Friday, March 27, 2015

Speed Dating: A Review of a Dashing Date, Toronto @ Trevor Restaurant March 26 2015

Actual footage of a dashing date. Wind machines included.

It was only a matter of time, Dear Reader, before I would eventually try this method of dating. Since, as you know if you follow this blog, I have dated close to *mumbles large number* met online, I have a keen interest in the sport. A few years ago my singular first hand observation of it was by pure happenstance, when I mistakenly stumbled into the private back room of a lounge where a sleek collection of bespectacled Asians were gently talking at candlelit tables and furiously writing in little cards. It looked cool but you could feel the pent up anticipation in the room.

At some point in the past I must have signed up for Dashing Date (DD), or perhaps its predecessor Meet Up Toronto, or maybe I didn't and they are stalking me. Who knows? Suddenly two weeks ago, my work inbox received an email indicating that DD was looking for women in my age bracket (which is hilarious because my current age is awkward and actually falls between standard brackets). Obviously this email had been tailored just for me!

The overall marketing was very good. They had a theme, tied to the weather, which gave you some indication of what to wear and which I always find very helpful. Think: skirts! I decided to pony up the $50 bucks (yes, $50, plus tax and an processing fee) for the opportunity to speed date and the promise of ONE drink (more on this in a minute). The day of, they sent another themed email reminding you of the event with tips and tricks on how to be a good date. I liked a lot of what they wrote. What I didn't like, and what I continue to not like, is the requirement to provide a picture to be "accepted" into their stupid little event. They say that attaching a picture to your work resume is mandatory in South Korea and Linked-In is a digital version of this very thing. I don't think a vision-based dating system should be encouraged and it sets the wrong tone. As you may remember, Dear Reader, I believe that smart is overrated and beauty is a curse. So I provided a black and white picture, wrote a few words about myself "mature, spiritual, sophisticated" and waited to get an acceptance email. I don't need validation from superficial strangers and if you are looking for a way to quickly piss me off, bitch, you found it.

I guess their standards are low cuz I was in!

I dashed (lol) from my hot yoga class after a refreshing shower and gossip session in the ladies locker room to the venue at Trevor, and down the stairs into the bar / lounge. I passed my drink ticket to the bartender and received enough "white wine" to fit in a large shot glass. It was horrible tasting and embarrassing to carry around. When I bought my own, they gave me twice the amount of horrifying swill they called "white wine" and charged more that 12 DOLLARS. (Reader's Note: Usually wine has a name, like the grapes used to make it, or the name on the label). I used to live in Switzerland and it tasted the same as the new wine they harvest in the fall that is so unpalatable they almost give it away for free to impoverished students.

Note to self: bring a flask to speed dating.

The event started late and the host apologized and said "We will start soon, I've just called two more girls..." Remember this language, Dear Reader, because I think it will prove important later. Anyway, the woman I was seated next to was a self-proclaimed "matchmaker" with amazing energy who may have been doing some reconnaissance for her own profession... literally,  a spy in the house of love.

Speed dating works like thisThe women sat at individual tables and the men sat across. Five or so minutes of conversation and then the host appeared holding a small gong. When the gong was ... gonged? ... it was time for the men to switch seats. It was like swiping left in real time. Speed dating is exhausting and it was UNBELIEVABLY LOUD. Coupled with the fact that some men had thick accents, it was a sincere effort in every way. Each person was given a little card which they filled in with their personal info and then were supposed to list the people we met with three further options beside each name:

Let's Date! - interested

Let's have coffee. - you have been friend-zoned

No way! - not interested.

Now, take a moment to do the math. If you want to increase your odds of making a connection, you should check "Let’s Date!" on every name so that you will be saying yes to those who say yes to you. Being shy or coy doesn't work in this statistical environment and that is a good thing. Your only real decision is if you run up on someone you really do not want to see again and then you check "No Way".

Most of the men I met were lovely; in that they were gainfully employed, highly intelligent and average-looking. They were the men you see walking down the street in the banking district, with a diverse mix of ethnicities. When meeting strangers it is always important to dress to your particular strengths and to be in a good mood with an openness to move with the flow of the conversation. I had to laugh at the young man who responded, when I asked what he liked to do for fun, "Fun? What is fun? That is not a question you would ask people in a normal environment!" He also told me he was an atheist and he didn’t like dogs because they were too much trouble. So, he's still single, ladies.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience and I would do it again. However, it is my sincere belief that some of the people - especially two of the women, and one of the men - were ringers. I think that they were exceptionally beautiful people employed by Dashing Date and "salted" in among the regular folk to increase the visual effect of the room. They were the people the host was taking pictures of, they were the ones speaking among themselves and generally not behaving in a nervous manner. They were taller, thinner, bigger-breasted and better dressed than anyone in the room by a long shot. If I had to guess, they were likely models. I think they were on hand to fill in the spaces when others did not show up. I think that is why the host said, "I've just called two more girls and they are coming right now". When they event was over, they were first in line to get their coats and they stopped and waited for each other outside the venue. In short, they were walking and talking (about where they lived) as colleagues do after a work shift, not the nervous banter of singles looking to create a match.

When I came to this realization I felt a little "had". But then I thought to myself how lonely and jaded these people must be making conversation with people they have no intention of ever seeing again. I was very grateful that I was in the game honestly.

My results came back and I was a mutual match with one man. He has already emailed me for drinks or dinner. So, I paid $50 to do what I can do myself for free on POF. However, very few females are as forthcoming as me online, or follow The Rules, so that added element of introduction and fun no-pressure meeting is a handy and worthwhile use of your time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gratitude Journal 2014

Let us take a moment, Dear Reader, to reminisce fondly on all the good things that happened to me in 2014...

This year I wanted to focus on relationships. I wanted to improve the ones that were worthwhile and I wanted to jettison the ones that were toxic. This is not to be taken lightly, or in some sort of idiot rage. As we get older, especially women, we lose our weak friendships to marriages and divorces and new eating fads and exercise regimens and cults and jobs that require them to move. And finding new women friends is never easy. My circle is small - it always has been - but for those lucky enough to be on my Christmas card list, I believe I am worth the effort. 

Jan 11-12: Good friendship weekend!
Mar 1 -2: Ditto!

As for relationships with the opposite sex, well... It's always something. Let's just say that I meet a lot of really nice men, not all of them make this blog and that is a good thing. I would never rip a person apart unless I truly felt they deserved it. But this is a list of the things I am GRATEFUL for so ...let's carry on. No year would be complete nor would I be completely honest if I didn't nurse some sort of Fantasy Relationship. This is the unattainable, bad-for-you, unbelievably handsome and often unavailable man in your world that you dream of one day... you don't know what. This year it began at a work function where he (almost) spoke to me first, put his arm around me and ...nothing! Nothing happened! That is why they call it a Fantasy Relationship! A few days later I winked at him in the revolving door (because I am a saucy Lil minx) but my feminine wiles were no match and he proceeded to ignore me the whole year through. Fantasy Relationships (FR) are always lessons and for this I am grateful.

Free floor-seat basketball tickets! Ballin'.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, my co-worker gave me Godiva chocolate-dipped strawberries. And old winter boots. I have a history with choco-dipped strawberries: they once made me sick. But I enjoyed them, and the boots (it was the coldest winter in a hundred years or something) and the co-worker. I have certainly had worse working relationships. Later in the year, she jumped in and did a project that was keeping me up at night. For this I am grateful. Speaking of which, I am grateful that I can feel happy even when the corporate world is ugly.

To paraphrase a certain book-turned-movie, my mother is the Love of My Life. I am often astounded that the Universe was kind enough to put us together, and for so long. Hardly anyone I know is that lucky. She is my Hero, my guiding light, I look to her flawless guidance in all things I am terrified of one day being without her. I have said this before and I will say it again, she is the funniest, coolest person I have ever met. For her, I am grateful.

I put a big dent in my mortgage this year. Mostly due to another millionaire tenant. Also, if my calculations are correct, I made a tidy investment profit this year. For this I am grateful. 

After four years of singing with the church choir and travelling to Rome to sing for the Pope, I decided to take a year off. I rec'd a free music education and learned to read music to the point where I can almost sight sing. We even recorded a CD but it was very, very hard work and is prolly the reason they invented Auto Tune. The choir was hard, full of weird bitches - male and female - and I am grateful that part of my life has come to an end. For this, I am grateful. 

I am one of those people who likes working bankers hours. I also like doing nothing. The high point of my week is drinking tea and reading books in bed. So, I am grateful for snowy Saturday afternoons to go window shopping and banana shakes, tans and outdoor skating and HOT yoga and learning to run a mile on the treadmill, Spring (including but not limited to: Forget-Me-Knots, Daisies, Tiger Lilies) and clean laundry, vision boards and talking about abnormal psychology (because my neighbours give me so much raw material!), sushi and shopping on perfect October Saturday afternoons, which are not to be confused with ballet and opera tickets and champagne cocktails on gray November Saturday afternoons.

I received two pieces to add to my Tiffany collection this year;
1. A Tiffany-blue pen I keep in my purse to sign cheques. It's so elegant!
2. A silver heart pendant from a new friend (see above: Friendships, female). I was so touched when I rec'd it that I felt adrenaline cracking in my veins and I turned red.

I got new sheets. Choosing new linen makes me feel like a 1950s hausfrau in all the best ways and for this I am grateful.

I have on this list that I am grateful for my cat, but this is probably a typo because my cat is an asshole. He allows The Vile Woman Who Always Wears Sweatpants and Leaves The House With Wet Hair (Even In The Winter) to pet him. He is the worst kind of asshole, an asshole with no loyalty.

We went skiing in Quebec and it was the last weekend of the year and everything was melting, then there was this giant snowstorm and we skied 7km in powder. Standing at the top of a mountain on a perfect day is to be one with the Universe. Infinite gratitude.

I am grateful for Tina Fey and Maggie Smith, for Second City and English dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Downtown Abby.

I bought a(nother) Gucci purse. I am grateful for luxuries.

Speaking of luxuries, I went to Hawaii this summer. It is like paradise on Earth. Like Bali, I am drawn to places that make it easy to be spiritual and Hawaii is all spirit. We were rewarded with a "mountain view" room instead of the usual "ocean-view". If the ocean breeze was strong, the view flat and unrelenting, then the mountain was inviting, mystical and peaceful. It was the best thing that could have happened.I also bought a new suitcase and it is so pretty that it made this list. I am grateful for American money, which made the trip possible. OK enough about Hawaii (but dude...)
One final thing, though.
I have a deep and painful history regarding a bracelet of pearls, my late father and something that was unfairly kept from me. The universe saw fit to right this wrong. For a few dollars I became the proud owner of not one, but two of the largest pearl bracelets I have ever seen in life. They are so large that I feel weird wearing them on the subway. Pearls are a sign of purity and they came at the best time. A few months later I walked into Birk's and in the window were exact copies of my bracelets. I asked how much they were and they were easily 10x the price I paid. I am so grateful.
I had never finished a degree I started at University and it always bugged me. Of course, I graduated, there was just one thing I started that I did not finish and so I went back. I handed in 4 assignments and I rec'd A's on all four of them. I am so grateful I did this for myself. I graduate (again) in June.

I fixed the brakes in one of my cars RIGHT BEFORE a giant winter storm. I am grateful.

I am grateful that I handled my own panic attack.

I am grateful for the Russian dude at that cool party who kept saying "my iguana".

I am grateful for those two guys back in September.

I tried to crack my own shell and be a joiner this year.
I volunteered to climb the CN Tower, raised almost $500 AND went to New Orleans to build a house in the 8th Ward with Habitat for Humanity. On Sept 25 I saw a NOLA marching band and got drunk. It was so amazing I hope I remember that on my death bed. I practiced not being addicted to good feelings this year, and trust me, climbing the CN Tower with a bunch of sweaty bank employees is the way to feel bad feelings. 

As you may have noticed, food plays a large part of my gratitude journal and this year is no exception. The following food events are notably for various reasons and are listed in no particular order:
I ate a delicious Italian dinner with A_____ uptown during a summer rain storm.
On December 23rd, I had dinner with some co-workers at an amazing restaurant. If you read this blog, you may be interested in my restaurant reviews under the same name on Urbanspoon. One girl was a total prick, but to balance the karma another girl was the very essence of grace and charm. I hate making a mistake when I invite someone out and having little bitches ruin my appetite at restaurants. Nothing is more annoying than paying for food that you no longer feel like eating. Who can think of what wine goes with braised lamb when there is a bitch in your midst? For her, I am grateful.

I had a quiet perfect Christmas and five and a half days of absolute silence. I am grateful for Christmas.

And now for the most important thing. On July 24th I met a lovely, kind, thoughtful man and he and I are still together. He makes it fun to get dressed up and he gives me confidence to speak up. I will say no more, except this: I am grateful for 28 July 2014. He will understand. 

You may remember that my last Gratitude Journal included a shout out to my pregnant friend Adrienne. I am pleased to announce that she was delivered of a son in the middle of year and yes, I am grateful for little babies.