Curing the social phobia

By Jared Vaillancourt [creative writing bureau chief]

The KSA’s annual speed dating event has come and gone, so for those of you who missed it, I really do pity you. You missed out on a fun evening of meeting a good group of fun people who were all there with the single objective:  seeing just what the hell “speed dating” is like.

I attended the event as an undercover (okay, openly advertised) reporter for the Runner and actually managed to have a good time. The trick, it would seem, was not to barge in, guns blazing with sex and only sex on the brain. Apparently that makes you look like a jackass.

The event ran something like this: everyone arrived at the Grassroots Lounge in Surrey and got their name checked off of the list (yes, there was a guest list that you had to sign up for – way cool) and got a pen, a nametag and a little sheet that had boxes asking questions about people in general. It turned out to be a good icebreaker; for the first twenty minutes we were all chatting around in a friendly atmosphere asking people whether or not they fit any of the criteria on the sheet. You’d be amazed how few of us had tattoos and piercings, even little ones like earrings!

But once the prize had been claimed (the first person to hand in their completed sheet got a prize no one else knew about), the serious business started. All of our nametags were numbered 1 to 13; girls had to take their seats and guys had to find the table with their number, to reference as ground zero. Our hostess made the rules plain and clear: when that buzzer beeped, guys shifted down one table. We only had two minutes to actually meet the person sitting across from us. That would be the “speed” part.

As for the “dating” part, you ask? That was the fun part! Everyone in attendance was bubbling with energy and eager to meet whomever they were sitting across from. There was no big thrill of the “sexual buffet” in anyone’s eyes (that I saw, at least) – this was new for everyone, and we all were content to just have a good time. So what if the organizers gave you each other’s contact information if both parties wrote down “yes” on their little sheet? At the very least, we all made some new friends.

I can hear the die-hards groaning all the way from here (and back in the past from whence I wrote this), bemoaning the “failure” of the speed dating event to actually result in some temporary intimate relationships. That wasn’t the purpose of the event. We were out there to meet new people, have some fun and if the possibility of a spark igniting popped up then hey, you know what? Maybe the two lucky sparklers would start dating. That’s the definition of dating: getting to know someone for the possibility of a long-term, intimate relationship. If you wanted direct, immediate intimacy, hire a hooker – there were no “women of the night” this night.

But enough semantics! The event was a success. We were treated to free cupcakes and a whole lot of smiles and laughter. I feel like I made some new friends and I know that everyone else did, too. I’m not as adept at reading body language as I ought to be, so I’m not sure if anyone was eyeing me up and feeling a spark tingling, but if that happens to be the case then so be it. I’m just glad I participated.

Good hunting, and remember to sign up next year!

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