OnDating: And Regular Blind Dates Aren't Crazy Enough?

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 26, 2008

This is the story of how Elizabeth, a local 24-year-old who works at a nonprofit organization, wound up on a date with a man in a blinking shirt.

No, really. The guy was attached to a battery pack.

It all started one Saturday night when Elizabeth was on the phone, complaining to a friend in San Francisco about how bored she was. "You should go on a crazy blind date," her pal suggested.

Elizabeth laughed, but her friend wasn't kidding. She said it takes only five minutes to sign up on CrazyBlindDate.com.

Elizabeth has so far signed up for seven of them. Here's the scoop: You log onto CrazyBlindDate.com, register with an e-mail address, tell the site when you want to go on a date (tonight? tomorrow? next Saturday?) and the neighborhoods you prefer for the rendezvous. If someone also lists those basic criteria, you're matched.

That's it. Through the system you decide on a specific place and time, but you'll know almost nothing about your intended date. (You can, though, further narrow the options by demographics such as age.)

"Usually on first dates, you're Googling the person, or set up by your friends and you want to find out about them. There's all this concern and investment that goes into it," Elizabeth said. "And with this, you just show up and see how it rolls."

CrazyBlindDate is free, and if it's clear from the get-go that it's not a good match, you're only obligated to spend 20 minutes with your date. Elizabeth started counting the minutes when the blinking-shirt guy showed up.

But then something surprising happened: "We ended up having a great conversation," she says. "And I was eventually like, 'Can you turn off the shirt? It's giving me a headache.' "

The lights blinked off, and a crazy blind date continued, with just a little less of the crazy.

We're all ears if you've tried CrazyBlindDate.com and have stories to share. Or if you have other D.C. dating rants or tips, e-mail us atweekend@washpost.com, with "Dating" in the subject line.

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