Dare Me: Sci-Fi Speed Dating

Double Dare

By Bachelorette #4The challenge: Sci-Fi Speed Dating. At RI Comic Con. Dressed as Slave Leia, which, as far as I’ve been told (by people outside of Comic Con), is one of those ultimate guy fantasies.First, some disclaimers: I am a total geek. I can out geek many guys (and gals) when put to the test. I hang with some of the geekiest people around, trust me. I like my guys smart. And, yes, I made my own costume before the challenge was given.

The event starts with the ladies in the room where the host explains the code for “I want out of this date,” which has only been used three times in their three-year history. The guys come in, sit across from the ladies, and the rules are simple: everyone has a number and no names are exchanged. You have three minutes to talk to each candidate and then move on. If, at the end, you liked any of the dates, you put your contact information under their number so they can get in touch with you.

What transpired after that was not what I expected. First, every single one of the guys made eye contact with me for most of the three minutes which a) goes against the “nerd” stereotype and b) is certainly better than guys in a bar would do. I’m not going to say they didn’t look at all, but, if you are in costume, the point is to have people look. None of the dates said anything even bordering on inappropriate. I only got one bad (albeit clean) joke (and it was actually kind of funny, to be honest).

And yet, none of the guys came across as what I would consider truly geeky. Some were nervous, some were trying really hard to be cool and some were just working on being as nice as possible. What I was missing was the passionate “geekiness” – that particular spark that defines the class. For most, it was their first Con ever. There were even a few who didn’t recognize the costume (it’s Star Wars, for crying out loud – who let you into a Comic Con without knowing that?! Geesh.).

But three minutes only gives you a few sentences. And maybe they didn’t want to waste even a few precious words on something they thought I wouldn’t get anyway. But in this case, they missed the point. Intelligence and interest do impress me and I would hope it works both ways. Watered down personality is boring.

As I was leaving, the host thanked me for being the first nice “Slave Leia” they’d ever had. When I looked bemused, he said “Every other Slave Leia has come in here and treated our guys like shit.”

“Well, that’s unnecessary,” I said. And it is. For anyone – male or female. But maybe that explains why many true geeks didn’t even try, or even why those that did, felt it necessary to tone themselves down. If your fantasy is already rejecting you just for being there, why would you even try?

Kudos to all those brave enough even to show up. And shame on all those previous Slave Leias. Geek guys – don’t judge all women by that standard. Please keep trying. I promise you, the good ones are out there.

Will I call any of the numbers on my list? I haven’t fully decided yet. But I might have if I there had been one brave enough to let that true inner geek shine.

For more information on Sci-Di Speed Dating visit: http://www.facebook.com/scifispeeddating

By Bachelor #40Armed only with a T-shirt that looked like a giant snake, I picked up the “Dare Me” gauntlet – to represent the male perspective in another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. A land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. Yes, I crossed over into the Sci-Fi Speed Dating Zone.Created by Ryan Glitch, who travels the convention circuit throwing speed dates into the mix at cons around the country,Sci-Fi Speed Dating is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

The introductory pep talk alone was worth the price of admission ($10). Glitch performs his patter with the refined timing of a stand-up comic, and dances around the gray areas of offensive humor with disarming nimbleness, all intended to get participants laughing and put them at ease.

In the four years Glitch has been running the event, he’s scored five marriages (with two kids so far), 19 engagements, and hundreds of dates.

The first rule – no real names. Introducing yourself as a number takes a bit of getting used to, but it beats saying, “Hi, I can’t tell you who I am.” No one shouted, “I am not a number!” For all their collective comic-geekiness, none were old enough to get that reference. (ed. note –that’s from the “Prisoner” TV show from the sixties.)

You sit and talk with each numbered member of the opposite sex for three minutes – no more and no less. Then, the guys rotate while the ladies watch them. That’s a chivalry thing. Or maybe guys move faster. After a full circuit (there were about 25 stops on this journey), everyone writes their contact info for anyone they were drawn to, on sheets of paper dedicated to each number. You get the sheet that matches your number, and decide whether to call any of the people who gave you their info.

It turns out it’s hard to warm up in three minutes. You have a lot of costume-inspired conversations. A few about Star Wars vs. Star Trek. The guy ahead of me would pick three names and ask his victim whom she would screw, whom she’d marry, and whom she’d kill. From what I could hear, people took this question very seriously.

I met someone who worked for Joss Whedon (yes, THE Joss Whedon). That conversation could have lasted a lot longer. Other than that, I met, oddly, quite a number of librarians. At least six. Yes, really.

While no one I met wore her heart on her sleeve, most of them wore their favorite obsessions in their outfits – from Scooby Doo to Marvel characters, from steampunk to Dr. Who’s Tardis. Hair in dozens of fiery and not-so-natural shades, and more than a handful of bosom-inducing corsets were represented.

Ultimately, the best conversations I had were with the guys ahead of and behind me. While everyone else switched off every three minutes, these guys followed me around – or vice-versa – for an hour and half. We criss-crossed our conversations (a big no-no, under the rules, but also entertaining). The three of us at a bar might have had much better odds than we had at the event.

Nothing humiliating happened. There were some awkward conversational pauses, but none lasting more than, say, two and a half minutes. As dares go, it was painless, and the only stalker risk seemed to come from the guy dressed as a giant raccoon, who really wanted to know whom I’d like to screw, kill and marry.

All in all, it was a fun time. Best, I would say, if you’re under 30, like most of the participants. But entertaining even if you’re just someone who likes to meet a lot of people really quickly. Or if you like to mix your dating with wrinkles in the time-space continuum.

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