Dan McGuiness was hosting a Meet Fun Dates speed dating party, and I had paid a $20 reservation fee to dip my feet into the pool. My friends raised eye brows at my mission, but to them I wore a shield of I'll-show-you defiance: I will go speed dating, I will have fun, and I will tell you all about it!

Or not, which brings us back to the statekout. Having spotted not one person of interest at the bar, I have retreated to my car to wait for a sign, any sign, of action by the entrance. I call my sister and ask her if she has any tips. "Wait, Alex, so you're just sitting in a parking lot?" Um, yeah. "That's kind of creepy." Fair point, Anna. My dad's advice? "Go inside and order a margarita." Margarita? Why a margarita in an Irish bar? Who am I, Cormac Gonzales?

Still, I'll kick myself if I don't check out the scene once more. Cell phone to my ear, I ask my imaginary cell-phone-friend "How's it going, dude?" as I walk through the side door. Look at me. I'm Casual Joe. Am I half-loitering half-scoping-out-a-speed-dating-event? No way. I'm chillin'. To quote Outkast, "I'm cooler than a polar bear's toenails."

And then I spot them: name tags. But they're not stickered on the dresses of ten sexy women; they're pasted on the shirts of two sleepy-eyed dudes drinking beers in a we-waitin'-for-somethin'-that-ain't-comin' manner. I see a
portly woman in floral print, the Meet Fun Dates organizer, hovering about these guys as if to say hey, sorry about the turn-out, but have you ever considered dating each other?

I see not one single woman. Not one. It's 5:30pm.

I'm out of here.

Confession: this is not the first time I've tried speed dating. Three years ago I participated in a Jewish speed dating powwow in Atlanta, where I talked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a bosomy redhead whose bosoms I tried, hopelessly, to ignore. Awesome. Maybe it was foolish of me to attempt a comeback, or maybe Meet Fun Dates just plan sucks. Either way I'm not crying. If you take chances in life, even small ones, you're bound to feel like a superstar or a schmuck. I came, I saw, I didn't conquer, but I don't regret
going to Dan McGuiness Pub on that blustery Saturday afternoon. I don't regret it at all.

Vive Margarita.

<---Sunday Essay #2: How I Got Fired From Kumon Math and Reading Center
--->Sunday Essay #4: Cracking Open the Mailbag



Janet said...

I laughed out loud when I read "sorry about the turn out but hey, have you guys thought about dating each other." ridiculously perfect.

Kimberly Swinburne said...

I'll confess, I've been doing the online dating thing lately. Okcupid, though, so at least I'm not paying for it! Have you considered it? I've actually met some cool people.

Jes said...

At least you'll have Florida soon!

Jes said...

Oh, and according to my friends who just graduated from Ole Miss' MFA (and who spent a fair amount of time in Memphis at Memphis' readings), the Memphis kids are all wack--don't worry, your program will be amazing (and all the folks in it). Just watch out for the moonbats (the crazy middle aged women who decide to become writers and just aren't). You'll know who I'm talking about when you meet them :)

Christine P said...

Hey, I've gone to a speed dating event. Granted my friend was the organizer and I was doing it as a personal favor and even used a fake name...but I still did it!