Andy Johnson introduced me to Dorothy last year.

Dorothy and I have recently become good friends.

She asked me if I wanted to try speed dating and I agreed.

“At the least, it’ll be an adventure,” she said.

“Or a decent TNB post,” I replied.

On Monday, it was an idea to chuckle at.

On Tuesday, I told her my feet were getting cold and I wasn’t so sure.

But she had already bought her ticket by that point and there was no possible out for me.

Wednesday was pure back-n-forth torture, on both behalves.

“Allright, we’ll go,” she said, “but if it’s lame, we’re outta there.”

Dorothy’s feet got really cold on day of the event (Thursday).

Part of this was due in part to the fact that the bar was named Nietzsche.

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In theory, this is a good name for a bar.

In practice, it’s one of those pretentious, “hip” names that signifies nothing in relation to the actual bar.

The front glass of the windows read Nietzsche: Art and Drinks.

If you’re going to try and be creative in naming a bar, name it after a character or concept created by said person and maybe throw some kind of title in front of it:

Baron Übermensch

Señor Zarathustra

It carries much more allure despite the fact that more people will definitely not get it.

Not too far from this bar is another one named Kafka.

(Sigh.)

Dorothy told me that she had used Friendster in the past and thought it was a worthwhile service.

Inside the bar, we were greeted by Robert, the suspicious, British host of the event who insisted on calling himself Roberto.

He handed us our sheets.

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He explained how it works:

“Each sex gets a sheet with the other sexes’ names on it. The men will be the movers and the women will be the sitters. After your seven minutes are up, mark a YES, NO or MAYBE next to their name. If you mark a YES and she marks a YES, then you will be put in contact with each other. If either party marks a NO, then no info is exchanged—regardless of what the other person put. If you both mark MAYBE and/or YESes, then the info is offered and you are able to contact each other. Any questions?”

“Where do we get our free drink ticket?”

There were 15 men and 12 women and, as a result, I had to sit the first two rounds out.

Roberto introduced me to a man-eating, blond German tree who just happened to be there supporting her friends but not participating.

She was an interpreter that spoke grammatically perfect Spanish with a portly accent.

She’d been in Spain for 18 years.

“¿De qué parte eres de los Estados Unidos? “ she asked me.

“Ohio.”

She said her son was studying in Missouri.

I looked down at my watch.

I don’t wear a watch.

Without doubt, there was a palpable feeling of desperation in the air.

People smiled excessively as if to cover up their nervousness.

Some people drank quickly in order to loosen up.

Others sat and stood around trying to appear interesting or interested in their papers.

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My first four women were Spanish, Spanish, British and American, in that order.

The conversations sort of aimlessly began and wandered accordingly.

One was an English teacher who looked about 10 years shy of her golden years, another was a translator and another had just graduated from Santa Barbara and had been here for two months.

“Why did you move here?” she asked me.

I gave her standard answer # 2: “I had a tough time with the political climate.”

She looked at me hard, her face expressionless.

“I mean I really just wanted to get outside of the cultural American bubble for a while, you know – the media, the reality TV, etc and see it from the outside–maybe get a new perspective on things.”

“I know what you mean,” she said nodding in agreement, “That’s kinda why I came here as well. I was like, ‘I gotta see what else is, like, you know, out there.’”

For some stupid reason I added, “And now that the Dems have just won back congress, maybe they’ll have enough cojones to impeach that bastard before his term is up.”

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Her silence strengthened her stare.

I wasn’t sure which side of the fence she was on, nor which nerve I hit.

(She could’ve been a sensitive Democrat.)

Roberto patted me on the back, “We’re going to take a 15 minute intermission.”

Dorothy and I reconvened for catch-up and a quick assessment.

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According to Dorothy, all of the Spanish men there were in I.T.

The one guy who she was considering giving a MAYBE had a bad case of halitosis and was probably 10 years her senior.

She also had this sneaky suspicion that he was the one guy on the website who was married and was looking to have multiple, NSA affairs.

The other anomaly was that their website said this going to be 25-40 night.

I had already spoken with a woman who was definitely in her 50s and the Santa Barbarian could not have been more than 23.

Up to that point, we both chalked up nothing but MAYBEs and NOs.

“Have you asked them your question yet?” she inquired.

“No but I will after the break. Let me try it out on you first. If you could meet two people in the history of the world – living or dead – who would they be and why?”

Dorothy got camera shy and didn’t realize that the video on my camera only allows her 30 seconds to answer.

Her first reply included many uhhs, ummms, let’s sees and other dithering without answering the question at all.

After explaining the 30-second rule, she was able (just barely) to finish the question in time.

She answered Susan Lori Parks and Khedoori.

(After sending both videos to Dorothy for approval, she decided both of them were horrible and implored me not to post them–which I obliged.)

Little did I know that my first answers were the best ones I would hear all night.

Back to flash dating:

A Spanish Paleontologist who (literally) had sharp teeth chose Tolkien and the film adaptation but not much by Peter Jackson’s bizarre take on dinosaurs in King Kong.

She said she’d also like to meet Jesus Christ.

Two British women, both English teachers, picked Hitler as one of their choices.

One of them also chose Jesus Christ.

A heavy-smoking blonde Swede who rumbled when she coughed thought it would be great to meet Hitler and George W. Bush.

An Ecuadorian American woman who managed a division of Sotheby’s delivered some acerbic wit wasn’t afraid to use English expletives freely.

She said she’d like to meet Hugo Chavez and Picasso.

This one got a YES from me in spite of there being no physical sparks.

Finally, a Spanish woman–the cutest of all the participants, was my final seven minute slice.

We exchanged the obligatory euro double-cheek kiss and sat down.

She spoke perfect English.

“I lived in New York for five years and London for two, both times working in art.”

“Where do you work?”

“Sotheby’s”

“So you know the Ecuadorian American woman?”

“She’s my boss.”

I pulled out my camera.

“OK, so do you mind if I record you answering a question I’ve asked some of my other dates here tonight?”

“You’re not serious are you?”

Yes I was.

“Put that away.”

Then I fired the question at her.

“Oh, umm, that’s a good question. Well…I’d have to say that I would probably like to meet…Hitler and Jesus Christ.”

This was now, officially, a pattern.

I tried to act interested.

“Yeah, OK, I can see that. You must’ve read the DaVinci Code?”

“Yes. I loved it.”

This was not a good sign.

“Hmm,” I said, “If I were to meet Jesus I’d definitely want to know if he hooked up with Mary Magdalene and had a kid – among other things.”

“I’m Catholic.”

“Well…then I’d think you’d especially want to know the answer to that question.”

That was it.

I tanked it.

Couldn’t help myself nor could I bring myself to say anything else.

Maybe it was the relentless spirit of Nietzsche tunnelling through me.

Or the awkwardness of the whole event.

But two things are for sure:

There is little doubt politics or religion should never be discussed on the first date.

There is even less doubt that either subject should be breached within a seven-minute time span.

She got a NO on my sheet and I assume she gave me a bold NO on hers.

That was it, no more dates.

I had gone through 12 women, asked the question six times with Jesus and Hitler getting top honors.

We walked home.

Dorothy said she was exhausted, that the act of speed dating was exhausting.

“But you know, I think doing something like this is good for us—to be placed in a social position that makes us nervous because we are humbled. Do you know what I mean?”

YES.

“We tend to think pretty highly of ourselves and to be thrown into a situation where we have to meet a lot of other people in a short period of time and tell them what we think is most representative of us in that time—that’s a good thing. But I don’t think I’ll do it again. Do you?”

NO.

She wrote me an email the next day, further explaining her position on humility in speed dating.

“Part of the humility of speed dating is sitting down and waiting. The man comes calling, the lady awaiting her suitors- it exaggerates the contrivance of the whole thing. The lady gets to pick, but the man gets to move, not a lot of progress in 100 years really.”

Also in my inbox were three emails from the speed dating service.

Each one listed an email of the women who checked the appropriate boxes.

At the bottom of each one it read, “Are you going to waste one second waiting to email this person – your potential soulmate?”

MAYBE.

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KIP TOBIN's real name is Stephen Christopher Tobin, but no one really calls him that, not even his mom. His favorite letter is "i", which is also one his least favorite words; his favorite words tend to include euphonious consonants like Ls and Rs and Ss, such as surly luscious allure. He relocated to middle America last year. He writes fiction and nonfiction but will not tweet. He's currently working on his doctorate in Latin American Literatures and Cultures, studying the intersection of the body, vision and media in contemporary Hispanic Science Fiction . If asked, he will tell you that S. Gautauma pretty much summed 'er all up when he said: All things are transient. Work out your own salvation. He's constantly in that latter process, all the while trying to become as present and aware as he possibly can in this world of simulacra and simulations. You can leave a message on the board here and he will try to get to back with you. His alter ego sometimes posts music mixes on Tip Robin's Mega Maxi Music Mix Mash (tiprobin.blogspot.com), which is unsearchable on the internet and something of a micro, gotta-be-in-the-know phenomenon. He's no longer a part of the social networking revolution. The revolution, it seems, will not be televised but rather streamed, and he hopes he's not watching it. He wishes everyone good luck whenever he can. Good luck.

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