Another sample for Pixel of Ink's Sample Sunday! This is from The Truth About Dating
Chapter 5 - Speed Dating
The 4-minute Date people had rented out an entire bar. I had dressed up in my best color, black. I was wearing a bold red lipstick. I sat in the parking lot and gave myself a pep talk. “You want to meet people.” I looked at myself in my rearview mirror. “You can do this.”
On the way inside, I passed a yellow Trans-Am with the license plate “I4HUSKR.” You have to live in Nebraska, or be a football fan to understand or at least be aware of the rabid intensity of Husker football fans. My stepmother bought an Omaha t-shirt when she and my father came here to visit. Back in Florida, a man passed her in the grocery store and told her “Go Big Red!” She had no idea what he was talking about.
Inside the bar, there was a registration table where the organizers were signing people in.
“Don’t tell the other participants where you work or live,” a 20-something woman with frizzy blond hair and a wedding ring said as she took my money. “Don’t tell them your last name.” She handed me a sheet of red-colored paper. “This is your score sheet. Each participant has a number. Write down his number when he sits. At the end of four minutes, you give them a fumble or a touchdown. When you turn in your score sheet, we tally the votes. Any couple that touchdowns each other gets their picture and email sent to each other. You take it from there.”
I was number seven. Lucky seven! I took this as a good sign, got a pint of Guinness, and found my table. The tables were small and round. Each one had two chairs and a numbered placard. Speed dating came for all age groups. This organization had evenings for mid 20s to 30s, mid 30s to 40s, and mid 40s to 50s. Thirty to forty would have been ideal, but they didn’t offer this option. After careful consideration, I had opted for the mid 30s to 40s. Thirty seemed too young, but the upper range of 40 seemed too old.
To calm my nerves, I set about meeting the women on either side of me. Number six was a schoolteacher. Number eight was an internal medicine resident. The resident was 39. She had a nerdy, bookish look that I found charming. She seemed like the kind of person who would always keep an interesting conversation going. The schoolteacher was 34. She had that midwestern perm that makes 25-year-old women look like soccer moms. I thought that men would choose her more than the resident, because she looked more predictable. I wondered where I fell in. Both women seemed more nervous than me, but I doubted they were. I can fake confidence well, and I was pretty sure that I was more terrified than anyone around me. I specifically didn’t look around at the men, because I didn’t want to form any preconceived notions. The question I’d finally decided to ask was, What’s your dream life? I figured it would give me insight into their long-term goals.
They started late, which didn’t help my nerves. The first man sat down and the games began. He was number seven also. The male number seven.
Me—Hi. Uh. I have a question prepared. Do you have a question you want to ask me?
Me—Okay. Well, here is mine. What’s your dream life?
#7—Uh, gosh, that’s a hard one. I don’t know. To live in Western Nebraska.
Me—Oh, do you like it out there?
#7—I grew up in Western Nebraska, near mmmmrh (unintelligible).
Me—Yes, but where?
Me—I can’t understand you, where?
#7—(laughing) You’re not from Nebraska, are you?
#7—Let’s see (sizing me up). You’re from Iowa? (Creative thinker, Iowa is just over the river from Omaha.)
#7—THE New York?
#8—Hi, I’ll need you to write your number on my list. I’m legally blind.
Me—Okay. My name’s Quinn, nice to meet you.
#8—I can tell your age by your voice.
Me—How old am I?
#8—I knew you’d ask me that. Let’s see. 32.
#8—Yes, I could tell. I also don’t judge people by their appearances, because I’m blind. I just see their insides. My blindness is not hereditary so I won’t pass it on to my children. But I wouldn’t mind passing on the human knowledge I’ve learned from being blind. It’s very interesting to see how people treat you when you’re blind. I only use my cane at night, and people are much nicer when I have the cane. Otherwise they say things like, ‘What are you, blind?’ and I tell them, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact.’
Me—Why don’t you use your cane during the day?
#8—I don’t like the way people treat me.
I could hear my neighbor on the left, the teacher, questioning the men just before they got to me. She had the kind of voice that carried. She did the same routine with each one.
“Are you religious?”
“Uh, yes. Protestant.”
“Weekly attendance at services?”
By the time they reached me, some of them had broken into a sweat. I thought they’d enjoy my easy question, but it seemed to cause them as much anxiety as the schoolteacher’s drilling.
Me—What’s your dream life?
#1—I don’t know.
Me—What would you do, if you won, say, 30 million dollars?
#1—I don’t know. Make sure my kids are taken care of. I can’t really think of anything else. Buy a home. Uh, oh, and help people.
Me—Do you have a question for me?
#1—What do you do?
Me—I can’t tell you that. I signed a statement saying I wouldn’t reveal where I worked. So did you.
Me—When you walked in here.
#1—(annoyed) Everyone else has been telling me where they work.
Me—Well, they’ve been breaking the rules.
#1—I work at Colson’s.
Me—You shouldn’t tell people that. Any one of the women here could be a stalker.
#1—I’m not worried, (placing his hand on his breast, over his jacket) I’ve got a gun.
Me—(thinking—”Where’s that damn bell?”)
#2—Where you from?
#2—I been there once. What a rat race. Those people there, they’re like little ants crawling around an anthill. They look like a swarming mess, but somehow they all know where to go.
#3—How old are you?
#3—I’m 60. Got three grandchildren.
Me—Did you know this was supposed to be for mid 30s to mid 40s?
#3—Yeah. Last week I did the twenties one. Didn’t meet anyone.
#4—Hi, where do you work?
Me—You can’t ask people that. You signed a statement saying you wouldn’t. It’s against the rules.
#4—Well, everyone’s been asking me how old I am. That’s breaking the rules.
Me—Is it? I don’t remember that in the statement.
#4—It’s in there.
Me—Well, here’s my question. What is your dream life?
#4—Wow. That’s tough. I don’t know. I guess it’s to have more corvettes. I own three.
Me—Is that your corvette in the parking lot? The red one with the ‘I4HUSKR’ license plate?
#4—Yup, that’s me. One of my other ones says BOY TYME. I wanted IM4NURU, but of course, that was taken.
#4—What’s NU? (incredulous)
#4—You’re not from around here, are you?
#4—You from Iowa?
#4—(shock). Then where? Kansas?
#4—You live in NY?
Me—No, I live in Omaha.
#4—Then you’re FROM Omaha.
#5—I’ve got three kids.
Me—Oh really? What are their ages?
#5—22, 25, and 27.
Me—(thinking—is your oldest one single?)
Me—What is your dr—
Me—(confused) What is your drea—
#6—Wait, I have one more.
Me—Okay. What is your—
#6—I don’t know!
Me—What is your dream life.
#6—Hmmm. I like that. Let’s see, I’d travel, try to spend some time helping other people out. Buy a house somewhere quiet. What’s your dream life?
Me—I’d buy a house in the mountains, have a big family, make time to paint.
#6—You’re an artist?
#6—Cool. What mountains?
Me—Well, I like New Mexico.
#6—Oh, NM is great! (smiling sheepishly) You’re really pretty.