The Best Time I Went Speed-Dating

by Rease Ruben

Approximately two months after the man I thought I was going to have babies with and I broke up, I decided to plunge back into the dating scene. I hadn’t had any kind of rom-com meet-cute with a hunky guy, no friends were begging to set me up, and my last experiences with online dating had gone like this: guy who cried on our first date because his dad left when he was a kid, guy who farted in the movies so loudly that the old lady in front of us shushed him, and guy who called me a whore during brunch and then asked me out again.

I’ve always believed that dating is a numbers game wherein you have to kiss a large number of frogs, so Speed Dating seemed like an efficient way to evaluate the toads. When the Miracle of Google turned up a “Single Jewish Professionals, 23–33” event only 10 days later, I felt like it was fate. I forked over my $35 and wondered how bad it could really be?

When the day arrives, I don a suitable work-sexy outfit, duck out early to meet my cousin for an early drink to celebrate her birthday, briefly and unsuccessfully beg her to come with me, and then walk to the bar where the event was being held. The entire walk over, I repeat to myself, “You can leave anytime you want, you can leave anytime you want, you can leave anytime you want.” I consider throwing up in the alley next to the bar but think better of it.

When I get inside, the hostess gestures generally toward the back room. I’d received three warning emails since I signed up a week ago, urgently warning me to ARRIVE 30 MINUTES PRIOR TO THE EVENT OR MY SPOT WOULD BE GIVEN AWAY. Imagine my surprise when, a mere 25 minutes before the dating was to begin, I enter the room to find a clearly drunk 40-something in a suit slumped in a chair by the entrance, a woman with oily hair talking to a guy who seemed to have never spoken to a woman before, and no one else. It feels fitting, in a way.

I decide to try my luck with the drunk. “Are you the organizer?” I ask him. He looks up at me and says, “No. Are you the organizer?” Juicebox, yeah, I’m the organizer but randomly ask other people if they’re the organizer. I wander back out to the bar because wine could only help this situation. At the bar, I meet a somewhat cute guy who nervously asks me if I’m here for “the event,” because clearly saying “speed dating” to a girl at the bar would be too mortifying. He was also looking for the organizer.

Back in the room, there are now two girls, three men who seem to have never spoken to women before, and a handful of men cute enough to maybe make out with drunk in a bar. Still no organizer. I decide to check back in with the hostess, only to find a very cute guy in a nice suit gesticulating wildly and demanding to know where the heck the organizer was. I join in. We become friends. He is a boxer. Well, an attorney who boxes semi-professionally for fun. This is Single Jewish Professionals, 23–33, after all.

It’s now 30 minutes past the time that the event was supposed to begin. The organizer maybe should have read those emails about arriving 30 MINUTES EARLY OR YOUR SPOT WILL BE GIVEN AWAY. The boxer and I notice a live microphone in the corner of the back room.

The good news is that with an iPhone with an interval time app, three dozen cocktail napkins, thirty-some single Jews, and a live mic, speed dating is not that hard to run. I leave the bar with everyone’s contact information and who they like, promising to match them up and send out emails.

The boxer and I are the most requested people there. We pick only each other.

Rease Ruben lives in Philadelphia and wants to believe that she is much less bossy than this piece would make her appear. She is done with dating until at least 2013.

Photo by Clarence Bowman, via Shutterstock