Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Since the speed dating fiasco was such a failure, I decided to dabble in another form of unconventional pursuit of hooking up.
I researched online dating before I signed up for a couple sites, and it seemed that most of these venues hire roughly one-third of their participants to chat with subscribers just to keep them interested. These people are not looking to meet their soul mate online, but rather hook them into conversations that are literally going nowhere. The easiest target for this is single, desperate men.
So, I subscribed to GothScene and AmateurMatch to find out whether this was true, or if lonely soles actually have a shot at hooking up this way.
What I noticed was disturbing. I received instant messages from girls who didn't know me, but claimed they wanted to have sex with me because they read my profile. I couldn't believe it, and knew right away something was awry.
Both sites target desperate men. They post pictures of extremely hot women (which unwitting males believe have a real interest in them) who relentlessly beg for their targets to meet them, and implant their penises into various orifices on their bodies. The trick is, they never give out a phone number, location, or meeting site, so there is literally no chance for these suckers to ever score. Their goal is to get these men to subscribe to the site for a trial period for a monthly cost.
Mind, I'm going from a male perspective here, but this was extremely dissapointing to me, because I had heard that dating sites actually work for some people. This is not the case. These sites are just looking for men to subscribe, so they can collect around $30-$40 a month, just to entice these dupes, even though there's no real shot at a relationship.
So, all you lonely souls out there, excuse me again for being blunt, but there is no shot at scoring through an online site, at least from what I have noticed. You guys are just going to have to hit the bars.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Zero. That's the number of dates I guessed students who participated in the 'Speed Dating' affair wound wind up with. This event would seriously hurt these poor kids' self-image. They would find themselves desperate enough to wander down to the Iowa Memorial Union for what could possibly be their only shot at love this year, and they would wind up with nothing.
"The University of Iowa's Office of Student Life should be ashamed of themselves for sponsoring this affair," I thought.
And when I said 'kids,' that's exactly who was in attendance. These were home-sick freshmen who are not able to get into the downtown bars and meet people that way. The computer-geeks (whom I thought would make up the majority of the crowd) were definitely in attendance, but 1st year UI students clearly made up the greater population of these love-seekers.
When they first entered the building, students grouped in all-male, all-female clusters while pretending to be interested in the strawberries, cheese, and water the OSL supplied them with. Should the staff have offered them scotch, the students may have been a bit more at ease, but water did not do the trick. These poor kids avoided members of the opposite sex until they were cattle-prodded by staff-members to sit at tables across from each other, forcing them to make awkward small-talk.
When the chatting began students did their best to pretend to be interested in what majors, activities, and jobs their counterparts were currently involved in.
Each student was given roughly five minutes to try and impress the person sitting across from them, then a type of cowbell rang, and students moved on to the next lowly participant. And, I find this a bit sexist, at every table, during every section of chats, the males were made to get up and move to the next chair. The men continually got up and moved to the right, until they reached the person they originally started with. The tables were not small. Each guy went through 20 girls.
I decided my Online Journalism class was right. I needed to participate to get the full effect of this wonderous phenomenon know as speed dating. It was all right, until I got to number eight. I began growing tired of repeating what town, state, and high school I was from and, after a few minutes, decided to tell Emily (number eight) I was really just here to try and write a blog. Her eyes grew wide.
"Oh, that's cool, you're like undercover," she said.
I became irritated.
"Well, Emily, I'm not really undercover here," I said. "This isn't really investigative journalism; I'm not here trying to uncover what America's bank-owners have been doing with our tax dollars."
We had both had enough, and sat the rest of our 36 seconds in silence until the bell ushered me along to number nine.
At number nine I discovered the Office of Student Life was doing some undercover work itself. Katie (number nine) told me she worked for them, and her employer had forced several of them to come to the event to try and make things go 'smoothly.' Now, I didn't feel so bad.
At half-time, after number 10, a person dressed as a huge stork showed up at the event, and started handing out condoms to students who looked horrified upon receiving them. Jesus, I thought, the last thing these kids need is condoms. Try anti-depressants.
During half-time I went to the bathroom to escape this madness. I was exhausted. I ran into a young man in there who was having trouble trying to zip up his pants.
"What's wrong man?" I asked.
He looked at me lazily and informed me of his intentions.
"I really don't expect anything here," he said. "I brought a flask with bacardi here. I've had like ten drinks of it. I could never do anything like this sober."
I cursed myself for coming to this thing sober, and walked back out to finish my assignment. On the way back to the table, I noticed a table where kids could express interest in another potential date. Everyone there was issued numbers, as I have mentioned. If you found a 'number' you liked, you could give your number to people at this table, they would write it down, and give that number to the party you requested. The sheet had zero numbers on it.
Things went on as before. I didn't impress any youngsters, and they didn't move me. When I got to the last girl, (number 20), I realized that this assignment was going nowhere.
"Oh shit, what am I going to write about?" I thought.
Laila, (number 20), was the most impressive girl I had run into. She had kind of a gothic-look about her, which I found attractive, and didn't act like a deer caught in headlights when I looked at her. She was also a freshman, but I overlooked it for a bit. Our conversation went well; she was also unimpressed with the event, and said she just came to support her friend.
"Well shit," I thought, "Maybe I'll make friends with her and accomplish something here after all."
I felt like getting the hell out of there, and asked her if she wanted to go smoke.
We went outside, and while we were smoking, I found out we had the same taste in music, and talked about that for awhile. I was considering giving her my number.
Then everything collapsed.
She made the mistake of telling me she bought a laptop from a guy at Best Buy because she thought he was hot.
Her freshman intellect had finally shown. She had spent a couple thousand because a slick computer-guy had charmed her. So, the date was off, but I learned something. Computer guys can be cool, and maybe even attractive.
I knew my assignment was doomed, but I watched the youngsters file out of the IMU hopeful that some lucky couple had made a connection. As I watched them all leave I counted the number of people who came out with a date on their arm. Guess how many had one?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The idea for this blog came while I was searching my school's Master Calendar of Events. What caught my attention was the absurdity of the affair that the University of Iowa's Office of Student Life felt students here needed.
At a school that enrolls more than 30,000 students every year, why would it be necessary for an activity like 'Speed Dating?' Isn' t it an everyday occurrence for students to meet each other on pure happenstance every day? The amount of people I run into just walking to class makes me claustrophobic. And, picture downtown on a home football game night. Lonely students should be able to get a date just by helping up the dozens of members of the opposite sex they trample as they make their way to Joe's Place. Then I thought about my own current love life. I haven't had a girlfriend in roughly two years. If there are other UI students similar to me, lacking in dates, and who might be bothered by that, then maybe the Office of Student Life is right.
So, I will be venturing out to the Iowa Memorial Union Friday night around ten, to see what kind of crowd this 'Speed Dating' activity draws. This is the second year they've had the event, and Cheree from the student life office said it had a large number of participants last year.
When I mentioned my blog idea to students in my Online Journalism class, several said I needed to immerse myself in the spectacle in order to get the best results for my stories. I had been planning on just covering the event, not taking part in it. But, maybe they're right. I could try it. It's not like I have anyone to answer to. I'm just skeptical, I wonder what types of single ladies will spend their Friday night trying their luck with speed dating. Well-polished gems don't come to mind. Instead, I'm thinking of a computer-nerd type that spent all week doing homework just to be freed up for a couple hours to go to the event this Friday, probably the only weekend night she'd been out in several months.
But, if my expectations are correct and the IMU is filled with these types, I'm hoping for a foggy night. Maybe the girls' huge glasses will be too fogged over to notice that I'm taking notes during our conversations.
I'm hoping to be able to find a couple there that have enough in common to pursue a friendship. Maybe Bradley and Tina are currently reading the same Harry Potter book, and that's enough to interest them in each other. In an ideal situation, they will let me record the progress they make in their burgeoning relationship.
If I can't find a Bradley and Tina, and worse comes to worse, I may have to shoulder the burden of propositioning a young lady to play Dungeons & Dragons, a game I imagine Tina would like, with me some night. Hopefully measures do not become this drastic, and I am not reduced to this, but I am determined to keep this blog going so I may have to sacrifice.
That said, Friday night will determine the nature of my next entry. Will I be able to take an outside perspective on this ominous assigment, or will I be sucked in by the UI's lone hot computer programmer?