Everything I know about singles mixers I’ve gathered from television and movies, neither of which offer positive portrayals of what goes on. There’s always someone with a social disorder and a former lover often surfaces just long enough to create a hilariously uncomfortable scene. I felt the need to discuss these possibilities during the drive to the event with my engagement-minded friend, Sara, who reacted as if my saying those things was enough to make them come true.Everything I know about singles mixers I’ve gathered from television and movies, neither of which offer positive portrayals of what goes on. There’s always someone with a social disorder and a former lover often surfaces just long enough to create a hilariously uncomfortable scene. I felt the need to discuss these possibilities during the drive to the event with my engagement-minded friend, Sara, who reacted as if my saying those things was enough to make them come true.
“Oh my god!” she shrieked. “Don’t say that. Great. Now it’s going to happen, and it’ll be all your fault.”
I apologized, but secretly, I hoped there would be a few strange personalities present. I don’t care to have weirdos pursue me on the street, but in a protected venue these oddballs can be entertaining when you hit a social low point. At worst, I figured a conversation with a kleptomaniac or a person with an unusual phobia – “ such as fear of the moon or sticky peanut butter (yes, those are real phobias) – “ would make the three hours go by much faster.
Outnumbered by a disturbing 4:1 ratio, they were already surrounded by interested parties, meaning I would have to aggressively throw myself into the mob if I wanted some face time
The event was held at a popular restaurant on a Friday evening – “ a poor choice for people embarrassed by their single status, as the building was crowded with plenty of witnesses to our search. Two handwritten signs and a perky volunteer directed me and a very red-faced Sara to one of the private banquet rooms, where we paid the fee (ten dollars a person), slapped on name tags and, like prepubescent tweens at a first school dance, stood awkwardly around the room eyeing the competition.
I shifted from foot to foot, bored and unsure of what to do with myself. I couldn’t talk to any of the other women. They all wore similar expressions. You are the enemy, their faces practically said. Do not approach. The few men present were equally inaccessible. Outnumbered by a disturbing 4:1 ratio, they were already surrounded by interested parties, meaning I would have to aggressively throw myself into the mob if I wanted some face time, something I was unwilling to do considering how painfully normal they seemed and what little attraction I felt for them.
Figuring I could stuff my face with chips and dip or mini eggrolls while waiting for things to get rolling, I searched the room for food. There was none. “You’ll have to order it if you want any,” one of the organizers told me. She pointed to the world outside. “You can get an appetizer at the bar. Just be sure to come back.” She stressed the last part, and I froze in horror, wondering if attempted runaways were such a frequent occurrence that they felt the need to remind us to return.
It wasn’t until thirty minutes after the official start time that one of the organizers stood up and clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “Congratulations!” she said with forced cheerfulness.
Sara and I looked at each other. Um, for what?
“For putting yourself out there!” the woman continued. “You’ve taken the first step in coming. The second is now. So mix! Mingle!”
She abruptly stopped talking then and stepped over to the side. Apparently that was as structured as the evening was going to get.
Her smile wavered. “Maybe your attitude is why you’re single,” she snapped.
After a few minutes of confusion, the dozen and a half women migrated over to the men, and the room turned into a buzz of giggles and indecipherable chatter. I stood back, content to watch. Within minutes, I saw Sara get jostled out of position by an Amazon with breasts the size of grapefruits, and heard another woman shriek about having her foot stepped on by someone’s stiletto. When one of the organizers tried to lead me over to the group, I politely resisted, telling her I wasn’t into mosh pits but thank you very much anyway. Her smile wavered. “Maybe your attitude is why you’re single,” she snapped.
It was a half hour before Sara, frustrated and slightly disheveled, wiggled from the crowd and found me sprawled across three chairs, humming the Beyonce song we heard on the way over. I unsuccessfully fought back a smile as she walked over. “Have fun?”
She sighed. “I hate you.”
We drove home in silence. As she dropped me at my house, she said, “You knew this would happen, didn’t you? ‘Cause of what you said at the beginning of the night.”
Of course I didn’t, but after I went inside and did a bit of online snooping, I decided that, had I done research prior to the event, it is very possible I could have made such an accurate prediction. The mixer was one of the first thrown by a group of friends trying to get into the matchmaking business, which goes a long way toward explaining the evening’s failures. The organizers lacked a tried and true formula for ensuring a good mix of people, and their method for structuring the evening was far from adequate.
If you are considering attending a singles mixer yourself, let this be a lesson to you: go with an established person or organization. They know what they’re doing, and their work experience means you will maximize your chances of meeting someone you like. Next time: going to a bar *gasp* solo.
Liz is a southern California-based writer of East Asian ancestry. She loves travel, politics, and incredibly unhealthy desserts. When not front of her computer, she can usually be found chatting someone’s ear off. Get ready for Liz to share her dating experiments.