Tuesday 24 April 2018

Nightwatch: Speeding things up

Declan Cashin

Hands up whoever has gone to a speed-dating night. Anyone? (A tumbleweed blows by.) Wait, is that a hand up at the back ... oh right, you're pointing and laughing at me. I can understand why many of you might be reluctant to admit it. More than one friend -- though that title is under review -- openly scoffed at my recent plans to go to a speed-dating event, but I persevered regardless.

"You don't think it's a little desperate?" asked one 'acquaintance', a man with three different profiles on separate online dating sites.

Actually, I didn't think it desperate at all. I saw it as being proactive. I'd admitted to myself that my love life was somewhat lacking -- barren, if you will -- so I decided it was time to shake things up, and to try a new approach to meet potential paramours.

I duly signed up for a new gay speed-dating night, which was taking place during Valentine's week, and recruited a friend who was new to the Dublin scene to come along with me.

It took place on a Wednesday evening and, having met beforehand for what I reckoned was an essential pre-event pint of self-esteem, we arrived at the designated location for registration. I instantly spotted another friend at the bar due to take part. "I better not bloody well read about this in the paper," he warned. "Of course not," I said, offended. "What do you take me for B___?"

We got chatting to a few of the guys already there, all the while subtly eyeing up every man walking in the door to a) pre-emptively target the hottest ones, and b) to watch out for -- dum-dum-dum! -- any exes turning up (which would have entailed the deployment of an exit strategy so swift and brutally efficient that President Obama would headhunt me to oversee Afghan operations).

There were 26 guys taking part on the night; the first 13 to turn up -- which included me -- would be the ones who sat at the tables, and the next 13 would be the guys who moved around. Each date lasted three minutes, and we all had score cards to keep track of names and to select the ones that we might want to meet one-on-one at a later stage.

My friend and I were soon perched on our chairs, like medieval European royalty awaiting the succession of potential suitors to present themselves before us.

It started off well: everyone seemed to be there with the right attitude and threw themselves into it gamely.

In nearly all instances the three minutes flew by, a window of time that, to be fair, can be easily filled with small talk about jobs, where one is from and how they'd never done speed-dating before. There were all sorts, from all over the country, and it made for a good mix.

Of course, I see now that I was more nervous than I realised: by the time I got round to date No 10, my world was spinning, my heart was thumping and I felt like I was floating on air.

Alas, those symptoms had nothing to do with the heady rush of love, but rather the steady stream of drinks that I kept ordering. Damn you and your wicked seductive ways, Lady Vodka.

This being my big move to attempt new things, I tried to keep an open mind and paid particular attention to the guys that I wouldn't customarily go for or fancy. But in the end, I picked three fellas that I'd like to meet again -- all of them my classic type. Don't look at me that way. I tried, okay?

The next day, I got an email from the organiser with the contact details for two guys I had selected (meaning they'd picked me too). I haven't met either one yet, but I have made the crucial first step: I've added them on Facebook. Let the vetting commence.

Maybe nothing will come of the speed-dating, but I'm glad I went through with it. It was fun, it proved the naysayers wrong and, most importantly, it helped to grease the rusty dating hinges ... erm, so to speak. Ding! Next please.


Irish Independent

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