It’s a man’s world, or ‘I will never complain about HLS men again’

BY GISELLE FAHIMIAN

I’m no economist, but HurryDating seems Pareto-optimal to me. What’s more efficient than spending less than $1 per date and being able to run off without giving anyone my contact information? So when the RECORD asked me to take this dating service for a test-drive, I agreed.

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: I’m standing in front of my closet in the Grope trying to decide what one wears to this sort of thing. I put on knee-high boots and a tight tank top.

Then again, maybe it’s time to try something different — the classy and conservative approach — so I change into a long skirt and plain brown shirt. I’m bordering on stuffy. I call a cab and head for Pravda.

7:30 p.m.: I walk into the club and make my way through a sea of thirtysomethings who look like they’re on a mission. I immediately suspect that more than a few of these balding studs stretched the truth when they signed up for the 25-to-35 age group. I’ll have to resist the urge to give them a lecture on dating within their own generation.

Someone tells me to check in at a booth in the back. A cute blonde who personifies the word “chipper” is running the event. She checks my name off a list and hands me a name tag with a number as well as a list of suggested questions to try if I’m stumped for conversation. (“Do you have an arch enemy?” “Can you roll your tongue?” “Do you own anything tie-dyed?” Hmm. Maybe not.) My “dates” will use my number (84) to keep track of me on their score sheets.

7:45 p.m.: I head to the bar for sustenance (of the food-variety). Most of the HurryDaters are enthusiastically throwing back obscene quantities of alcohol. I’m only able to resist imbibing because … well, I’m faking. I have a wonderful boyfriend whom I care about very much. Who better to observe this social phenomenon than a totally disinterested party?

The other HurryDaters are not your average Pravda crowd. For one thing, there’s an overabundance of cardigans. I’ve never seen so little skin here before — suddenly my “conservative” outfit seems hip.

7:47 p.m.: Wait, there is one categorically cute guy here. He’s wearing a leather jacket and standing by the bar.

7:49 p.m.: Never mind. My friend tells me that’s Jonas, the guy the RECORD sent.

7:52 p.m.: Two men sitting at the bar start hitting on me. “Do you do this often?” the first guy asks. ‘I should hope not,’ I think.

I leave Jonas standing alone to see how long it takes for the single women to zero in on him. The answer? Approximately 28 seconds, and the woman running the event is trying to buy him a drink.

8:05 p.m.: HurryDating begins. The women sit still, and the men move from booth to booth at the blow of a whistle. We have three minutes to “get to know each other.” To my surprise, it’s more than enough time.

8:20 p.m.: A drunk guy wearing a shiny black suit stumbles over to my table.

“See my number?” he says, pointing to his nametag. “I’m 69. Heh heh.”

He tries to slide across the bench toward me.

“Look, I’m just here to write an article,” I say, trying to get rid of him.

He refuses to be deterred. “No — you? Not you. I can tell you’re horny as hell.”

What a keeper.

8:29 p.m.: I decide to make a break for the bathroom. As I wash my hands in the bathroom, I hear one woman say, “I’m so nervous!” Another calls a friend on her cell phone and confesses: “It took me an hour to figure out what to wear!” I’ve stumbled into a bleak world where people actually look forward to this kind of torture.

8:38 p.m.: When I tell a young-ish guy that I am researching an article, he says: “That’s great — not too many people write about the porn industry these days.”

Um … nobody mentioned porn.

8:41 p.m.: The next fine specimen of manhood looks at me shyly and says, “You know who you kind of look like? You look like Cher, back in her day, back when she was young and hot.”

Great. He was old enough to remember Cher before her nasty plastic surgery days.

I will never complain about the men of HLS again.

8:47 p.m.: A fat-faced guy makes the third joke in a row about my HurryDating ID number: “You look really good for 84!” Real original.

9:14 p.m.: One guy informs me that he has a 1-2-3 ranking system for all the women he’s meeting “because, you know, I’m in sales, and that’s just the way I think.”

I sneak a peek at his sheet and notice that I’m a 2. I content myself with scribbling “God help me” in Persian next to his number on my score sheet.

9:20 p.m.: It’s over. Out of 25 men, I gave nine a “yes” on my score sheet.

9:42 p.m.: In the cab on the way back to Cambridge, my friend and I pledge that we will never — I mean never — do this again.

Sunday, 3:34 p.m.: The results are in! I was matched with six of the men I circled. That means three guys — the very nice but bald milkman, the slick Italian guy who was hitting on my friend, and that jerky cute guy from the RECORD — all turned me down.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Final analysis: This kind of set-up might be good for an older professional who doesn’t get out much, but it’s not likely to be the next hot thing for the grad student crowd.

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