“What was I thinking? I don’t even want a boyfriend, honestly, I am quite happy being single and it’s been that way for ages. Oh, but never say never, what harm can it do? Come on, get a grip, I’m doing this speed dating malarkey tonight on bloody Valentine’s – or bust. I guess I just want to tick the bucket list of life ‘done speed dating’ and also make it look like I am trying to find someone so everyone gets off my case about being single. But maybe it would be nice to meet someone? No-one wants to be single do they? I am an anomaly amongst a sea of grown-ups who found their soulmate on Tinder/Grindr/POF/Match/GSM/SugarDaddy.com after four days online and happily compromise their lives for one another, FOREVER.” This was my confused Gollum/Smeagle internal dialogue as I froze, minutes away from the pub, the nerves almost getting the better of me and about to do a ‘U-turn’. I texted my sister and she responded by reaching out of the phone, slapping me and yelling “Get in the fucking pub!” like the ‘Withnail and I’ copper. That’s what big sisters are for, eh? I obeyed the holy one and walked into the pub to avoid further of the sister proverbials.
Within a minute of getting a glass of house plonk I was pounced upon by a short, forty year old, eccentric lothario, who said, “Is it me or has it just got really hot in here? I guess you’re here for the speed dating? You’re first time? Not mine, I’ve been here many times before. Like dancing? I think we should all dance with each other instead of talk. That way we all get intimate straight away and you just know if the chemistry is right. Let’s go on a date, you and I”. To which I accidentally inhaled my wine and tried to suppress a massive lung splutter across the room – fortunately the wine ingestion put him off and he moved on to the next lone female to inflict his smarm.*
Seventeen ladies were eventually seated and twenty guys rotated with four minutes to chat per table, then the bell would ring and you’d mark your score chart ‘date’, ‘ditch’ or ‘friend’. If you both had the same choice you’d get a match. First impressions were, many were very handsome, some were almost too handsome and most were very young. I saw countless hipster beards (it was one of those micro-brewery pubs, so it was inevitable), six Indian students, a fishmonger’s apprentice, a junior doctor, a former child actor, many IT blokes, an accountant and a couple of drunk guys who mumbled inaudibly. One even had a four minute nap on my table, but after bloke number eight I’d lost my voice from yelling over the clamour, so it was a nice break for me too.
At half time all the ladies congregated in the loo to let off some hysterical steam, “Anyone had the fishmonger yet?” “What the f….!?” “Oh my god, I know..!”, “The ladies are far superior to the quality of men”, “Do we have to go back?”
We went back. It took a total of two hours to listen to each man and try to maintain their interest – sometimes four minutes lasted forever or it was over in a flash. It was an utterly exhausting blur of men and wine, with questions and statements that ranged from “So what do you do?” to:
“If you were a shit superhero or villain, what would your crap super power be? Mine would be making people walk backwards, or making people almost sneeze”.
“I’m working in gastroenterology, but I really want to work in dermatology, as skin problems really turn me on”.
“You and I are going on a date whether you like it or not”.
“I am a fishmonger. I sometimes show off to people about what I can do with fish”.
“I can kill with nunchucks”.
With the speedy bit over it was now time to mingle – but on standing up after the two hour talk-to-a-man-marathon I suddenly felt exceptionally mashed. Actually everyone was hammered and this seemed to unleash a flood of full-on flirting. No more table barriers and no more four minute rules. The former child actor grabbed me by the arm, pulled me close and said, “You’re the best thing since sliced bread. Tell me everything you know”, which was rather quaint and flattering, but as I was obviously a bit startled he kindly released me from his forward tackle and then he fell backwards off his stool. It was Valentine’s night, lust was in the air and speed daters were definitely ‘up for it’. I was propositioned a further three times and one guy shouted, “Oh yeah, I’d like some of that”, as I was leaving (legging-it) from the pub. I declined all offers, graciously of course.
What about the results? I confess I didn’t tick ‘ditch’, ‘date’ or ‘friend’ any of them because I don’t want anyone remember? I just wanted to see what speed dating was like. End of. To be honest I was at the top end of the age range and the majority of the men were at the bottom end and anyway I’ve always been attracted to the same age or older men. I admit there were a couple of super gorgeous men there and I also admit I am a coward. But frankly I was proud of myself for turning up and with a distinct lack of expectations I was enormously surprised and flattered by the attention I got. It was a great exercise in ego-massage, it was quite lovely to talk to so many dashing men and I would definitely do it again, but maybe an older age group next time and maybe not on Valentine’s Day. But would it make any difference at all? I have no idea, but who cares because I don’t want a boyfriend anyway – do I?
* A word of caution ladies – don’t tell the men you are there on your own. Go with friends or get pally with some of the other ladies, then either leave together, park nearby or have someone pick you up. Unless of course you are wanting a quick snog and/or further fun, but still maintain you are with others.