By Emili Peake – Features Editor
I sat there in the darkened room, palms sweating. He looked at me from across the table, his lips quivering. He looked at me sternly in the eyes and uttered the words I was too scared to answer. “Hello number 1. What is your name?”
Although it felt that way, I wasn’t being interrogated, I was speed dating.
After a semester of failed Tinder matches and a string of nightclub pulls that my mother would certainly not be proud of, I had decided to use the summer as a way of finding something a little more sophisticated and long term. When I saw Rift and Co advertising a speed dating event I took to facebook for advice. Not only did this lead to one of my friends betting me to go, but also a number of my friends came forward in the offer to join me on the event. Unfortunately for them (dodged a bullet I say), the event had an age range of 25-45. So I signed up on my own. According to the event provider this was fairly uncommon as only 30% of females and 50% of males attend the events on their own. This event must have been the exception as none of the men knew each other, and only one group of females turned up.
The event drew closer and my nerves grew stronger, but I’ve always been too confident in relationships so I needed knocking down a peg or two. When deciding what to wear, I took to the website for inspiration “All kinds of people do speed dating nowadays. Most Speed daters are predominantly professional people who are looking to meet new people and maybe someone special”. This is when my heart sank. I am a student, working whatever hours I can to feed myself, and I’ll be meeting fancy people. So I dressed smart in the hope I would fool someone. However, upon entering the room it because clear that I was one of the more professional people in the room. This wasn’t an issue until people were commenting on my choice of outfit.
On arrival I was greeted by what I assumed at the time to be the event organiser, who was in fact an overly friendly speed dater. Awkwardly positioned at the back of room the event organiser fumbled with hand written badges, which reduced us all merely to numbers. Having been given the number 1 badge I retreated to my dimly lit table. For the next thirty minutes I was subjected to sitting on the table making small talk with strange men. Although this is something I’m good at, it’s not what I enjoy. Though the mental health nurse who had to spend three minutes on a mini date with one of her patients.
On the plus side, I learnt to take things at face value and to get to know people before making judgements. I spent well over the allocated time in deep discussion with one man, who turned out to be nearly 50 years old. In an online dating experience I would have bypassed him instantly. I did match with two of the men, but I did not have the guts to see it through. I did however became good friends with one of the ladies, and still speak to her now. So there is a plus side to an awkward experience!
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