Arguably, everyone or everything in this case deserves a second chance. So, when I heard about a new form of speed dating in London called What’s on The Cards, I thought “what have I got to lose? Right?”.
The concept behind What’s on The Cards is fresh and simple. Instead of having just 3 minutes to talk about where you live and how you make a crust, there are a series of prompt cards on the table with various questions on them to keep it interesting and less repetitive.
It had been about 2 months since my last street cred denting experience of going from table to table trying to blurt out as much information as possible to 25 members of the opposite sex. I was hoping to leave with a much better impression than the last time.
The Scene Is Set
I walk through the door and see the tables set up with candles and instantly get that strange feeling of de ja vu. “What am I getting myself in for?” I cringe to myself. Straight away I feel a lot more at ease as the lovely Laura and Jen, the organisers talk me through how the evening’s going to pan out. I’m handed a card with all of the girls’ names in addition to 3 columns labled yes, no and friend. “A friend column, that’s nice”, I think to myself. It’s kind of like a gentle way of breaking up with someone. Showing them that you’re not attracted to them in any way, shape or form but think they’re a really nice person. I start to picture various classic scenarios in my head. “We can still be friends”, “I really like you…. Just not in that way” and “you’re a great person and I’m sure you’ll make someone ELSE really happy”. This friend option rocks. I snap out of my warped imagination and head to the bar. What you need to understand is that I was on a course of antibiotics so I couldn’t touch a drop of alcohol throughout the evening. “A pint of your finest orange juice, thanks barkeeper”. He gives me an unsurprisingly strange look. It was going to be tough doing this sober.
Ummmm…… Pleased To Meet You
The room starts to fill up and we’re asked to take a seat. The crowd seems to be aged between mid 20’s and 30’s with there being about 15 of each sex. Having a small number made it a lot easier to remember everybody. We’re told we have the length of a “song” to spend with each person before moving on, so it’s luck of the draw with how long we spend with certain people. I was hoping for Blur’s “Song 2” for the first girl. “Praise the Lord for the prompt cards” I thought. I wouldn’t say it was like trying to “draw blood from a stone”, but she did tell me that she went to a speed dating event at least once a week. Surely the fact that she was still single and doing a “circuit” should have been enough to tell her that she should maybe try a new avenue. “I just love them” she joyfully spits out whilst guzzling a pint. A pint. This is where being sober doesn’t help the cause. Needless to say she doesn’t even make the friend column.
Moving through the rest of the girls was quite uneventful for the first half. Everyone was absolutely lovely, I even added 2 girls to the infamous friend column.
We’re able to have a break and grab another drink. I head to the bar and get the same bartender. “Another OJ?” he askes with a scowl. “Make it a double” I say. Nothing. Not even a smirk.
As I grab my drink, a girl leeches onto me. I can tell by the way she’s swaying from side to side that she’s definitely had a fair few. I can’t get away as she asks me for the 4th time where abouts in London I live (still with no comprehension). Knowing that I hadn’t met her yet meant that I would have the joy of having to sit at a table with her eventually.
The second half kicks off in similar fashion. Everybody’s really nice. I spot a trend where a lot of people aren’t using the prompt cards, in fact some haven’t used them at all. I’d found I’d used them at every table, thinking that that’s what the point of the night was. It was a lot more fun getting off the cuff answers than the standard ones. Questions such as: “If you could invite 3 people to a dinner party, who would they be?” seemed to give me a lot more of an insight to what sort of person they were. I continue on.
My last girl happens to be the one I’d met earlier at the bar. I immediately pull out a prompt card. It reads, “If you were invisible, where’s the first place you’d go?” Now, as a male it’s an easy response. Ladies’ changing room, like something out of the early 90’s classic “Meatballs 4” starring Corey Feldman. The lovely girl mentioned she’d love to be in the “Spurs'” changing room as so she could listen to Andre Villas Boas’ tactics in intimate detail. Each to their own of course, but even as a huge Spurs fan myself, I couldn’t really sympathise.
The night finished and I had to hand in my card. I didn’t have anyone in my yes column, yet had 3 in my friend column. I double checked to make sure, concluding I was more than happy with my final decision.
I had a lot of fun, made 3 friends and found it so much more appealing having the prompt cards there knowing that I had a bit more of a helping hand and spontanaity in case there was any awkwardness. I certainly recommend it overall, especially for anybody who’s shy and would like to try something a little more casual and less “forced”.
*Disclosure. I was asked to participate by Gin and Milk events. All views are my own and have not been influenced in any way.