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EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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Gentlemen, Start My Engine!: A Guide to Speed Dating

By Rebecca Ash

In a world of fast food, high speed internet access and quickie Vegas celebrity weddings it is only fitting that we find a way to make dating as fast and efficient as possible. No longer do we have time for the old fashioned “courting” of days gone by. The solution? Speed dating! Faster than it takes your bartender to mix up your vodka gimlet you could be on the fast track to romance! Never heard of it? Wake up and smell the macchiato, sister! Here's the skinny on this latest trend.

You arrive at a fashionable hot-spot and find a bevy of suitors waiting at intimate tables, eagerly awaiting their five minutes with little ol' YOU. Armed with a dossier of important questions, you spend your time with each one assessing his potential before bidding him adieu and moving on to the next victim. This allows you to get a better idea of his worth, as he will undoubtedly use those precious few moments to really pull out all the stops to impress you. It also allows you a “get out of date” free card should he have bad hair/breath/teeth/skin/manners/taste in clothes. No longer do you have to rely on your best girlfriend to call you on your cell phone feigning an emergency, which will extricate you from a boor. After eliminating the less desirables you will then be able to determine who is deserving of a “real” date with you. But if you're new to such a phenomenon, you may want some assistance in making the most of your speed dating experience. Here are some crucial tips to help you on your quest for Mr. Right Now.

At a Glance: things to scrutinize during your five minutes without having to waste your Altoid-sweetened breath.

Attire: Is he wearing designer labels or thrift store duds? Don't be afraid to ask to see the inside of his collar to determine its origin. If he is dressed in designer clothes he is obviously concerned with appearances. This means that he will take you to expensive restaurants, where he can be seen and therefore deemed successful. If he's wearing a shirt by an unknown, expect pizza. Don't forget to scope out the shoes. Any sandals (needless to say, especially if worn with socks) should be your red flag that your date would take you on a nature walk...a clear danger to your kitten heels. Are his clothes too meticulously pressed? If so, he either has a maid or lives with his mother and you will want to investigate this further.

Hair: Is his coiffure clean and artfully dishevelled? Is there evidence of product? His hair should be neither too long nor hacked into a crew cut. Is a comb-over present or can you see hair plugs? Any balding candidate should be embracing his follicle challenges by utilizing the trendy shorn look. Don't forget to check out his shoulders for signs of flaking!

Nails: Dirty nails indicate one of two things: manual labor or lack of hygiene. Neither of which will impress the folks at the country club.

Teeth: Ask for a smile. Teeth should be unnaturally white, straight and food free. Bonus points for caps.

Skin: He should be free of acne, pockmarks, evidence of cover-up and excessive shine. If the bar is dimly lit, ask him to lean into the candle light for a better view.

Wallet condition: Don't be afraid to check the girth of his wallet. A thick wallet is evidence of a large bankroll. Is there a platinum Visa or black American Express card present? Look for telltale condom impressions on the leather. If a condom impression is present it means he hasn't seen action since the Clinton administration...usually for a reason.

Listen Up: Questions to ask and verbal clues that your speed date has potential

Employment: What does he do for a living? What are his career goals? If you like artists or musicians, ask about their day jobs or trust funds. Request to view a pay stub to see their take home pay. Don't be shy when asking to see their stock portfolio, which should be readily available and free of coffee-mug stains.

Living arrangements: Where does the candidate live? Does he rent or own? If he rents, how much does he pay in rent? (Note: confer with pay stubs in order to calculate how much of his paycheck is spent on rent. If he spends all his earnings on rent he will not have enough left over to lavish upon you.) Does he have roommates? If so, be sure to determine their age and sex (Warning! Female roommates may double as mothers, sisters, ex-girlfriends or booty-calls.). What size bed does he sleep upon? Does he know what a duvet is? Ask about the thread count of his sheets. What floor does he live on? Is it a walk-up? Does he have a doorman? Be wary of basement apartment dwellers as a general rule.

Hobbies: You're looking for excitement, so the candidate's hobbies should be more diverse than surfing the Internet or programming his TiVo. Thrill seekers may be fun for a few dates, but you do not want to pursue a relationship with someone who may be disfigured or killed in a sky diving or safari mishap. Hobbies to be wary of may include: excessive pool playing, beatnik poetry, bowling, NASCAR, cross dressing, body painting, internet gambling, animal husbandry, bull fighting/baiting, frequenting the dog track or rifle range, pottery, or experimenting with a food dehydrator.

Trends: Your date should be familiar with the latest trends without being a slave. Ask him to name the cast of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (look for four out of five correct. Any less and he is not up to date, any more and he may be suspiciously too interested in it.). Ask him to list four designers. Does he know what Manolo Blahnik or Louis Vuitton is famous for? Can he differentiate between ecru, eggshell and ivory? What kind of undergarment does he wear? Correct answer: “boxer briefs” or “boxers”. If he answers “briefs”, “bikini briefs” or the word “commando”, excuse yourself immediately!

Family: Is he estranged from his family? If so, ask if anyone in his immediate family is or has been incarcerated. How often does he see them? (It should be more than just at holidays, but less than three times a month. This shows he is independent yet involved.) Ask about his relationship with his mother, specifically. He should be respectful and yet not still attached to the proverbial apron strings. If the words “bitch”, “saint” or “mumsy” come up you may cross him off your list. Where do they vacation? Does he have any single brothers with whom you may be able to set up your best friend?

Vehicle: What kind of car he drives in indicative of his personality. You want neither a pimped out convertible (directly correlated to his penis size and concern for your hair) nor a used Volkswagen Rabbit. The car should be no older than a 1999, free of vanity plates reading “PMPDADDY” or “IMGR8”, have a clearly discernible VIN, and no more than one coat of wax. If you live in the City, does he take the subway or taxis? You may be tempted by a limo, but it's important to think about how many other ladies have seen his mini bar.

Future: Where will he take you on your first real date should he be granted one? How many children does he want? Where/how does he envision his wedding? Where is he interested in honeymooning/vacationing? What does his savings account look like? Does his last name mesh well with your first name or hyphenated last? How attached is he to his Barcalounger? Is he willing to fund redecorating and kitchen remodelling no less frequently than every four years? How often will he pay for trips to the nail salon/spa/beauty parlour/plastic surgeon? Is he willing to convert to your religion/political affiliation if his differs? What are his feelings on prenups?

General pleasantness: Ask for a quick joke. This will indicate his brand of humor (be wary of misogynistic undertones). A sense of humor is important! Tell a quick joke yourself, to assess not only his wit but also whether his laugh will annoy you or generate too much attention in public. Ask him to sip his drink. Does he slurp, crunch ice or use a straw (none of which are acceptable)? Ask him to sample any hors d'oeurves present. Does he chew with his mouth open, smack his lips excessively or make a mess? Does he avoid direct eye contact or not seem to be able to differentiate your face from your chest? Any nervous tics? Assess his vocal quality. Look for any clues that he will wind up making you want to drive a shrimp fork into his jugular rather than listen to him.

In order to get though your laundry list of questions/assessments ask for his answers to be succinct. Look for sincerity and prerehearsed answers. The more you speed date the more you will be able to hone your interviewing skills. No question is too personal or insignificant when seeking your future ex! Now you're ready to jump into the convenient world of speed dating!

© 2005 Rebecca Ash

OTHER HW ARTICLES BY REBECCA ASH

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Ash is a nomadic freelance writer and thespian. She lives with her husband and two mini dachshunds, Melody and Emma, in a domicile ruled by the iron paw of the fat feline Queen Bink. It is her dream to someday be able to support her shoe and bag fetish while still being able to pay the cable bill.