Jodi Adler with “Mr. Plaid Shirt"

Speed Dating. Just the thought of meeting dozens of potential suitors in one night had me writing all sorts of one-liners in my head.

I hadn’t dated in quite a few months, and as edgy as my exterior happens to be (years of standup, reporting, and teaching high school), my marshmallow soul was urging me to bring my A-game back to the dating world. 

So off I went solo to speed dating. No longer did I need a girlfriend for courage. I was brave and strong and could weather any singles event as well as, if not better than, any over-40 career hopping gal in the city. I always aced job interviews so first dates were usually fun for me—another person to interview and analyze over coffee or cabernet.  

This evening’s soiree was held at the West Hollywood Sofitel Hotel bar just upscale enough without being intimidating for speed dating first-timers. Traffic, as usual, was a crazy mess. The line for the hotel valet was blocked—yet another L.A. street improvement project—so rather than risk speed dating late-comer banishment, I zipped across the boulevard to a shopping center parking structure. I needed to get a good place in the dating rotation so that the gentlemen would feel welcome at my alcove during our precious seven minutes.

Of course those seven minutes can be tortuous. Find someone who only wants passive ersatz blondes or who isn’t willing to laugh and joke with me, well, I’d rather stare at his shoes. My only speed dating rule: if we can’t laugh at least once in our seven minutes, it’s a no-thank you when the evening’s future date forms are filled out.

My first speed date was a very dapper gentleman way out of the 45-55 year old “suggested” age range for this evening.  In my notes — a nickname for every “date” — I dubbed him Mr. Gramps. Next, a fellow with a great sense of humor who called himself a Tom Cruise lookalike. Not so sure about being a lookalike, but he’s funny, so the time goes quickly.

Next, Mr. Plaid Shirt. He’s handsome with a very subtle, quick wit.  Again, the time flies.  Then Mr. Restroom comes along. He’s had three beers in less than 40 minutes and has to dash off before our time is done, thank goodness. He was also wearing sweat pants and moccasins, so we had no future anyway. Then there’s Mr. Politics who wants to debate our very different points of view; Mr. Poetry who quotes his own writings, Mr. Engineer, Mr. Substitute Teacher, Mr. Scientist, and Mr. Surfer. Our dating marathon is over; we pack up our notes, and head for the exit.  

A few minutes later, I find myself waiting to cross the street with Tom Cruise Lookalike and Mr. Plaid Shirt — both had also found the line for the valet daunting. The two of them are gentlemen and escort me to the parking structure. They are both potential “second” date material. 

On the way home, I get a call from my mother. “What were you giggling about tonight?” she asks. Before giving away my whereabouts, we figure out that my phone had purse-dialed her during my dating frenzy. I fess up; and then we discuss the differences between her dating life before meeting my dad, and my current state of “singlehood.”  Yes, times have truly changed.

After all the forms are completed and the connections are posted online, it seems I’m a match with everyone but Mr. Restroom. Now the email contact commences, and the true screening process begins. Mr. Lookalike Cruise has three very young children, and doesn’t want to date someone without kids (that would be me). Next, Mr. Poetry sends some cryptic email invitation while avoiding phone contact. Mr. Plaid Shirt and I exchange a few emails and then we connect via telephone, setting up a sushi second date. 

Mr. Plaid Shirt and I have a laugh-fest “second” date, and as fate would have it we discover that we share the same CPA. Kismet, I’m thinking (my father was a CPA—is Dad talking to me from his perch in Heaven?) Before a brief hug goodbye, we set up a second date, and I drive away, knowing that there are still some good and kind and funny men in this world.

Later that week, Mr. Poetry and I meet. He’s obscene and rude to our waitress, and shockingly condescending to me. As I drive away from that date, I’m convinced that I need to give Mr. Plaid Shirt more of my time. I’m reminded of my dating mantra, “Do not let the good guys get away.”

From our first phone call on Mr. Plaid Shirt has dialed me up every evening, bringing me into his world with kindness, regaling me with funny stories, and luring me in with his old world manners. At first, I questioned our daily exchanges. Never have I dated anyone who wanted to chat with me so very much. What’s wrong with him? What’s wrong with me? Maybe the same kind of wrong.

Those chats and dates lead to weekend getaways and then, at a beautiful coastal town, overlooking the ocean that I so adore, Mr. Plaid Shirt and I make plans to be a forever twosome. And all because of speed dating—the 21st century path to an old-fashioned romance.

Jodi Adler (aka “Auntie Jodi”) is an award winning journalist, comedian, financial analyst, and special ed teacher turned author who loves to give advice and can take a few hints too. You can reach her directly at AuntieJodi.com. 

She’ll be appearing at Century Books (1039 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91106) on March 15, 2015 at 5pm and sharing her hints and advice during her book signing of “Auntie Jodi’s Helpful Hints”. You can find her book on Amazon.