Tonight was speed dating night and I was excited. First dates have always been my forte , and I looked forward to the challenge of 15 of them this evening. Earlier I had practised some witty opening lines and a few ice-breaker jokes in front of the mirror while I indulged in a little liquid courage. Tara, you are on fire tonight girl. I air kissed my reflection.
I arrived early. On the way, the taxi driver asked if I was going to a party.
I lied and said, "Yes."
I'm not sure why I didn't just tell him the truth:
"I'm going to a speed dating event, it's where sexy singles find love these days, Sir."
Maybe I wasn't ready to convince a stranger of what I wasn't sure of myself.
How did speed dating catch such an uncool stigma? When I told friends about this evening's entertainment, they had all laughed.
"Speed dating is for socially inept people, you big loser!" one of them scoffed.
I wasn't sure I believed her. I have grown tired of meeting the same type of guy, at the same type of bar and I was in the mood for something different.
Plus the thought of free champagne and fifteen different men sounded promising; surely the odds were in my favour this evening.
As I entered the quaint inner-city wine bar that would host tonight's event, Fast Impressions - Speed Dating With Style, I suddenly panicked. I didn't know where to go and it was clear not everyone in the bar was here for the same reason as me.
Hoping to appear both super sexy and cool, I ordered a gin and tonic and took a seat at the bar.
"Are you here for the speed dating?" A boisterous bar lady megaphoned across the room.
Oh. Holy. Crap.
I wanted to hiss at her to lower her voice, that she was embarrassing me by practically telling the whole world I was a lonely single. Instead I just smiled and quickly nodded.
"Upstairs in 10 minutes, luv." I'm sure she had taken some sick joy in blowing my cover.
I made my way upstairs. Laura, the wickedly cheeky and bubbly hostess, was there to meet each speed dater with a welcome glass of champagne and a smile.
"This will be heaps of fun," she winked. I had a feeling she may just be right.
The atmosphere was not at all as I had imagined. There was an titillating buzz in the air, rather than the stuffy stench of quiet desperation, my friends had warned me about.
Still unsure of what a sophisticated city gal like myself should do at such a soiree as this, I busied myself at the champagne and canapés corner. Face down in food is always a sure way to avoid meeting people at an event that's primary focus was just that.
"Eight minutes on the clock. When you hear the bell, that's your cue gentlemen to move onto your next date." Laura held up the bell and with a loud DING we were off and dating.
Now, I will openly admit here that my evening leading up to this very moment had been fairly lubricated with alcohol and it is from this very point that I wish I could replay it differently.
My first date.
Me - "Hi, I'm Tara."
Him - "Hi, you have pizza sauce on your face."
Me - "Huh?"
Him - "You have food on your face, I thought I'd just tell you, otherwise you'd be embarrassed."
I wasn't embarrassed. I was mortified. I raced to the bathroom, washed my face, picked up another flute of champagne on the way back to my seat and finished it in one go.
The next date.
Me - "I'm a writer."
Him - (narrowing his eyes) "Are you writing about me right now?
Me - "What? No, I don't think so, but maybe later I probably will, ha hahah ha...ha"
Him - "I don't think I want to talk to you then."
As the dates progressed, my ability to engage in meaningful first date conversation spun woefully off course. I grew bored of the stock standard questions and answers. I needed excitement, I needed another drink. Do not get me wrong, each of my 8 minute partners were interesting in their own right. It's just I never imagined my 'How We Met' story to involve a score card. Nevertheless, other avenues had proved ineffective in the past and the free champagne was flowing through me nicely.
Towards the end of the evening, my ADD had kicked into full swing and I had begun using accents to entertain and amuse myself. With Rob I was Indian; Brett I was Scottish and with Charles, I was English... and very DRUNK.
In my Champagne haze I turned each date into a secret seduction challenge. When would there be a better time to test out my sexual prowess? I flipped my hair and batted my eyelashes so much so, that one man asked if my contact lens had fallen out.
"No, I can see perfectly fine. In fact, I can see you and I together, forever." Admittedly not my best line...
In the harsh light of the morning after, stiff and sore, I reflected on what I had learnt about my first evening of speed dating.
And here, my friends, are my golden nuggets of insight.
NUMBER ONE (and probably the most important) - Do not view the offer of 'free champagne' as an, All-You-Can-Drink challenge. Sobriety is key to success here ladies.
NUMBER TWO - Eat before you arrive. Nobody thinks the canapés hog is hot!
And last but not least, go with an a open mind and leave all preconceptions at the door. This really is a great way to meet a potential partner or new friend. See it as a fun night out rather than a platform to showcase your mental immaturity and you might (unlike me) find exactly what your looking for... without ending the night on the toilet floor.