11 February 2011

Speed Dating for the Unwilling

"Why the hell am I doing this?"

This was the first coherent thought that I had this morning, or at least the first one that was not so profanity-laden that it is suitable for publication. I may be relatively mild-mannered during the day, but first thing in the morning and the monster that is my insomnia takes over. I operate on four or five hours of sleep during the best of times, and yesterday could hardly fall within that category.

After an 8.5-mile run yesterday morning, a few hours in the library, and four hours of class, I returned to my flat only to frantically continue working on a presentation on the crisis in the DRC for my OSINT class. (Talk about a depressing topic! Since 1998, the 'Africa's World War' has left 5.4 million dead, 2 million displaced, and 450,000 as refugees. 45,000 people die each month, mostly due to the indirect causes of war: disease, starvation, and lack of neo-natal/pregnancy care). The powerpoint proved harder to put together than I anticipated, and my group members and I were still emailing back and forth at midnight. I fell (literally) into bed at 12:45am, falling to sleep somewhere around 3:30. (Friggin' insomnia). Still, even if I wasn't actually sleeping, it felt wonderful to be lying down.

And yet, despite this, 6:30am saw me forsaking the warmth of my blanket cocoon for the freezing cold of my room. (As to why it has been freezing cold considering that the actual weather outside has been rather temperate is a mystery to me. Wind channel, perhaps? There is no A/C unit in my room to generate cold air. I rather suspect that it is my heater doing this just to spite me.) By 7:15am, I was outside starting my 6-mile run. Commence mental cursing and my first coherent thought of the day. The run itself was utter rubbish. My legs hurt when I woke up, which is never a heartening sign, and I could swear that I was dozing off as I made my way down the stairs of my apartment building.

Why do I do it? I have absolutely no idea. If I take the time to think about rationally, it simply does not make sense. Me, a chronic insomniac, wakes up early to go engage in an activity which, for the first ten minutes or so, is not entirely a pleasurable experience. So I just prefer not to think about it rationally, and simply classify myself as 'completely mental'. I must be considering that tomorrow is my first-ever 15-mile run. 

And now for my much-anticipated (for me to write at least) account of my speed-dating experience! Earlier this week, a friend of mine who has been severely depressed at the thought of being single for Valentine's Day (which is this coming Monday and I am determinedly not thinking about) dragged me to a 'London Loves' speed dating event. I think the rationale behind this was that I was single too, so of course I would just love to go to a dating event. Please. I went, but it was entirely against my will. 
That venerable source of knowledge, Wikipedia, defines speed dating as "a formalized matchmaking process or dating system whose purpose is to encourage people to meet a large number of new people....Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short 'dates', usually lasting from 3 to 8 minutes." At the end of the event, you tell the host which 'matches' you wish to forward your contact details on to. In short, this is my personal version of hell. I am not good at small talk (nor do I really like it) and have the habit of simply not talking when I've nothing meaningful to say. This can be particularly discomforting to strangers, but works out well for me since it weeds out those whom I probably will not get on well with and requires minimal effort on my part.

So how was it? Not as bad as I thought. I didn't come to the event looking for romance, and I certainly didn't find it. I did not 'click' with anyone. There was no magical 'spark' (if such a thing even exists. I remain skeptical, but then again, as my friend says, I am a bit bitter). The majority of the men I met were either much older than me or were highly self-absorbed. Think the 'I'm a lawyer who drives a BMW in a city where the daily parking charge is absolutely ridiculous' type. Definitely not my scene. I had one guy, after finding out that I am a vegetarian, spend the entire 7 minutes listing off the benefits of eating meat and then get quite miffed when this failed to elicit an 'I've seen the error of my ways' from me. Another man talked for the entire 7 minutes about his job as an accountant for an international banking firm without letting me have a word in.

The most memorable, however, was an 'interesting' fellow who strongly hinted towards having some
particular...interests...that I learned about when I was 15 through watching a memorable episode of CSI: Las Vegas. I am still emotionally scarred. I will not go into details about this particular hobby of his as I have family members who read this blog and do not want to be responsible for their early demise. Suffice it to say, it is weird and I did not ask for his contact details at the end of the night. I don't think I have ever been so glad to hear a bell ring (signaling the end of the round) in my life. Final conclusion: not a complete waste of time (since it provided me with plenty of fodder for this blog, although I have had to edit out a lot), but certainly not worth the ₤10 I paid to attend. (My friend paid the rest because there was no way I was shelling out more than that for something I didn't want to attend in the first place).

(Side note: Never Google 'crazy runner'. If you do, you will end up with this image, which is a bit worrying:

My eyes are burning! (And now yours are too!)

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