Six minutes.

That’s all I had.

Six minutes to determine if I was interested enough in the guy sitting in front of me to consider going on a first date. After six minutes, a bell would ring and I would smile, shake his hand, and move on to the next table. I would discreetly circle either “Let’s Talk” or “No Thanks”. At the end of the night I’d hand in my little card and hope for at least one mutual match.

On Monday I went to a speed-dating event at one of the local restaurants, where I went on mini-dates with 10 different men. I was handed a single sheet of paper where I was to write their names, notes if needed, and then decide who would make a good match for a real first date.

It was an interesting experience to be in this room with 10 guys and eight other girls, convincing myself that I wasn’t desperate–merely curious. I had to shut down a part of my brain for the hour. You know, the annoying part of the brain that compares the self to the selves of other people. The first person I noticed when I walked in the room was one of the other girls. She had put a lot of work into her appearance. Her hair was perfectly curled and styled; her dress was short and her make-up looked impeccable. I looked like a troll in my jeans, blouse, and un-styled hair. But I was comfortable. And maybe she was too. This was not a competition. I ignored the other girls for the rest of the event.

The most entertaining portion of the event was when I was scribbling down notes after each guy, so I’d remember who was who. I was certain that my notes would help spark enough of a memory of the six minute conversation we’d had.

Afterward I looked at my notes and laughed.

#1 – 5 kids funny [I remember him having 5 kids and a mini-van. I also think he was the drunkest one of the group.]

#2 – DW [Actually the scribble is illegible. It kind of looks like "DW" but I have no idea. Even the guy's name doesn't really ring any bells.]

#3 – kumquat [This guy and I laughed the entire time. We got on the topic of fruits versus vegetables. I remember neither of us knew what a kumquat looked like but I thought it might be like a kiwi. His opening question was "What's the most interesting question you've been asked so far?". And then we laughed when I said "That one."]

#4 – glasses, baseball, friendly [This helped put the image of the guy in my head, but not much of our conversation.]

#5 – OKC username [This guy recognized me from a dating site. I actually wrote down his username, but obviously thought I'd keep it private here. He had a great smile.]

#6 – financial accountant [This guy lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and is thinking of relocating to Reno. I got this weird impression that he was looking for business contacts, not a date.]

#7 – Netflix, Atlas Shrugged [We talked a lot about Netflix. I had just watched Atlas Shrugged the night before so we got on that topic about how it was kind of a terrible movie. In my mind he and #4 look identical.]

#8 – movies, warehouse, computers [This was my first date of the evening. I was actually trying to take notes at that point. He loved movies and said he worked in a warehouse. Then he talked about building computers. He'd been speed-dating multiple times and had been pulled over for speeding (hee hee) on the way to the last event. He bitched about the cop needing to meet his "quota".]

#9 – older girls [It took me a while to remember this was the guy who had 2 daughters who have already moved out of the house. I spent most of the time trying to calculate his age and didn't catch anything else he said.]

#10 – funny [I remember laughing with this guy a lot. We made stupid jokes. He was my third date of the night, and the first one to make me feel comfortable. Even after I felt like a dork for getting my name badge stuck in my hair.]

So…who did I pick? I circled “Let’s Talk” on numbers 3, 4, 5, and 10. By the next day I had the email addresses of the two that had also picked me. Numbers 4 and 10. Less than an hour after receiving the email, number 10 had already emailed me. The subject line read “Hooray for reciprocity.” Now to do the scheduling thing and plan a date.

Is six minutes enough time to assess whether you’d like to go on a date with someone? First impressions really mean a lot to people. It’s the same idea when I do online dating. You get to see the person’s face (although pictures aren’t quite as honest as IRL) and a little bit of information that person hand-picked to share with you. It seems like a strange way to pick someone to go out with, but as I get older it’s getting harder to meet people. And I’m not the type to go hang out in bars or clubs. So, for me, this works. Short, sweet, simple.


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