I went speed dating once. Well, twice, but this story is about the first time I went speed dating. (The second experience is in the book!) I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I’d seen it on TV before. But on TV the characters were one-dimensional, usually comical, and sometimes crazy. Clearly, in real life, we are much more complex human beings. So, when my friend Karrie asked me to go speed dating with her in Culver City, I agreed. Whatever I had been doing online hadn’t been working, so why not change it up a bit? Put myself out there in real life. I was excited, but also nervous. My friend Karrie is 5’11, probably 120 pounds, gorgeous with a bubbly personality. Next to her, I felt like a fat blob. How was I going to compete with Karrie? Would any guy choose me over Karrie? My insecurities in my twenties were pretty severe. (Thank the Universe I’m now past that stage and know my worth. There is someone out there for everyone. I don’t need to compare myself to Karrie. I’m beautiful, curvy, and I have my own bubbly personality. I have a lot of amazing things going on in my life. I’m a fucking catch, and now I know it. Thanks, Therapy!) Karrie and I show up to this coffee and tea art space in Culver City. The women who work there are dressed in brown French maid outfits. Thank God they serve wine. We each get a glass, still unsure of what is going to happen. Each person is given a number, a piece of paper, and a pen. We are seated at a long table. The hosts explain that there the men will be seated across from the women, and we’ll have two minutes to chat. A buzzer will sound, and men will move on to the next woman. If we like a person, we put a check mark next to their number. The hosts will collect the papers at the end, and will find out who has mutual check marks. If the man and the woman both like each other, the hosts will send an email with the contact information so the couple can get to know each other better. Two minutes doesn’t seem like a very long time. I try to think about my check marks as, “ who do I want to spend more time getting to know?” A tall, handsome Asian man sits across from me. He is muscular, clearly works out. He introduces himself as Steve. I blush. Are they all going to be this hot? It’s going to be challenging not to choose all of them if that’s the case. We chat before the hosts say go. We get five minutes instead of two. I already know Steve gets a checkmark. They ring the buzzer, and Steve moves on to Karrie, who’s seated right next to me. A new man sits down in front of me. He is white, not quite as tall, with a lanky build. He is nervous, and doesn’t really know how to make small talk. He is sweating. The buzzer rings again. Definitely no check mark. One guy was clearly dragged here by his much-more-social friends. Poor dude can’t even form complete sentences. He’s so nervous he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Of course he’s an engineer. That was the longest two minutes of my life. I think about how he would probably approach me in a bar, start up an awkward conversation, and I’d look around hoping someone would save me. And then, thankfully, I’m literally saved by the bell. The buzzer sounds, and he gets up and moves to sit in front of Karrie. “Good luck,” I whisper to her under my breath. She gives me a scared look. After her two minutes with him is up, she rolls her eyes and sighs. This process is exhausting, even as an extrovert. There are so many personalities, and I’m not really good at faking interest or emotions. I cycle through man after man. I put a check mark next to four more guys. After twenty rounds (twenty!) it’s finally over. Karrie looks at me. “Well, that was a bust,” she says. She’s marked two guys - one of whom was Steve. Great, now I have competition. There’s no way Steve is going to pick me over Karrie if it comes down to that. “How many did you mark?” I show her my paper. “Five?!” she exclaim incredulously. She is shocked that I am interested in any of those men. I try to defend my decision, “I tried to think about it like who I would want to spend more time talking to,” I blush, feeling her judge me. Does it seem desperate? Now I feel desperate. We each go our separate ways for the evening, vowing never to do that again (of course, I did, but it was an accident…) A few days later, I get an email. Two of the men have liked me back! One of them is Steve. I am elated. Someone liked me! Then the feelings of self-doubt creep in. Did he just put check marks next to everyone? I decide to text Karrie to find out. Out of the two men she checked yes to, neither of them said yes to her. “What a waste of time,” she tells me. Steve picked me. Over Karrie. Over the tall, skinny blond, he picked the short, curvy girl. I know I can’t determine my self-worth based on whether or not someone likes me, but this did a shit ton for my self-esteem, I will tell you that. It felt like a small win for fat girls everywhere. Steve and I emailed, then exchanged numbers. I really thought it was going to go somewhere. Then the late night texts started. The ones asking if we could cuddle, make out, and more. Ah, he’s not interested in dating - he wants a hook up. So much for that idea. Although speed dating didn’t turn out like I had hoped, it still felt like a small victory - that someone found me attractive. That at the end of the day, the fat girl won out over the skinny girl. And I have to hold onto the little things in the dating world, so I can keep going. Back to the drawing board.