So I’m not one of those sassy kinds of single people. You know, the ones who are always going, “SINGLE AND LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT,” or like, drinking fun cocktails and stuff like that. Nor am I one of those stressed out kinds of single people, who appear to view finding “the one” in a similar way to defusing a bomb. I’m just single, and it’s whatever. So when we went to Comic-Con (full report on that HERE) and Stephanie said, “You are going to do this Sci-Fi Speed Dating thing,” I was like, “Okay.” I have never done speed dating or Internet dating or blind dating before, so I thought it would be cool to give my dating life a weird edge for once. And while I wasn’t really EXPECTING to have success, I also wasn’t closed to the possibility. So it was settled, and we signed me up.
I’m not sure why we were ever worried about showing up early to register me, because when we arrived, there were about six thousand dudes waiting around and only about five girls. I joined the group, which was quickly separated by gender; the guys stood against one wall, and the girls against the opposite wall. Some of the guys wandered over for “DIY” speed dating, because they weren’t sure if they would get into the session, and/or if they even felt like getting into the session. Most of these ones seemed like creeps, so I was pretty glad that they were kicked to the curb by the organizers before they were able to interact with me. More girls filtered in, probably recruited off the Comic-Con streets to even out the gender ratio; whatever the case, we’d officially signed ourselves up with a waiver and all, and I was still pretty okay with it. (The waiver, by the way was a release for that show Geek Love, which was filming inside the sessions. So if you ever watch that show, you might see my face, which is SO EXCITING! Read: NOT REALLY!)
Now, I’m not going to lie to you, I definitely had narcissistic moments before and during the process. Not like, HEAVILY so, but I can be a pretty nervous, socially-awkward person, and the fact that I was a hundred percent calm going into this situation is a reflection of how confident I was feeling. Before you go all troll-tastic on me for saying that, I have it on good authority that the guys were having their own locker room chatter before things got started, boasting about how many phone numbers they were about to get (or worse), SO I think it’s safe to say we were (mostly) all a little guilty. Just because I’m absolving myself NOW, though, doesn’t mean that my brain wasn’t being overloaded with questions of ethics during the lead-up to showtime; these came and went, but I had plenty of time to think about them while we waited for what felt like an hour to be let into the speed dating room. (I also had plenty of time to try and stare at Adam West, who was signing autographs in the Comic-Con distance. BONUS!)
What really got under my skin was a woman sitting next to me who was very clearly looking to find her true love on this adventure; this made me feel uneasy about my less serious attitude. There were other girls who also seemed really nervous, and/or were spending a lot of time getting ready to meet some dudes by applying makeup, fixing their hair, and spritzing themselves with body spray. (Yes, BODY SPRAY.) However, it became pretty clear that about half of the girls who signed up had just done it for shits and giggles, and one, it seemed, had been put up to it by her employers, Necromimi; right before we went into the room, one of her coworkers magically appeared, offering us those cat ear headsets to wear during the speed dating round if we wanted them. It was a pretty smart marketing strategy on their behalf, because Geek Love‘s camera crew was filming our interactions, but if you read our Comic-Con recap you’ll know how hard I hate the Necromimi headsets, so I impolitely declined to wear one. Anyway, as a result of all these borderline unethical shenanigans, I was starting to struggle slightly less with my own reasons for being there. So that was good.
Finally we (the girls) were called into the room before anyone else so that we could get a solid “STRANGER DANGER” speech from the speed dating organizers. We weren’t to talk about what our actual names were or where we lived so as to avoid super psycho stalker scenarios. Then the guys were allowed in, and despite all being legal adults, we looked like a bunch of awkward tweens at a middle school dance. We were told to take our seats, and very fortunately the girls would remain seated for the duration of the speed dating process. (I would’ve effed that up really quickly had I been made to follow the semi-complex migration pattern.)
The main organizer launched into some sort of intro speech, and while he was rambling about Star Wars or dating or Star Wars dating, the guy sitting across from me proceeded to mock the entire thing; he rolled his eyes and flexed his weird eyebrows and pretended to strangle the air, and it was awkward. As he continued ringing invisible necks, we were told we’d have three minutes per date, and that we should keep track of the numbers that identified the people we liked. (I did not uncap my pen just yet.) And so began my descent into speed dating madness.
The whole process was all kind of a blur since there were just over thirty rounds, but I do know that my conversations ended up feeling slightly scripted every time. Each one involved the same sorts of questions, like, “Why are you at Comic-Con?” “What has been your favorite thing at Comic-Con?” “What do you like to do when you’re not at Comic-Con?” I’d initially hoped that my questions AND my responses would be a little more creative, but it’s hard to prepare yourself for this kind of thing. It also became rapidly apparent that I was not nerdy enough for this, and while that might seem like a good thing in the ordinary world, it was a very bad thing here.
For instance, have you ever been in conversation with someone, and when they claim to LOVE a certain band, you ask them which song or album is their favorite? And they say, “THEY’RE ALL PRETTY GOOD. LIKE EQUALLY GOOD,” and then it becomes apparent that they may never have even heard that band? Well I was the sci-fi speed dating version of that person. If I got asked, “What’s your favorite anime?” I would say, “ALL OF THEM. ALL OF THE ANIMES.” That’s a pretty horrible answer, but it seemed to be slightly better than the times that I tried to say, “TOTORO! MIYAZAKI!” which is apparently lowbrow or not very cool or something. I also butchered the names of several movies and TV shows; I can’t think of a specific example right now, but it’s highly possible I referenced not-real-things like Scott Mayflower Against the Universe or Star Hike.
I could also feel the guys’ eyes start to glaze over as soon as I said it was my first time at Comic-Con, and that I wasn’t there for any specific thing, but just to kind of check it out in a general sense. I had no nerd personality, and they were not into it. You may be going, “Well why did you sign up for SCI-FI speed dating, then?!” I see your point there, but I honestly didn’t think I would fail this hard at being a nerd. I mean, I’m not COMPLETELY without knowledge of points of interest, but I’m just not that well-versed, and obviously that was detrimental to holding a conversation.
Also, I got asked a lot about what I had dressed up as, which was funny because I wasn’t dressed up as anything. I don’t really take offense to that, though, because if my wardrobe could pass for a comic book character’s, then that’s actually pretty cool. It WAS, however, kind of awkward to repeatedly say, “No, no, I’m just dressed as myself today.” My boring, not-nerdy-enough self. Granted, I hadn’t met anyone that I was trying to impress, and by the time we got to the end of the session I hadn’t written down a single name. (There was one guy who I would’ve considered talking to more, but I forgot to write his number down so I was like, “Okay, whatever.”)
Now, if you’re wondering if anyone tried to speak to me in Wookiee or anything like that, then I have to disappoint you here; there were definitely guys who were more eccentric than others, but everyone was pretty down-to-earth for the most part. Or at least I thought that until I went home and watched an episode of Geek Love, where I realized that I had met two guys who were previously featured on the TV show. I don’t know if they were being featured again this time around, but I started to worry that I was going to be on camera and would look like a total moron. After a few minutes of racking my brain, though, I remembered that one of them asked me what I’d have dressed up as if I’d worn a costume that day, and I immediately (and confidently) answered “FALCOR THE LUCK DRAGON.” So if I get on TV for saying that, then I’m totally okay with it. (Skip to 2:02 in the video below to see who I dated, and/or watch the whole thing to get a better feel for the setup.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8qHrw55tpE
There was also the whole not knowing how old everyone was thing. I mean, yes we were all over 18, but some of the guys had clearly just hit puberty. I’m not a never-say-never kind of person, but I would almost definitely never date anyone under 20 at this point (I’m almost 25), and so that was weird. One of the aforementioned babies was a kid we’d photographed by the swords booth upstairs the first day of NYCC, and I was really nervous he was going to recognize me and get freaked out that I was an undercover journalist or something. I should’ve realized he didn’t put two and two together when he broke cardinal rule number one, aka revealing his full name to me when we started our conversation. HOWEVER, I was still paranoid for all 180 seconds of our interaction; he would ask, “What are you doing here?” and, defensively and weirdly, I would go, “What are YOU doing here?!” Good job.
Once we’d finished up, we got another little speech from the organizers. After that, we separated to opposite ends of the room to start writing our contact info on pieces of paper, each with a different guy’s identification number written at the top. Because I hadn’t written any numbers, I pretended to scribble down my name and number on a few different pieces of paper, and then I lingered awkwardly while the rest of the girls fought over the more popular sheets. It was clear that some people were confused about whose numbers were whose, so one of the organizers asked us to go through and raise our hands after our numbers were called. That’s how I figured out the number of the guy I talked to and liked, and while I momentarily considered going back to write down my information, I felt awkward circling back to the table. So I didn’t.
After we’d finished up there was another little pep talk about how we might not get any takers and how that was okay or whatever, and then we were allowed to scope out our pieces of paper. I really hope nobody got ZERO bites, but I do suspect that the one girl dressed as a sexy Ewok stole away a lot of hearts. Turns out I got FOUR phone numbers, which is much better than I thought I’d fare considering my utter failure at being a nerd. AND, the guy I felt like talking to again put his number down, so afterwards I gave him my digits. Does sci-fi speed dating work, then? Hard to say. I think it was an interesting experience, but getting a feel for someone in three minutes when the majority of conversation revolves around subjects you aren’t well-versed in is kind of not ideal. I think for now I will probably stick to my standard randomly-meet-a-guy-who-seems-normal-but-is-actually-crazy approach, and/or force Number 30 to teach me how to be a better nerd sometime.