Single in Philly: Are You There, Waffles? It’s Me, Christy

From matchmakers to, I set out to chronicle what dating in Philly is like these days. So how did my heart get involved, too?

I call the following week to confirm the two dates, and Haley, the assistant matchmaker, informs me that while, yes, the dates are all set, my matchmaker is no longer there. She’s left the company to pursue other opportunities.


COMPARED TO ALL the virtual stress on, my first actual is a breeze. He’s even sharper in person than he was in his e-mails, with a dry sense of humor, and though two hours and two mojitos go by without major fireworks, they go quickly, filled with all the usual first-date conversations but none of the awkward silence. We are among the last couples floating out of Alma de Cuba. As we walk home, he mentions his affinity for steamed dumplings, and I think that he may be a man I could see again.

But before I let myself think too hard about second dates, I have to spend the next day checking up on other Match messages. (Sigh, no Waffles. Where is he?) Most are misses, a few are hits — most notably the freelance writer who wants to meet. An arty type with good taste in music, he seems like someone who’s worth a drink, and we set up a date for Monk’s a few nights later. I don’t have time to do much more than scribble it into my calendar, because I have to get ready for tonight’s date. Tonight’s eight dates, actually. I’m going speed-dating.


THAT THE VENUE for 8MinuteDating is Bleu Martini — the garish Old City nightclub whose blue neon lights bounce off my $9 gin-and-tonic — is not a good sign. I mean, to me, the point of speed-dating is to avoid having to come to this type of bar to meet men. Ever. And yet here I am, having paid $35 for the chance to mingle with bachelors between the ages of 25 and 35. As we all begin to file into the narrow back bar, I don’t know if the nausea that sweeps over me is the drink I just sucked down, the stench of a dozen different aftershaves filling the air, or just dread over the fact that for the next hour and a half I get to live the worst part of any blind date — forced cheer with a total stranger — eight times over.

Here’s how it works: Everyone (there are 40 of us) slaps on a name tag and picks up a card with the night’s seating arrangement, directing us to one of 20 tables for each round. The card also contains eight numbered slots with room for a person’s name, followed by three boxes marked “dating,” “friend” or “business.” Following the seating directions on the card, we commence the first of eight “dates” — which lasts eight minutes, at which point the ding of a bell sends us to the next date. Between rounds, we discreetly mark on our card the name of the person we just met, and check him/her off as a date, a friend, or a business contact. When the night is over, everybody is supposed to log onto the 8MinuteDating website and enter the names and designations of each person we spoke to. If we match up in name and category, then congratulations, we receive contact information.