Sunday, February 08, 2009
SPEED DATING : A 'TWISTED' EVENT
Around late January, i realized that wretched, over-commercialized V-Day was fast coming up, and my potential V-date had turned out to be, well, lacking in potential, after all.
So, with no viable date in the far, far horizon, yours truly decided to do the next best thing: sign up for this "Early Valentine" Speed Dating event targeted to the Filipino-Chinese community.
Days before the event, i was informed there would be a "twist" with this speed dating event. But despite badgering the vivacious organizer Candie, she steadfastly refused to spill the beans.
Speed dating normally works this way: The guys and gals sit facing each other on individual tables, and talk to each other one-on-one for an allotted number of minutes (commonly 3 or 4 minutes). Then, once a buzzer or bell signifies the end of this allotted time, the guys move over to the next table where the next girl awaits, and the process starts all over again.
Each guy and gal has a checklist in their hand, wherein they "check" those people whom they liked well enough to want to see again. So, if Guy A checks Gal Z, and she also checks him, then we have a "match".
A day or two after the event, the organizers inform each participant by email how many matches they have, along with the mobile phone numbers of the said members of the opposite sex.
On the night itself, the turnout was overwhelming. There were 31 pairs signed up (whoa!). So, i guess there were that many unattached-yet-on-the-prowl people like me! Haha :D
Candie went onstage, and announced that the game. . . err, event was about to begin. Further, she revealed that the twist was that this would be a "group" speed dating, instead of the normal one-on-one set-up.
This was how it would work:
There were a total of 6 tables, and each table would have more or less 5 guys and 5 gals. They would be given 15 minutes to mingle, chat, make jokes, stare into space, etc. before the guys move on to the next table, and so on.
To break the ice (factoid: Fil-Chis, or "Tsinoys", are amongst the coldest bunch of people on earth), there would be a game question for each round, which the speed dating participants would answer. This, hopefully, would get everyone involved, and start sharing juicy tidbits about themselves.
Candie explained the rationale for the shift from one-on-one to group: Based on their previous events, participants would get hoarse from all that talking by the midpoint (and i suspect, tired about being asked and answering the same questions regarding their age, job, school, income, etc.), and sort of not enjoying themselves anymore from then on. Clearly, a case of diminishing marginal returns at work.
Also, i thought the group format was an ingenious way for the organizer to deal with last-minute no-shows/flakers, as it eliminated the need to have the exact same number of guys and gals.
Nevertheless, i had serious reservations about this so-called "twist", in all honesty. Probably because i'm anti-social, taciturn and don't like big groups.
Besides, under the usual one-on-one set-up, i have the entire 4 minutes to monopolize the girl's attention, and hopefully charm the pants off her. [IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This is a figure of speech only; DO NOT take it literally, okay?]
Whereas under the new group set-up, i have to find a way to stand out from the other 4 guys, who are all in their own way trying a find a way to stand out and impress the girls, too! Likely result: total chaos.
While i (secretly) wished that the other 4 guys at the table were all pasty-faced schmucks, so that i come across as relatively "better", i could not afford to take things to chance. After all, one has to take one's fate into one's own hands, right? You know, "Carpe Diem!" or whatever.
Without further ado, we guys were assigned our respective tables, and the game was afoot!
Amongst the questions used as starting points were:
a) Describe yourself using words which start with each letter of your first name. [For example, Candie could describe herself as "Catty, alluring, neurotic, delicate, ingenious and elegant"]
b) "If you were marooned on a desert island, who are the 3 people (whether dead or alive, real or imaginary, etc.) whom you would bring along, and why?"
c) State 3 things about yourself, 2 of which are factual and 1 being a lie. Then the members of the opposite sex at your table will guess which one is the lie, and you tell them if they had guess correctly or not.
In fairness to Candie (and contrary to my earlier reservations), this new group speed dating format worked quite well, especially during the later stages. At first, people were sort of shy, and deferred to others to start the ball rolling. But once warmed up, most everyone was willing to share interesting tidbits about themselves.
In particular, making wild guesses regarding which "fact" was in fact a lie proved to be hilarious. Not only did this game bring out interesting revelations from each of us, it brought forth lots of good-natured 'roasting' and bantering and hooting when each person had to reveal which of his/her statements was the lie, and why exactly so.
Of course, the evening was not complete without some low points, like the girls from the wretched Table no. [x]. I do not intend to sound mean, but really, they were regrettably a trifle deficient in the personality department.
For one, they kept on pointing to the others to get the discussion started, much like guests at a Chinese dinner lauriat, who move the lazy Susan back and forth the table, urging each other to be the one to dig into the food first. Then, when finally pressed to say something substantial, they hemmed and hawwed and frowned in agonizingly deep thought, as time ticked away.
One of them proferred the oh-so-fascinating tidbit that she "didn't like cheese". Equally uninspiring was another one who professed her love for travelling. When i inquired what her favorite travel destination was, or what had been her most enjoyable trip so far, she clammed up and looked at me uncomprehendingly, as though i asked her whether cold nuclear fusion was the answer to global warming.
Due to the late hour, Candie was not able to tabulate the results, and instead, promised to email everyone their respective "matches" shortly.
So the waiting game begins.
(For more details on the speed dating event, please check out www.my20firstdates.com)