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Daily Pilot

Editor's Notebook: Speeding through a dating milestone

By Kelly Parker

5:48 PM PDT, August 29, 2013

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This week I felt the need. The need for speed dating.

The idea bubbled up a couple months ago, but I sort of brushed it aside because, frankly, the thought terrified me. But I'm doing this new thing where I'm trying to not die alone, so I've been putting myself out there more in the dating world.

I started by creating an online dating profile. After a couple less-than-stellar dates and countless back-and-forth email messages with other would-be suitors that went nowhere, I decided the next logical step was speed dating.

I stumbled across an event in Irvine that was labeled speed dating for "single professionals." I took this to mean that everyone would be gainfully employed, which is fairly important to me at this stage of my life.

So for $30, I figured, why not? Best-case scenario, I would meet someone I really clicked with. Worst-case scenario, I'd walk away rejected but with a good story to tell.

The idea was simple: Sixteen men and women gathered at an Irvine restaurant and were assigned numbers. The women sat at their numbered table, and every six minutes, a new guy rotated in to chat. After meeting a man, I would mark on a sheet of paper whether I wanted to talk to him more ("Let's Talk!") or I wasn't interested ("No, thanks").

I quickly learned that those six minutes could either fly by or drag on. Some men I instantly enjoyed talking with; others left me wishing I'd ordered more than just the one cocktail. But almost all of them were friendly. (One guy near the end acted like he was totally over the whole process, and he couldn't be bothered to engage in a real conversation with me.)

The most interesting thing about me appeared to be my job as a journalist. I guess to a room full of engineers and computer guys, journalism sounded foreign and fascinating. Among other topics that often arose: where we grew up, where we went to school, our hobbies (mine: fantasy football, karaoke and writing), and whether or not we'd ever tried speed dating before.

Having a similar conversation over and over got a little tedious, and my voice grew hoarse from trying to shout above the din of 15 other couples talking around me. But all in all, it was genuinely interesting to meet so many different men of various ages, races and professions whom I would not otherwise have met.

I ended up choosing eight guys to talk to again. Of those eight, I was really interested in maybe four, but I'd have to wait a whole day to find out if they felt the same about me. I was skeptical about getting any matches, since a lot of the women there were drop-dead gorgeous. The competition was fierce.

But the results surprised me. I had only two matches, but they were with the two men I most wanted to see again. I'm considering that a win, since I'd pick quality over quantity any day.

Also, I did not say yes to three guys who chose me. I guess my success rate at getting a man interested is at a little more than 30%. Better than nothing, right?

So I have my matches and their email addresses. It's up to us if we want to see each other again. Of course, now comes the dreaded waiting game. As in, how long do I wait until one of them messages me? Should I message first? Will they seem as great if I spend longer than six minutes with them?

I guess I'll never know unless I go for it, and that's what this was all about — trying something new and getting out of my comfort zone. It's too soon to tell if anything will pan out, but I can say I don't regret the experience.

Dare I say I might even go again? But next time, I'm bringing a friend.

kelly.parker@latimes.com

Twitter: @KellyParkerTCN