At the encouragement (pressuring) of my fellow Southside editors and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I decided to take one for team man and head out to a recent Southland speed dating event.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider steering my car into oncoming traffic several times along my trip to Chicago Blu in Frankfort. If I didn’t have the comfort of knowing I was going to be joined by Oak Forest Editor Lauren Traut (to represent the ladies), I probably would have.
Apparently I wasn’t the only person with that mentality.
Many of the speed daters came with at least one cohort. In most cases, however, the companionship wasn’t enough to alleviate the very discernable tension and anxiety saturating the noisy barroom as I entered.
Perhaps it was the one-dollar cocktails, but after a fairly awkward and uncomfortable briefing on how I was going to be scoring my dates and the logistics of the date hopping, things seemed to fall into place once the event finally started. It occurred to me, very quickly, that I actually know how to talk to people—in fact, I remembered I’m kind of used to it from that thing—you know—daily reality.
It made me reflect on those familiar horrors associated with the early stages of dating. How unchecked hypothetical thinking can build into a temporary insanity. I might as well have been worried that I would forget how to breathe or that my cells would forget how to divide. I don’t think I was alone in this cognitive transformation.
Many said they hadn’t eaten within the past five hours, at least (although all admitted to thinking about it). The guys I was talking to before the rounds began had jittery legs and told nervous jokes, all the while eyes darting wildly across different portions of the room.
By the time we started going, facial expressions began to loosen and relax and vocal tremors smoothed. It was both surprising and expected to see people naturally fall into sociability. There was nobody who didn’t seem to come out of his or her shells in at least some capacity.
All my unfounded fears of the nightmare situations I might encounter were quickly quelled. The people there were genuinely nice, open-minded and pleasant. Even those who didn’t hit it off interacted with civility. I didn’t find love at the event, but I met some extremely nice and interesting people.
When I spoke with the guys after the rounds were over, many mentioned their preference for speed dating over online dating (for most of them, this was their first speed dating experience). Brian, Dave and Ray agreed that the ability to meet someone face to face and have a personal interaction was considerably better than the sterility of a computer screen. I asked all three if they would consider doing this again and all three gave a confident yes (They were also in agreement of their affinity for my coworker). In all honesty, I’m not terribly eager to give it another go, but I’m not against the idea of future trials should the situation present itself.
Whether you apply this small case analysis strictly to speed dating, or dating in general, it’s worth reminding yourself (especially with all this Valentine’s Day stuff) that we’re all pretty good at getting along with each other so long as the will is there. You might just think it’s natural.
Especially after a couple drinks.