Hurry up and romance 

Nervous glances and music fill the room. Women brush their skirts, trying to iron out wrinkles as they casually survey the fresh meat.

Fifty people have paid $40 each for the privilege of gathering at Fifth Avenue Ballroom in Novi, where they will sit and converse for five minutes with a succession of other lonely hearts, over and over again. Within 300 seconds, they are supposed to determine if they’d like to see more of the person across from them or forget about them forever.

The evening is produced by Quick Date, a company formed last year by Sherrie Klesper and Juli Brown to give singles a friendly environment to meet potential significant others.

Each Quick Date session lasts for two hours, allowing patrons to meet 10 to 15 people. Klesper and Brown strive for an equal number of men and women; however no-shows and last-minute cancellations can’t be helped.

Klesper distributes miniature clipboards containing scorecards. If you wish to see someone in the future, just circle “yes.” If not, just leave the card blank.

She instructs the Quick Daters to take their places. The women are stationary at their tables; the men play musical chairs.

My first date approaches.

“So, I think this is where I’m supposed to be,” he says. “Does this say Table 10? Yup. Looks like it. OK, then. Table 10.”

Yup.

He takes a seat. It’s hard to make out his features, since my table is in a dimly lit section of the club. He rests his elbows on his knees, leans forward and spouts hesitant jokes to break the ice. Please say something interesting, I pray.

“So, what kind of things do you like to do?” he nervously asks.

I give him a basic reply of reading, being outdoors and so on, trying to create a new and fictional personality. After all, I’m here for a story, not for a date.

He nods and informs me that he drives semi-trucks.

It is the first of many instances in which would-be suitors and I kick each other out of the potential dating pool within seconds. We fill the rest of our allotted time on menial matters such as traveling, taste in music and the always popular, “Have you been married?”

Just as he begins to talk about his work, it’s time for the guys to rotate to new tables. A collective sigh of relief is heard.

The next man sits down. He is balding with glasses and is very shy. He is highly intellectual, but also fidgety. Note is made: doesn’t keep solid eye contact and too sarcastic for his own good. Nice guy, though.

Date No. 4 has enough eye contact to make up for No. 2. A 34-year-old sent to earth expressly to charm ladies, his peach shirt is illuminated by gold chains that dangle from his neck. I try to speak seriously, but find it hard when he tells me he’s a salesman at a meat plant. I suppress the urge to say, “Hey, um, 1986 called. Don Johnson wants his outfit back.”

The last man approaches and sits down, laughing hysterically.

“That lady told me I should be a priest,” he says, pointing behind him. “Ahh, anyway, so, how are you? Wait, how old are you?”

“Twenty-three. And you?”

“I’m old enough to be your father.” He laughs even harder. “I’m 43.”

I put my head into my hand, trying to breathe. Maybe I should introduce him to my mother.

“Yeah, I was engaged in ’87. Took me a long time to get over that one,” he discloses.

Yes, I know exactly what you mean, sir. Back in 1987, I was trying to get over my infatuation with “Punky Brewster” … because I was 6 years old!

Quick Date might be a godsend for thirtysomethings on the go. It rules out any possible rejection, awkward blind dates and lets one meet new people in a comfortable setting.

However, Gen-Xers might want to stick to the gym, Starbucks or check with the Quick Date Web site for upcoming “younger” events.

I left my session unharmed but unhinged, a certain classic rock refrain echoing through my head: “… hope I die before I get old.”

Andrea Leptinsky is an editorial intern at Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com

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