“This was a bad idea,” I said to Thalia as our cab rushed downtown. Well, ‘rushed’ maybe is an overstatement. It was Saturday night in Manhattan, so ‘steadily crawled’ might be a more accurate description.
“Why do you say that?” she asked, as she pulled out her lip-gloss to reapply.
“It just was, ” I said and slumped back in my seat.
Tara, our former Summer intern from NYU, who was now a full-time employee at our company, had been sitting on the exercise ball at my desk, when I’d started looking into Speed Dating events. Speed Dating had been the winner of the Reader Poll a few days prior, so I knew I had to get on scheduling it before too much time passed. Otherwise when I wrote about it, people would be like, “Poll?? What poll? What in the Horatio is she talking about??”
“I can’t believe this,” I’d breathed to Tara, as I clicked from site to site. “The cut-off for all of these is 38.” I looked at her. “I am officially too old for Speed Dating.”
“Oh stop,” she said and rolled closer. “Let me look.” She took over the mouse and quickly moved through the listings. “Here. This one is for people in their 40’s and 50’s. You can do that.”
I peered at the screen. “That’s not even until April. And it already has a wait-list. I can’t put it off that long.”
“Hmm, okay. Let’s see if there are any sooner. Switch with me.” I stood up and she moved to my chair. I stepped to the ball and then sat on it, immediately bouncing, because that’s what you are required to do when you sit on an exercise ball. She entered in a new search and clicked through. She was silent for a few minutes and I got engrossed in my phone, doing my mandatory daily Instagram engagement.
“Ohhhh wow,” she finally said.
“Check this out.”
I pulled my attention back to the screen. She had found a site that listed a ton of Speed Dating events. Like, a ton. Like every sort of Speed Dating combo you could think of.
“Who knew?” I said.
She began reading out loud:
“Asian Persuasion: For Asian women and the men who love them.”
“I don’t think I qualify for that one,” I said.
“Size Matters for Tall Singles.”
“Or that one,” I said.
“Just wait,” she said and continued with the list:
“Finance-ista Night: How to meet your own Gordon Gekko, Patrick Batemen, or Mr. Big.
Beauty and the Geek: Where you can find your Bill Gates, Wes Anderson. Jerry Seinfeld or Quentin Tarantino.”
“No and no.”
“Skinny Minny: For women size 0-8 only.”
She went on:
“Hot for Teacher: Meet your own sexy school teacher.
Upgrade dating: For singles that are currently dating someone but aren’t happy and are considering putting themselves back on the market.
Oh my,” she said.
“Indeed,” I said.
“Purrrrrrrfect Match Dating: Finally find a guy who likes cats!” She glanced over at me.
“Don’t even say it,” I growled.
“Big Red Dating: Find your perfect red-head. Or here’s Herbivore Dating! Or Celebrity Look-Alike Dating!”
“This is a waste of time,” I sighed.
“Hold on, there are a few others…”
I yawned and went back to Instagram.
A minute passed by. Then: “Oh. my. god.”
“What?” I said, absentmindedly. Why weren’t more people ‘liking’ my excellent shot of The Cat wrapped in the comforter like a burrito?
She turned to me. “This is it, this is what you have to do!” She looked back to the screen and clicked on the details of the event. “This is perfect!”
I leaned over.
Then I rolled away from her.
“Are you crazy?!” I exclaimed. “I’m not going to do that!”
She looked back at me. “What? It will totally be fun.”
“You do it then.”
“I would if I could,” she said with a sassy smile.
“Very funny,” I said. “It just, I don’t know, it seems sleezy or something.”
“It’s not sleezy, it’s fun.” She turned back to the computer. “Well, it’s this or nothing Tracey. There’s nothing else out there for months.”
“Hmph,” I said. “Okay.”
“Yay!!” she said and clapped her hands.
A few days before the event was to be held, the organizer sent out an email saying there were way more men signed up than women so we could bring a female guest for free. Thalia had agreed to go with me.
I was in a weird mood that night. I’d just taken my first Bikram Yoga class that day and instead of feeling ‘peaceful, serene and energetic’ I was feeling ‘surly, melancholy and exhausted.’ I also had a raging headache. This was probably because I’d ignored Archie’s advice of, “Well, for Pete’s sake, don’t drink the night before Bikram. You need to be well-hydrated.”
I’d scowled at him. “Don’t be ridiculous. Friday nights are for drinking Bud Light and cleaning. Everyone knows that.”
I probably should have listened to him.
“The thing is,” I said to Thalia as we approached Union Square. “The reason they have more men than women is probably because the guys think we’re desperate. Like an easy prey to lay.” I folded my arms across my chest sullenly.
Thalia cocked her head to the side. “I don’t think that’s true. Some guys really would prefer an older woman because she’s more mature emotionally, more settled, more confident, easier to talk to. Try to keep an open mind.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I muttered. “You shouldn’t even be allowed at this event. You’re technically not old enough.”
“I am right at the low-end cut-off,” she said.
“Only because they’re clearly running fast and loose with the definitions of participants,” I harrumphed.
“Tracey, stop,” she said, as we pulled up to the bar. “If they say we’re Cougars, then we are. There’s no denying it.” She winked at me.
I rolled my eyes and pulled out my wallet. “Well, this Cougar needs a drink.” I ran my card through the reader and then turned to her. “Okay,” I sighed, “Let’s go find us some cubs.”
Yep. Somehow I’d let myself get signed up for Speed Dating: Cougar/Boy Toy Edition.