Now that I’m in my thirties I can look back at my early dating life and laugh.
At the time, some of this stuff was just…horrific.
When I first started writing for the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002, one of my early assignments as a feature writer was writing about speed dating.
For perspective, you have to understand: I was raised in New York. Men who were interested in me did some now-inappropriate catcalling that I learned to think was sort of endearing until I got called out my name for refusing to give my number to a man who grabbed my elbow on my way to the subway.
On the West Coast, the passive approach to dating (e.g., “Let’s get together some time”) made me a little nauseous in comparison. Ironically, I was living with a boyfriend at the time I got this assignment. (That’s another post for another time, but…we met online and he was about 50 pounds heavier in person than he had been in the driver’s license photo he shared. I should have known something was wrong when he sent me a picture of himself taking a picture in a mirror.)
Anyway, I go out to the Hurry Date event with an open mind. I meet a tall, handsome black man who tells me he sells pharmaceuticals and that wasn’t a pleasant euphemism for selling drugs. (That was an actual joke he made.) We exchanged numbers. Check. I had a few moments with a guy from the Midwest who was wearing a Patagonia vest. Huh. Next.
The reason I stopped going to speed dating events, though, is because of the last guy I talked to. I had my name tag on my shirt, this polyester red and white and black number I got from a thrift store. It was nice to my curves, but bad for my name badge. The stickiness started to come off. So I put it on my thigh before I went to talk to the next guy. He might have been Persian. Really beautiful brown eyes. Thick brown hair. He seemed smart. He was doing something with his hand, it was sort of tucked behind him. I went to adjust my name tag in the middle of our conversation and he said, “What are you staring at?”
I blinked. He blinked. Maybe we have 45 seconds left on our little speed date. “What?”
“Are you looking at my hand?” he demanded. “Why are you staring at my hand?!”
I tried not to burst out laughing but it was really hard not to. Then I realized that he was missing parts of some of his fingers. And he thought I was gaping at his nubs. I didn’t have time to explain that I was just moving my name tag. The bell went off, and I got up and didn’t bother trying to shake his hand or anything.
I’m still scarred. But that memory makes me laugh. You can read the rest of that story here, if you want to get the full thrust of my first and only speed dating experience. Don’t let me keep you from the fun if you’re considering it, just be forewarned that crazy things can happen.