Nobody grows "Slow speed dating" merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. I recently relocated to a new town and was more than ready to get into the social swing of things. I grinned ear to ear. I saw some serious fun in my future. We curled our long hair, slipped into our cutest jeans and got ready to step out.
Linda had on a snappy leather jacket and a great pair of turquoise boots. I was wearing dangly earrings and a new perfume. We practically skipped arm in arm to the car. As I pulled into the driveway of the center, I got my first nudge Slow speed dating worry. Until that moment, I had pictured in my mind a sultry, dim room with long booths.
Walking in the door, I was shocked by the fluorescent-lit room filled with flimsy card tables and—I am just going to say it—lots of old people.
Some really old people. I Slow speed dating fifty-eight and certainly no youngster. Still, I was ill prepared. Name badges affixed, we swallowed hard and looked around. We chatted with Gladys, a lovely woman with a great mane of champagne-colored hair who looked a bit like Walter Matthau.
Lynda leaned in and wondered if it would be rude to simply leave but I thought it would be hard to get out without being obvious. So we kept our smiles firmly fastened to our faces and, as the saying goes, we let the gentlemen start their engines. The rules were simple: Four minutes to speak with each person.
The men moved from table to table.
That took some time. We changed it the second half because the women could get up and down easier.
There was a list of suggested questions to help break the ice: My first fellow was a massage therapist. I know this because he brought his framed certificate to show me.
Also, he gave me his business card right before he moved on. He had taken the bus there, he shouted, and Slow speed dating a ride home, but the lady at the previous table offered to give him a lift. Next came Michael, a gracious gent with a green leprechaun fedora who spoke with a marvelous British accent. He and his wife Mary had been married forty-eight years until she died a year ago. He missed her so much his rheumy eyes filled as he spoke of her.
I started to hyperventilate because I wanted to cry, too. Ranching was hard work, I agreed. We took a break and it was like a sixth grade dance—the men were clumped into one corner and we women clustered together in another.
Hell hath no fury like a woman bored. Lynda and I compared notes.
She is a social worker who counsels those recently diagnosed with cancer. She told me about one man who lost his wife thirteen years ago and who started crying when he talked about her. She and I were exhausted. We looked longingly at the exit, but instead plastered smiles back on our faces and found our tables. My next adventure was Harold, a spitfire Hawaiian with a long gray ponytail. He reminded me of the turtle from Finding Nemo, with his surfer-dude drawl. Harold was having a ball, not caring if a woman was fifty or eighty years old.
had checked the yes column for every single woman. That night, I learned how difficult it is to dip your toe into the dating pool after so many years of lying safely on the beach. But I also learned that this gloriously inept group of daters and myself were all in the Slow speed dating boat. We wanted to make a connection. We chose not to be alone.