What to talk about when speed dating

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One of them tells me she attended one of these events a year ago and met a guy she dated for a while. Date One is in a blue-and-white checked button-down and works in transportation.He looks like he’s probably in his early 30s, and he’s definitely nice enough, but I'm not super into him right off the bat. He gives me advice on the process, telling me it won’t do me any good to overthink it, the best thing to do is just let the conversation flow.What really throws me is that initial question about my hobbies and my surprisingly pathetic response. This is also the point I remember this is a karaoke bar, as a girl 20 feet away starts screeching “I Will Always Love You” at a fever pitch so loud I can’t hear Date Two tell me about his hobbies. Date Three is from Ukraine, but he’s lived in the States since he was 4 years old.We chat for a few minutes about how he’s lived in the city for over a decade, so he knows it pretty well. We pause for a moment and look at each other as we let the song play out. I decide this is the perfect opportunity to tell him about my recent trip to Budapest, which I know isn’t really all that close to Ukraine, but of course, I’d love to visit Ukraine one day if I ever have the chance because it seems like a beautiful country and of course, I loved every moment of my time in Eastern Europe this summer. This is the moment I realize I’m going to be talking to myself for the entirety of the next five minutes. Now it's 10 seconds into Date One and I fear this was a terrible mistake. He looks at me expectantly as I clutch my house white wine and take a sip.“I really love to... I’ve developed a habit of reporting on dating culture — the good, the bad, and the ugly of trying to navigate love in your 20s. I showed up here with big expectations, curious about what speed dating is really like and hopeful I might at least meet someone intriguing. I enjoy that, too, sometimes.”I came here tonight with the hopes of meeting my next boyfriend. In truth, I came here hoping for a funny story, something I could joke about with my friends as I recalled the things I do to try to salvage my struggling love life.It’s the same thing I wore to work, which feels very Single Professional and therefore makes me proud.

The music seems to have calmed down a bit, which I later discover is because Girl in Charge asked the venue owners to please lower the volume because there is a serious event happening. I tell him I haven’t met anyone I really jive with, and his natural follow-up question is, “Well, what are you looking for? Put me in a job interview and I’ll dazzle you with the hard skills on my resume, but ask me about my hobbies and the best thing I can squeak out is, “I really love to eat! Date Five wears a puffer vest and loves that I’m a writer.Apparently the way this works is that at the end of the night, we can each go online and submit the names of people we want to see again.Then we’ll find out in a few days whether we have any “matches.” This feels unnervingly like a real-world dating app where you’re sorting through men sitting there in the flesh, trying their hardest to make you swipe right on them.At this point I’ve really embraced the “I love to eat” persona, and Date Six and I are thrilled to discover that we both enjoy Puerto Rican food.He says he can hear my Southern accent, which I find terribly offensive, but he assures me that he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. He’s somewhat of a regular at singles events, and he’s apparently quite comfortable in this setting.

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