Last Wednesday, I did something I have secretly wanted to try for a long time; SPEED DATING. When I decided to bite the bullet and go, I started looking for SIGNS that would either enable me to chicken out, or indicate this was going to be the life changing event that would lead me to Mr. Middle Aged Right.

The thought of having to spend only three minutes with someone was oddly appealing---why waste a whole half hour and $7 on a Latte, or heaven forbid, an entire meal, when I can smell a good prospect within 3 seconds? My friend Alfredo actually escaped through the bathroom window of a coffee shop during one of his ill-fated dates, leaving his unsuspecting digital date interminably at their table... but I digress...

No, no... I would avoid any Houdini-like disappearing acts with the ingenious "3 minute limit" of Speed Dating.

SIGN # 1
This wasn't just any Speed Dating event, this was a, "National Public Radio" sponsored event, for its' rabid fans. As some bloke said on the elevator going up to the swanky "Hudson Terrace Lounge", "Having NPR as a filter, is as good as it gets", ...and I couldn't have agreed more.

What are the odds that when reserving my spot for the event, the website declared, "65 out of 66 tickets sold". Is it possible that the last, lone ticket was serendipitously waiting for me to board the Speed Dating train, whilst thousands of loyal listeners of "Fresh Air", "Sound Check" and "Jonathan Swartz' Sunday Sinatra Extravaganza were also just one ticket away from romantically mingling with 132 other "PublicRadiophiles"?

I bought ticket number "66". And don't think the number was lost on me...

As I fell into the "Females" line in the club, the cutie registering us, says to me, "You're number 13!" mind was that "Lucky Number 13", or a sign that I should head straight for the bar and forget the dating madness that was about to ensue? I decided to take the half-glass full high road, and even turned around to the long line of women and waved my number 13 in the air while exclaiming, "Look, I'm Lucky Number 13!!" ...I seemed to be the only one amused by that.

My humor aside, I started to panic again when Mr. Register couldn't seem to find my sticky name tag is that possible? Was it because I bought that ominous last ticket 66? I got a sick feeling for a moment like I used to get in 7th grade, when I was the last one left on the bleachers to be picked for the volleyball team....yuck...but back to the name tag... Mr. Register is now on his walkie-talkie, radioing down to management, in what felt like the voice of God for all to hear, "Can you please check if Laura S. is on the list?"
Why not just frisk me with an infamous TSA "pat down" in front of everyone while you're at it, to verify that I wasn't a low-life gate crasher of this high brow, erudite dating event?

Again, I considered heading straight for the bar...

Finally a new name tag was created for me and off I went to lucky table #13....where I unluckily waited and waited for "Man # 13" to show up, while every other couple was ready and in place for the starting gun. After all, it's 7:59:50 and we're ten seconds away from this human horse race of love; this manic marathon of matchmaking mayhem. My panic has now turned into self flagellation for having ever thought that Speed Dating might even remotely be a good idea and I was a nano second from ripping off my newly minted name tag and not only heading for the bar, but swearing off dating for the rest of my life...

...when out of nowhere, down sits "Fernando".... and BANG!! WE'RE OFF!!!

He was actually quite cute compared to the others leaning over their little tables, and I felt smug for the first time all evening and started to relax, chardonnay in hand, volleying questions like, "What do you do for a living", "What's your favorite show on NPR" and "Do you live in the city???"


Yes you heard me, GONG! True to their dictum, exactly three minutes into the "meet and greet" with Fernando, it was already time to switch. I don't know about you, but I always equated the sound of a GONG to an indicator that things were going terribly south...but again, I digress...

I knew I was starting to lose it when I almost reached for Richard's neck and wanted to scream, "I already told you what I do for a living!!", when thankfully, divine intervention reminded me that it wasn't Richard I told my story to, but Omar, Ahmet, Bob, Doug and Wendall....whoops! Even I, the raging net-workaholic, never thought extolling my virtues to a perfect stranger could get so dang boring. And not to mention, my voice was almost gone and I couldn't hear half of what anyone was saying due to the incessant din of 65 other couples extolling THEIR virtues to one another.

On the bright side, there was a true gamut on the professional spectrum...I met a college professor and researcher of ice and snow, a cameraman, a surgeon, a real estate developer, 2 artists, a producer, and a guy who looked like Salvador Dali, who offered to send me his blogs about his sexcapades on Craigslist.... (thank you Mr. Dali)

...There was an Israeli, a Brasilian, 5 East Indians, a Colombian, a man from Taipei, a Caribbean and a Puerto Rican Financier who shared his 3 minutes while escorting me to the ladies room... (somehow, I had miraculously managed to make it to the bar in between GONGS and now I had to go!) Oh, and there was an Italian American, whom when I asked where his parents were from, just said, "They're Guineas from Brooklyn". Nice... You could tell Anthony had had enough of Speed Dating too.

Speed Dating is like Deja Vu on steroids; "Groundhog Day" on a super loop....same intro, different guy...20 men, 20 interviews, 60 minutes. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

I knew it must have all been a bust, when the next morning, I took out my crumpled sheet with the names of my 20 dates, with a "YES", "NO", or "MAYBE" circled next to each name and and an adjacent box for a "distinguishing feature" so I wouldn't forget which dude I liked, or did not. ( example: "Real Estate Guy with Braces")

As I was perusing my personal notes about my prospective future lovemates, an e mail was waiting in my inbox with the subject line, "Laura S., Let Us Know Who You Liked Last Night, So We Can Find Your Match!"

I looked back down at my crumpled paper with the lucky, or unlucky, number "13" still emblazoned on it....

Was there a match? Did I circle a "YES" on anyone last night????

As a matter of fact I did....praise heaven, there it was---the only "YES" that was clearly circled on the sheet...did this lover of National Public Radio find me worth a follow up too???

Apparently he did.

But it was the producer I met, who had a need of my voice over services for a "work" project...

Alas...even NPR couldn't save my love life, but the Speed Dating event WAS successful in getting me out of my comfort zone.

I made a good business connection and who knows...maybe some interesting synergies down the line..

However, considering there were five East Indian men in a row, perhaps THAT was SIGN #8...

Maybe arranged marriages are the way to go.

Laura S. 2/22/12

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Comment by Laura Smith on March 6, 2012 at 11:36pm

Thank you Maureen! Believe me, I'm living vicariously through you with your fabulous guy and girlies!! Thanks for reading! And Amy, maybe get my personal e mail through chief babe, Debbie Nigro. Thanks, Laura

Comment by Maureen Pregon on March 6, 2012 at 10:50am

Fabulously funny!  What a great story of what is going on out there in the speed dating world.  Keep up the action dating Laura I am living vicariously thru you! 

Comment by amy koko on March 5, 2012 at 9:17am

Hi Laura!  Debbie told me to contact you regarding my book project.  I am putting together a book comprised of real on line dating stories.  So far I have a lot from men but not that many from women!  Would you like to contribute, or do you know others who might?  No names are used and I am offering 100.00 to each contributor if book is picked up.  Let me know!!

Debbie Nigro Radio Show!!

Check us out on AM 1230 WFAS and Worldwide LIVE on WFASAM.comBlubrry player!



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