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Life and Religion

Kiss & Tell: 15 dates in one night
Can a night of speed dating lead to a love connection?
Published Thursday, February 28, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

clientuploads/wb_kiss-tell.gifMichelle Hendricks is on a mission. She is determined to meet her husband before her 30th birthday, which is only seven months away.

Kiss & Tell: Michaela L. Duckett

I dont have to marry him by then, but I at least want to meet him, she tells me one afternoon over lunch at Panera Bread. I just dont get it. Im beautiful. Im smart. Im independent. I run my own company. I drive a brand new car, but Im not married.

As she talks, a woman who appears to be 300-plus pounds walks in with two small children.

Look at that rock on her hand, Michelle says. It must cost at least six figures. How come she has someone and I dont?

Michelle has been obsessing about meeting her future husband since she broke up with her ex-boyfriend right before Christmas. Shes literally called every contact in her phone, reaching out to friends, relatives and colleagues asking each if they had any single friends they could hook her up with. Shes tried finding love online. Shes always frequenting gyms or sports bars and spends Saturdays hanging out at Home Depot or the frozen food aisle at the grocery store.

I just figure the more men I meet and the more dates I go on, the better my chances are of meeting someone, she says. You know what they say, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.

Her next bright idea is attending a speed-dating mixer and she talks me into going along.

A cattle rancher and a mamas boy

The mixer is held on a Wednesday night at Jackalope Jacks in Plaza Midwood. We circle the crowded parking lot twice before finding a spot.

As we walk inside, the speed dating coordinator greets us and briefly goes over the rules. Well have 15 five-minute mini-dates. The men rotate the room. The ladies stay seated.

I find my assigned table, which is across the room from Michelles seat. A few minutes later a Caucasian man sits down. Although the event is for 25- to 38-year-olds, he looks like hes in his early- to mid-40s. He sets his beer bottle on the table and introduces himself as Sam. I introduce myself and then there is an awkward pause.

The first date hasnt officially begun, so Im not sure what were supposed to do talk or just sit there. Sam reminds me a lot of an old neighbor of mine, who happens to be an alcoholic and addicted to every narcotic under the sun. Bless his heart; hes currently committed at a mental institution for attempting suicide. The resemblance is uncanny and puts me a little on edge.

We sit in silence for a few more minutes then engage in a little small talk. Sam tells me he is from Hickory and he raises cattle.

He tells me about the big farm he works with his brother and pauses midsentence to finish the rest of his beer, tilting his head back and tapping the bottom of the bottle to get every single drop into his mouth. He flags down the waitress and orders another.

The coordinator finally starts the timer. Im ready for the date to end.

I cant wait to talk to everybody, he says. I really want to get my moneys worth, ya know.

Finally, its time to switch.

The next guy is a big burley Caucasian guy from West Virginia named Adam. He looks like a teddy bear. As he takes his seat, he gives me dap and tells me he likes my bling. I didnt notice him doing that to the blond seated to my right. He shook her hand. I think maybe he gave me dap because Im black. Next.

About halfway into the evening, I find myself loosening up and having a little fun. No, I havent made a love connection nor did I intend on making one, but I did meet a lot of interesting characters that I might not have otherwise engaged in conversation.

I met three engineers, a novelist, a Russian scientist, a guy who works on elevators and a divorcee who flies planes and looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Then, I meet Bradley. Hes not someone that I would typically consider dating, but I couldnt help but notice that he had a lot of swagger. His hair was low cut on the sides, long on top and styled similar to Robin Thickes. He was wearing a black blazer, a maroon buttoned-up shirt and a skinny black tie with jeans.

He has a warm smile and a big personality. His witty one-liners make me laugh out loud. I figure hes a musician or an actor, but he says hes a defense lawyer.

I just started practicing about a year ago, he said. I really dont know what Im doing. Its crazy because the first thing people ask you when you take their case is if youve done it before. I usually lie and tell them Ive done it more times than I can remember, but really Im scared as crap because Im just winging it. The good thing is Ive been at it long enough to at least fake like Im good.

Then he smiles and exposes a yuck-mouth. His teeth look like lumpy, partially melted butter.

The five-minute date ends. Bradley gets up, and Marcus takes his place.

Marcus looks like hes barely 21. Hes wearing a striped polo shirt and acid washed pants with an elastic waistband. He tells me that he lives with his mom, works at Target and plays guitar. At least thats what I think he said. He talks in such a whisper that I can barely understand him. I lean in closer to hear him better but back away because his breath smells like bologna.

My final date is with a guy named Eric. Hes unlike anyone I expected to meet speed dating. Hes extremely attractive - about 6 feet tall, fair skin, clean-cut, well-dressed and smells good. He has a warm smile and laughs at all my jokes Im not sure if its the effects of the red wine hes drinking or if he actually thinks Im funny. I hope its the latter.

Our conversation flows freely. He tells me he moved to Charlotte about three months ago from California to take an administrative job with Carolinas Healthcare Systems.

He says he tried speed dating because he thought it would be a fun way to meet new people. He lives Uptown and asks for recommendations on where he should go for a night out, but before I can answer the coordinator comes around and says the night is over.

If there is anyone here who youd like to get to know better, circle their name on your sheet and turn it in to me, she says. Tomorrow you will receive an email from me with the email addresses and names of the people who are interested in you.

I find Michelle, who has circled about six names on her sheet. Considering we both dated the same guys all night, I figure she must be serious about kissing a lot of frogs.

Which six men could she possibly want to see again?

I circle only one name Eric. Now I just have to wait a day to see if he chose me as well.


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