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on your mark. get set. date!
the 3:00 girlfriend.
by matt morin
10.14.02
general


What do toilet paper, laundry detergent and single women have in common?

Before I answer that mind-boggling question, let me refresh your collective memory. I'm single. I'm That Guy that every group of friends has. I'm That Guy they look at and think, "He's such a good guy. I wonder why he can't find someone?" And for months, my answer had been, "Well, because none of you ever introduce me to your single friends!" (Note to all my friends: In unison you may now all scream, "Because you're so #@$%&! picky!")

I've tried meeting women the usual ways - bars, volunteering, hanging out in front of the high school with a cool car and a six-pack. Nothing worked. Then I tried being even more proactive by experimenting with online dating. But my Match.com experience wasn't exactly what I hoped it'd be. (If you haven't recently read my column "Love at First Site" now's your chance.) I'd have all kinds of great e-mail exchanges with women, but as soon as we met face-to-face it was obvious there was no spark. For me, that's what it all comes down to - that hard-to-define and even harder to find spark. You know what I'm talking about. It's that strange little feeling you get whenever you're around them. (No, not that kind of strange feeling.) It's that excitement from just thinking about them. It's that energy, that chemistry.

Now back to the question. You've had plenty of time to think about it. I need your final answer. No, I'm sorry. The answer is not, "Things you pick up at the supermarket." But thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts. The correct answer is: They're all things you should get in bulk.

So that's exactly what I did. I tried my perennially single hand at speed dating.

There are several companies running versions of speed dating. I went with a place called HurryDate. Here's basically how it works: You reserve yourself a spot for $30 and a few weeks later you're sent an e-mail with a time and a local bar. There are two separate rounds with 25 men and 25 women in each. You sit down in front of a member of the opposite sex and they start the clock. Three minutes later someone blows a whistle and you move over one chair. Everyone has a nametag with a number on it, and when your three minutes are up, you find that person's number on your score sheet and discreetly circle Y or N. HurryDate collects the score sheets at the end of the night and, if both of you circled Y, they e-mail you contact information. If either one of you circled N, then no dice. (Just like in the real world.)

OK, stop laughing. And tell these nice men in the white coats to leave me alone. I haven't gone insane. This was the perfect format for me. With almost no effort, and in the course of just a few hours, I would get to meet 50 single women. Face-to-face I could see for myself if there was any of that spark I need. And I know if they were interested in me. Plus, it sounded like a fun way to spend a Wednesday evening. Here we go.

I arrived at the bar with two other friends who "wanted to watch" - i.e. were too chicken to actually try, but more than happy to let me be the Guinea pig. The bar quickly filled up with singles of all descriptions. Initially, it seemed a lot like my Match.com experience. These people were like any group of 28-35 year-olds. They were people you might see on a bus or walking around downtown. They were normal. (Or at least seemed so at first.)

The hostess reviewed the rules. We all took a seat. The soon-to-become-very-annoying whistle blew. Let's go.

Right off the bat my first HurryDater was not my type. Nice enough, but I knew from the start she was a no. We started to stumble through the initial awkwardness of names, jobs, things we like to do. Seemingly 30 seconds into it, the whistle blew.

Are you kidding? That couldn't have been three minutes!

This became a running theme by the way. You'd figure that by the end of the night - after talking to 50 women - I would have learned to better gauge how long three minutes really is. It never happened. I was always surprised to hear that whistle blow. (Although there were about two or three women per round where it felt like 30 minutes, not three. At one point I actually wondered if I could slit my wrists with a bar coaster. But I didn't want that damn whistle to be the last sound I ever heard.)

As I moved from woman to woman I started to develop a game plan. I gave up with the pleasantries and dove right into the questioning. First question: Quickly give me the rundown - name, job, where you're from, what do you like to do. Second question: What are you passionate about? The ones who answer #2 with, "Um...gee...passionate? I don't know..." they were all a definite no. I'd occasionally start off with a joke about how I hoped the guy in front of me was terrible so I'd look good. (That truly came to fruition when he bumped the table, spilling a glass of red wine all over the woman he was about to spend 180 painful seconds with.)

And just like that, the first round was over. I had circled yes on three women. (In unison you may now all scream, "God, you're so #@$%&! picky!")

Round Two went pretty much the same. Same kind of women. Same results: Three yeses. Although Round Two had this beauty of an exchange.

Me: "So what are you passionate about?"
Her: "That's a boring question. I don't answer boring questions."
Me: "What are you passionate about is a boring question?"
Her: "(Deep sigh.) I'm passionate about waking up in the morning. Next."

(Next? Next I spend my remaining three minutes going to the bathroom.)

There were a few drawbacks to the format. Since the bar was really crowded, it was very loud and very hot. I was physically exhausted when it was over. I felt like I had been to the gym. Completely drained. Also, despite the fact they told us to take notes, after 50 mini-dates I couldn't remember a thing about the six I circled yes to other than what they looked like. Was she a nurse or a lawyer? Just move here or a native? I was at a loss.

Two days later I received my results via e-mail. In Round One I matched up with one of the three. (Lucky for me, she was the one I wanted to match up with most in that round.) And in Round Two I matched up with three of three. A 4:6 ratio wasn't too bad. I quickly contacted all four and admitted I didn't remember much about them. Apparently they didn't remember much of what we had talked about either. Whew.

After a few round of e-mail tag between us, I set up dates over the course of two weeks so that we could spend more than three minutes getting to know each other. No need to get into the details of those dates here, but I will say in general they were all great, with some better than others. That same spark I felt in those furtive three minutes was there for each of the full dates.

Of course it's too early to tell where any of this will go. But I must say, as far as HurryDate went, it was a complete success. I couldn't have asked for better results. (Well, maybe if they offered the Miss Universe HurryDate night.) Would I do it again? Absolutely.

I just really, really hope this time I don't have to.


ABOUT MATT MORIN

Matt would love to be George Plimpton...welll, except for the being dead part. He supplies the doing and the writing. All he asks of you is the reading.

more about matt morin

IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...

2001: a matt odyssey
everything i learned in 2001.
by matt morin
topic: general
published: 12.28.01


how intrepid changed my life
for the worse.
by matt morin
topic: general
published: 9.18.02





COMMENTS

adam kraemer
10.14.02 @ 10:11a

What do toilet paper, laundry detergent and single women have in common?

You don't know how to use any of them correctly?

michael driscoll
10.14.02 @ 11:24a

From the moment I heard the words "speed dating" I realized that our society would soon get a visit from the four horesemen in addition to hail, famine and swarms of locusts. I am most disappointed that dating has evolved into a formal interview process. However, I commend you, Matt, on doing everything you can to find someone. Whomever she is...I'm sure she's up for parole soon.

[edited]

joe procopio
10.14.02 @ 11:36a

This column should be the first step in any marriage counseling program.

Although I bet I could have done better than 4:6. Do they have competitive speed dating? Competitive contact speed dating?

trey askew
10.14.02 @ 11:54a

Can you practice for this kind of thing? Maybe flash cards at home?


matt morin
10.14.02 @ 12:41p

I'm serious - if for nothing but fun, people should give it a shot. You'll be amazed at how fast 3 minutes goes by. Trey, maybe I should have practiced...

A lot of my friends think I'm crazy and will never meet anyone in "artificial" ways like this. I just see it as a chance to meet 50 women I would have never met normally.

heather millen
10.14.02 @ 1:47p

Oh, I'm sure you can meet a diverse group of people. I just love the girl that thought "What are you passionate about?" was a boring question. Hmm... that's a keeper!

I had a couple other guy friends who did this. Though I don't think they took it very seriously, and if I recall correctly, used one of their 3 minute intervals to make out with the girl. I guess it wasn't completely fruitless for them either.

[edited]

adam kraemer
10.14.02 @ 1:48p

And you get a very useful "out" which doesn't often happen in real life.

matt morin
10.14.02 @ 2:01p

Wow. If you can be making out with a girl less than 3 minutes after meeting here...you probably don't need to bother with speed dating.

Adam, the "out" thing is very helpful. It's never fun to explain to someone you just had a blind date with that you don't really want to see them again. This way it's a simple yes or no in secret and that's that.


tracey kelley
10.14.02 @ 2:47p

Good God. You describing it via email is one thing - seeing the whole process detailed qualifies it for a Margaret Mead study.

Face it. The only women you're attracted to for long periods of time fall under the category of Intrepid nectar. We've spoiled you.

adam kraemer
10.14.02 @ 3:01p

Like an overripe banana.

matt morin
10.14.02 @ 4:09p

Well, I've had one of the women from Speed Dating e-mail me to say she was glad I didn't write anything bad about her.

I wonder if any of the other ones will read this...

heather millen
10.14.02 @ 4:42p

You're still keeping in touch? So you get that out of it too. Even if you didn't get to make out with anyone in under three minutes.

That guy is a bit of a ho actually and that occurred simply because he asked. Like I said, I don't think he took it very seriously.

[edited]

jack bradley
10.14.02 @ 6:56p

Asking directly, approaching directly, and being clear when you are not interested are all underrated. I have no problem saying "No thanks, I already have a drink," or "That was the worst line I ever heard," or "Please don't let that (or any other) part of your body touch me again."

Of course, even then, you'll get the odd psychopath who thinks you're being coy. I find that those 'three little words' come in handy, then.

"Please Go Away."

matt morin
10.14.02 @ 7:09p

Jack, that's the beauty of speed dating. There are no pretenses. You're not there just to hang out and talk to people. You're there to meet someone you might want to date.

Heather, no, it's not like we really keep in touch. But prior to our first date, one woman was really interested in IM and wanted me to tell her when my article posted. So I did. She's off dating someone else now anyway.

heather millen
10.14.02 @ 8:24p

Aww... that's okay. We wouldn't want to interrupt your "hiatus."

And Jack, I thoroughly agree with your "direct" statement. Carpe diem.

[edited]

robert melos
10.14.02 @ 9:17p

Interesting concept. The local Pride Center holds occasional speed dating nights, but so far I've not gone. I'm almost intrigued enough to give it a shot. 4 out of 6. Hmmm. Not bad, but I like Joe's idea of competitive speed dating. I could see this as reality game show. Take 6 people, we'll do it for the straight crowd, 3 of each, and run them through the dating questions in the first half of the show, then dissect each other's answers in the second half of the show. Finish with a big match up or non-match goodbye kiss, like the old dating game.

I guess the magic of meeting the right person accidentally, on the street or in a bar, or at work, or on a crowded bus is passe.

michelle von euw
10.15.02 @ 10:39a

So, Matt, was it worth it? I can't believe you had to go through 50 women just to come up with four who you felt a spark with and vice versa. That sounds so exhausting.

jael mchenry
10.15.02 @ 11:05a

Because you're so #@$%&! picky.

adam kraemer
10.15.02 @ 11:35a

And, apparently, they aren't.

matt morin
10.15.02 @ 12:35p

While exhausting, the whole thing was pretty fun. I think most people understood and went with the semi-ridiculousness of the whole thing. So there was a lot of laughing about how we couldn't believe we were actually doing this. And while 50 to get 4 seems like a lot, if I pulled 50 random guys off the street, how many do you think you'd be interested in and them interested in you? I don't think 4 in 50 is a terrible ratio.

heather millen
10.15.02 @ 12:54p

That's actually a really good defense. I thought about it... I met approximately 20 guys this weekend. There is ONE that I have any real interest in ever talking to again.

adam kraemer
10.15.02 @ 1:22p

Because you're so #@$%&! picky.

matt morin
10.15.02 @ 1:52p

I don't think I need a good defense as to why I tried speed dating. At this point in my life, anything I can do to meet more people, I'm all for. Especially when it's as easy to do as HurryDate. That was just a couple hours on a Wednesday night. Well worth the time.

heather millen
10.15.02 @ 2:12p

I wasn't saying that you did. I meant a good defense as to people's reaction to your ratio (i.e... see Adam and Jael above.) And citing my experiences, I'd say 4 in 50 isn't doing so bad.

michelle von euw
10.15.02 @ 2:12p

I'm glad to hear that you had fun and it was worth your time. Because it sounds just so overwhelming and draining, especially the part about repeating the same information 50 times to 50 different people. Poor Matt! Did you want to start describing your secret life as a superhero by date #33?

Is the wine provided? Did the dates seem looser toward the end? Or just... sleepy?

jael mchenry
10.15.02 @ 2:40p

I wasn't reacting to his ratio. He asked us to say he was picky. Also, he is.

matt morin
10.15.02 @ 2:40p

It was really draining. But I didn't mind repeating myself over and over because each woman I met was new to me. That's what I really cared about - getting to know them as quickly as possible.

The bar had drink specials, but nothing was free. I have to thank my two friends who "watched", as they kept me supplied with beers during the whole thing.

michelle von euw
10.15.02 @ 3:28p

I'm so intrigued by this. I'm tempted to pull out my media credentials and hit the one in Harvard Square next week. Of course, it'd be even better if I can convince one of my single friends to actually sign up.

tracey kelley
10.15.02 @ 3:33p

Tag alert!

Intrepid Media: Because you're so #@$%&! picky.

matt morin
10.15.02 @ 3:53p

Michelle, go for it. At the very least, go sit in the back of the bar with a beer and observe. (They didn't charge to get into the bar itself, just to do the HurryDate thing.)

Personally, I thought it was fascinating to see the different people who were there. If you can, sit close enough to one of the tables to overhear the conversation.

Or for $30 worth of fun, sign up, go, talk to everyone and just circle N for each guy - they'll never get any info on you.

tracey kelley
10.15.02 @ 4:20p

Now THAT's the idea, Michelle! You and Joe* could both do it, just to see what would happen! :)

tracey kelley
10.15.02 @ 4:20p

Now THAT's the idea, Michelle! You and Joe* could both do it, just to see what would happen! :)

tracey kelley
10.15.02 @ 4:20p

Now THAT's the idea, Michelle! You and Joe* could both do it, just to see what would happen! :)

tracey kelley
10.15.02 @ 4:20p

Now THAT's the idea, Michelle! You and Joe* could both do it, just to see what would happen! :)

tracey kelley
10.15.02 @ 4:21p

Ahhhhh! The library computer bleched!

sarah ficke
10.15.02 @ 4:31p

"Bleched"? I think that's my new favorite verb.

Where in Harvard Square is it?

matt morin
10.15.02 @ 5:01p

Here's all the HurryDate info.

[edited]

adam kraemer
10.15.02 @ 5:25p

Wow, apparently Tracey feels really strongly about that.

joshua king
10.15.02 @ 6:33p

"I wonder why he can't find someone?" Funny, this thought has never crossed my mind when thinking about you.

wendy p
10.15.02 @ 7:40p

HA! Now that was funny. :)

matt morin
10.16.02 @ 12:19a

Josh, I don't want to know why you're thinking about me.

matt morin
10.16.02 @ 5:10p

So get this: I send the link for this column to HurryDate. (Trying for a little cross-promotion.) I get back a few e-mails from HD headquarters in NY, plus a few from the people who put it on here. They all liked my column. Then one of the women asks me out for drinks.

Kinda cool. It's like buy 4 dates, get one free. (Well, it's not actually a date, but still...)

russ carr
10.16.02 @ 5:12p

Hey, she asked you out, compadre. And drinks are on her, at least first round.

matt morin
10.16.02 @ 5:16p

No matter how the evening goes, I already give her a ton of credit for stepping up and asking me to drinks in the first place. Women just don't do that often enough.

daniel castro
10.16.02 @ 8:02p

I need to take notes of all of this...It should come handy sometime soon. (read: I'm lonely, and I need help! I'm so pathetic!) hahahhahah. But no, really.

daniel castro
10.17.02 @ 6:50p

Oh, Matt, how about lavalife.com? it's all good except for the fact that you have to buy "credits" in order to talk or email someone there.

matt morin
10.18.02 @ 2:35p

Daniel, if you're in college (or going soon) you'll have plenty of women around to meet. Take advantage - that's half of what higher education is there for.

Wait til you're in your 30s to try weird stuff like this.

jason siciliano
11.1.02 @ 4:22p

Lot of pride in that bar, Matt. Lot of pride.



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