My face is sore. My sparkling water has lost its sparkle. And if one more guy asks me, “So…what do you do for fun?” as if it was rated the number one pick-up line of all time, I might just die, slowly and painfully. This is Speed Dating. And it’s not for the strong hearted.
As you walk in, you get offered an Apple Sours – appropriate considering that what follows is some sickly sweet lack of intoxication. You get a form where you have to write your name on the front and at the back, the names of all the ‘candidates’ and a short descriptor. There are 10 tables – the girls remain seated and the guys rock up for their interviews one by one.
First up is Ettiene*. Ettiene has one redeeming factor and that is his dimples. Other than that, he seems a little drunk. Ettiene likes wearing vests with little holes in them and enjoys pole vaulting in his garden. No he doesn’t. But that would have been more interesting. I write down “Bald. Stalkerish” because that’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Later on, there’s Theuns*. “Like tea – ns” he says. Theuns is wearing a newsboy cap and a turquoise shirt. He tells me that he likes massages in his spare time because he loves being touched. My hands are close to his and with stealth I move them away in case he feels the urge to suddenly stroke them. He enjoys the healing feeling of massage. “I’m not gay, I just love massages. You have such an open face, such open eyes,” he tells me. Now it’s my turn to be weird. He asks me what I do in my spare time, so I blurt, “I love anything physical.” Tea-ns giggles. Realising how it sounds, I quickly over-correct, “ I mean I love letting off steam…(even worse)…er…no – I mean, I love any form of exercise.” The bell – that sounds like the one priests ring during prayer in Hindu temples – rings and releases me from Awkward Hell. I quickly scribble “Hat, not gay, massage” before the next guy sits down.
His name is Dimitri*. I immediately want to say, “Spanakopita Spanakopita” but I bite my tongue. This guy leans back in his chair and says, “You ask me a question.” I throw him a light challenge and I say, “So…what would you do if you won the lotto? This is what follows:
Dimitri: “Well, how much?”
Su: “I don’t know…enough to never have to work a day in your li-”
Dimitri: “No, how much, give me a figure!”
Dimitri: “What, like 5 million or 20 million, give me a figure!!”
Su: “200 million”
Dimitri: “Shew, that’s a lot.”
Dimitri, who is not a greek god but more of a grumpy geek proceeds to give me a chartered-accountant report of how he would spend R200 million. My heart and soul let out a big, wide yawn.
The back page of my dating form contains words like: “Massage. Weirdo. Prudent. Touchy-feely. Scared to lean forward. Bald. Likes Ballet.” At the end, the Architects of Awkward Coupling then offer us all the chance to stay and mingle. My friend Max looks at me, widens her eyes and mumbles under her breath, “Please, let’s go!” We burst out the restaurant like bulls at a rodeo and take a breath of the fresh night air. Max and I bend over giggling as we compare notes. Never again, we both agree.
Perhaps one is not meant to apply a socio-anthropological analysis to an event like this but speed dating is just weird, man. I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I feel fake. My cheeks collapse from over smiling. I hate the way I describe myself. I feel bad that the other person is nervous. I’m embarrassed for judging people and imagining what their lonely lives look like. I’m wondering if they’re fading off while I ramble. I miss awkward silences and I wonder where my Ryan Gosling is.
Playing out a potential romance like a series of job interviews gone wrong is not my cup of chino. I want a slice of Hollywood and to be airborne by that swept-of-my-feet feeling. I want to see the man who makes my heart giddy walk across the room at 60 frames per second (insert smoke machine here). It must be least expected. It must be a story worth telling for generations to come. And it must not begin and end with a prayer bell. Sorry Speed Dating, I’m just not that into you.
*Names have not been changed to protect the identities of the people mentioned.
You should know about them…and run like Bolt in the opposite direction if you ever see them.