So here's the story:
BENEFIT FOR THE BOSTON DYKE MARCH:
A NIGHT OF SPEED-DATING
CIARA: ::stepping out of Old Navy, one hour before the commencement of speed-dating event:: All right! I have completed my mission to acquire a replacement pair of S00pr Kewl Jeans, and have exceeded expectations by finding a pair that look better and cost less than the pair than that cab driver last week drove away with. Now I must head on to speed-dating for to commence an evening of fabulousness and girlfriend-finding.
PIZZA STAND: ::beckons::
CIARA: No! I must leave! My schedule is set. Tonight, for once, I will not be late!
PIZZA STAND: ::winks seductively::
CIARA: Walking past you. Not gonna stop.
PIZZA STAND: ::flashes shoulder::
CIARA’S STOMACH: ::grumbles, loudly::
::twenty minutes later::
CIARA: ::checks watch::
WATCH: ::says 7:33::
PIZZA STAND: ::points and laughs::
CIARA, outside: Taxi taxi taxi!
TAXI: ::blows by::
CIARA: Taxi taxi taxi!
THREE MORE TAXIS: ::drive through nearby intersection::
BOSTON CAB: ::pulls up::
CIARA: Dude, you totally stole my bags last time.
BOSTON CAB: Hunh?
TIME: ::is 7:45::
BOSTON CAB: You gettin’ in?
CIARA: Ah, fuck it. ::climbs in::
BOSTON CAB: You wanna put your stuff in the trunk?
BOSTON CAB: ::pulls up outside Toast::
CIARA: Here’s some money, gotta go, OMGLATE.
TIME: ::is 7:58::
EVENT: ::is at “8 pm sharp”::
CIARA: ::flashes ID in the general direction of gay bouncer::
GAY BOUNCER: Have fun, hon. Can I see your underwear?
GAY BOUNCER: I said, you’re sure in a hurry to run in there.
CIARA: Oh. Uh, yeah. ::takes off again::
TOAST ::is crowded::
CIARA: Jesus, Boston’s full of desperate lesbians.
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Here’s your name tag. You’re number 14. Have fun, mingle. We’ll start at 8:20.
CIARA: I thought it was at 8 – wait, mingle?
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Mingle.
CIARA: But if I knew how to mingle I wouldn’t be here.
EVENT ORGANIZERS: ...
CIARA: ::goes off to mingle::
CIARA: I’ll have a Captain Morgan’s and coke, please.
VERY GAY BARTENDER, COMPLETE WITH LISP: Love that Captain Morgan’s. That’ll be eight dollars.
CIARA: It’ll be what?
VGBCWL: I know, honey.
CIARA: Uh, okay. ::drops $10 on bar, leaves with small rum and coke::
CIARA: ::sits at table::
EVERYONE: ::is awkward as fuck::
STONE BUTCH GIRL: ::stands in center of room, shifting from foot to foot and rereading instructions compulsively::
NERVOUS GIRL WITH BLUE HAIR: ::drains half a glass of beer at one chug::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: ::wander around patting people’s arms comfortingly and reassuringly::
GIRL: ::sits down next to CIARA::
GIRL: ::is quite cute, actually::
CIARA: Hi, I’m Ciara.
GIRL: Hi, I’m Rae.
CIARA: No, you're not. I just edited your name out of this entry to protect your privacy, that's all.
CIARA: Never mind. This is kind of an awkward portion of the evening, isn’t it?
RAE: Yeah, it is.
MOMENT OF AWKWARDNESS: ::elbows its way in::
CIARA: ::starts giggling helplessly::
CIARA: ::is wikkid suave with the ladies::
RAE: So I’m new to the area. What’s your excuse?
CIARA: Uh, nothing. I, uh, have no excuse.
CONVERSATION: ::is had::
RAE: ::is still cute::
CIARA: ::is still a dork::
RAE: I’m working at μ University now, hoping to get my Ph.D. over the next couple of years... I really like the world of academia, it’s sort of its own universe. Comforting, you know?
CIARA: OMG YOU LIKE DORKS!?!?!!!!
CIARA: Nothing. I know exactly what you mean though.
EAR-SPLITTING WHISTLE: ::causes several women to fall down dead::
CIARA: Uh, ow.
EVENT ORGANIZERS: ALL RIGHT! WELCOME TO SPEED-DATING!
CIARA: ::is getting tired of typing in caps lock, so imagine a lot of yelling::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: You’ll notice that you have numbers on your name tags! They are even numbers or odd numbers!
CIARA: Uh, duh?
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Right now I want you to pair off! Evens, find an odd! Odds, find an even!
CIARA: ::is 14::
RAE: ::is 9::
CIARA: That was easy.
OTHER GIRL: Excuse me, right now I’m paired off with a friend of mine, and much as I like her I don’t want to date her. Would one of you want to switch?
CIARA AND RAE: You know, not really.
EVENT ORGANIZERS: We will suggest conversational topics to get you started! Each date will last four minutes! After that the EVENS will stand up! They will turn around, take a sip of their drink, jot down a few notes about the date they just had! Then the evens will move to the RIGHT to the next odd! And the next date will start!
ROOM: ::is simmering with anticipation::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Okay! Let’s start!
WHISTLE: ::rattles shattered pieces of eardrum around inside head::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: The first topic is MUSIC!
CIARA AND RAE: ::chat a little about music::
CIARA: I’m not a very good person to talk to about music, considering that I like the worst music ever. I actually own an Alanis Morissette CD.
RAE: ::doesn’t really laugh::
CIARA, internally: Is that because liking Alanis is such a horrible thing that there’s no possibility of humor in it, or is Alanis not actually as bad as I think?
RAE: I like the Indigo Girls.
CIARA: YAY INDIGO GIRLS!
RAE AND CIARA: ::grin::
WHISTLE: ::shivers last remaining pieces of eardrums into dust, smashes conversation about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival into tiny bits::
CIARA: ::makes random little unnecessary note about Rae::
RAE: ::is also furtively making random little note::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: EVENS, move to your RIGHT!
CIARA: Got it, dude.
WHISTLE: ::causes eardrum-dust to leak out of skull::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Your next topic is UNDERWEAR!
GIRL: Hi, I’m Ellen.
CIARA: I’m Ciara, nice to meet you.
ELLEN: What kind of underwear are you wearing?
CIARA: ::chokes on drink::
ELLEN AND CIARA: ::chat about underwear, somehow::
CIARA: ::tells stupid story about wearing a thong once in high school and earning the undying nickname of Buttfloss::
CIARA: Yay! I made a funny!
ELLEN: So what’d you major in in college?
CIARA: English. You?
ELLEN: Me too. English major at Wellesley. I did my thesis on Adrienne Rich.
CIARA: ::wishes she knew more about Adrienne Rich, or, indeed, that she’d liked the few poems she read by Adrienne Rich::
CIARA: Wellesley’s great, though. I’ve never met a Wellesley student I didn’t like.
WELLESLEY GRADS ON CIARA'S FRIENDS LIST::should consider themselves shouted out at::
WHISTLE: ::having dispensed with eardrums, starts boring hole in brain::
EVERYONE: ::jots more notes::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Your next topic of conversation is – transportation!
WHISTLE: ::shrieks and gibbers and trills and ricochets endlessly inside skull::
CIARA: For crap’s sake.
ALEX: ::is a cross-eyed transwoman in her forties::
CIARA: ::wishes the crossed eyes didn’t disconcert her, but isn’t sure which eye to look into; is a bad person::
CIARA: So what is there to say about transportation, anyway?
ALEX: No idea.
ALEX: ::talks instead about how the even-odd pairing system is reminiscent of the gender binary::
CIARA: ::wonders how the organizers would set the event up if not by some kind of binary system, but finds herself agreeing with Alex anyway::
WHISTLE: ::is just really fucking loud::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Your next topic is “Lights on or lights off?”
WHISTLE: ::is still really fucking loud::
JOAN: ::is also in her forties::
CIARA, silently: Given that there are like a hundred women here, they really ought to have split us off into age groups.
Ciara, aloud: So, uh, lights on or lights off?
JOAN: That depends on the kind of light.
CIARA: That’s true.
JOAN: Like, candlelight? Very sexy.
CIARA: Yeah, definitely.
JOAN: But, fluorescent lights? No one looks good in fluorescent lights.
CIARA: ::laughs:: You’re right about that.
JOAN: ::is encouraged by laughter::
JOAN: Or spotlights!
CIARA: ::laughs again, a little less enthusiastically::
JOAN: Strobe lights!
CIARA: ::laughs somewhat nervously::
WHISTLE: ::is just ridiculous::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Your next topic of conversation is candy!
CIARA: For serious, wtF?!
CIARA: Hi. I’m Ciara.
WOMAN: I’m Hannah.
HANNAH: ::is also in her forties, and looks like Aileen Wuornos::
HANNAH: ::like, for serious::
HANNAH: ::even has the curly blonde mullet::
CIARA, internally: Whoa.
CIARA: So, uh, you like candy?
CIARA: Okay then.
HANNAH: I work at [redacted] Hospital.
CIARA: Yay! Conversation topic!
CIARA: Nothing. My, uh... my cousin works there.
[CIARA’S MOTHER: ::is actually the one who works at the [redacted]::
HANNAH: ::seems slightly sensitive about age gap::
CIARA: ::is trying to downplay awkwardness::]
HANNAH: Oh, she *does*?!
CIARA: Uh, yeah.
HANNAH: Oh, what’s her name?
CIARA: Ummm... Ann.
HANNAH: Where’s she work?
CIARA: The... floors?
HANNAH: I’m going to have to look her up.
CIARA: Oh. Um, yeah.
HANNAH: What does she look like? There might be more than one Ann.
CIARA: She, ah, um. She has curly hair.
HANNAH: Curly hair, Ann, works on the floors. I’ll look her up!
CIARA: Okay. I’ll, uh, tell her to look for you.
WHISTLE: ::is, for once, welcomed::
HANNAH, calling after Ciara: I’ll look up your cousin!!
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Your next topic of conversation is ::inaudible::
WHISTLE: ::is not inaudible::
GIRL: Hi! I’m Juleee. Three e’s.
CIARA: Oh, hi. I’m Ciara.
JULEEE: ::chats about upcoming trip to Europe::
CIARA: ::is strangely drawn to shiny red motorcycle helmet on table::
CIARA: I see you ride a motorcycle?
JULEEE: ::laughs:: Everyone thinks that. It’s actually a moped.
CIARA: ::is not 100% sure of the exact differences, except that mopeds are smaller, but doesn't want to say so::
JULEEE AND CIARA: ::chat awkwardly about mopeds::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Your next topic of mumblehrmblemum.
CIARA: This was easier when I was closer to them. What’d they say?
WOMAN: No idea. How old are you?
WOMAN: I could be your mother, and I have to pee. ::gets up and leaves::
CIARA, calling after her: Nice to meet you!
CIARA: ::is really feeling the strain of meeting bunches of new people::
WHISTLE: ::is far enough away that it does not even hurt ears anymore::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: ::are completely inaudible::
CIARA: So, uh, hi. I guess we get to pick our own topic from back here.
MARIA: Have they been giving us topics? I had no idea.
CIARA: So, uh, what do you do?
MARIA: I’m a pharmacist. It’s tough to get jobs, though, because I’m from Colombia.
CIARA: ::laughs at how people are stupid:: ::realizes it's not really funny, and she probably shouldn't::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: ::by heroic effort, manage to make themselves heard all the way around the room::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: THIS IS THE LAST ROUND! THE TOPIC IS WIFE-BEATERS VS. LINGERIE!
CIARA: ::is pretty grateful::
WHISTLE: ::shatters eardrums for the last time::
CIARA: Hi, I’m Ciara.
HOT STONE BUTCH CHICK: I’m Jo.
CIARA: So, uh, wife-beaters or lingerie?
JO: ::raises eyebrow::
JO: ::talks about her cleaning business::
CIARA: Do you mean, like, a maid service?
JO: We don’t like to call it that.
CIARA: ::is chastened::
WHISTLE: ::trills for really fucking long time, calls end to the event::
CIARA: ::goes back to main area to hear what they’re saying::
EVENT ORGANIZERS: Okay, now you can write notes to the dates you liked! We’ll collect your notes and put them in envelopes with your names on them! You can pick up your envelopes at 10:30!
TIME: ::is 9:15::
CIARA: ::writes note to Rae::
CIARA: ::after some deliberation, decides not to place all eggs in one basket in case Rae thought she smelled bad or something; writes notes to Ellen and Juleee as well::
CIARA: ::wanders over to Rae to hang out::
RAE: Are they seriously going to make us wait ‘til 10:30 to get our notes?
CIARA: Dude, I know.
RAE: Want to go outside where we can hear ourselves think?
CIARA: I could do with some food, actually.
RAE: That sounds good.
CIARA AND RAE: ::head out in search of food::
CIARA AND RAE: ::munch on mozzarella sticks and chat::
RAE: ::likes Laurie Halse Anderson::
RAE: ::is awesome, clearly::
CIARA: It’s 10:15. Think they have our notes yet?
RAE: Hope so.
CIARA AND RAE: ::go back to check::
CIARA: ::has one note, but it is a sweet note from Rae, so is well content::
RAE: ::has two notes::
RAE: Uh... I think this one is for you?
RAE: ::proffers note::
NOTE: “Dear Ciara, you have a great smile. I’ll find your cousin. Hannah”
CIARA AND RAE: ::laugh hysterically all the way back to the cab they are splitting::
CIARA AND RAE: ::part ways at Harvard Square::
CIARA: Considering I put my email, my phone number, and my AIM screen name on the note, I think you probably know where to find me.
RAE: I think so. ::laughs:: I’ll give you a call.
SPEED-DATING: ::is totally crazy, but is worth it when there is a Rae there::