Speed Dating

A disclaimer: I’ve never been to a speed dating event. By the time I was leaving school and the prospect of having to look outside the classroom for a date presented itself, I was saved by a friend who fixed me up with Tony. End of story.

But I’ve heard about speed dating, where a large room’s set with many tables, a potential partner seated at each. An MC holds a timer, and you hop from table to table, talking to the occupant for a short time, until the timer goes off. You move on, and at the end of the event submit a request for phone numbers from the tables where you spent a nice 5 minutes.

Or so I hear.

I got a taste of this the other night, at a mixer for faculty and students at my new summer job, advising MFA students. I am looking forward to the work (my first paid work since Ben was born!); it seems the ideal kind of teaching, working closely with one student while s/he writes a thesis.

But how to match students with their summer advisors? In the past, the department chair did it, knowing her students and faculty well, balancing her talents for teaching and match-making in an elaborate calculus. This year, with a bigger group of summer advisors, she decided to let us play a more active role. The advisors were all required to submit profiles and pictures ahead of time, for the students to review. Some of the students were clutching these sheets as they roamed the room at the mixer. They were wearing name tags that identified their chosen genres: Non; Short; Long; Poetry. It took me some time to figure it out (Non, for Nonfiction: hey, that’s me! Short and Long for the fiction writers; apparently the poets just write poetry, no need to identify by form or length), and I spent the first half hour moving from group to group, trying to find my people. Eventually I found a small cadre of Nons and sat down to talk: a 3rd grade teacher writing essays about her work; a woman writing about her nephew’s traumatic brain injury; a stay-at-home mom writing a memoir. Maybe one of them will choose me? I’ll have to wait and see if anyone asked for my number.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    omg, Caroline, that is so intense!(but funny) I don’t think I could deal with this. Now I think I’m glad I didn’t apply for this position….