Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week Twenty-Five

Event:  Speed dating

If you saw the movie Hitch, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.  Picture a small, intimate bar.  Small room.  Small tables.  And 22 men and women hoping not to be seen by friends, co-workers or Heaven for bid - exes.  Welcome to Speed Dating. 

A few weeks ago I reluctantly did a yahoo search for Speed Dating.  A couple of sites came up so I clicked on the first one.  It seemed normal.  All of the men and women in the pictures were good looking and they looked like they were having a good time.  So after doing a little bit of research (i.e. calling the main number and asking the person on the other end to promise me the men would be normal, nice, good looking, have all their teeth, etc.)  I signed up.  I also successfully talked one of my single friends into going with me.  This will be fun. 

We arrived at the bar 15 minutes before the event kicked off.  We met in the parking lot, gave each other a pep talk, discussed some sample questions we'd ask (wanting to make sure nothing was too corny or inappropriate) and we headed in.  As I opened the door to the bar, much to our horror sitting at the first table were two of our co-workers.  Oh %!$#(*)$#@! great!

We entered into the semi-private room - closed off to the public for this special event - and were given a name tag and a score card.  We were told there would be 12 guys, 12 girls, and each "date" would last 7 minutes.  As I surveyed the room I saw 12 girls (all on time, of course) and only 3 guys.  I'm pretty sure the remaining guys were shot-gunning beers in the parking lot.  (Something I should have considered).  The women were all very normal and pretty, but the guys...well, they needed a little work. 

Before I could get my nametag on, a 5 foot nothing guy runs over and says, "Where should I put my nametag?  I don't want to put it on my chest because then everyone will be looking at my chest and I'll be looking at all of your chests."  Oh Lord.  Here we go.  He then exclaims he has an idea and we should all introduce ourselves using a word that either rhymes with our first name or an adjective that describes us using the same letter as the first letter of our first name.  He then looked at me, and without pause, I blurted out, "Awesome Ashley!"  (OMG is this happening?)  The small group goes around and does the same painful exercise but thankfully the fun is broken up by a loud clang.  I look over and I don't see a bell.  I don't see a whistle.  Instead, I see a GONG!  A full-out Chinese gong.  Nothing about this experience so far is normal.

As I made my way to table #7, I again survey the room, much more full now, and I'm relieved to see the guys have arrived.  But, to my disappointment, I felt like I was at a Star Wars convention!  Embracing my inner-nerd, I joyfully plopped down with my martini and began my first conversation.  He tells me he is the son of a solar nuclear researcher and he found that studies show when women have to move table to table at speed dating, they become more aggressive and tend to select more guys.  WTF?  Am I in the twilight zone?  More and more conversations went that way.  One guy has a season pass to riding roller coasters, one guy told me he has been tested for genital herpes, and one guy is into gaming and recently took a trip to Switzerland to play games.  Am I on Candid Camera?

Who knew seven minutes could feel like an hour and a half.  Not to mention, the air conditioning wasn't working in our part of the bar.  I was sweating so bad I couldn't keep my legs crossed, my Spanx became a permanent addition to my thighs and despite fanning my face with a table tent (trying to keep the "glow" at a minimum) I'm fairly certain at one point I resembled Tammy Faye Baker.

But wait, there's hope!  The second to the last guy I talked to was actually promising.  He's a doctor, my age, is cute and is from India.  As the event wrapped and we were turning in our score cards, he walked up and asked me for my number and said he'd like to go out.  I heard from him yesterday and we may be getting together this week. 

You heard it here first.  It may be a fairytale ending for the future Princess Leia and Han Solo. 
(I probably shouldn't have told him I don't like curry...)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week Twenty-Four

Event:  Attended continuing education class for singles

A few weeks ago (Week Seventeen) I signed up for three continuing ed classes at the local community college.  This week I took the class entitled "What's happening around town for singles".  Deep down I hoped that this class would be filled with single firefighters, but my gut told me to prepare for a room full of lonely women doing the exact same thing I was:  Grasping at straws to find some way to meet Mr. Right.  Unfortunately, my gut was right.  As I walked up to the church (yes, the class was held in a church - should've been my first sign) I took a deep breath, put on my lip gloss and forged ahead.  Walking down the hallway towards the classroom, my heels kept me from making a quiet and discrete entrance, so instead I got the entire class's attention as I arrived.  Grabbing the closest chair to the door, I surveyed the room - all women and 1 guy.  Lucky for me, the 1 guy was sitting in the chair next to mine.

The instructor came in wearing Lee Jeans and a plaid shirt neatly tucked in that complimented his stark white tennis shoes.  His white hair and wedding ring gave me pause.  THIS GUY is going to tell me what's happening around town for singles?  Houston, we have a problem.  To add insult to injury he introduced himself and told us he was a minister - at that moment I played out multiple scenarios in my head, one of them being me jumping up on the table stomping my feet like a 3 year old screaming "I want my money back!"  Instead, I played along. 

The first thing we did was take a quiz.  Did you know:
-45% of Americans above the age of 21 are single?  (Where the hell are they)
-More people become single every day (divorce rate is rising - sorry, but where the hell are they)
-Married people are healthier than single people (Neat)
-Becoming single is the most traumatic/stressful event in one's life (either caused by divorce, death of a spouse, separation or jail).

In a nutshell, according to the married minister, being single is the worst possible thing in the entire world.  And I paid money for this?

For the next two hours, the instructor, walked us through a 32 page booklet entitled "Guide to Singles Groups Around Town" where I learned about groups like "Parents without Partners", "Kosmopolitans" (45 and up only...darn) and "Talking Singles" where the purpose is: "Socializing, Friendship, a featured Speaker every night and activities that include games, dining out, concerts, day trips, dances and potlucks." 

OH. MY. GOD.  Kill me now.

We walked through the next 20 pages of the book one by one, learning about every church singles group in town.  For each singles group listed, they would highlight the age group, purpose of the group, location, address and total membership.  For example, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, ages 30-50, has bible studies, dinners and volunteer activities, membership:  8.  Seriously?  Eight members in your singles group?  Stop the presses, I know what I'm doing Saturday night.  And not once but twice we turned the page to a church group and the instructor said, "Sorry, cross that one out, the singles leader died."  WTF?  Are you serious?  I was in the damn twilight zone. 

And if this train wreck wasn't bad enough, Preacher Paul started handing out flyers featuring other things to do for singles.  Like joining a Square Dancing Group called "Kountry Knights and Ladies".  Or taking a trip for "9 Exciting and Educational days in London" - for married's or singles.  I about laughed out loud (or cried) when I read the back page of the pamphlet.  It read, "Prices are based on double occupancy.  If you request a single room, there will be an additional charge of $425."  AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING!

And finally, the last flyer he gave us put the nail in the coffin for me.  Across the top in big bold letters it read, "Singles Dance Event at the Marriot - June 2010 - Ladies 1/2 price".  But underneath this big, screaming headline all about singles it read, "Married couples welcome".  Oh come on!

The next morning as I was checking my email, I saw I had an email from the instructor.  Would you believe the one guy in the class emailed him and asked him to give me his number!  So the Minister is playing match maker giving me the phone number of the one guy in the class!  Too bad he wasn't my type, but seriously, what are the chances. 

Lip gloss - $16
New skirt - $38
Singles class - $13
Having a Minister play match maker - priceless

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week Twenty-Three

Event:  Signed up to be a Big Sis (in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program)

Every year I've managed to come up with an excuse as to why I don't have time to be a Big Sis.  A few weeks ago I got to thinking about it and found myself having a hard time coming up with any real excuses.  I mean let's face it.  I don't have kids.  I don't have a husband.  I don't work two jobs.  I don't cook.  And I don't work out.  In fact, the last time I worked out was a month ago.  It was 9:30pm and I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas.  And while it was May, I was still wearing cotton pajamas with snowflakes on them.  As I sat knee deep in a bowl of ice cream, I decided it was time to work out.  So I popped in my Jillian Michaels Biggest Loser workout video.  Unfortunately, while motivated to do the video, I was not motivated enough to change clothes.  I talked myself into keeping on my snowflake pj's because who was I kidding - it's not like I was really going to sweat.  Barefoot and in my pj's I started the video but within minutes I remembered the benefits of wearing a sports bra...especially when doing jumping jacks.  Not having much motivation, and wanting to get it over with, I decided I needed my bra but was too lazy to change.  So, I did what any college-educated woman would do.  I put it on over my pajamas. 

I digress.

Upon realizing I have nothing going on most nights except checking my e-harmony account, I decided I could really use a little sis to boss around (just kidding) so I signed up.  I filled out my application, gave 3 references and attended an orientation.  There, I learned about the program - like how I'll go through an interview process, be assigned a case manager, participate in a home visit (perfect time to set out and show off my dumbbells and Biggest Loser video) and then boom - this "Big" will be matched with a "Little".  Side note:  When I first arrived at the orientation, one of the coordinators was wearing a nametag that said, "I'm a Big".  At first glance I thought it said, "I'm Big" and I was like there's no way in hell I'm wearing a nametag that says "I'm Big."  (Then again, I wouldn't have this self-esteem issue if I actually did the work out video).  I digress.  Again.

During orientation we were asked to share with the group why we wanted to be a Big Sis.  I responded by telling the group I'm a mentor to a 5th grader and while I don't think I'm making a difference in her life, she's definitely making a difference in mine.  In fact, I'm giving her full credit for teaching me, er, reminding me what a conjunctive adverb is, where all 50 states are (on a puzzle even!), how to add without using my fingers...

So, here's to being a Big Sis and influencing a child's life.  Preferably one that loves ice cream, coloring (by number) and one who agrees that a good workout can come in the form of playing tag, kickball or Nintendo Wii (with or without a sports bra).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week Twenty-Two

Event:  Boulevard Brewery Tour

Raise your hand if you like beer!  I do!  I do!  And 6 of my friends do too, so we decided to go to the Boulevard Brewery for a free tour.  At Noon.  On a Sunday.  The tour started with one of the tour guides giving us beer caps to "cash in" for samples at the end of the tour.  We each got 4 and I was excited.  As we made our way on the tour, we got to see the big silver funnel looking things that hold the beer, conveyor belts, more big silver funnel looking things, some really old barrels and even more big silver funnel looking things.  The gist of the tour went like this, "And then so and so discovered that when the barley got wet it smelled funny so he was dared to try it and he did and voila - beer."  Ok neat.  Where are the free samples? 

30 minutes, 3 videos and a bunch of big silver funnel looking things later, the tour was over and it was time for samples.  We quickly bellied up to the bar and grabbed our Dixie-Cup sized beers.  Shoot.  They were little.  But that's ok, we sipped away and decided to strategically engage the bartender in conversation about how great our tour was (he was our guide), blah blah blah and before we knew it, we were getting free samples hand over fist.  We even let him show off a bit and let him fix us his favorite mixes - we didn't care - we were drinking for free!  (Did I mention it is now about 1:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday and we haven't had lunch yet?)  Now that our tour guide had become a close friend, we went ahead and got his phone number - you know, to set up another tour sometime.  I was excited, until I learned he was still in school and was all of 23.  Ugh.  At that my friend looked at me and said, "Do you know what my favorite animal is?  A cougar!"  Ha ha.  Not funny.

As the crowd thinned out, my friends and I were still hovering around the bar making it look like a scene from Cheers.  That's when I decided it would be a good idea to get behind the bar.  And I'm pretty sure an American Gladiator couldn't have stopped me.  Successful, once behind the bar, our tour guide/BFF looked on, nervous, as my friend and I not only stood behind the bar, but as girls do, we had to take pictures.  I'm pretty sure we were their favorite.  In fact, I'm positive.

At this point, it's 1:30pm, we're politely being asked to leave and we're starving.  So, we decided to stop at a nearby restaurant that the majority of us had not been to.  As we looked over the menu we discovered they only served breakfast food.  Ugh.  The last thing I wanted at that moment was breakfast food.  But, the group ordered a round of Bloody Mary's and for a moment I thought I liked Bloody Mary's.  And even if I don't, I like olives so I'll just take a sip, eat an olive, take a sip, eat an'll be fine!  Conflicted, I wasn't sure what food group went with 14 different types of beers and a Bloody Mary so I decided to order something I've never had before (at least together) - Chicken and Waffles.  I mean, who in the world thought up that combination?  But let me tell you, whoever did deserves a freaking medal because that was the best combination I've ever had.  Fried chicken and waffles?  Are you kidding me?  The absolute best!  The unfortunate discovery was that I really don't like Bloody Mary's. Even if I put an olive on every finger tip, stuff them in my mouth and take a sip, it's just not a pleasant experience. 

To summarize, my "Sunday, Bloody (Mary) Sunday" was a total blast.  Upon reflection, however, I've realized I consumed 87,614 calories - between the 47 different kinds of beer, fried chicken, waffles and a jar of olives - I have officially become the poster child for Weight Watchers. 

And Alcoholics Anonymous.