This morning, I took my niece out to breakfast, and we went to one of those places that has a rack of jam on the table. I always thought those were so fancy when I was a kid. I couldn't believe they had all those jams available, just sitting there. You could use four different jams if you wanted to. It was all very decadent to my sheltered little mind.
My niece was searching through the packets of Kraft goodness and came upon apple jelly. She turned up her nose, and I asked her, "Have you ever tried apple jelly?" And she hadn't. Neither had I. So I asked her if she wanted to, and she said no. So then I channelled my inner going-into-the-fourth-quarter-of-a-losing-game football coach and delivered a speech:
You should try apple jelly. Because there is apple jelly. And if you don't, someday years from now, when you're very old, you might think to yourself, 'Why didn't I try the apple jelly?' Because life is all about experiencing this whole beautiful world and everything it has to offer, and you never know what will bring you happiness. So don't leave yourself thinking, eighty years from now, 'I had this one short life to spend on Earth, and there was apple jelly, and I never tasted it.'
We tried the apple jelly. And it was gross. But that's okay. Because now when we're eighty, we can both look back and say, "Hey, maybe this life went by in a blink, and maybe I didn't get to everything, but by God, I tried the apple jelly."
But what's this got to do with love?
So when a friend asked if I would accompany her to a speed dating event, it was like the apple jelly. Also, it was like something from TV. And I will do anything that's like on TV. And since I grew up in a very small town--and because the only place I ever got away to was that area we affectionately refer to as the "Near North" of Ontario and it was for university, so if it was like anything on TV, it would have to be The Real World Northern Exposure--almost everything is like on TV to me.
As previously stated, I've pretty much given up on the idea of dating, but how could I waste this opportunity to feel like I was in that episode of Reba where she goes speed dating with her friend? I couldn't.
You try the jam; you are the jam
Once you arrive, although the experience itself was apple jelly, you're confronted with more jams to try. Except this time, the idea is that you just pull the corner of the package up a wee bit, stick the tip of your tongue in there, and if you don't like it, you seal that puppy back up and leave it for the next person. It's neat and clean, nobody's the wiser, and nobody gets hurt.
But the thing that makes the world fold in on itself is that the jam tastes you back. You have to choose the jam, and it has to choose you. It's all very zen, in a way, except how it's not.
(I did not, to be clear, literally stick the tip of my tongue in any of my speed dates, nor did any of them stick the tip of their tongues in me.)
This ain't no commercial brand jam
Many things about the speed dating experience were not at all as seen on TV.
In the picture shows, there is always a little bell that gets rung when they deem you've had enough time to figure out whether that particular jam is a jam you'd like to stick your tongue farther into. There was no bell. The jam lady had a recorder that she blew somewhat tonelessly when it was time to move on to the next packet of preserves. I wanted the bell. I nearly asked for a refund--fine jam be damned.
Nobody hit it off immediately and just ripped their jam open and dove right in, then said to it "Hey, let's get outta here. You're the jam for me." I didn't expect me to form an instant bond with any jam, but I was disappointed that nobody did. I really wanted to see someone go to town on their jam.
NONE of the jams were House, Wilson, or Chase. And I'm pretty sure I'd have hit it off like tee-ball with any one of them, and they'd have loved my jam back. And let me tell you, they could spread me wherever they wish.
(Is it just me, or is this jam metaphor getting increasingly dirty? Someone needs to wipe my fingers, I think, 'cause I'm smutting up this keyboard.)
But then again, it was a little like Smuckers
Some things were pretty much as advertised.
One guy sat down across from me and we immediately pointed at each other and said, "HEY, I KNOW YOU!!" That would TOTALLY happen on TV. But then we spent most of the rest of the four minutes trying to remember where we knew each other from. It was drama class in college. We were in a group together. He walked out of our final performance and we all failed the assignment. So poo on him. And then don't eat that jam, Johnny--that's poop.*
I kind of felt like everyone else was jam and I showed up as that lone package of honey in the rack. Still kinda sweet and deliciously sticky, but more the sort of thing that goes with mustard or garlic than any kind of jam. I spent the "mingling break" downing a Kilkenny (which is kind of a honey colour) with awkward haste, and pretending to care about the baseball game on the big screen, while the friend I came with chatted up boys. On TV, one of the people always feels that way. I pretty much knew it was going to be me.
People asked silly questions, like they do on TV. Look, when you're tasting jam, you don't get all "What percentage of my recommended daily intake of Vitamin B5 do you contain?" do you? No, because that's a very senseless way to get to know your jam, just like "What do you like to do for fun?" is a mundane question to ask a person. That is perhaps a peeve unique to me, though, so you keep asking people that if that's your thing.
Damn, Jam, don't try so hard. Some people are just peanut butter eaters.
It was phoney, just like TV. So points for that, I suppose.
I couldn't have counted the number of times I heard forced bonding over having gone to the same LOCAL university. "Oh, you went to Waterloo? I went to Waterloo!! Like, Oh. My. God. Becky!" We all went there, okay? Get over it. There aren't that many jam factories in town.
I overheard a couple girls talking outside afterward, and they were actually discussing the speed dating strategies they'd employed. Strategies? We were supposed to have strategies? My strategy was that I wore clean clothes. Although, I'm thinking after all that jam-licking, they should be dirty.
(Somewhere along the way, I forgot which parts of this jam thing were real and which were metaphor.)
Just get to the jam verdict
To sum up, it was pretty much a bust. But as we accept the suckishness of the apple jelly in the spirit of adventurousness, so too do we accept the feelings of cold rejection at speed dating. I wouldn't undo it--like I wouldn't undo tasting the apple jelly--but I probably wouldn't do it again.
(Thanks to writing this blog post, I think jam either arouses me or disgusts me. I'm not sure which.)
*that was a very special reference put in solely for the benefit of my sister Tracey who recently subscribed to this blog, and if ANYONE ELSE gets it, please let me know that you read it.