Beth Hollander had always taken the usual routes people followed when searching for love. She had allowed friends to set her up, gone to bars, and joined clubs she wasn’t the least bit interested in because the demographics heavily skewed towards men. A few resulted in short romances, but nothing long term. As the years went by, and she watched more and more of her friends get married, she began to think she was destined to be one of those people who went through life alone.
“That’s okay,” she said, trying to give herself a pep talk. “At least I won’t have to fight for bathroom space while getting ready for work in the morning. I must be careful not to get a cat, though.”
Then one day, while lying in her queen size bed all by herself, a commercial came on the radio.
“Ever have a date you wished would last forever?” the announcer said. “Or one you wished would hurry up and end? Whirlwind Dating is coming to Something’s Brewing Coffee House this Thursday night. Ten dates, five minutes each…will you find your perfect match?”
Beth was intrigued. What if the right man for her showed up that night? Even if all of them were a bust, she’d only have to endure five minutes with each of them. She had stood in line for her morning latte longer than that plenty of times, so why not give it a whirl (pun intended)?
She signed up and arrived promptly at seven p.m. The host for the evening explained how things would work. Each date would last five minutes each, and when he rang the bell that would be the signal for Beth to move on to the next one. At the end of the evening, she was to fill out a card indicating whom she’d like to see again. If there were any matches, she’d be contacted in a few days.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Let the dating begin!
“Hi, I’m Beth,” she said to her first prospective suitor.
“And I’m Darren,” he said in return. What he said after that Beth couldn’t tell you because she had been too distracted by his yellow teeth. Superficial? Perhaps, but having a real date with this man would mean the possibility of having to kiss that icky mouth, so she did not mark him down as a match.
“Hi, I’m Beth,” she said to date number two.
“I’m Chris. Do you like comic books? I love comic books! Especially the comic books that have been turned into major motion pictures. Which comic book superhero do you wish you could be?”
“Is the Invisible Man from a comic book?” she asked, hoping that she said it slowly enough for the five minutes to be up.
Potential boyfriend number three sweated enough to refill his drink twice over, number four looked like it was the first time he had been out of his mother’s basement in months, number five came dressed in purple pants and a yellow shirt, number six kept picking up and putting down his drink presumably as an excuse to show off his biceps, number seven was either mute or had the worst case of shyness Beth had ever encountered, number eight was looking for someone to cook his meals and clean his house, and number nine kept sizing her up and down as though he were judging livestock at a county fair.
And then there was potential suitor number ten.
“Hi, I’m Bob Roberts,” he said. “I know we’re not to give our full names right from the start but I believe full disclosure and honesty are important in a relationship, don’t you?”
Bob Roberts knew just what to say to Beth Hollander. He also knew enough not to dress like a circus clown, and to not reveal every quirk he may or may not be trying to work through with a therapist. Everything about him was perfect — except, for the name. Who calls their kid Robert when they already have the last name of Roberts? Maybe his mom always liked the named Robert when she was growing up and dreamt of giving her firstborn son the name, but shouldn’t the last name have been enough? Was there a crazy gene in play there, and if so, had he inherited it? Or was she the crazy one, nitpicking over something as trivial as a name?
“Hello Bob Roberts, interesting name. I’m Beth Hollander. And no, I’m not from Holland,” she said in a lame attempt to make fun of her own name.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Five minute later, Beth’s date with Bob was over for the night.
All that was left was for her to fill out her response card. Should she check off that she was interested in Bob Roberts? It was a ridiculous name, but Beth Roberts had a nice ring to it so she checked yes. A few days later she received word that she had no matches, not even with the man with the ridiculous name.
Later that night she went to bed – alone again for the four hundredth straight night, wondering if her crack about Bob’s name cost her what may have turned into something special.