Aside from moving to Boston and cutting all my hair off again, attending the 2015 Star Wars Celebration was hands-down one of the best decisions I’ve made in the past two years.
As if sharing inside jokes with thousands of strangers who still regard you to be family wasn’t wonderful enough, I had the opportunity to attend dozens of events tailored to my people.
Yes, I got to hear Ian McDiarmid read Shakespearean passages in his Emperor voice.
I got to see Carrie Fisher make-out with a fan, and I saw Ray Park in full Darth Maul makeup.
But one of my favorite evenings was – hands-down – Nerd Nite Speed Dating presented by Fandango.
I attended SWCA with my soul-sister and godmother to my future children, Brennan, but when she and I signed up for Speed Dating, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
And if I’m being honest, I tried to bail.
But we stuck it out and made our way to the conference room, guided by a strong desire to meet the loves of our lives and prove to our family and friends that we could actually speed date at a Star Wars convention.
We had signed up for the “Lasses seeking Lads” night, which meant we ultimately had the power when it came to the final decision. There were 40 chairs laid out in the room – 20 pairs of two facing each other – and each of us was assigned a number.
Before I dive into the details, I want you to picture the characters you would see at a function like this. Get all those stereotypes, shove them in a tiny box in your mind, lock it, and set it aside.
Well I hope you kept that key, because you’re going to need to open that box and lay it all out on the table. It was exactly what you pictured.
For the most part, the gentlemen were very kind. Boba Fett was working on perfecting his homemade costume so he could ultimately join the 501st Legion, while Wyatt – who was part of the crew – offered to get me good seats at the next celebrity panel.
But the biggest issue I took with the Speed Dating event was the lack of age parameters, meaning Brennan and I were dating men who were within an acceptable age range … but we also had a considerable number of men who were old enough to be our fathers.
So here’s how it worked: Each lad and lass were given two pieces of paper, one with names and notes, and another with boxes for check marks. On the first, you made quick notes about the person you were dating, while on the second, you marked whether you were interested or not. You could keep the first sheet, but the second went to the hosts. At the end of the event, whichever people matched – or both marked “interested” – were sent each others’ email addresses.
You had three minutes to make an impression. And these men really made an impression on me.
Fella #10: Mickey
My greatest fear for Speed Dating was that I would get paired with an older gentleman who I would have to awkwardly chat with for an uncomfortable amount of time. As I approached chair no.10, I discovered that my fear would immediately be realized.
(Sidenote: Brennan was in seat no.3, which meant the first guy she got to date was hunky California surfer Adam, who was both attractive and quite taken with her.)
Mickey was grey and balding, but he was very kind. We got to politely bantering, and I discovered that he had been to many Star Wars celebrations in the past, but neither his ex-wife nor his daughters wanted to attend any with him. Oh, yes, he had two daughters. One was 11 years old and the other was 15 years old (for those doing the quick math, yes, I am closer in age to the older daughter than I am to him).
I was a writer living in Boston and he was a software engineer living in California.
Me: Oh, I actually edit for my company’s business and technology desk, so we work with clients in your industry all the time!
Him: Yeah? Well if you ever want to chat about work, you can call me. I’ll mark on the sheet that I’m interested. I mean, let’s be honest here – this wouldn’t work out. You live in Boston, I live in California.
Me: (nodding empathetically, but thinking internally, “Why yes, sir, I really think geography is our main hurdle here.”)
Fella #6: Ryan
Ryan was not having any bit of me. As soon as he sat down across from me, you could tell he was not interested. I’m not sure if he was trying to live up to his costume (he was dressed as a Sith), or if he was just not feelin’ me, but he was quite rude during our brief three-minute date.
First of all, he answered my questions with a curt brevity that would have made me walk away from him at a bar. Second, he spent the entire three minutes staring at the clock displayed on the wall, nearly prompting me to ask him if he’d like to just go take a water break until the next lass was ready. For reference, he was about 35 years old and resembled a slightly skinnier Guy Fieri.
Fella #5: Zach
The next boy was such a sweetheart. And when I say boy, I mean child. He could not be a day older than 17. He had shoulder-length dark hair, a youthful complexion that rivaled my own at 17, and a bitchin’ skateboard I assumed he had purchased from the convention.
Me: Did you get that here?
Him: No, I rode it from my hotel.
Me: You rode your skateboard here? From your hotel?
Not interested. But to be honest, it was more because I would have had to accompany him to R-rated movies, not because he was unpleasant.
Fella #2: Jared
Ahh, Jared. At this point, I had speed-dated nine men, and Jared was the first who seemed to be in my age range. Check. He was moderately attractive. Check. And he was dressed like Han Solo. Double-check.
The thing about Jared was that he had a flavorful vocabulary. And when I say flavorful vocabulary, I mean he said “fuck.” A lot.
I asked Jared if he had been stopped a lot for pictures during the convention – as costumed people frequently get harassed for pictures – but he had not. And he was very upset about it. He spent $60 ducking dollars on his pants and made his own ducking shirt, but no one wanted to take a picture with him. What the duck.
Fella #1: Jerry
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: Jerry was kind of the worst.
I hate having to do all the work – especially when it comes to talking to guys – and Jerry really made me work for that free movie ticket from Fandango.
Jerry was from Sydney, Australia, but he was a man of few words. As in, he only answered my questions with one-word responses.
Me: Have you been to any good events this weekend?
Me: Which one has been your favorite so far?
Jerry: (after a beat) Carrie.
Me: So…have you been to one of these conventions before?
Me: Are you from around here?
Me: Where are you originally from?
Me: What states have you been to other than California?
Jerry: (thinking for a bit) Utah.
Fella #20: Tyler
I really liked Tyler. He was the first one that I immediately clicked with, and we had a wonderful three-minute chat. He had curly hair, glasses (swoon), and actually made me laugh. I checked yes so hard I thought I’d break through the paper.
Fella #19: EJ
Ahh, but right after Tyler, we had EJ. While he was very kind and an interesting conversation partner, I decided to pass on EJ. He was a rotund middle-school gym teacher with zero hair on his head … aside from his handlebar mustache.
Me: Alright, be honest – how many people have commented on the mustache?
EJ: What, here?
EJ: You’re the first one.
Me: …no I’m not.
EJ: You are. Thank you. I was getting self conscious. There’s a lot of work that goes into the mustache…
And then he and I talked about his mustache for the entire three minutes. I mentioned the fact that I once had a short bob that I felt very attached to (sidenote: the bob is back), so I understood his pride.
Fella #15: Michael
Did you know it’s possible to get walked out on at a speed date? Because it’s possible. The host came over to me during Michael’s slot to let me know Mike had left for the evening. If I was self conscious about sitting alone, he would sit with me for a few minutes.
I told him I’d be able to manage for 180 seconds.
Fella #13: Ray
Ray: (sits down) Are you having fun? This is the first date I’ve been on in three years.
Me: (after a beat) Oh, yeah?
Ray: Yeah. Dating is hard. I mean, I can’t just come up to you on the street and tell you that I think you’re attractive and I’d like to take you to dinner. You would say no.
Me: …you’re right, that’s a bit forward.
Ray: Exactly. How are you supposed to meet people these days?
Me: You could try Tinder?
Ray: I did. I didn’t get any matches.
I only marked that I was interested in four fellas (the only one who did not match my affection was Adam, Brennan’s dreamy surfer man). The other three sent me emails that I did not respond to, but my favorite was from Ian, a man not listed above who emailed me three days after the convention. He asked me to go out for drinks (he lives in California), then attached four pictures of himself in case I had forgotten what he looked like.
Also, due to an unforeseen clerical error, I also matched with EJ. Within minutes of receiving our “match” email, I received a message from him titled, “Mustache man seeks hair bobber.”
I will not be speed dating at the Star Wars convention next year.