Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Lesson: Don't BLOW OFF Vegan Speed Dating

"Vegan/Vegetarian/Veg-curious Speed Dating" it read on my screen. I wanted to say no. Instead I saved the link.

I wasn't looking to date or even mingle, having BLOWN OFF all future possibilities by claiming I was out of the relationship game. Sure it was over dramatic. A couple relationships left me soured on the whole experience. But there was something silly and intriguing about a night with similar health conscious, or just plain picky, people. I happened upon speed dating once, about a decade earlier, when a buddy asked me to attend an event. It was at the birth of the speed dating craze. It was disorganized and awkward and I met no one of consequence.

I told Single Asian Female, a food and relationship connoisseur, about the proposed event. She demanded that I attend. I was looking for a good story. She said she "had a feeling."

I tried to find a reason to not attend. It would conflict with work. It didn't. It would be awkward. What isn't? I emailed the organizer figuring the age range was different or there were too many men. She offered me a discount because she was desperate for men. I bought a ticket.

The night of, I sat outside the Berkeley restaurant and contemplated driving away. It was only $20. Did I really want to subject myself to this?

The sign "Vegan" seemed most appropriate. I held it and they snapped my photo. Heading into the back room, I hoped the event would start without too much mingling. I avoided the vegan food. I wanted to maintain fresh breath. The ample onion and garlic dips wouldn't help. I drank lots of water. I easily chatted with a pretty woman that made note she was older than I. We chatted with others that were much younger and far more shy than us.

The event began, but the event itself isn't the story. It's who attended and who I met just before the halfway point. Near the end of a row of tables I shook hands with Liz. She looked fiery and fiercely independent. I immediately asked about her visible arm tattoo. She said it was too long a story so skip it. She asked me about my work in professional sports and I told her we shouldn't dwell on that. We talked about similar college degrees and family dynamics. After the standard three minutes we were granted a restroom break. We blew through that. I secretly wrote her name down on my match sheet. We didn't talk again that night.

A few days later I received an email with the "like" matches. Women that I chose that also chose me. Liz wasn't on that list. She was the one person I hoped would be present. Perhaps she thought I acted too young. Or too sporty. Or just wasn't interested despite the good conversation.

The following week I was at the beach, a family reunion. I broke away from the sunshine to check my email. I received an unapologetic email from the organizer that carbon copied Liz stating that we were on each other's original list. I bit my finger. Then I replied.

"Do you suppose we give the vegan/veggie speed dating 'professionals' a mulligan on missing the opportunity to trade our info? I could have sworn we had a good conversation, extended time even, so I was a little disappointed when you didn't make my matches list. Now that the oversight has been corrected perhaps you'd like to meet up for a drink some night soon?"

What followed was a flurry of emails and feelings unlike any before. We met once, for just minutes, but we connected. Each reply was a piece of art crafted especially for me. I replied with wit and honesty. I was intrigued. We agreed to meet again on a Tuesday, easy as we lived just blocks from each other. I picked the bar, one of her favorites. Two hours disappeared like puddles in the sunshine. Her upcoming weekend was free. So was mine. We each purposely kept it that way in case our meeting went well.

On Friday I already knew I could love her. By Saturday I was falling in love with her. Come Sunday I was deep in love with Liz. A romance I did not desire or expect leveled me as if it was written into an improbable film or book. But it was just speed dating. I'm glad I saved that link.

6 comments:

  1. I LOVE THIS STORY. To think, you guys could have never connected if those vegan professionals didn't realize their mistake. but i have to ask, did you really really really for reals fall in love with her in three days or are you the hopeless romantic type or both? It makes me happy that you weren't left jaded by your last few dating experiences.

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  2. This is a fantastic story!! I love it and so happy to hear it worked out. I, too, am interested in hearing the answer to Saaara's question about really falling in love in three days.

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  3. You know how cheese-ball movies and songs about love and dating make people fall into made-for-each-other romances and it all feels trite? And old men tell you they saw their future wife's face in a pizza and knew they had to be together? All seemed like unbelievable b.s. until now. So, yeah, three days. Maybe less.

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    1. okay, one more question-- did you say "i love you" that soon and how long did it take Liz to fall in love with you? You guys are clearly my new obsession.

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    2. I held off for a maybe a month. But by the third week, maybe even the second, it was clear we both wanted to say it. But that would be crazy, right? Definitely. We're crazy.

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    3. I love this story so, so much. One of my London besties had a similar experience of falling in love with her now husband. She couldn't make it past week two before saying she loved him but said she knew right away and was certain by the second date. He said the same thing. (They were set up on a blind date). They've been happily married for years and have two lovely boys so it doesn't sound crazy to me.

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