Desperate times call for desperate measures. So on Tuesday night, to expand my current circle of friends – which generally consists of cabbies, baristas and panini makers – I went speed dating for friends.

Although both Steve and I have made a few good mates at work, it’s been a bit hard to break into the friend scene in Melbourne. Kinda surprising given that everyone seems both very friendly and very keen on hanging out with their friends; Aussies are always having coffee or a beer or lunch with a small group of friends, which we observe green with envy at the outdoor street tables that line the sidewalks of the city. But, since most people here already have a solid circle of friends, it can be hard to break down the barriers. So when Mel told me about Be My Wingman, I laughed and then said “sign up me”! (after all, at least it would make for a good blog post!)

My greatest friends in life have pretty much been forced into the arrangement. Sarah & I have been friends since childhood, and 5 year olds aren’t the most discerning when it comes to life-long decisions. Lisa and Kristin were captured by the gravitational force of my brutal honesty, because everyone needs at least one (and not more) friend willing to tell you when that dress really doesn’t work for you, or a new haircut is just too short. And my sisters have been tied to me by genetic and marital bonds…

So as the day approached, I started to get quite nervous about the whole ordeal. Real speed dating is one thing – we all know (with varying degrees of success) how to woo the other sex. Wooing females is a whole other ball game. Females are discerning, particular, and judge in a nanosecond. Then there’s answering the evitable difficult questions, where I’m forced to explain what I like to do on the weekends (i.e., make up something interesting), and tell people I’m a lawyer.

“No, I don’t have any “cases”. I’m a corporate lawyer, so I don’t actually do trial litigation. ”

<<<Huh, well, then what type of law do you do?>>>

“Well, it’s sorta like being a business person. I handle complex corporate transactions for business entities, but from a legal side.”

<<<Oh, like contracts, right?>>>

(At this point, I give up and nod my head affirmatively. Because it’s easier (and less dorky and therefore more likely friend inducing) than trying to explain what I really do. And I suppose that a purchase agreement, which is one of the main contracts involved in all the million-dollar securities offerings I work on for Australian companies to raise money and boost the local economy, is a contract….)

But I digress…. All in all, the friend shopping experience was actually pretty fun. After a 30 minute introductory period, during which there was free champagne, we got down to business. 6 minute conversations per person, signaled by a bell at the 5 minute mark (to wrap it up) and then again when it was time to rotate. Counterclockwise rotation x 4, then a short break (to fill up the champagne glasses) and at it again. If you like someone, you mark them “yes”. If she also like you and mark you “yes”, Be My Wingman shares your contact details with her. Oh boy oh boy. I hope someone likes me.

The upsides:

  • even if it doesn’t result in a plethora of new friends, it was a pretty interesting social experiment. The other ladies were from all walks of life–kindergarten teacher, nurse, stockbroker, financial analyst, children bookstore keeper, model, corporate purchaser, secretary. Different backgrounds, different cultures, different suburbs of the city (including up to 1 hour away). Particularly in the face of my explanation about my cross-world journey, it was surprising how many of the girls were born and raised Melbourne, and hadn’t really traveled much outside of Victoria. And it was interesting to watch their reactions to the somewhat predictable course of our conversations; and
  • it was also an interesting introspective examination. I found that my approach with each female changed based on their body language and initial question. And I could tell in the first minute whether I had hit it off or not, the other 5 were really superfluous but helped fill in a few details and solidify my initial impression.

The downsides:

  • it was kinda like the classic Bill Murray movie – Groundhog Day – but in 6 minute increments.
  • every single one of them thought I was Canadian; and
  • one girl actually had the gall to ask how old I was. And not in an “are we the same age and share the same 80’s cult classic movie references?” As in, “and just how old are you???”

And now, the agonizing wait. Will she email, won’t she….?

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