Speed dating to find a mate: mornings-after made more awkward

The sweetest Valentine I ever received was written on a jagged half heart of black construction paper. In silver crayon, it read: “You are the blade to my knife.” It seems that men just don’t show that kind of devotion these days.

Or they do and are incarcerated.

Now another Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I have acquired a few new bruises, not from domestic abuse or vigorous lovemaking, but from slipping on the frozen tundra. Thankfully everyone looked ill and unattractive on Wednesday. And I am happy to say I did not spend the holiday as bitterly as I did two years ago or as chubbily as I did last year.

Despite the high I got from watching cute people look ugly, V-Day was also a chilly reminder of my rocky re-entry into the dating scene. After breaking off my lingering high-school romance, I’ve attempted to test the waters. I think they have giardia.

Don’t get me wrong, dates are great. But it can be exhausting to be continually starting anew. There is so much to get out of the way: those top 10 funny stories; proof that your family truly is more insane than theirs; the fact that you, like everyone else, are a non-practicing Jew. And, as we all know, there is the moment in which you first reveal your secret pain. This ensures that your date can begin to understand and admire how nobly you mask your tortured innards. And when your touchy subject (Retardation? Car Accidents? Midgets?) comes up at a party, you two get to share a meaningful glance.

Maybe these stories should be on tape, and the facts on paper. Submit these, along with a clean STD test result, and you’re good to go. But one set of info will not fit all; everyone has their own personal requirements. I’ve been asked in all seriousness everything from the revolting (What is your SAT score?) to the mundane (What is your bra size?) to the bizarre (Do you wear a tampon?).

After a few dates, I realized I needed to go back to basics and partake in dating as pure and raw as the mating rituals witnessed between animals roaming the African Serengeti. Lions do not use chopsticks, and they still mate like 300 times a month. Lucky for me, such an opportunity arose last Friday, when Yale University itself was host to … speed dating.

I must admit I was skeptical about the idea of speed dating. We know dating in general boils down to the question of attractiveness. But isn’t it all about creating the illusion that those factors aren’t so important? Speed dating seems to shatter that illusion, but if we are really ready to give it up, who even needs two minutes? Wouldn’t a more effective means of matchmaking be reminiscent of sixth-grade gym class square dancing, where you line up and pick your partner and they can’t say no? I love that idea of team captains, even if it’s just teams of two.

Reservations aside, I pressed on, joining the romantic din of the Davenport dining hall, where I was immediately seated at a table with a horde of freshman men. People say blind dates are bad because you know right off the bat if you aren’t interested, but you are still stuck in the situation. Well, speed dating is like blind dating Groundhog Day. The dates are happening over and over again, and after the first glance down the length of the table, the inevitability of the repetition becomes horrifically apparent.

After three dates I started eating candy and wasn’t really ready to stop for a few days. After five dates I began using the Hangman technique of getting to know one another. Similar to the way a word game master will run through A, E, I, O, U at the beginning of a game, I would simply state, “Year, college, major, extracurricular activities.” After seven dates I started to become hyper-aware of my situation. Why do men sit like sponges? What accent should I have for this one? Did I scare him just a little or too much? How would I explain this awkward beginning to our children? How come I always smell so damn good?

Neuroses aside, speed dating was immensely popular at Yale. And allow me to suggest that it was not for the charity. A different sparsely attended charity event occurs nearly every day here, and besides, who really wants to adopt a minefield?

Outside our bubble, speed dating is growing in popularity for all age groups, all over. Speed daters can attend events for Jewish singles, Irish singles, Asian singles, artsy singles, crafty singles or big’n’beautiful singles. But most importantly, men with large financial assets and women with impressive physical assets can apply to participate in a speed dating event called “Natural Selection Speed Date: Rich Guys and Hot Girls.”

While some of the events are more ridiculous than others, many average people are participating. And it makes sense — speed dating virtually eliminates the rejection factor. If two people express mutual interest, they are both informed. But if someone’s interest is unrequited, no one knows other than the organizer. Who is usually a computer.

Additionally, while this wasn’t necessarily the case at Yale’s speed date, the general assumption is that everyone participating is both single and interested in no longer being such. Is this situation really so ridiculous or so pathetic? Speed dating, in essence, creates a safe space for people to experience, or practice, the art of trolling for ass. And who is to say that isn’t worthwhile?

Unfortunately, Yale’s speed dating event differed from others in one critical way. Even if you didn’t make any bad decisions, you still had the awkward morning-after encounter. Sometimes with four men. At least in this case, last night’s regrettable two minutes were only comprised of shoddy conversation.

Molly Green hails from the green rolling hills of Kentucky. Likes: cowboy boots, accents and sexual play involving “Mt. Vesuvius.” Dislikes: blow (but not that blow), chalk and cops.

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