I Went To Geek Speed Dating Last Night (And Totally Loved It… Mostly)


Pictured: Dating.

I have had a lot of unpleasant dating experiences (as well as some good ones, but who wants to hear about those?). One of the reasons I moved to Portland last month, in fact, was because I wanted to get away from the concentration of exes that is Southern California for me. Every other time I have tried to start anew with my dating life, I wind up in relationships with either emotionally unavailable stoners (my “type”, if you’ll recall) or attempting some depressingly stressful long distance thing. Now, however, I’ve finally begun making an effort to actually change my dating life in three steps:

  1. Moving away from the toxic cycles and situations I have continuously put myself in throughout the past few years with the same people over and over.
  2. Not going for anybody who is excessively similar to my typical type (and therefore bad for me).
  3. Meeting people in ways other than just through other exes or in my ridiculously incestuous friend group.

Since being here, I have primarily focused on making friends and working — though I did meet somebody nice recently and told him he was dying — so dating hasn’t been too far in the front of my mind. So, when my housemate Ethan’s married friend told us during dinner the other night that she would be going to “observe” speed dating and support one of her friends, he and I decided to go. It was held at a pizza place super close by that I had already been to once before for a trivia night, and the price of admission included two drink/pizza tickets.

Plus, it was specifically directed towards “geeks looking for other geeks,” and that sounded oddly appealing. Having grown up with two brothers who taught me to play Warcraft II as a 7-year-old and, when I ran out of Ken dolls for Barbies, let me use orcs as prom date substitutes, I am pretty comfortable with my own geekiness and anybody else’s.

So last night, Ethan, myself and another friend show up to speed dating, grab some pizza and beer and sit with some of his other friends while we waited for the event to start. I wasn’t sure how to dress, so I was wearing a giant orange cardigan, a purple satin shirt and some black leggings — I looked like a 5’7″ pumpkin, but it is my most comfortable outfit and I figured I’d be doing a lot of moving around. As I looked around the room, however, I noticed that many people were a bit more dressed up; in particular, many of the guys were wearing vests, nice sweaters and even the occasional suit. Apparently, speed dating attracts some snappy dressers, but I brushed it off and just hoped nobody would notice I hadn’t washed my hair that day.

After an adorable fantasy-themed band called The Broadsides played, the host of the event explained the rules to everybody. Basically, the women sit on the outside in established chairs while the men rotated around the room every four minutes. You wrote down each person’s name on a piece of paper and checked “Yes” or “No” for whether or not you’d like to see them again, and if you both checked “Yes,” you would be emailed one another’s contact info at a later date. Plus, you would also get mailed any additional people who had said “Yes” to you with whom you may not have reciprocated, and then see if you might want to reconsider them. Sounds fun, right? It totally was… mostly.

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    • DW

      Hahaha, just came across this piece (googling for another geek speed dating event, actually), and _wow_.

      All right, whoever’s reading this (probably no one except for the author): I was the freaky icky guy in question at this dating event. I offer the following incidental observations/footnotes to Samantha’s colorful account of the evening:

      “First of all, never tell anybody you came to anything for them if you do not know them already.”

      Thanks for the advice. I have some for you as well: if you announce to the public that you’re attending an event, do not be stunned and offended when the public learns that you’re attending an event. Someone linked me to the FB page for this thing, and there you are, looking very pretty, saying “Can’t wait to go to this!” I apologize for having a computer and being able to read. Clearly I should have lied and pretended you were a total stranger, falsehood of course being a terrific foundation for any first meeting.

      “As I was having my drink, Confession Guy accosted me”

      If by “accosted”, you mean “walked up to me as I was standing alone in the corner at a DATING MIXER”, then yes, I accosted the shit out of you.

      “and insisted that I tell him whether or not I wrote “Yes” or “No.”

      Insist? I asked if you were interested in meeting up again. Heresy at a singles event, I know.

      He kept saying it was fine if I didn’t, and that he’d find out later anyway,”

      This is all true. Honesty, that scourge of any relationship. This is a good time to observe that if you ask any women in this town what their biggest complaint about guys in Portland, they’ll all say that we’re too pussified and too considerate and we should be more forward. Again, heaven forbid I ask someone at a dating event if they’d like to go on a date, but I guess I’m that crazy kid with stars in his eyes.

      “then showed me the list he had taken which had all our numbers on it anyway — ?!”

      Right, hold on. I explained at the time that I discovered halfway through the event that the dating registration sheet they gave me had all the signup info on the back (I asked someone and it was the last sheet they had). I thought it was pretty funny, and so did everybody else I showed it to (except you.) Maybe the east coast is crawling with obsessive serial killers and stalkers, but here in the Pacific Northwest we have better things to do.

      I wound up uncomfortably saying, “I mean, you seem nice, but I wrote ‘No,’ I’m sorry.” I have no idea why I apologized; I just really hate being put on the spot.

      For what it’s worth, I thought your reaction was perfectly fine. I asked, you said no. If you don’t like being put on the spot, you could say, “I don’t know, let me think about it?” Or you could just say no, like you did. Perhaps at future singles events you will be better prepared for the white-hot tension of being asked out.

      He acted super disappointed, said it was weird and then left.

      Yeah, I did. I told you during our conversation that I was newly single after a marriage and was really, really nervous and unsure about dating, and was only there at all because a friend coaxed/cajoled me into going. But I learned a lot from our brief encounter!

      1) If someone announces proudly to the world that they’re going to a thing, PRETEND THEY DIDN’T.

      2) If something funny happens during the event, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

      3) Remember: dishonesty is your friend.

      4) DON’T ask them if they’re interested in meeting up again.

      I should acknowledge that I emailed Samantha afterwards and asked her if she had any tips for someone just getting back into the single life, and she was really polite and had some good advice, and I should thank her for that. But I just couldn’t read that nasty and petty distortion of that night’s events without offering an alternative account.

      • Stalker Alert System

        Stalker alert.