I went to my first school dance in Grade Eight.
It was held in Tierney Hall at the school and the big effort to change the basketball court into a mood setting event was hanging mesh curtains from the rafters and one strobe light for 'effects'.
We all marched in together. A bunch of over scrubbed 13 year old wearing aftershave on our baby soft faces and a bizarre mismatch of what we considered cool clothes.
Be kind, it was 1981
For me it was a black short sleeve shirt, cream colored trousers with matching canvas belt and canvas shoes.
I only really remember those clothes as they were the first that I owned that were not shorts and t-shirts. I went with Ma to Myers to get some school dance clothes and after trying them on the saleslady said "I looked very handsome" which cheered me up no end and probably the reason I still shop at Myers to this day.
Great plans were afoot for the evening. The dance was a topic of conversation for weeks amongst my friends. How do you ask a girl to dance? How do you dance? What would tongue kissing (our idea of hot and heavy action) feel like? Who would act as lookouts for teachers while you were going the pash? What would be the signal to alert you?
We decide on the school cheer for some stupid reason. Of course teachers would never suspect something was afoot if a bunch of guys suddenly launched into...
HOPPITITA HOPITTAT, WISH BAN BOP,
INGO BUDDY WUDDY, GIVE IT THEM HOT,
POUR THE BOOT, POUR THE BOOT,
TACKLE 'EM TRUE,
NUDGEE NUDGEE, BLUE WHITE BLUE
... with the accompanying rugby ruck and maul mime actions.
The joys of attending a rugby obsessed school.
The most important question being "Can you really see up a girl's dress if she's wearing patent leather white shoes?" An urban myth that made the rounds of the dormitories and intrigued us greatly.
The girls filed in wearing their best. Frocks and dresses, hair up in buns or down around their faces. Disappointingly, all had sensible shoes on; damn those nuns at St Rita's Girl's College.
And the night started.
Boys on one side and girls on the other. Two lines. Two groups. One great fear.
What if I don't have it?
To say that Speed Dating is like that school dance is as true a statement as it is false.
The event was held in the downstairs bar of the Grosvenor pub in George Street with a few tables set up running down the floor. This wasn't an open call event. Everyone there was a least 2 degrees of separation from Kylie the organiser. In my case, a mate James used to work with her husband.
30 hardy souls braved the night and after consuming my two complementary beers the main event started.
Stations were set up for 15 girls to sit at. The guys would have 5 minutes to chat to a girl, a whistle would shriek and then the guys move to the next station.
Each were given a form for each station with names and general tips like don't talk about your Ex and two boxes that could be checked.
Interested and Not Interested
After the event, Kylie would tally the votes and if both parties had ticked interested she would email you their email address.
I've read a few blog posts about how women get competitive over men but never the reverse. Let me slay that idea, Myth-buster style. When women are involved watch how men stand straighter and with their chest puffed out. Kinda like baboons but with less social graces.
There was a fairly normal cross section of Brisbane blokes. Jeans, faux vintage t-shirts etc. I guessed I was the oldest in attendance.
5 minutes is too short a time. While a longer period would take forever to get around the stations, the extra time would be appreciated. It's takes a couple of minutes just to get comfortable and pass the "How do you know Kylie?" "what do you do?" type of questions.
Jugs of water on the tables would be good. As you had to get up and go to the bar for water, you might as well get another beer instead. Which I did. Repeatedly.
You need to have part of the form that you can keep with you afterwards. If any and I repeat ANY girl happened to tick interested, I'm stuffed if I can remember their names. I have a vague idea of who they are based on a mental shorthand. Girl with big teeth, Works at Suncorp Bank (I hope she doesn't look at my account), Funky necklace girl.
But you don't want general thoughts, you want the goss, the specifics and hopefully a story of how I embarrassed myself. Well, if that's why you came here; MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Some talks I can barely remember. They were ho hum and I was bored during them so I'm not going to rehash them but a couple stood out.
FIRST GIRL (Suncorp Bank)
I had no idea what I was talking about. Something about moving home and then she said she wanted to live in Jamaica. I felt as though I should have gone back to talk to her again after I had finished the rounds and was more comfortable.
I suspect BG will get the most amount of interested boxes ticked. She was good looking, easy and fun to talk to and grabbed my thigh three times during our conversation. I was very chuffed until I noticed she grabbed everyones thigh. Guess my stores of braving the wilds of Asia, climbing ancient ruins and assorted experiences meant the same to her as a guy describing how drunk he got at the last State of Origin match.
INTERIOR DESIGN GIRL
Nice bubbly personality with smokey eyes. We were having a nice chat until I couldn't resist a teasing joke. We were talking about new ways to met people - online, speed dating etc - when she said
"I've got a friend who's tried RSVP and all she met were losers but let's face it, when you're 38 it's over. How embarrassing for the poor girl!"
"I don't know, about as embarrassing as you are going to be in 30 seconds"
"What? I don't follow"
"Guess my age?"
"Umm you must be thirty threeissssh........Oh shit"
I don't think she ticked my box with interested.
THE ...... (it rhymes with itch)
Many different approaches were taken by people to the event. Some were hyper excited yeah let's met some new people', some were there for a laugh - I think I was the only one there for a blog post - and some had a faint air of distraction about them. They had obviously popped into the pub and unbeknownst to them there was a speed dating event on. Perhaps she should stay and offer these poor people the benefit of their wisdom.
I sat down at her table and she launched into her invective.
"I don't see why everyone is asking silly questions. I have REAL conversations with people, not question and answer time. These people couldn't get out of the bed in the morning without someone telling them how to do it"
Insert 1 minute of her telling me about her day. I tuned out for a while, something to do with her lunch order arriving incorrect again) and then she said "So how was your day"
"I don't think I should tell you"
"Yeah but it was a question and I respect you stance on questions" and I proceeded to not say a word for the rest of our time with her saying
"Are you not going to talk to me?"
Me mouthing [question]
"Are you a fruit-case?"
"Do you think you're funny?'
Finally she gave up and we sat in silence for the remaining minutes.
THE GREAT DEBATE
My second to last conversation started slow. We were both suffering from speed date fatigue until she said "I think I've heard every question tonight"
"Oh yeah?" and I silently thanked Sarah for telling me to have a solid back up question. It was time to deploy the one question that would give me immediate insight into her personality.
"What's your favorite John Hughes movie?"
"The one with John Candy"
"Uncle Buck, you like Uncle Buck? I should just leave now"
"No the other one but what's wrong with Uncle Buck? He makes giant pancakes. What's not to love about giant pancakes?"
"Macaulay Calkin eating them"
"Ok I give you that point but Plane Trains and Automobiles, that's a under appreciated classic"
"True. Steve Martin waking up to the cuddling John Candy..."
"And that bit at the end when Martin thinks about all their conversations and realises that John Candy's wife had died and he had no home to go to."
"Made me teary"
"I agree but the for the true spirit of John Hughes you have to go back to the Holy Trinity"
"16 Candles, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller"
"Of course, thought why did Andie go for Jake instead of Farmer Ted?"
And spent the rest of the time arguing movie cliches but how we all want one.
The Wrap Up
Would I do it again? Sure I had fun. Met a couple of nice people, embarrassed one girl and greatly annoyed another.
I call that a good evening.
We stayed for a few drinks afterwards and I suggested that we organise a reunion drinks in the future regardless of ticked boxes. An idea that everyone agreed to enthusiastically but no one will actually do. We'll see what arrives in my in-box on Monday from the forms.
Ok I actually cheated slightly on the forms. .
The first rule of any game is to know all the other rules. Since Kylie only forwards the email addresses if you both tick interested you'll never know if someone was interested even if you were not unless you tick everyone's box . Which I did except for Itch Girl, she can die in a bizarre vacuum cleaner accident for all I care.
I guess in the end, it still boils down to that same feeling in the bottom of your 13 year old stomach?
What if I don't have it?
The difference is I know the answer.
I've got IT.
Even though I have no idea what IT is or why anyone would be attracted to IT.
And if they don't like IT? If they are not attracted to me?
Well the part of the IT that makes up me, is I don't care anymore.
I'll save my worry, concern, thoughts, (bad) jokes, smile and all round awesomeness for those that do.
So know this. Out there is a girl with a complementary IT.
When we get together, we'll have a THEY.
I can wait.
Remember the Tortoise does beat the hare.