BY AMELIA LAING | I was perfectly resigned to spending Valentine's Day in my place in Chelsea, watching "Titanic" with my roommate and my two good friends, Ben & Jerry, when I saw a listing for a lesbian speed-dating event and thought, "Why not?"
In an age where American singles are one of the fastest-growing demographics, with websites like Match.com pulling in 55,000 new people a day, non-traditional dating is losing its stigma as people realize that there's no shame in admitting they're looking for someone.
After all, if loud bars and sweaty clubs aren't your scene, meeting other lesbians could be difficult in New York. It's not like you can just assume that the other, cute woman admiring the Greek kouros in the Met is also gay. And even if she, by some divine coincidence, is lesbian, what are the chances that she shares your obsession with Kubanskaya vodka and V.C. Andrews or that she, too, actually liked the movie "Gigli?"
Still, I did feel a residual twinge of embarrassment telling my friends about my Valentine's Day plans. As I made my way to the Sage Theater in Midtown, I didn't know what to expect. Following signs declaring "Dating Madness!" I ascended a flight of stairs and entered a softly lit room.
After a cursory glance around the room I knew that, at 19, I was clearly the youngest person there. The 30 or so women were attractive, and all undoubtedly older than my mother. My prospects didn't feel great at that moment, but what the hell. I put my coat under a table and sat down to write my contact information on several bits of scrap paper, to be distributed to any charismatic woman I might meet.
My first "date" was with a woman named Carol, who, after the starting bell rang asked: "So, how young are you?"
"Nineteen," I replied, blithely. "How young are you?"
"Fifty-one," she said, and we burst out laughing.
With the ice sufficiently broken, Carol and I enjoyed two short minutes of pleasant conversation, with talk of gardening, movies, and her place in Key West, until the bell rang again and she rotated to the next seat, my number in her hand.
The next few dates proved interesting. A woman named Christine insisted on buying me a beer, while another gave me a slow wink when our eyes met. A friendly-faced Dee informed me that her daughter was exactly three months older than me, another told me I had a nice body, and yet another told me about her job as a social worker.
We then divided ourselves into discussion groups. I gravitated towards the Romance and Sex group, where five of us discussed lesbian bed death, dildos, bi-curious college students, and the merits of angry sex. It was all very nice and easy until Anita Hill came up and I asked who she was. The way they looked at me, you'd have thought that I'd just asked them to drop acid in the bathroom. I had been three years old in '91. And without a TV. Honestly.
After the event, on the street outside the Sage Theater, I smoked a cigarette with a woman named Diane, and I asked her why she came.
"Shit, it beats sitting at home watching TV on Valentine's Day," she said.
I walked away from the theater amidst strewn rose petals and cigarette butts, perhaps dregs from less successful evenings. I hadn't met my soul mate, but I had met a lot of really interesting, attractive women. Hell, if it weren't for my Mother Rule, which stipulates that I don't date women older than my mother - I mean, really, imagine that introduction - perhaps I'd have more to do on my weekday nights. Alas, 'twas not to be. Water, water everywhere and so on and so forth.
Given the reactions of the women when I told them my age, I didn't expect anyone to call me. So imagine my surprise when I got a call two days later from one of the women I met. I declined her offer to see a movie, but said that I found her attractive and maybe we could be friends. She laughed and told me to Google her, then call her back. Intrigued, I did as she said, and then let out a series of expletives that caused my roommate to raise her head from Kierkegaard. Turns out this woman, two years older than my mother, is a minor music scene celebrity, and has worked with less-minor celebrities like Celia Cruz and Tito Puente. I found dozens of YouTube videos of her singing, dancing, and playing the congas.
Screw the age difference, if she's that manually dexterous, I don't care if three decades separates us. But pride stopped me from calling her and I've been spending the last few days staring at my phone obsessively, waiting for a woman almost 30 years my senior to contact me. I've been entertaining little fantasies of us eating elephant ears together at the Bronx Zoo and her teaching me to salsa and then maybe us going to the Brooklyn Aquarium on a Sunday afternoon. We'll see how that one turns out.
So maybe, just maybe, speed-dating makes sense, and not in an American-society-is-moving-too-fast, time-expedient way, but in a let's-call-a-spade-a-spade, there-aren't-a-lot-of-lesbians-out-there way. I mean, if I - a 19-year-old lesbian hailing from Portland, Oregon via Kalamazoo, Michigan - had a good time with a bunch of strangers older than my mother, I think that everyone, straight and gay, would do well to get off their high horses, have a beer, and - who knows? - maybe some fun too.
If you'd like to get off your high horse, contact NYC Lavender Lounge at nyclavende