Months prior to the convention, I saw an ad on the Emerald City ComiCon website for a speed dating service for nerds called Sci-Fi Speed Dating. The blurb;
“You’ve heard about it on the web! You watched in on TLC… Now, the crew of Sci-Fi Speed Dating, and stars of the TLC show Geek Love, are coming to the Emerald City Comicon!
That’s right! If you are tired of looking for love in Alderaan places, if you want to Terminate your single life, and if you are looking for someone that you’re comic collection will actually impress, then sign up!”
Myself loving horrible jokes and puns, the ‘love in Alderaan places’ line made me chuckle, and I figured ‘why not?’ When in Rome-err, Seattle! I filled-out the form, and they promptly got back to me with an appointment time for Saturday, March 31st, 4 pm.
Now I should preface by saying I’m not a socially awkward individual. I grew-up performing on the stage, and have always had confidence communicating with people of either sex. I mean, I interview some of the biggest names in comics at these conventions, so the last thing I want to do is pull a Chris Farley on someone like Scott Snyder (“Remember, that one time, you wrote that Batman story? That was awesome!”). I should also point out that my boyish charm and good looks have helped me out tremendously in the past in the ladies department. Am I the geeky equivalent to Fabio? Hell no, but I get by. Bottom-line, my milkshake brings all the girls to the yard. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I would teach you, but I’d have to charge.
Arriving at check-in at 3:55pm, there was already a small group of men with numbers on their nametags, followed by a line of guys who were interested in getting a walk-in spot. That line for walk-ins was quite long. I gave my name, they gave me a nametag with the number 8 on it. I was no longer Cameron Hatheway; from now on, I was now Number 8. Observing my fellow applicants, I was delighted to see some were in costume (Wolverine, some sort of Anime character), and others appeared to resemble the stereotypical geek chic (jeans, gaming shirt / faded heavy metal shirt, slightly rotund). It was a total sausage-fest in the lobby, and after having a selection of maybe a dozen or so guys, they released the rest of the poor bastards who were still waiting in line. Naturally, there were far more guys who were interested in signing up for something like this than women. And where were the women during all of this? Why, they were already inside being prepped on what to expect by the President of Sci-Fi Speed Dating, Ryan Glitch.
The numbered guys were given a note card and a pen, and filed into the room. Inside, there were three rows of chairs, with an opposing chair facing each. Typical speed dating layout, where the women will remain seated, and the guys rotated around from girl to girl every three minutes. The women were huddled into one corner of the room, and Ryan Glitch started explaining the rules and set-up to the guys who were awkwardly huddled on the other side. Already both parties were scoping each other out, calling mental ‘dibs’ on the giggly and attractive ones. Ryan Glitch did a wonderful job breaking the ice for everyone, getting raw and raunchy on the microphone. Ryan is a larger gentleman, and the outfit he was wearing for the occasion was a tartan toga of sorts. When he spoke, we all listened intently. He joked with the guys for a couple of minutes, poking fun at a few just to lighten the mood, and of course some awkwardly joked back to show the women that they had cojones. The rules were simple; three minutes per person, no using names, and mentioning nothing specific like a website or a Facebook just in case there was a creepy stalker-type in the room. Most importantly of all; have fun.
On our index cards we were to keep track of the numbers we liked, and at the end of the event we’d write down our first name, what number we were, then an e-mail address or phone number on the paper of the number you liked. The women would do the same, and at the end of the day you could call / text / e-mail someone who you may of picked who found your company to be equally entertaining. Soon after the speech, the speed dating began.
Now my go-to line for the majority of the conversations involved our numbers reminding me of The Hunger Games, and what district we were representing. I discovered that perhaps 90% of the women there were familiar with what I was talking about, and we would continue to share our thoughts on both book and movie. Another go-to conversation starter was mentioning that I was from San Diego, here for the awesome line-up of comic book writers and artists. Only a handful of the women there were interested in comics, with some of them quizzing me on what I was currently enjoying (“CHEW, Witch Doctor, Locke & Key, etc”). I discovered a lot of the women there came to the convention with friends for the day, and thought this speed dating set-up looked intriguing. One gal came with her brother! At least when it was their turn to talk to each other for three minutes, they were going to have so much in common to discuss. Many of the women were local, very few were from out of state like me. I got many compliments on my blazer, and I would always joke about how I needed wear both my blazer and sweatshirt due to the cold weather up here. Three minutes talking to women goes by rather quickly, so as soon as Ryan would countdown the last 3-5 seconds on the loudspeaker, I would quickly thank each woman for their time, and leave them with a firm handshake.
The entire event lasted close to an hour, and it ran smoothly like clockwork. I feel that both men and women had an enjoyable time, and as far as I can tell there wasn’t any weirdos in that batch. When it came time to write down your information on the sheets of the women you were interested in, a few lines formed for a few numbers in particular (Numbers 2 and 5 come to mind). Obviously some of the women were capable of making an impression on the guys with their feminine wiles, and were going to have several names and phone numbers to choose from. At the end of the event, you went back to your own side of the room, collected your paper, and left. The women stayed behind and were once again being informed something by Ryan. If I were a betting man, he was probably getting feedback from them.
Heading back to the exhibit hall, I took a glance at my paper and saw that I had four names and numbers of women who were interested in me. One of them was Number 2, the popular one. Instantly I brushed some dirt off my shoulder.
Would I recommend you checkout Sci-Fi Speed Dating if it makes a presence at the next convention you attend? Absolutely. It was a very enjoyable experience, and reading the testimonials at their Facebook page tells me that it has worked for some people. I knew ahead of time I wasn’t looking for a date, but rather an article. If it makes an appearance in my neck of the woods, where more of the women would be local, I’d pre-register for it again in a heartbeat. The only problem is, my local convention is Comic-Con International, and it would be highly unlikely for me to find another local geek amidst the chaos.