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Pay to Play the Dating Game


Fast Dating, Ventura County-Style

When I signed my friend Dana and me up for a Ventura speed-dating event, I really didn’t have any grand expectations, except for maybe getting a few drinks and a cheap laugh. The drinks theory held up as we were set to meet at a cozy downtown wine bar, but to my surprise the majority of the people were friendly, not half-bad looking, and didn’t seem at all desperate.

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The last observation came as a bit of a shock as I’ve always considered speed-dating an absolute last resort in the hunt for single, dateable men. My initial thought was this: If you are successful, even remotely attractive, and have semi-normal social skills allowing you to talk to others without stuttering like the 40-Year-Old Virgin, why on earth would you pay to meet eligible men? I can only guess that I’m not the only one finding this dating thing a bit challenging, and sometimes you have to pay to play.

Judging by the looks of things, people were there to have a good time foremost and possibly hook up with some cutie second. Everyone seemed relaxed and confident, and I only noticed a few who were scanning the room, and actively pitching from the get-go. Unfortunately, any attempts to snag numbers before the event began were fruitless. The organizers were adamant about how we could — under no circumstance — give out our numbers or set up dates on our own. (Gosh darn it, and I had hoped to snatch up the best ones before the event even started!)

We were each given a name tag and a number and the girls remained seated at a table, while the guys rotated whenever the bell rang. Six minutes was all you had to assess if you would be interested in dating and/or be friends with someone. As it turns out, six minutes can be a really long time.

Even though the age range was a bit too broad for my liking (21- to 38-years-old), I must confess that I was impressed with the selection of interesting, very well-prepared bachelors. I don’t know how many of them had done this before, but they had definitely done their homework.

Most of these guys fired off questions at a pace that made me feel like a deaf-mute at a musical audition, and some seemed to have very specific requirements: “How many kids do you want?” “Do you see yourself living in the countryside?” Others were more creative in their third-degree technique and asked about my ”perfect date/vacation/ kiss.” I tried to wing it as best as I could explaining that “Anything with live music and seafood will do.” “I would love to go diving at the Great Barrier Reef,” and “Passionate, but soft and not too wet, please!”

There were a few guys I felt like I had nothing in common with. One was way too young, one lacked in the physical hygiene department (yuck!), and one seemed like he was mainly interested in sex. He practically drooled down my Victoria’s-Secret-supported-cleavage, and never looked me in the eye. At the end, I only really hit it off with two guys — Jake and Thomas — but just to be on the safe side, I chose a bunch of people as friends. There’s no reason to limit your options.

Jake appealed to me because he seemed open-minded and adventurous, said he’d love to go skiing together soon, and had a great sense of humor. He was attractive, without being strikingly handsome, and seemed to have good values. He was in his mid-30s.

Thomas, on the other hand, was a doctor who appeared to know exactly what he wanted. He’d done an extensive amount of traveling, and his parents were from Europe. He used to live in Eastern Europe, himself, and I liked how he managed to come off as very charming and attentive despite the limited time. He was pushing 40.

Jake called me as soon as we got our matches with contact information, and I have to admit that the conversation left me completely petrified and paranoid! As if it wasn’t enough that he rambled on for 45 minutes about his career transition into “something with film production,” he also had to mention that he’s currently working part-time as a private investigator and that he’d pulled my background information based on my phone number!? Oh my God, I did not know how to respond to that! For the rest of the phone conversation all I could think about was “So does that mean he knows about my speeding tickets and how I haven’t paid my Blockbuster membership in over two months?” Let’s just say that his poorly concealed curiosity about my private life was a definite deal-breaker for me, and I have decided not to date him. Ever. Thomas I still haven’t heard from, and truth be told, I was the one who did the background checking on this one. It was purely coincidental of course, but when I talked to my friend Charlotte, who works at the same hospital as him, I discovered that he’s dated quite his share of nurses in the area. However, she also mentioned that he seems genuinely interested in settling down and having kids, and apparently, “He’s generally a nice guy!”

Thomas also picked my friend Dana as a potential match, which is quite alright. Still, I’m a little put off by the fact that he seems to have smooched every single nurse within reach like something out of Grey’s Anatomy. Should I be? What to do?

A) Keep looking — the guy’s obviously a player.

B) Wait and see if he contacts my girlfriend or me first.

C) Try to set up a date with him — after all I’ve dated other guys too. Go ahead and post your answers below or just send me an email at dating@independent.com. And if you’re in the mood for speed-dating, check out vcfastdating.com.

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