Match Game: A Swift Look for Love

With Valentine’s Day looming, our reporter tries an adventure in speed dating. (All names changed to protect the not-so-innocent.)

Illustration by Alison Seiffer.
Illustration by Alison Seiffer.

The brass bell signals the end of my five-minute date with Brian at West Five Supper Club in Hoboken. Before he steps away, Brian, a tall, Italian-American gentleman, jots down a quick note about my obsession with cotton candy. As we exchange final pleasantries, he utters a fatal question: “What’s your favorite color?” With a quick smile and tilt of the head, I attempt a subtle apology to my next date, hovering awkwardly behind my current suitor. Welcome to the world of speed dating.

I had always thought of speed dating as a desperate form of human interaction, a method of meeting people too socially awkward to leave their parents’ basements or escape the pull of their computers. I had low expectations, but let’s face it: I’m new around these parts—a recent transplant from Arkansas—and this was a last-ditch attempt to pair up in time for Valentine’s Day.

While it’s unlikely I met my future husband, I was pleasantly surprised by the speed-dating experience. Most of the conversations were moderately interesting and, with one exception, not at all uncomfortable. And the guys weren’t entirely unappealing or socially inept.

Take Emerson. He works for the NFL—and shows me his official football field-themed ID card as proof. Peter does the highlight reels for his favorite baseball team, the Mets, on the MLB website. Grayson, an actor, seems to forget we are supposed to be getting to know each other and spends most of his time touting his current off-Broadway role. The play—a Bollywood twist on Romeo and Juliet—sounds promising. Grayson does not. Cody’s tattooed and pierced body belies his teddy-bear personality. And will I ever forget the dreamy Caleb? The explicit details of his daily work as an EMT lead to a delightfully gruesome conversation.

Of course, there are some dates I’d rather forget. Jackson accessorizes his conversation with an overdose of heavy-lidded staring. In fact, he seems a little out of it, possibly due to some pre-dating activities. My suspicions are echoed by the three other girls I powwow with afterward.

Then there is Harry, who begins the conversation with, “You’re going to think I’m lying…” and proceeds to declare that he had come up with innovations such as the e-cigarette, Facebook, YouTube, the App Store, mobile coupons and even Google Glass years before they were brought to market. He claims to have been finessed out of millions. Then he announces he has two children from a previous marriage. It is perhaps the most torturous five minutes of my life.

But this is the risk of speed dating. True, I didn’t get any second dates out of the experience, but I did pick up some new party anecdotes.

And, by the way, my favorite color? Purple.

Katie Kortebein is a research assistant for New Jersey Monthly.

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