I talk a lot. And I talk quickly. So when my friend, Talia, suggests I use my speedtalking at SpeedDating, I'm in. Why not spend a night with "The Fast and the Flirtiest"? Daters take your mark, get set, go!
The next Sunday night, I'm on my way to the Meet Me Cafe on Robertson Boulevard, when Talia calls my cell. "I can't go through with this. I'm hiding in my car. Park next to me and we'll walk in together."
I, too, am reconsidering our pact to participate. "Pathetic party of two, your table's ready." Have our single lives really come to this? Is there nothing we won't do to meet a man? And what kind of man do we expect to meet at this thing? My kind of man spends Sunday night at home with a six-pack and Tony Soprano.
But why waste a good jean skirt slung low on my hips and a little black V-neck tank? Might as well embark on yet another madcap single girl adventure.
"All right SpeedDaters, you've got seven, seven-minute rounds. Bell rings, round's over, move on. I want clean dates; I want fair dates. You know the rules: don't discuss your occupation, your salary, your address or your bris. And no touching below the belt. When I blow the whistle, come out from your corners talking."
Round 1: Hi, my name is Carin, I never do this kind of thing, not that there's anything wrong with this kind of thing or with you just because you've done this kind of thing before, it's not like I think it makes you desperate or weird or like I'm sitting here wondering why you can't get a date with a Jewish girl the normal way, I'm sure you've gotten a few dates the normal way -- even with your hair -- DING!
OK, so that could have gone better. This just feels so contrived. And there's so much pressure to pack my whole personality into a few fleeting minutes. At least I've got six more tries.
Round 2: Hi, my name is Carin, but the guys all call me Davis and my girlfriends call me Venus, but my family calls me Ciki even though my Hebrew name's Carnit, I've always thought my husband might call me Carnit, not that you're going to be my husband or that I ever even think about having a husband, I'm not one of those crazy single girls whose only focus is finding a husband, who has her wedding all planned and her ring picked out and her colors selected and, um, what do you think of lavender -- DING!
I'm much better at flirting in my natural environment. Someone get me a dive bar, a cold beer and a rowdy game of air hockey.
Round 3: Hi, my name is Carin, I'm a SpeedDating virgin, not that I want to talk about being a virgin or not being a virgin for seven minutes, I mean not that it would only last seven minutes but this SpeedDate only lasts seven minutes, seven very long minutes, where is that bell when you need it -- DING!
On the Pollyanna side, when I think of all the torturous, never-ending, "check please" dates I've been on, at least SpeedDating comes equipped with a built-in emergency exit.
Round 4: Hi, my name is Carin, I like spontaneous road trips, deep-dish pizza, witty comebacks, college hoops and -- What? Oh, UCLA, that's where I went to -- Are you kidding? So the Bruins are having an off year, we're traditionally an end of the season team anyways and -- What? USC is so not a better team and -- Really? What are you studying? How do you like the program? What will you do when you finish? Wow. That's amazing. I've always wanted to -- DING! Wait, I'm not ready for the ding!
That night, Talia and I met a number of speedflirting freaks ("Really, Klingon? Fluently?"), but we also each met a man we found interesting enough to see again. And while neither of our follow-up rendezvous led to love connections, they could have. And it's that possibility that makes SpeedDating all worth it. Who's to say how you'll meet your mensch?
I started out as a SpeedDating skeptic. It seemed like an abnormal, artificial, strange way to meet a man. But then I realized, what's not strange about dating in Los Angeles? My friends in successful relationships have met their match in the most bizarre ways: through their grandmothers, on the radio, at a funeral, on the Internet, on a blind date. So you have to head into every potential dating situation with an open mind. I mean, even Adam and Eve were set up and look how well that turned out -- not that I'm comparing myself to Eve and want to steal your rib or bite your apple or show you my fig leaf although I might be up for some original sin -- DING!
Carin Davis, a freelance writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.