Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Skeptic's Confession Of Speed Dating Experience.

I have to admit that my thoughts about speed dating were skeptical at best. I had heard horror stories from single Jewish women about how they went into the event with the highest of hopes and then ended the experience with a Prozac.

I knew that I wouldn't have the same problems as the pill-popping single woman of my childhood suburbs. Guys at Wash. U. know that the female population is smart and capable and most men here aren't intimidated by a woman's intellect or career prowess. Also, most Wash. U. students aren't above the age of 30. A majority of our biological clocks aren't ticking and the rush to make it down the aisle has not yet begun.

So when I stepped through the doors of Hillel and was seized with feelings of nausea, panic and hyperventilation, I wasn't sure where these emotions were coming from. I wasn't alone - I had dragged two of my friends along, in case I felt the sudden urge to sprint down Forsyth back to the dorms. I didn't really believe that I'd find anyone to date, much less to marry. At best, I thought I'd get good column fodder and some funny stories to tell people on my floor.

Then I realized that while I had told myself that my expectations were low, maybe I really was looking for someone that night. I am not a huge fan of the single life and I've been living it for months now. I must admit that the search for an NJB (Nice Jewish Boy) continues, despite all my friends' mantras about how good it is to be single and free.

When I finally made myself go into the speed dating room, I told myself that I was there for my column. If I could make myself believe that there was no pressure and absolutely no prospects, maybe it wouldn't seem like I was really sitting there with the secret hope of meeting the man of my (and my Jewish mother's) dreams.

I'd be lying if I said I found boyfriend material in every guy that I spent 2-3 minutes talking to that night. I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't amused or intrigued by every single guy who sat down in front of me. There was the guy who told me he was in the Israeli army and had knee injuries from chasing an Arab. Then there was the guy who slouched so low in his seat that I felt like we were at Hebrew School all over again and I was the interrogating teacher.

I think the low point of the dating process came when I talked to a guy who didn't even go to Wash U. When I asked him what his major was, he told me it was lion-taming. He asked for my last name and told me he would email me. It turns out he also asked my suitemate for her email address. Interestingly, when she asked what he did, he suddenly became an author of homo-erotic novels.

In an hour of speed dating, I had someone accidentally spit on my head, someone ask if I was legal and yet another man jump 6 feet away from me when I told him I had mono my freshman year - of high school. For a while, I thought the experiment was a bust. And then a new guy sat down. Our conversation seemed to flow easily and I felt much more at ease with this guy than I had with the lion-tamer or the one-man sprinkler system.

During the trek back down Forsyth to the Forty, I questioned whether the speed dating experience was worth it. My throat was parched from talking to so many people in such a short time. My head was reeling from all the small-talk I was forced to make and I had started feeling depressed. Speed dating might have been fun for a night, but what if it became my reality? Meeting new people is entertaining, but what if I never find the one person I'm meant to be with?

When I got on Facebook to see if the lion-tamer had in fact tried to contact me, I saw that I had a new message. It was from the one guy whose name I didn't forget, the one guy I didn't classify by his eclectic array of personality traits and hobbies. He wanted to hang out with me away from the perils of speed dating.

So at the end of the night, I came to the conclusion that speed dating was not as bad as I had made it out to be. I went in with what I thought were low expectations, then hyperventilated and tried to flee - but ultimately I ended the night with a sense of fulfillment. At its worst, speed dating was a continuum of awkward conversation, strained laughter and a couple creepy encounters. But in the end, when I least expected it, I actually met an NJB. Sure, I'm not sending out the wedding invitations yet, but I'm not downing vodka and pills either.

I realized that life could be a lot like speed dating. Everyone goes into it with some sort of expectation, whether they admit it or not. At one point or another, everyone gets spit on, lied to or otherwise harmed by the dangers of dating. If you don't change yourself to attract someone and if you have a little faith, you may end up pleasantly surprised. © Copyright 2007 Student Life

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