Friday, December 1, 2006

Prozac + Alcohol = Awkward

Time for another one of those New Jersey Young Professionals events, because no one's confirming my MySpace friend requests and apparently Facebook hurts my self-esteem. This week was something called speed friending, more or less inspired by the speed dating craze that cleaned up the word "loose" a little bit. The Young Professionals also do speed dating, but I felt like my fear of women probably made me a bad candidate for the latter.

I got there way, way, way too early and met up with Lisa in the parking lot, where we stood around for a real long time, mutually thrilled about the idea of making new friends. You get there before the whole speed friending starts and you've got to kill the time with some unstructured friending, and neither of us were going to have that. I guess we went in about ten minutes before the seating began because I just couldn't wait to start drinking. Cuba libre: sounds so much more cocktail-literate than "rum and coke." By the way, thank God I went with Lisa, because if she wasn't there, I'd still be sitting in that parking lot right now.

I had mixed results once the whole getting-to-know-you portion of the evening got underway. There were thirty or so people there and I guess that's a good size. Half of us were designated sitters; the rest were movers, rotating one seat clockwise every three minutes when Laura, Ubiquitous Mistress of Ceremonies who finally got my damn name right the first time, rang the Conversation Ending Bell.

So, three minutes, right? That's a hundred and eighty seconds, barely long enough to unfreeze a Stouffer's microwave dinner, but it's so freaking malleable at speed friending. My conversations are like the mayflies of social discourse — according to the Interwebs, mayflies have such a short lifespan that they don't even need to feed themselves — but it's frustrating when what could've been a five minute conversation about "This club is in such a weird location, sharing a mini-mall, next door to an A&P and a laundromat," gets knocked out in its prime by the Conversation Ending Bell. Then there's the other extreme, and all I can think of to talk about is, "What do you do," "Where are you from," and "Uh...," and suddenly galaxies are disintegrating in those three minutes. It is un-comftor-ble. I feel like the bartender cut my cuba libre on too much Diet Coke, and I should've gotten a drink that was all alcohol, like a NyQuil martini or something.

It gets repetitive:

Where are you from?

Fanwood... ... ... [Jay the Human Atlas explains where Fanwood is.]

What do you do?

I'm a web designer.

How's business?

[I prevaricate. And on and on. I work freelance. For small businesses. And individuals. Who want to have, uh, "a presence on the web." Artists, writers, local restaurants. I meet lots of interesting people.]

I was thinking about setting up a web site.

[Even though I know you totally aren't...] Here, take a business card.
I compulsively explain that it's not my real job, just in case I'm... fuck it, one of us is underestimating the other one of us.

I came away with fifteen new friends! I'll be so damn popular at the next NJYP event. Boy, I just wish I could remember their names. And what they do. And where they're from. And if I've already handed them my card.