I have a tendency to jump to conclusions; often negative conclusions and often the wrong conclusions.
I didn’t think much before signing up for the “Love Bites” pre-Valentine’s Day brunch hosted by the Smart Dating Academy at Nellcote on West Randolph. With a promise of quality mingling time and viewing of a Valentine’s themed movie, it seemed like a decent way for a single girl like me to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Then I read an article about SDA founder, Bela, which mentioned her clients were doctors and CEOs and other very successful types. And that made me nervous – I suddenly pictured showing up to brunch and being surrounded by horribly pretentious men and gorgeous women who were all going to act like they were just too good to talk to me. See what I mean about jumping to conclusions?
And then I got nervous about what to wear. The brunch started at noon and was scheduled to last until 3. I had plans to meet up with friends around 5 to go see a roller derby match and wouldn’t have time to go home and change in between. How would I dress for a fancy West Loop brunch and roller derby at the same time? One clearly called for being more dressed up than the other. In the end, I basically said to heck with dressing up for brunch, reasoning that if I was going to brunch with my girlfriends, I would just wear jeans and a sweater so I’d wear the same thing for this brunch. If a guy doesn’t like me because I’m not wearing black pants and a sparkly top for a Saturday brunch, he’s clearly not for me.
Of course the actual brunch ended up being nothing like I expected. I was picturing a few dozen singles standing around chatting for a bit before sitting down to eat, followed by watching a movie. In reality, there were only twelve of us – four guys and eight women – and everyone took their seats as soon as they arrived. Movies were rolling in the background but were otherwise unnoticeable. I was the sixth person to show up and sat down next to one guy and across from another girl. As soon as I introduced myself, the other two women swore I looked familiar but over the next two hours, we couldn’t figure out any obvious connections.
After introductions, we all eased into a fairly comfortable conversation, with the women hitting it off better with each other than with any of the guys – something that I’ve found to be pretty typical at “singles” events. My fears about being surrounded by rich, pretentious doctors or CEOs turned out to be completely unfounded. The guy next to me was a project manager for a metal company while the girl sitting across from me was a massage therapist. Another guy worked in banking but scored points in my book for having lived in Poland for six months. All I learned about the third guy is that he enjoys the pseudo-reality show, Duck Dynasty. He was a little quiet, to say the least.
The other six showed up a bit late and it created a weird dynamic – throughout brunch we had two separate conversations going on. Sitting on the edge of the two groups, I felt stuck in the middle – I didn’t want to stray from the conversation I was in, but I also kept listening for “ins” to jump into the other group. It would have been nice if Bela had made us all stand up and switch spots at some point so we could get to know the people who weren’t sitting right next to us.
Everyone at my end decided to take off after about two hours. Not feeling totally welcome with the “late” group, I took off as well, although in retrospect I really should’ve stayed. I should have forced myself to be a little more social.
Although the event wasn’t really about the food, I should add that my meal at Nellcote was delicious – steak with a hollandaise sauce, eggs and roasted carrots in a butter sauce (sorry, I was a bad blogger – no pictures!). Yum yum yum. If I ever find myself in the West Loop around brunch time again, I would definitely go back.
Meeting people potential: C
With only eleven other guests and an unbalanced number of men and women, this was far from an ideal singles event – especially since the guests just signed up at random; it wasn’t like Bela chose us all because she thought we’d hit it off. Likewise, with no time for standing and mingling, it was hard to talk to those who weren’t sitting right next to you. And if you did meet someone you wanted to get to know more, you likely would have had to ask for their number in front of everyone – potentially awkward.
Interest factor: B
This was really a crapshoot, dependent on who you happened to sit near. With a self-proclaimed hippie sitting across from me who once traveled with a shaman in Ecuador and led tours into the rainforest in Costa Rica, the conversation was definitely interesting.
Fun factor: B-
Similar to Ignite Chicago, I can say I enjoyed myself, but it wasn’t rip-roaring fun.
Would I go again? Maybe…
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