By Jeff Geissler, Animal Friends' Communications Assistant
Nervous butterflies overcame my belly when I turned left to cross the bridge leading to Animal Friends. I was a little early for the seven o'clock event: Must Love Dogs, a speed-dating event for singles and their dogs.
Gentle snow flakes flittered over the dark parking lot while I looked for a space. The number of cars suggested the turnout for the speed dating event was big. Now I was really tense and shaky. I felt like I was going to a major job interview, or actually 31 job interviews all within an hour-and-a-half.
And the job at hand was to seek out romance, a sentiment I haven't found during daily life, blind dates set up by friends, or through some on-line dating sites.
I turned off my car and peered around the parking lot. I could see sillouettes of people's heads next to doggy heads in many of the cars. They were other participants who were possibly also a touch nervous and hesitant about the event. They were all facing the front door to Animal Friends, perhaps waiting for other brave souls to venture before them.
I got our of my car and headed towards the entrance when I was hit with a scary thought. Was I being sized up by the ladies in the cars as a potential mate? Is this snow messing with my hair? Is my shirt collar straight? How does my behind look in these jeans? It was like the brown concrete walkway was transformed into a red carpet.
I slapped on my name tag and entered the event. Lots of dogs of all sizes and breeds. A rather large mutt greeted me with a slobbery lick of my hand and a kiss on the cheek. Normally I wouldn't go on a date with dog dribble on my face. But this was Must Love Dogs. I can use the drool to my advantage.
I lifted my eyes from the dogs and surveyed the pretty ladies and, let's be frank, potential companions. I admit I was slightly happy to be among the minority - we men were outnumbered by almost 3-1. Great odds.
Christy, my co-worker and organizer of the event, rallied us men to sit at a few tables that formed a U shape.
"Group One, you're on!" she announced. Each of the eleven women (the women had been divvied into three groups ) chose a seat across from a potential suitor. We had a little over two minutes with each participant, and my first date was determined to make the most out of that time.
"Have you been married? Do you have kids? How old are you? Do you smoke? Do you go to bars?" she diligently asked. I answered fast and honest. Then Christy blew the whistle.
"Time to move," she commanded. Like a conveyor belt on an asembly line, the ladies stood up and walked to the next candidate. We men stayed in our seats.
Many of the participants had dogs, which made for a few easy opening lines. "What's your dog's name? What kind is he/she? Where did you get her/him?" I'd ask. Although I absolutely love dogs, I do not have one. So I had to explain 31 times that I have cats because I'm just too busy to have a dog.
Some meetings went well--so well that I didn't want Christy to blow the whistle. Other dates were not so good. "Please Christy, blow that whistle," I'd think to myself.
My throat was sore and my voice was cracking by the time the third group came around. I struggled slightly to speak to my date over the fun but slightly loud howls from the dogs. But hey, If you must love dogs, you must love their barks.
We each had a sheet where we wrote the person's name and a check a box to indicated wheather we wanted to see that person again. At the end of the event, Christy gathered the notes and is currently making the connections. She's a temporary Chuck Barris, for those of you who remember The Dating Game.
I usually spend my Friday nights with my good buddy and his two wonderful kids, playing card games and watching Swamp People on TV. As fun as that is, I will not meet a my special someone that way. So I thank Christy for bringing this wonderful idea to Animal Friends. This idea took me out of my comfort zone. And to quote author Brian Tracy, "You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable."
Did I get a connection? Excuse me while I check my e-mail.
Watch for more fun events for people and their pets at Animal Friends! Visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.