An Instagram of another Grouper set-up. Our experience didn’t quite match up…
“You know in some movies they digitally remove women’s underwear,” said no man who got laid, ever.
Toronto Standard interns Claudia McNeilly and Mollie Paige reluctantly agreed to go on a Grouper group date outing. After much persuasion from one of our editors, we obliged feeling both skeptical and excited.
Based in New York City, Grouper sends two groups of three people (a dater and two wingmen or women) to a pre-chosen swanky location–which I’m sure is the hottest bar in NYC, but in Toronto it was the Duke of Somerset. Ever heard of it? Yeah, neither had we. Red Lobster adjacent, the Duke of Somerset is the kind of place you bring your family (grandparents) for a night of deep fried pickles, literary trivia and a beer on the side–hardly the shots and make out scenes depicted by the #GrouperGram hashtag on Instagram.
After wandering the wrong way around the block, we finally located the bar, arriving five minutes early to commence the waiting game. We ordered our complimentary round of drinks and began eyeballing each group of three who came through the door.
“Nope, he’s with a girl.”
“Nope, they’re with grandparents.”
M: It was fifteen minutes after eight and we were beginning to think that nobody was coming. I wasn’t sure whether to feel let down or relieved.
Just when we were about to give up and head home, they walked in. Three middle-aged, portly, gentlemen whose hair (or lack thereof) had seen better days. “That’s them!” we shrieked in horror. Hiding our faces and praying for mercy, we sat in anticipation as the waitress led these three gentlemen toward our table, and then passed it on their way to a booth near the back. Catastrophe averted, or so we thought. While distracted by the fear of being set up with a midlife crisis, two other mis-matched gentlemen had entered the establishment and were being escorted to our table.
C: One, a tall and slim twenty-something with rectangular glasses and a mop of brown hair. The other a five foot nothing fellow with matching slim rectangular glasses and greasy black bangs. Our hopes of finding knights in shining armour had been slightly crushed, but not entirely deflated…. Maybe they had great personalities and at least a couple good conversations would come out of the night.
“Where’s your other friend?” I asked the tall one.
“Oh he’s coming,” he explained. He never did.
As we commenced our polite small talk and introduced ourselves, we all started drinking a little faster.
I began to doubt my own choices. Maybe I shouldn’t have said I prefer philosophers who stay in on Friday nights on the questionnaire. Yet regardless, here we were. As an added icebreaker, policemen barged through the restaurant with purpose. Confused yet slightly relieved by the distraction we all turned to see what was going on. The policemen started tackling a very drunk and incoherent man to the floor. A few yells and screams and confused looks later, the scene was over. “I wish they dragged me out instead,” I caught myself thinking.
M: We learned that the short one was a graphic designer and the tall one was a digital video editor. “What are some of your favourite movies?” I asked.
“Avatar,” he responded.
I suddenly had flashes of na’vi porn and other creepy fandom.
After an awkward silence he added, “Have you guys seen it?”
I went on to explain that I had tried but fell asleep halfway through, C’s second wingwoman hesitantly added that she hadn’t had a chance to see it yet.
Our Romeo then concluded, “Well then I guess we have nothing to talk about.”
Unfortunately, he was right. Fishing for a conversation topic for the rest of the date would have felt like pulling teeth, except neither party was interested in beginning to try finding a sliver of common ground.
“Finish your drink,” wingwoman two elbowed me with a death glare. I quickly took my last sip.
C: My phone started vibrating as a text from Grouper danced its way across the screen, “Hey Claudia, hope you’re having fun! Don’t forget to Instagram a pic– best one wins a free round just include the #groupergram hashtag.”
I concluded that unless the Instagram pictures were competing in the most awkward photo ever taken awards, we weren’t going to win. Sucking up my pride and silently praying that no one would see the photo, I called over a waitress to take our photo. The result, as expected, was an awkward blur of mis-matched faces and plastered on smiles– a mess too big for Lo-fi to fix.
After our date, while reviewing the other Grouper Instragram photos we quickly realized our set-up was not the ordinary Grouper experience. M claims it was C’s fault, as C concluded she’d rather be set up with someone who spent his nights cooped up alone reading J. R. R. Tolkien (and Avatar was the closest thing they could find). Maybe it’s because the Grouper community is less developed in Toronto, making for slim pickings and ill fated pairings. Or maybe we were just unlucky. Would we count on a blind date service again? Yes, it is, at the end of the day, a good way to meet new people. But next time we’ll keep our expectations in check and answer our match questionnaire with caution.
You can try Grouper for yourself here.
Mollie Paige writes for the Toronto Standard. You can follow her on Twitter @MolliePB
Claudia McNeilly writes for the Toronto Standard. You can follow her on Twitter @claudiamcneilly