Hope Prevails

Truth be told, I began fearing that my next date was going to be Dirty John, or someone like him. Or worse, that my weariness and frustration with online dating would drive me into the female version of him, Dirty Dorothy. So I stopped. You are welcome.

Side note: If you want to have better luck than me on the dating sites, check out where Consumer Advocate Dishes on Dating

BTW, I am also working on a blog where I spill my own flavor of tea about the various dating sites. Consumer Advocate gives the facts; I will be giving my opinions…stay tuned.

My friends all went axe throwing last weekend, and I was unable to join them. But one of them was thinking about me when she texted me a pic of the chalkboard in the venue advertising a Speed Dating Axe Throwing event. I laughed when I opened the text.  What could go wrong with axe throwing, alcohol, and speed dating?

Whatever speed dating even is. I picture long tables with men sitting on one side and women on the other. Each person clings tightly to a paper decorated with conversation starters on it. The men and the women converse across the table until somebody dings an old school call bell. Then the men move down one seat, or the women do, and each person’s eyes dart nervously back and forth between the person sitting across from them and the paper, with suggestions such as, What is your favorite outdoor activity? or Describe your typical Saturday afternoon. But I had no real frame of reference.

The reality was quite different and actually genius. But I had many more doubts before that final conclusion, with a wild imagination like mine, who is surprised?  None of my fearful expectations came to fruition. But what I didn’t fear, but perhaps should have, did. 

I awoke the next morning to another friend sending me a Facebook post advertising for the same event. Two people now. Maybe I should look into this some more. So I did. At least I was certain that there would be beer (even the picture above confirms this). And that I would throw some axes (it is being held at an axe throwing venue). When will I stop needing certainty and rather embrace uncertainty? Is predictability holding me hostage? Can anybody relate?

The event was $45 from 5-8 on. A Sunday evening, the night before Presidents’ Day, so I would have the day after to sleep in. The advertisement said that the price included the axe throwing fee, beer and wine tastings, and some snacks. Ok, not bad. I enlisted another single friend, and we both registered for the event. Committed for what was guaranteed. Fearful about what wasn’t.  

The morning of, I received an invitation from another friend to go snow skiing at Round top. I had been wanting to go there all year. Dang it. Is this a sign?  I had already committed to my friend and to my wallet.  No, this is not a sign–stop trying to avoid new things and get out there and do what you committed to do. Go throw some axes and find a date in a fresh new way, damn it.

We arrived right on time. We got into a long line of participants awaiting their turn to fill out their waiver; of course there is a waver. I scanned the crowd. Nobody over 30, except me and my friend. Neither of us spoke out loud but rather we gave each other a silent, knowing look. My inner dialogue went neurotic with negativity:

How will these young bucks react, knowing that they had to sit across of an axe throwing alley from a 50 year old woman?

Would they be angry, resentful and mean to me, or even worse, indifferent and ignore me?

I am too old for this shit.

Then positivity penetrated:

Get it together: You are here to enjoy a few beers and to throw a few axes. Have fun. Be in the moment.

Then back to negativity:

I need to go home. I even texted a few friends who I knew would support that decision. 

But I stayed. Look at me just growing and stepping out of my comfort zone. What I really wanted was a beer.  After we filled out our waivers, we were given name tags with numbers on them. My friend looked at me and spoke her first words since we had both realized that we could have logistically mothered any of the other participants. And they wouldn’t have been teenage pregnancies. She said, “Oh good, these numbers likely put us into groups that will divide us by age. The older people either haven’t arrived yet and came way early. Let’s go see.”

Off we went, with a gait that resonates of Spongebob and Patrick off on a jellyfishing mission.

The axe throwing lanes are like miniature bowling alleys, with a ‘hang out’ space in the middle. There was life size Jenga, life size Connect Four. People were encouraged to interact in this space. I liked it. I admired the sharp and witty mind behind this brilliant concept in a cell phone/cyber world dominated society.

This space had a buffet of wings, bar-b-que, and mac and cheese provided by a popular local spot. Beer, axes, and a bonus: dinner! Those trendy galvanized coolers were thankfully sprinkled all around the area, brimming with iced down beer and wine. Lots of variety and just lots of lots, quality and quantity. Excellent. Things are looking up. Still no young people though. Uh oh. So I helped myself to a beer.

After about 30 minutes of food and mingling, we were sent to a lane based on the numbers on our nametags. My friend and I were split up. I watched her walk away with fear and trepidation, as if Spongebob had just gotten placed on a different jellyfishing team than Patrick.

They put four woman at each lane.  I made new friends quickly, likely because the 20 somethings knew that I posed absolutely no competition. Men traveled to each lane in pods of four, so that all women and men groups interacted by the end.  Two people were to approach a lane and throw their axes next to each other. We set some guidelines about how and when to switch turns and partners. The young 20 somethings were not only handsome and full of energy, they were lovely. They introduced themselves, looked me in the eye, and had engaging comments and questions all night long. Hope prevails.

The activity of throwing axes made for light and easy conversation, “I should have thrown it harder.” “When I made a bullseye, I noticed I threw more from the core than from the elbow.” There was a bell (think dinner) at each lane to ding when somebody made a bullseye. We rang it even when somebody who couldn’t make the axe stick to the wall, after several attempts, finally stuck it. A camaraderie was building, despite age, despite attraction, despite any other differences. It felt warm and genuine. It felt organic.  One conversation began with me asking a young man what he did for a living. He said that he was so excited to be working in finance at a fancy, local car dealership. “Wow, impressive,” I said. “How long have you been doing that?”

“Geez, a while….I guess it has been about a year now.”

Hmm…I thought...a year is while? “What did you do before that?”

“Well I graduated from Tech…”

Two years older than my son. My second wow in a matter of minutes and certainly not my last. Hope dwindles.

Once the round robin axe throwing/meet and greet ended, we were guided back to the cool and funky common area and told to socialize, play games, drink more, and axe throw in whichever lanes we wanted. The 20 somethings busied themselves playing games, throwing axes, and sizing each other up. As it should be. Hope prevails.

I, on the other hand, engaged in an intriguing conversation with a curious worker seeking feedback on the event. My response was, “This concept is genius.” By that point I had definitely succumbed to that truth. “How about dividing it out by age?”

She said, “Look, I am your age. I get it. I put the event out there on social media, hoping to elicit interest and divide up the groups according to age. Heck, I would even like to have an LBGTQ category. But these are the people that signed up. I need you guys to go back to your friends and your jobs and your communities and spread the word about the awesomeness of the concept. I had to just host the event. Build it and they will come, you know? Then word will get out and the numbers will grow and the variety will come. I am the owner and I will most definitely be organizing something like this again. Spread the word.” She was amazing, such a great attitude and perspective, so here I am, spreading the word.

The space was amazing, the vibe was positive, and her management is spot on. Check it out. Stumpies in Frederick, MD Where exercise meets socializing and fun

Then I returned to one of my favorite pastimes, people watching.  It was endearing to watch the youthful men and women connect and transition from talking about axe throwing strategies to talking about themselves and even to flirting. Our future put their phones down for an evening of exercise in body, mind, and spirit. They were kind to themselves and that kindness was contagious. Hope prevails.

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