I am a 31-year-old woman who has never been on a date. Well, not a proper one, anyhow. The closest I came was in high school, when I asked a unibrowed record store employee out solely because he wore archaic clothes and, on the afternoon I entered his store, was listening to a Cheap Suit Serenaders LP. Our "date" was little more than the public consumption of whiskey; it culminated in the two of us drunkenly falling asleep on his twin-sized mattress.
My second closest brush with a date was with a man I had met earlier that evening. At 1 AM, he took me to the waterfall featured in the opening credits of Twin Peaks. As we stared from the darkness of our isolated perch at its illuminated, undulating flow, he quipped that he could, in this moment, very easily kill me and get away with it. I went home with him and didn't leave for two years.
When it comes to dating women, I have even less experience. And by "less experience," I mean "absolutely no experience." But consarn it, I want some—I am ready, 30-plus years into the game, to explore the bisexuality I was bequeathed at birth. So when a friend suggested I try lesbian speed dating, I figured, Fuck it. If anything, it was an opportunity to make up for lost time.
Abject confusion was the norm from launch. An exclamation-point–riddled email from the event's organizers informed me that the suggested attire was "dressy casual," a.k.a. a total oxymoron. I had no idea how to dress appropriately—I wanted to look like I belonged, but not so much that I looked like a narc. I settled on an oxford buttoned all the way up and an unreasonable amount of makeup. I wanted to cover all my bases.
The evening took place in a dimly lit Hollywood bar, the kind of place that, under normal circumstances, I would never set foot in. I was later told, by one of my fellow attendees, that said bar was allegedly owned by the actress Eva Longoria. (I say "allegedly" because I cannot be bothered to google it, because I do not care.)
Upon arrival, I mistakenly wandered upstairs, where I found myself surrounded by bloated white men who were talking, presumably, about how great it is to run the fucking world while eating appetizers. I overheard one tell another, "Y'know, on Tuesdays, there's lesbian speed dating downstairs." His companion burst into hysterics upon receipt of this information. I could feel my face turn beet red, like in a teen film, as I ran back down the stairs and into the loving arms of my new coven.
Once I checked in, I was given a nametag, a number (Dater #10, baby!), and a sheet of paper to make my choices on. If I liked a woman romantically, I was to circle the word "date." If I did not but still could still tolerate her existence, I was to circle "friend." Doing neither was the analog equivalent of swiping left.
There was a definitive line in the sand drawn between butch and femme participants; each woman organically gravitated toward her own kind. I was dressed in a more butch than femme fashion, but didn't join my group—frankly, I didn't know which one, if either, I belonged to. Instead, I self-consciously looked at my phone. I felt like I was back in high school.
Alone in the corner, I wrote an email to a guy I have an idiotic, impossible crush on. I visualized wearing his class ring and dry humping at Makeout Point and all that other shit bobby-socked, pie-eyed teen girls are supposed to dream about. But how was I gonna get any gash if I was so gosh-darn boy crazy? I had to put my head in the game.
Two women to my right talked about the Super Bowl. One had missed it because she was having "so much fun on the slopes." The other loved sports—"watching them, playing them." I quickly realized I had as little in common with them as I did with members of the more aggressive sex. This was going to be a trial.
The sports fan finished her conversation with the ski bum and focused her attention on me. Her name was, let's say, Diane. She worked in accounting, but hated it—she was a "businessperson" at heart. She stopped talking at me mid-sentence in order to set her sights on a better dressed, more chipper woman. "San Diego is really chill," she told her new companion. "I love it down there." She then declared that she was of the mind-set that "Long Beach has the hottest clubs." I was happy she had chosen to reject me.
There was no order to the conversations taking place around me. At ten minutes past the event's designated start time, women were still talking among themselves. I am not naturally outgoing—if you couldn't tell that already—and wasn't about to throw myself at these strangers. I was paying for an icebreaker, for fuck's sake!
Finally, the night began. My cherry popper, Sandra, told me she been to a speed-dating event before, but "a straight one." Her actions were stiff and military-like; she resembled a more butch Ellen Degeneres. In the "notes" section of my sheet, I wrote "N/A" next to her name. I didn't remember a single thing we talked about, other than the act of speed dating itself.
What followed next was a dizzying cavalcade of dames—Eleanor, a personality-deficient nurse from the Philippines; Jenny, who was from Columbus, Ohio (it showed); Jessica, who worked in "disruptive technology." I had never heard of disruptive technology before our conversation—thankfully, she expounded on it in great detail while making little eye contact. She was decent-looking enough, but insufferable. I had no desire to make her paradigm shift.
Jessica II (I'm already running out of fake names) was a dietitian who had filed two of her teeth to a point, making them resemble vampire fangs. Rebecca was a satellite engineer who had written a screenplay about dating. Mindy was a banker who, in her spare time, wrote "dark-ass poetry." Maggie was a financial manager (I fear this was her sole defining characteristic).
Jessica III was a social worker who, when I informed her that I was a writer, assumed I was going to write something snarky about our evening (sorry, babe). If she could have any career in an alternate universe, she told me, it would be a rabbi or a scientist. I said I'd still be a writer, but a more successful one.
And so on and so on. Two hours later, we were done. My mouth hurt. My head hurt. And yet, everyone around me was still eager to socialize. Obsessed with finding something and somewhere to eat, they could not stop talking about it. They could not stop talking, period. I was out of my element; having spent most of the day beforehand in complete, vacuous silence, my mouth was not used to being used this much. I left while they were still debating where to eat, no closer to love or cunnilingus than when I'd arrived.
I had, however, learned a valuable lesson: The one thing that unites us all as a people—gay, straight, trans, and beyond—is the inanity of the conversations we have with potential sexual partners. I did not care what these women did for a living. Yet I asked the question to all 20 of them.
I am too much of a misanthrope to date a financial manager; the idea of having to listen to her work anecdotes makes me want to put a gun in my mouth. I am too uptight, too difficult, too judgmental—these are the main criticisms lobbed at me by my "haters." These criticisms of my criticisms are wholly valid. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a financial manager. There is, however, something wrong with needlessly judging one. The group around me didn't find any fault in one another. Hell, they continued talking long after their obligation to talk had expired. The problem I had with them was squarely on my shoulders.
As I rode the subway home, I surveyed my surroundings. Everyone—male, female—looked like shit. A grown man stood in front of me wearing a backpack in which he had written the words "Killer Disco" in permanent marker. Staring at it, I realized that, unless I stopped being such a judgmental prick, I was going to be, no matter what sex I desired, fucked. Figuratively, of course. Not literally.
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