I once came across a contest to describe the worst date that you had ever experienced. Alas, I’ve been on many dates, some good, but mostly bad, so I started to reflect on all of those experiences and I not only realized I was a magnet for ridiculous dating experiences, but it was also a no brainer that I needed to submit a story about the night I went speed dating. Now, I’m not a gambling type, but the odds had to be in my favour one would think. Looking back, I might have preferred the Hunger Games.
All of my married and totally loved-up friends seemed amazed by this decision – as if they wanted to try it out too. Ummmmm, helllllllllll no back off and get your own mortifying life experience! I was in the middle of the “hate” part of my “love-hate” relationship with online dating, so I thought I would give this a shot. Afterall, all of the people looked gorgeous and happy in the website promotional photos for the service. I mean really, how bad could it be……
For my night of speed dating, I couldn’t bare to do it alone, so I invited my gorgeous friend Amanda to come along because why wouldn’t you bring a totally hot female to an event where you are sorta competing for men? If this was the Universe attempting to give me a survival of the fittest test, then Charles Darwin would slap his forehead and bid me adieu. Once we got there, we realized we were early. It’s just us, the event hosts, bar employees and one other guy. The hosts make a point of acknowledging that we’re early – Thanks Captain Obvious. We take a seat at the bar, each order a beer and wait; however, my self diagnosed ADD immediately becomes peaked by a large gong at the front of the room. All I want to do is bash the crap out of the gong, but I’m gonna keep it classy tonight – I’m gonna meet the man of my dreams here, duh.
As I’m staring longingly at the gong though, a blurred vision in my gong line of sight stands up and slowly comes into focus. It’s a guy, the only.other.guy allowed to currently date in this joint. It’s not good, it’s really not good, BUT Amanda and I promised to have an open mind tonight. That’s what we’re here for right, so let’s give this guy a chance…even though he’s high as a kite, wearing a wife beater tank top paired with an unbuttoned Hawaiian dress shirt. His opening line is “Hey Ladies, where are you from? I’m from Trendy Yaletown.” Da Fuq?!?! Ok, I get the fact that it’s trendy, but no one actually refers to it as “Trendy Yaletown.” It actually rendered us both without words and I just looked at Amanda with a “uhhhh did that just happen” face to which I’m able to now read her mind and she’s thinking “OMG, he’s going to make dolls out of strands of our hair.” The sarcastic part of my brain was sword fighting with the ‘be nice to people’ part of my brain and it just exploded, leaving me borderline catatonic for a brief moment. He offers to buy us each a drink, which is nice; however, we already have a full beer and we don’t want to be the girls double fisting beers for the main event. “Hi my name is Rachel, yes I currently have two beers, and no I’m not a raging alcoholic. Will you date me?” When we say no, and explain that we’re good for the moment, he tells us it’s rude to turn down a free drink, but he says it in a way reminiscent of how your parents guilted you into making choices as a child. You know, how they position a bad idea to you as your choice, but that they will “leave it to you to make the right decision.” I attempt to say…”I just want to finish…” to which he interrupts me and says “I get it Ashley!” Once again, my brain explodes because as you know, my name is Rachel…and I’m perplexed because my name is written in big black jiffy marked letters on a sticker pasted directly on my chest and in clear sight of my obvious cleavage. The gong bellows and the event coordinator tells everyone that “it’s tiiiiiiii-iiiimme” in an excessively perky voice as if to imply “Isn’t Love the Bestest!”. Trendy Yaletown guy promptly leaves our conversation by spinning around to walk away without a word. The ladies go to their designated tables and Amanda and I are sadly separated at this point. Over the next hour, I will experience what will only be described as the most bizarre set of 5 minute speed dates that will ever occur in life. IN LIFE!
Dates 1 and 2 are ok, but no sparks….and then comes date # 3. As he sitting down, the first thing he says is, “You came with Amanda right?” I reply, yes but in a slow drawn out way that inflects upward as I finish saying it. For the following 5 minutes, I might have said no more than 10 words because he proceeds to talk about how great Amanda is, as if he’s known her for years. Now, don’t get me wrong, she is great, but aren’t you supposed to be getting to know me right now? He grabs my hand pleadingly and with both of his, stares at me as if he’s about to tell me his biggest secret and proceeds to say desperately “Please be honest, do I have a chance with her?!?!?!.” Then he looks longingly to his left (insert Amanda, who is now looking at us confused, looking at her creepily) and then he looks back intently again and tells me that she has set the bar for the night and that none of the other girls tonight will compare. I reply jokingly by batting my eyelashes and coquettishly saying, “What am I then….chop liver? to which I was obviously fishing for a compliment, but to which he replies as deadpan as humanly possible, “Oh, you’re OK” and then looks longingly to the left again, while still holding my hand with both of his. The gong is bashed and it’s time for the next date. Oh GOD I hope this doesn’t happen to the next girl. Ok, so this has to be the worst of it right, it can only get better from here right…right?…no.
My next date sits down and he is obviously older than 35, which was the age limit to be able to participate, but ok…no biggie and his age wouldn’t have really bothered me. His English is limited and by limited, I mean almost nonexistent. It becomes quickly apparent that he has mastered a few select sayings for the night. I open by asking him if he is having fun so far, to which he replies “I am Divorce.” This is then followed by by an awkward 10 second silence between the two of us. I then ask him if he came with anyone, to which he replies “I like the tennis and the squash” Insert another awkward 20 second silence, where I’m pretty sure I took a sip of my beer every 5 seconds. Ok, so this is when I figured out he couldn’t speak English, but then he did something that made me reconsider that notion while simultaneously (and covertly) fumbling for the pepper spray in my purse. He reaches over and grabs my hand to which my first thoughts are “Great, now I’ll have to sacrifice my beer holding hand for my pepper spray” AND “Why do they keep grabbing my hand!” Was this in the man’s guide to speed dating 101? He tries to look in my eyes….I try awkwardly not to let that happen and he says, “May I give you the compliments” and I’m feeling game for anything right now, so I oblige and he proceeds to stare at me intensely to tell me that I “have the thick and healthy hair.” I say thaaaaaaanks??? and then we stared awkwardly at each other for the next 3 minutes because he has exhausted all of his mastered English sayings and I’m pretty sure this is going nowhere and by pretty sure I mean definitely…..this is definitely going nowhere. GONG!
As my next date sits down, he delicately places a deck of playing cards on the table – almost as if he would expect I would be impressed by that action. In my mind, I’m wondering if this is cutesy way to break the ice…..because that could make sense….we’d play cards…to break the ice. I ask what the cards are for and he tells me that he makes all of his decisions using a deck of cards and that the deck told him to move from the Ukraine to Canada to find “beautiful wife.” C’MON WORLD! I paid to be here tonight! He also couldn’t speak English very well, but well enough for him to talk about how he’s not had much luck out here with women. Uhhhh No Really?!?!?! Once again, brain explodes. Be nice, he might know people in the mafia. I asked him if we could play War and he didn’t understand I meant the card game. “WAR!!!” he says looking massively offended. Great, now I’m the weird one. GONG!
The event coordinators announce that we will have a quick 10 minute break. Amanda pleads with me to hide in the bathroom with her as we’re convinced that my third date (her first) is about to proclaim to the room “I know this is crazy, but from the moment I met you….I knew, I KNEW you were the one for me. Amanda, will you marry me!” He follows us to the bathroom and he was still waiting there when the gong rang to get everyone back to the dating action.
Moving along to the next date and this is the one I’ve been dreading because it’s now time to reconnect with our good friend from earlier in the night….Mr Trendy Yaletown. As he sits down, he actually swings the chair around so he’s now straddling it and the back of the chair is up against his stomach. As he attempts to do this swiftly, he then rubs his hands together, double raises his eye brows (seriously like he’s about to say Hubba Hubba) and says, “I’ve been looking forward to this Ashley.” GROAN! I think my eyes rolled so far into the back of my head that they went full circle. As it all came back into focus, he was sadly still there. I’m praying that at no point in the next 5 minutes that he feels compelled to grab my hand. I contemplate at that moment that I would be prepared to cut off my hand like Cary Elwes did in the movie Saw. I would have done this for my hand…For Reals! His opening question is, “What kind of guys do you go for” to which I reply “Guys that get my name right?!?” I mean c’mon MY NAME IS ON MY BOOB!! It’s not like staring at the sun, they won’t blind you! He replies by saying “Sassy” as if he’s trying to be suave and while simultaneously chewing a large amount of gum, of which I can hear it lightly popping in between open mouthed chews. I throw back the question to him, as is standard with back and forth conversation, one would think, to which he tells me he likes Sandra Bullock and then lists a few other women with brown hair. In what was likely a non interested tone of response, I say “it sounds like you like brunettes.” I’m blonde, I thought that was kinda funny. He didn’t like that and, no joke, he screams “I DON’T LIKE ANGELINA JOLIE” and slaps his hands on the table. Who knew Angie was such a touchy topic? People are now staring and probably wondering WTF prompted that response. I’m contemplating getting up to hit the gong myself, but before I can he makes a point to say that he lives in “Trendy Yaletown” I humour both him and myself at this point and say “SHUT….UP” Elaine Benes style and as if I’m truly fascinated. We then spend the next minute checking our phones. GONG!
The next guy to sit down looks kinda nerdy which is cool because I think nerds are awesome! He starts to tell me about how he is building a machine that will combine the functionality of a juke box, a refrigerator and a keg. To me, this sounds like a pretty cool invention. I obviously want to hear more about it. I ask him if he has a name for this invention to which he replies, “kegidgerator.” Me, having a personal opinion for everyone and everything, I flirtfully recommend that he calls it a “jukegiderator” to acknowledge the fact that it also has a juke box component. He looked uncomfortable, like I’d just told him that I’d only just got out of prison that very morning and snidely retorts to the suggestion by saying “Rachel, I have jewish neighbours, and if I go out into the back alleyway and yell to my roommate, “Hey Jeff have you plugged in the jukegiderator?! they might think I’m trying to kill them.” I couldn’t even find words. I could tell there was no future for us, but he was the.best.of.the.worst! I didn’t want to hit the gong with him like the others, but it was over. He looks at me and says softly “I don’t really want to chat with you anymore” and then successfully avoids looking at me for the next minute. I thought it was a good suggestion? GONG!
This night just can’t end well. I had one more date after the “Jukegidgerator” guy and while we are talking, I see Mr Trendy Yaletown jump out of his chair – MID DATE – rip off his hawaiian dress shirt, slam back his beer and storm out of the dimly lit bar. His date looked like she had just walked in on seeing her parents having sex. Her face was priceless. I can’t believe the night didn’t go well for him and he gave up. He seemed like such a keeper….did you know he’s from Trendy Yaletown??
So that pretty much sums up my night of bad dates. I did not win the bad date contest, so I feel really bad for the poor sap in the world who had it worse than this. I choose to believe that I’m lucky that I didn’t have to experience all of these as actual individual dates. I do believe that I somehow entered some weird alternate universe in which I encountered the perfect speed dating storm with myself being in the eye. On our way out, we learned from the event coordinator that they had enough women register for the event, but not enough men. So, they had to cruise Granville street to invite men to come…..for FREE! It all became clear to me at that moment, so I walked up to the gong, smashed the shit out of it and left the building.