Men and women have, since the beginning of time, been complaining about how hard it is to meet Mr. or Ms. Right. For example, consider the plight of the fair maiden of medieval times:
MARION: Foo! If I have to attend one more jousting tournament, I shall expire of boredom.
PHILLIPA: Better that then expiring of heat like yonder Sir Oswyn in the heavy plate mail.
MARION: Hmph. I am also running out of scarves to give to fair swains who want to joust in my honour.
PHILLIPA: Oh come now, it's not so bad. Sir Alexander looks like a fine young man. And he has such a big…
PHILLIPA: …horse. Have you ever seen such a stallion?
MARION: Oh, he thinks he's a stallion all right. Why can't I ever meet a beefy baron or a decent duke? They're all just pretenders to the throne.
Several hundred years later, things haven't improved much. I say this because while single people no longer have to risk being skewered or horse trampled to find a date, they are resorting to some very strange techniques which are just as bad.
For instance, in New York the latest dating fad is called 'Dinner in the Dark.' This is not, as you might suspect, an evil made necessary because former Enron executives have taken over the power management of the city.
This is where normally sane and rational people voluntarily pay almost $100 each to eat a meal in complete darkness. Only the waiters, equipped with night vision goggles, can see what's going on. The theory is that complete darkness is both more intimate and yet also more private, so people will lose their inhibitions.
What this means is:
A) When they mentioned 'Dinner in the Dark' to the inventor of night vision technology he or she said, 'They're using it for what?!' and soon after became a cranky recluse.
B) Waiters in New York don't get tipped nearly as much as they deserve.
C) You really can sell just about anything with the right marketing.
Having never been on a 'Dinner in the Dark' experience, I'm not sure what it would be like. But, after years of writing a column and observing human behavior, I can guess at how something like this might sound:
MIKE: Ewwwwwww. Is this pork I'm eating? I don't like pork. No one told me it was going to be pork.
SARAH: Okay, who threw the dinner bun?
SANDY: Whoever you are, those aren't the potatoes you’re groping.
WILLIAM: This is obviously a 1972 merlot. I thought we were going to have quality wine. I can tell a '72 from a '73 you know. And this bearnaise sauce, well, let me just tell you about my time in France…
KAREN: I don't know who spilled the jug of ice water but…it's…really…COLD!!!
MINDI: So I'm like, this would be such cool idea … and my roommate is like, wow! I totally agree and …
DARYL: [Munch, munch, sluuuuuurp! Crunch, crunch, belch!] So baby, when they turn on da lights, is you going to be a total babe, or a complete dog?
The other major trend in dating is called 'speed dating.' Generally, customers sign up for a session and are put in a room with about 20 other people. A bell rings and you're paired up with someone for about five minutes, (which is about four minutes longer than some of my previous dates should have lasted.) The bell rings again and you move on to the next person. At the end of the night, if you liked any of your speed dates, you give them permission to contact you. Then you spend the rest of the week waiting.. by … the phone… hey! How is this an improvement?
Of course, it's only a matter of time before some bright bulb decides to combine the concept of speed dating with dining in the dark. This will happen exactly once, and the headline the next day will be:
EIGHT WAITERS INJURED DURING DARKENED SPEED DATING SESSION
'It was horrible,' said one witness, 'forks were flying everywhere.'
Hmm. Perhaps risking skewering and horse trampling wasn't so bad after all.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.