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Dating in D.C.: Grouper

1 Oct
This picture of a literal grouper has nothing to do with this post, but I didn't know what other photo to include. In case your curious, this particular grouper is a Nassau.

This picture of a literal grouper has nothing to do with this post, but I didn’t know what other photo to include. In case you’re curious, this particular grouper is a Nassau.

A friend recently approached me about going on a Grouper with her. What’s a Grouper, you ask? It’s a group date—3 women who are already friends meet up for drinks with 3 guys who are already friends (or 3 women/3 women, 3 men/3 men). The idea, of course, is that it will be less awkward if you’re with a couple friends, and you’ll get to meet not one potential mate, but three. Grouper is offered in 25 cities so far. It costs $20 per person, per Grouper, but that does at least include one drink.

Without hesitation, I agreed to go, figuring it would be either really awesome (all the publicity photos, after all, show people having a bang-up good time) or really terrible. Either way, therefore, it was going to be a fantastic story.

So my friend, another friend and I signed up using the mobile app. They don’t ask you many questions beforehand. Instead they (allegedly) use your Facebook profiles to match you up with your dates.

We got to pick one of three date times. All were on a Thursday at 8 p.m., which I thought was unfortunate—a girl likes her beauty sleep after all, but then I realized that I’m not 80-years-old so I should STFU about it and act like the young, hip single gal I pretend to be.

We didn’t hear anything more from Grouper until the day before our date. We were told to meet the guys at Cafe Citron near Dupont Circle at 8:30 instead of 8:00 (ugh).

When I told people I was going on a Grouper their first reaction was always, “What if you all like the same guy?” Dude, I don’t know, what if that happens on a normal night at a bar or a party? You just figure it out. Unfortunately, as it turned out, we needn’t have worried.

So my first though of the guys was relief. They were normal-seeming and normal-looking. My friends and I had come up with a few pre-thought-out questions to ask the group in case of any awkward silences even though we probably wouldn’t need them, I mean, how can six people not think of anything to say to one another, right? Well, we went through our secret list of questions within the first 20 minutes or so. It was basically just continual awkward silence punctuated by a sentence here and there.

One guy didn’t really participate in the conversation the entire time—turns out there was a speaker blaring music behind him and he couldn’t hear (but didn’t bring this up until we were paying the bill). Another guy completely checked out 30 minutes in, and started playing on his phone. The third guy, who organized his friends to go on the Grouper, was the nicest and actually pretty funny. Unfortunately, he was way, way shorter than my friends and me, which we all consider a deal breaker (I’m not talking a little bit shorter, I’m talking a LOT).

What made things more awkward was that there was another Grouper at the table right next to us! I felt like we were all sizing them up to see if their group was more exciting. Needless to say, it was.

Every time I thought we were wrapping up this disaster it just … kept … going. Then my friend suggested we move to another bar. (This is when I learned that she’s obviously a masochist … and sadist.) The guys initially agreed but then waffled and eventually backed out. It was an awkward goodbye in that no one asked for anyone else’s number. We hugged goodbye and one of the guy’s said, “Maybe we’ll see you on another Grouper!”

Maybe not.

With that said, would I do it again? Sure. I didn’t have the time of my life, but it wasn’t awful either. And while I doubt I’ll find the man of my dreams on a Grouper, it got me out on a weeknight, I got to hang out with a couple friends and it caused me less anxiety than a one-on-one date. There are, for sure, worst ways to spend an evening.