Speed dating- it’s for research

‘Matchmaker, matchmaker

Make me a Match

Find me a find

Catch me a catch….’

(From Fiddler on the Roof)

If any good has come out of my research, it is that I found out Fiddler on the Roof is not a musical about a tap dancing cat on a tin roof in Oklahoma (When I don’t know anything about a story, my mind tend to make it up by fusing bits and pieces from other stories). It turns out that Fiddler on the Roof is actually a matchmaking musical and at the moment, I am writing transmedia chick lit so that totally segues into my speed dating experience.

I’d been working up a draft of my transmedia/ sci fi/ chick lit story for awhile but my supervisor found my narrator’s voice unrealistic and a bit smug. I thought it may have to do with being out of the dating scene for over a decade. So I signed myself up for a speed dating session and dragged along a couple of my single girlfriends.


I tried to immerse myself in the experience – giggling over clothing choices beforehand and analysing the experience over drinks afterwards but there is still that protective barrier. James drove me to the bar, all the while giving helpful advice on etiquette (such as not to show people the gunk I could squeeze out from this weird second hole I had in my left earlobe).

Still, I felt I had at least caught a glimpse of what it might feel like to be a single woman in her thirties. The first person I saw when I arrived was a grizzly old man. As a writer, I’ve always insisted to my visual artists friends that I thought in words and then put pictures to the words afterwards. Not this time. I was smacked with a high definition image of us having a candle lit dinner – Him: mistaking our eye contact as intimacy when I was just counting his crow’s feet, Me: mistaking his upturned lip as a leer when it was probably just the effects of a stroke. I am a complete ageist. I couldn’t believe this man thought he had a chance with any of the lovely women in the room. There was no way he was between 30 and 46— that was the age bracket set by the dating agency. I almost felt sorry for him – perhaps the agency had placed him here because there wasn’t an appropriate age group? Then he confided to me how much he respected Chinese women and asked me about my culture. My fingers drifted to my left ear itching to squirt a stream of pus in his eye.

He wasn’t the only old man. There were several 50-plus men puffed up with vanity and botox. I always talk when I’m nervous but I’ve also had years of bantering practice working in community pharmacy. I know how to cock my head to one side so I look like I am actively listening, furrow my brow in concern when I have no idea what they are talking about and burst out laughing when they say lame jokes like ‘Call me anything love, but not late for dinner’ ( Yes, someone really did say that).

Half way through the line up, I was hoarse from talking and my face hurt from smiling too much. As I looked around the room, I was reminded of something producer Jennifer Wilson said in a podcast. There were two types of audiences – the ‘lean back’ and the ‘lean forward’. Transmedia storytelling at its best move people from leaning back on the couch and having information shoved in their face to leaning forward so they are active participants in the exchange. This is much like speed dating.

The guys liked to lean back and let the girls do most of the talking. The girls liked to lean forward ( probably to show their rack), throw their hair around a bit and bubble over laughing even when the guys weren’t being particularly witty.

At one stage, I was stuck for conversation so I mentioned I was an animator (which is not something I relate to anymore but I was desperate for conversation).  Suddenly I was ‘The Cool Girl’. I am not sure why but I guess maybe because animation is such an unusual profession? It was now the guys leaning forward spewing forth favourite childhood movies, Saturday morning cartoons, and technical questions about making animation.

And did any second dates come out from this speed dating? No, although I saw some of the girls exchange numbers. Personally, speed dating is way too much hard work. For all the single ladies, online dating is a much better option.


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