Last night, I sped dating. Sped dated. Speed dated. Er, went to a speed dating event?
In any case, it was one of those activities I’d always categorized as “Something I’ll Do When the Clock Starts Ticking,” when statistics begin favoring me for being a victim of a terrorist attack over a newlywed, and around the same time that I post my picture and profile on an online dating service.
Instead, I found myself, at the ripe age of 21, seated on the second floor of George on the Strand surrounded by wood paneling and flickering candlelight bearing a nametag with my first name and the number 1. For once in my life, I was early. You can interpret my punctuality as desperation, but you’d be doing me a great disservice–my motivation did not solely dwell on my desire to meet more European men. I wanted to make sure I participated so I could blog about the experience later.
Increasingly, I find myself partaking in activities with the primary purpose of writing about them later. You, dear reader, inspire me to make the most out of this trip, since I’m always looking for new material about which to write. You receive entertainment, I gain valuable life experiences. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
Soon I found myself surrounded by a gaggle of people chattering in a medley of languages. Since the event was planned by my university’s Erasmus Society, my potential European matches were from all over the U.K. and western Europe. My friend and I represented America, just the two of us. Obviously I felt a lot of pressure to eradicate stereotypes and prove that Americans can be intelligent. I’m not sure if the wine I consumed aided in or detracted from achieving that goal.
The group consisted entirely of students, sans the one significantly older man who just showed up (I never actually met him). Our similar ages and occupations relieved some of the stress, since I’d like to think that most of us were not seeking a lifelong commitment. ‘Twas all in good fun.
And so it began. We got maybe a minute or two with each person, and with everyone originating from different countries, the conversation inevitably began with our nationality. The conversation might or might not have extended beyond that gripping exchange of information.
I had the honor of explaining to about 20 men where North Carolina is not located–the midwest, somewhere up north, etc. I find that Virginia is considerably more well-recognized, courtesy of early American colonization, so we’ve been relegated to the title of “that state south of Virginia” and sometimes, when dealing with beach and/or amusement park lovers, “that state relatively close to Florida.” If nothing else, I did my part to contribute to North Carolina tourism with my accounts of expansive mountain ranges and sun-soaked islands. Ah, how easy it is to romanticize my state when I’m not residing in it.
Other topics of conversation included: what on earth I’m going to do with those majors after graduating, the weather (always), whether the British only know how to be friendly in the confines of pubs/clubs, how great Obama is, how embarrassing Sarah Palin is, and other sundry topics.
As the event title suggests, time moved so quickly. I found myself simultaneously wishing that I had brought a notepad to take notes and that no one else did, because I literally remembered no one’s nametag number or even which ones went with which interesting stories. At the same time, I didn’t want people taking notes about me. I can’t even begin to imagine what those notes might’ve read: loud, talks fast, too American, the tallest girl here by several inches, profound cleavage…
By the end, I was exhausted. As I said, I didn’t know anyone’s number so I just pulled my favorites over. So American.
The evening concluded at this three-story club near Piccadilly Circus. If you know me, you’re familiar with my affinity for dancing, so I cannot imagine a better conclusion. Maybe you could, but I am here to make America proud, not reinforce preconceived notions about American female promiscuity.
Would I speed date again? It’s hard to say. Most of the novelty lies in meeting people who I’ll probably never see again or can easily avoid. After all, none of them are in my classes and London’s population exceeds 7 million people. I like those ease-of-avoidance odds, as opposed to Chapel Hill’s population of 55,000. Also, the foreign appeal doesn’t apply in North Carolina. A Cary-ite is hardly exotic in Chapel Hill.