We're referring to the February 26 "Singles in the City" extravaganza, which sounded somewhat intriguing. Sponsored by a bunch of radio stations and dating facilitators we personally would join only after hitting rock bottom, the event also featured speed dating, a version of The Dating Game, and an "autograph & 'kissing' booth" staffed by "local celebs." (OK, we kind of got excited about the kissing booth -- until we read the press release more carefully and saw that the "celebs" would be giving out the miniature Hershey's. Damn it!)
However, as utterly cheesy as all of this sounded, we tried to go in with open minds, for what the hell do we know about meeting people? (Uh, make that meeting people we'd like to actually see again, that is.) We figured that, if anything, perhaps we'd meet other like-minded folks who were also into mocking such things, as well as into piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. So, we wrangled Research Assistants Tracey and Rachel to help us check it out.
After wending our way through empty, labyrinthine corridors to get to the basement meeting hall, we were accosted by a woman who was taking Polaroids for the "meet-me board" (or, as we liked to call it, the meat-me board -- a gigantic wall of pictures where notes could be left under photos of people who looked interesting). Actually, the best part of the event was reading the folded-up notes left on the board, especially the anonymously snarky ones. For the woman who was obviously sticking out her busty chest: "Are those real?" For an androgynous-looking guy: "Bi? Gay? Curious?" We laughed our asses off until we were busted and falsely accused of switching the notes around.
Before that, though, we made a beeline for the martini bar, which was actually pretty good, though it seemed like a rip-off to pay $7 for a martini when it had cost $30 at the door to get in. We downed our girl drinks in record time (though there was a cruel irony in drinking a Sex in the City while in a Midwestern convention-hall basement) and, once fortified, checked out the goods. The first thing we noticed: no autograph-and-kissing booth -- damn it again. Just seeing what constituted a local celeb to the organizers would have made our night. The turnout was lackluster in the cavernous space. The majority of the crowd seemed older; one guy wrote on his name tag: "I'm a fat 50-year-old jerk with no $ and no future." Oooh, h-o-t! We got the feeling, though, that many of the attendees were sincerely trying to meet that special someone, as opposed to swooping in to get laid.
Because of the martinis, the Night Ranger decided to put her loud and possibly obnoxious ass through the speed-dating process -- just for the hell of it but also as a public service to you, dear readers. The NR, who had never done this, sat at the 25-35 age-range table with 10 other women, and the schmoozin' began. The guys in our session all seemed like nice people -- there were even one or two the NR would maybe hang out with, in a friend sense -- but she wasn't feeling the elusive click with any of them. Plus, a couple of the suitors were a little too earnest in their efforts. One even brought a small list of questions: "What is your favorite sport? What activities do you like to do?" (This was followed by a long list of acceptable answers, such as horseback riding, canoeing and hiking. Mysteriously, drinking and making out were not options.)
After talking to so many testostees for 40 minutes, we needed some girl bonding time and soon met Amanda, 25, and Corinne, 29. They, too, were there for the hell of it and had no expectations, which was the way to go. They told us about their weirder interactions, which included being told by one guy, upon finding out about the women's biology degrees, "You guys must be really smart." (Hey, Lawrence Summers, when did you get into town?)
"I used to live in South Dakota, and one guy said, 'I was in Salt Lake City one time,'" Amanda said. "I didn't know what to say. It's like, OK, that's nice." (We're not that up on U.S. geography, either, but good lord. South Dakota and Salt Lake City? We feared the spawning capacity of the room.)
One person who seemed to know what was what was Cookie, an English teacher at Center High School. This older, attractive woman ("Oh, honey, I don't tell my age --a lady never tells ... I grew up south of the Mason-Dixon Line") seemed to have made a luv connection with a mustachioed guy. They were chatting intimately when we spotted them.
"I'm not sure if it's a love connection. It's a personality connection," she said after El Mustachio wandered off for a bit. "We hit it off smashingly." She then voiced her complaint about the evening.
"This event should have been kick-ass. It's well-known on the East Coast, and it should have had a better turnout," she said. "It's a safe venue for singles ... it's almost telling about everything else in KC," she added, citing the debacle that is Union Station.
"I go to my job and stay home. I don't go to bars, and I'm not in the dating scene," she said. "For me, this is an experiment to get outside of my comfort zone. In the classroom, I'm queen, but socially I'm shy. I'm disappointed more people didn't show up."
"Well, you did make a personality connection," we pointed out. Just then, Mr. Mustache came back and swept her onto the dance floor.
Speaking of connections, we remembered a couple of days later that we never found out how we scored in speed dating, having fled the scene so quickly. We e-mailed HurryDate HQ and got this response: "Since the HurryDate you participated in was a little different than our normal parties, participants actually didn't get matched up." Um. Wasn't getting matched up the point of the event? The e-mail went on to explain that we'd get a free trial subscription to the company's online service, where we could track down the guys we met, blah, blah, blah.
Uh, that's OK. We'd rather go back to our usual reliable methods of finding luv: in bars, with friends of exes and stalking "local celebs." Oh, did we say that out loud?