Having nodded off in the middle of one date too many, I made the logical move and tried speed dating.
I was taken with it the moment I walked into the generic downtown drink hole where it was to take place. It was one of those atrocious venues where they had gutted a beautiful old theater and turned it into a nightclub. But still the place had an energetic feeling about it as it smelled of pheromones and gin.
I handed over my ticket and walked in. As well as the usual booths circling the bar there were a number of small tables with little gas lamps and folding chairs. Each table had a number printed on a folded piece of paper. I bought a drink and took a number. It was an evening of singular encounters, all of them lasting exactly two minutes. A yoga instructor with large karmic debts and a desire to repay them, an investment banker that loved French food and S&M, a nerd that grew up in the suburbs and now divides their time between a cave of monitors and an ex- tremely expensive Gastown office, all brick and hard wood, and a server from the host es- tablishment that slipped into the mix as they went off shift wearing a colourful shirt from the lost and found over the industry-standard black and dark denim. And a raving parade of others, until the camera pulled back and each person blurred and became a tone in a larger tapestry depicting the bleak landscape of the Vancouver dating scene.
On the way home I stopped at London Drugs and found myself counting down from two minutes as the cashier changed the receipt paper. After my mental timer was up I was quite ready for my next human en- counter. She exceeded her two minutes and it bothered me so much that my discomfort became all consuming. By the time I exited the train my steps had become heavy at the prospect of living the rest of my life with no way to regulate the length of my personal interactions. I was sure that using my mental timer would burn up my moment-to-moment coping ability. I had to outsource the job. I bought an egg timer. It is a small digital timer that is easy to use without taking it out of my pocket. It has been my companion for weeks now on this Tolkenesque quest that is my dating life. I constantly run my fingers over it like a ring of power as it tracks my waning attention, again and again.