For people who are extremely passionate about the environment, finding low-impact love can be tough.
A Los Angeles Web site recently tried to help find a solution, organizing what it billed as the first "green" speed-dating event
Sixteen or so singles from across Los Angeles descended on a bar near the beach last month in search of a carbon-neutral connection. What do these greenies drive? As it turned out, more than just Priuses — one would-be dater rolled up in a Land Rover.
The offender, Jeff Seputra, is a hedge fund manager who lives in downtown Los Angeles. He insists he's been trying to get rid of his gas guzzler for years. He also says he only drives it very short distances and that he recycles and gives to green causes. But at an event like this one, Seputra's choice of wheels may be an inconvenient truth.
Leave Them Wanting More
A platter of fruit and veggies await the Earth lovers as they walk into the bar. In case they need more than fiber to get the energy flowing, they received a complimentary drink for their $20 entrance fee.
The participants will have mere minutes to see if sparks fly. Afterward, they will fill out a form saying whether they'd like to see each other again. If both say yes, they'll get each others' e-mail addresses. No awkward exchange of numbers. No stinging face-to-face rejections. If there aren't any green connections, they can take solace in the fact that the price of admission will help build solar panels in Nicaragua.
Vince Dell, who works for the Web site that organized the event, LA-fun.com, says the key to effective speed dating is to say as little as possible.
"Guys: Don't talk too much," Dell advises. "The more you say, the more ammunition women have to reject you. Be mysterious, and that way you get a second date."
A few minutes may not seem like much. But in speed dating, he says, time is the enemy.
"We've asked every person at these events how much time they need," says Dell. "Guys need about five seconds. Women need about 10. So three minutes is more than enough. But the three minutes will kill you. They might like you the first five seconds, but two minutes later you're gone."
Dell says he has thought about organizing an ultraspeed-dating event, where each date lasts only a few seconds.
Who's The Greenest Of Them All?
Once the speed dating gets started, Seputra sits at a small table across from Felicia Williams. Their date begins in typical fashion, with awkward small talk.
"Where are you from, Felicia?" he asks.
"Pasadena," she replies.
"There's a lot of Pasadena people here for some reason," he says.
"Really? We should have carpooled!"
Luckily, the brief date ends before Williams, who owns a Prius, has a chance to ask Seputra what he drives.
But even Williams' hybrid-driving ways might not be green enough for speed daters such as Francois Jaquet.
At the end of the night, when it came time to turn in the list of people they thought might be a potential match, Jaquet's form was as barren as the teak forest in Thailand.
"I'm very green," the aerospace consultant explains. "I ride a bicycle. I walk all the time. When I absolutely need a car, I make a list of things to do and I rent one."
Not a single person at the event was green enough for him.
"We can't all drive bicycles like I do," Jaquet reasons. "But I want to see people at a green speed dating who've at least tried."