Thursday, 6 August 2009

Dating sites

What a strange concept dating sites are. There's no denying they are popular, and the author here has dabbled. I know that will come as a huge surprise to everyone that I am single, but that's a long story.

Against my better judgement I once went along to a so called speed dating event. I would be interested to know the success rate of these events as from this person's point of view I would say it's probably somewhere in the region of zero! I should say that a fee is charged for you to attend, so the evening is a success for some involved.

The evening started with registration, and I was given an expensive badge, carefully peeled from it's backing, supplied by WH Smith is my guess, with my first name written in some unidentifiable font with a Magic Marker. I then proceeded downstairs to a private function room with bar where my first observation was that all the men were of roughly the same age, with the same receding hairline and all wearing black from head to toe! The main difference was in the waist size of the trousers we were wearing.

All the men were there first, all behaving in their own particular way. I picked a spot to quietly observe them. Gradually a number of women arrived, again roughly the same age group and dressed for the occasion, care taken in their choice of apparel. Mr Confident was on his feet, sliding his way silently to the bar, sidling up beside his first prospect. Hang on, I thought this was an organised event, not a free-for-all. Clearly Mr Confident was an experienced Speed Dater and knew to try and make an impression early.

Next I observed Mr Shy, sitting there on his own, his skinny frame almost hidden by the ceiling pillar beside him. Knees together and sitting upright, sipping his drink occasionally, never turning his head to do the unthinkable and observe any female entering the room. Just the occasional movement of his eyes daring to steal a quick look, wondering how Mr Confident was getting on, and why wasn't he like that.

Next up, Mr Slick. Boy this guy thought he had it in the bag! He did a once round the room, circling the central bar, checking out the competition. None, in his opinion, a sly smile crossing his face. He saunters up to a female, and though I didn't hear what he said, it was probably something along the lines of; "Hi, I'm fabulous, would you like to touch me".

Mr Beige makes his entry. I call him Mr Beige, even though he was dressed all in black like everyone else, but I imagine this is his only other outfit besides his beige wardrobe of cardigans and slacks. I suppose I could have been more sarcastic and called him Mr Interesting in an ironic fashion, but that would just be cruel.

Of course I'm no God's gift by any means, and I could say I was there merely for research, but actually . . . OK, I will say I was there merely for research. Makes me sound more interesting.

And the list went on; Mr Portly, Mr 1970's, Mr "I'm married and trying to start an affair", etc. The scene was set. The first bell sounded, the gates were up, and the runners were off. Twelve girls, twelve guys, each with just four minutes to chat and measure her ring finger.

And the girls? Well, a wide mix would be the PC thing to say. Ranging from the genuinely interesting and intelligent to the desperate and how big is your wallet never mind your package. Here's some of whom I met;

A charming girl first of all, just straight from work I imagined, though quite where she'd left her pole I had no idea. Cheeky smile and not looking for anything too permanent I guessed. Then there was a woman my own age, dressed in much the same colours as the men, who really just needed someone to talk to as she proceeded to tell me, and every other man that evening, about her ex-husband. A right cad as it turns out.

The questions asked are rather mundane, such as, what films do you like, do you travel, do you like going out for a meal, do you have any kids, do you want any (somewhere I heard a fire alarm going off), and the straight-to-the-point question, which I actually was asked as a first question from an oriental lady; "how much money do you earn?" The worst question, which everyone tries to avoid, is, what do you do for a living? Aaaargh! Surely you can ask me something more creative than that such as, what did you last buy your mother and why? Well, you know what I mean.

Then it was the twins. Now these two were very funny. Both from Poland and sitting near each other, I chatted first with one, then other. To my surprise out came a piece of paper; "I am coming from Poland, where are you coming from? I likes sunshine, do you? I look tonight for husband, what do you look for?" It may have just been me but I'm sure the juke box was playing the chilling violin music from the shower scene in Psycho! The bell went to change!

Then it was the next twin. I hoped for better. Out came a piece of paper; "I am coming from Poland, where are you coming from? I likes sunshine do you? I look tonight for husband what do you look for?"

All too soon it was over. I then chatted a while with the only person I was remotely interested in that evening, the bar tender. She thought the whole evening was quite comical and assured me that they are not all like this.

I decided this was the wrong approach for me, so I had the tattoo "desperate" surgically removed from my forehead, and subscribed to one of the dating sites. I'm not too sure what your sixty quid for six months really gives you, as the majority of the site works for free. Unless you want to know what your prospective partner thinks is her perfect match. You can't see that without paying. And you're limited to the number of profiles you can view.

After creating a profile of myself and posting a picture that I though was of me at my best (I ditched the idea of me in Speedos, circa 1982), I entered the details of my preferred partner and trawled through the matches. One hundred and eighty six profiles later, and eyes like dogs balls through staring at the screen 'til 1am, I had emailed seven women.

I was encouraged by the fact that every woman was looking for the same kind of man; caring, understanding, thoughtful, non-smoker, comfortable in his own skin, wants kids but number undecided (there's that fire alarm again. Strange). I did receive positive replies, and went on to meet a few, but with no long term success I'm sorry to report (one woman, a dedicated golfer, turned up in a completely matching lime-green golf outfit!). A number of women wrote to me as a first contact, but after replying I heard nothing more. Some say that some send lots of emails out and then wait for the replies, as they know most men are desperate. An ego-stroking excercise maybe. But my experience has been a positive one, but to date, ladies, I'm still available for some dates, but number undecided.

Maybe I should get a dog.

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