Love at first gong
My friend Ana had just moved to San Francisco from law school back east. With a high demanding job and no university-dictated social events, Ana had no time to meet men. “My life moves too fast!” she told me. In her need for speed, Ana decided to try speed dating and asked me for my opinion. Naturally, as with every other dating venue, I had tried this. I did my best to impart my wisdom to her.
Speed dating defined
Women are situated around the room at personal tables (with cocktails, thank God) as men play musical chairs and move from table to table to chat with them for eight minutes each. After each eight minutes is up, a gong sounds and the men get up and move to meet the woman and the next table. A gong could very well steer away the love of your life just as you were about to tell him everything you had in common. Or it could finally put an end to eight minutes of uncomfortable silence. After it’s all over (and hopefully we are all still sober), you write down a “yes” next to the names of the people you want to meet again. You hope they have put a “yes” by your name as well. I told Ana that it could just be “Love at first gong.”
Dress to Impress
If all you have is eight minutes to make an impression, better ensure lipstick is fresh and your attire shows off a memorable silhouette. Not that I am urging you to be uber competitive, but you must appear sexier than the other women. Wear red. Apparently men are like bulls and viciously attracted to the blood-like color. Instead of arriving in her brown business suit, I told Ana to spice up her outfit that day and just think, “Ole, ole.”
Select the event/venue carefully
I think that different types of men are attracted to different events. For example if you want to meet a banker, select an event in the financial district that starts late. I had made the mistake of selecting a 5 p.m. venue too close to Silicon Valley. Unlike all the beautiful women around, most of the men sadly seemed to have lost the gene-pool lottery. Every male specimen was some form of an overeager software engineer. I am not anti software geek–I love them like the rest, especially when they fix my router. But, unfortunately, most of the software geeks on my chosen speed dating night were of the type that wear pleated khaki pants, play video games until 2 a.m. and drool every time they see a woman. In eight-minute intervals, I heard about C + coding, Republicans, the Wii, passion for science fiction novels, and terrible luck at skiing. I told Ana to stay uptown.
Keep a mental bullet list of key questions and answers
You do not want to be caught off guard, and you also want to have a ready list of topics to prevent any awkward silence between you and your eight-minute counterpart.
When one man asked me what the greatest risk I ever took was, I answered with the first thing that popped into my head. Unfortunately, the first thing that popped was Nedi–a type of nose cleaning I practiced in India. I watched the poor man’s face transform into disgust as I described putting a pipe cleaner up my nasal passageway. “That really was not a very sexy image,” he said with revulsion. Why did I say that? Why didn’t I just say my greatest risk was something cool like entering a triathlon? Or something daring like coming to speed dating in a matador costume? I made Ana write down a “cool hobbies” list on the spot.
Keep an open mind for the gong
Being forced to talk to new men is a perfect opportunity for us to get out of the typical “types” we date. For example, a very interesting type came to my table that I would usually not be interested in. He was a herbalist/poker dealer/kite boarder. He was not my traditional investment banker “go to. He was much more engaging than the other software coders. He made me laugh, he was intriguing, and swore he didn’t play “Dungeons and Dragons.” Keeping up the guise of open-mindedness, I put a yes next to his name. It wasn’t love … but at least he passed the gong test.
“Sooo…,” Ana asked me, “What happened to the multi-careered young man? Did you ever go out with him?”
I answered her, “Well, we did manage to meet up a few times and he was indeed fun … but no love connection. However, I never would have met him had I not opened myself up to the occasion. Dating is a numbers game, after all. And what a better way to up our chances than by meeting multiple men in one night!”
Although I was giving speed dating a break myself, I encouraged Ana to give it a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.