Hating the Date or Date Haters?

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I don’t know what it is about Valentine’s Day. As the day gets closer, the idea of it becomes more irritating. Perhaps that has something to do with all the email I’m receiving. Not Valentine’s Day emails but retail emails suggesting that I look at catalogues, new designer selections and what not. For some designers, February 14, has become another holiday like Christmas. It’s ‘wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day,’ and everyone from Dior to Gucci is doing it.

Here’s something: I can’t fucking afford it all!

Before I use the overused word of the last few years, ‘refreshing’ (shudder), there is something new on the horizon that aims at taking the concept of dating further. Just when you thought that the infantile concept of speed dating wouldn’t do you head in (a grown up variation of ‘musical chairs’ with annoying questions), there is hate dating, a new fad organized by Down With Dating.

It’s been praised by various media heads. London Lite calls it, ‘chaotic but hilarious’ and London Careers Dot Net say “Thank goshness there’s a night dedicated to those of us who have not found ‘The One’ yet.” But what does it truly mean and what does hate dating entail?

The next place I looked at was The Guardian. One journalist went the extra mile. According to Frederika Whitehead’s findings, after questioning goers, hate dating is:

“like speed dating, except rather than sell yourself you row and hurl abuse at each other, or confess deep and lasting hatreds of seemingly innocuous things.”

All right, but that makes me think of psychoanalysis. But there’s more. Whitehead begins to describe her own experience at one of these events:

The event I went along to isn’t part of a club night. It’s a stand-alone dating event in a tiny room above a pub in London’s West End. On the way in everyone is given a fake name: Elvis, Ernest, Englebert, Cruella, Cecily, Cynthia and so on. Most of the women have come in pairs but some of the men have arrived alone. Toller and Hill are fantastic hosts. They are incredibly friendly and seem to have eyes in the back of their heads, watching for anyone who looks lost.

We sit at a long table, gents on one side, ladies on the other. Kirk de Vere (aka Hill), clad in wide-striped blazer and clashing cravat, instructs us to “Let the hating commence.”

Octavian’s rant about people who walk too slowly on Oxford St is theatrical and OTT and delivered at the speed of machine-gun fire: “I hate the idiots who stop and smell the flowers on Oxford St. It’s a place for shopping … For moving quickly and efficiently and getting the job done … I should be German because I like their efficiency. Except I hate the Germans. Right. Now it’s your turn. What do you hate?”

I’m pathetic – I crumble and whimper and say that I can’t really think of anything in particular right at this moment. Octavian says he also hates “lack of spontaneity.” I am chastened and I blurt out that people who stand on the left of escalators should be taken out and shot, and he perks up a bit.

Clive really hates my elbows. He’s playing safe because he can’t see my elbows under my jacket. I return the favour by insulting his knees. “Please can we not do this,” he says. “I feel really uncomfortable doing this. The lady up there just told me she hated my clothes.”

While I’m not big on dating, I don’t see the appeal of mixing it up with people who are frustrated about modern life. I can understand the point of venting, but I don’t get how this is supposed to be a romantic attractant. It kind of makes me appreciate the mushy Valentine’s Day offerings.

The way I figure it, I prefer a nice box of chocolates, flowers and something sickeningly expensive to an evening with whiners. The last thing most people want to do is deal with the anxiety of others. Life has enough anxiety in it, doesn’t it?

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