I have never had the experience of speed dating. Conceptually, it is quite simple, about 20 men and women sit in a circle of 10 tables, one man and one woman per table. A time limit is set at ten minutes in which man and woman get to know each other to see if there is a connection for a future date. After ten minutes a bell sounds, the men rotate to a new table where the process starts anew. When every man and woman have met, the speed dating session is over.
Now, what does this have to do with our visit to Samburu National Park in Kenya? During our final game drive at this park, I felt like I was speed dating with the animals.
- My first date was with Miss Sunrise. Although not an animal, she was a real beauty, radiant and glowing. It was love at first sight. I could bottle her up and take her home, no need for the bell to ring, no need to meet anyone else. Ding-Ding-Ding, my ten minutes seemed like just 10 seconds. Goodbye Miss Sunrise, until we meet again.
- My second date was with an elephant. She was obese and rude, not once making eye contact. I have a soft spot for the Samburu elephant, usually jocular with a jovial personality. Not this one, she turned her bulbous body away from me making it clear she wanted nothing to do with me. The bell rang, our ten minutes together and our future over. Good riddance!
- My third date was with a lion. My expectations were high as I arrived at her table where I saw a disassembled drone. “What are you doing with a disassembled drone,” I asked? She looked at me as if it was the most imbecilic question ever asked by a man of a lion. “Some ugly tourist flew one too close to me. I captured it and tore it to shreds which I will do to you if you get any closer.” Ten minutes could not come quick enough. Ding-Ding-Ding and I’m off to the next one, body intact.
- My fourth date was with a Reticulated Giraffe, the most striking of the species of giraffes at Samburu. Our ten minutes started as well as can be expected. I was digging her long neck and cute horns. But there was a problem, she was too shy for this New Yorker. In response to any of my questions she blushed and demurred. She’d never make it through one visit with my mother. Ding-ding, on to the next.
- My fifth date was with a Gerenuk, another beauty. I sat down admiring her slender long neck. Not as thick and strong as the giraffe, her neck has a more refined beauty. I offered her a nosh while we were chatting. She declined saying that her food needs to be eaten on high where her neck could stretch to its maximum. It occurred to me that eating at restaurants together would be a problem, me sitting down at a table, her reaching to the shelf top to eat her meal. Her soft ears and doe-like eyes are just not enough. Sorry, not for me.
- On my sixth date, I came nose to trunk with another elephant, a young one, perhaps too young for me. She is cute as can be, that is for an elephant. We discussed some topics of the day, having a very nice time, when her mother plopped down next to her. A chaperone! I’m not getting into a situation with an over concerned mother-in-law. This elephant is worlds better than my second date, with the cutest eye lashes, but not enough to make this one a “go”.
- My seventh date was with a gorgeous Guinea Fowl, its flowing iridescent blue feathers conjuring up the rich and famous with their floor-length evening gowns. Like many shallow women she came to the date with all her friends. Three is usually a crowd, but twenty is ridiculous. I’ll take a pass.
- I’m nearing the end, just two more dates to go. I move to the next table and find the cutest little antelope sitting across from me. In just a few minutes in it became apparent that cuteness will not be enough. She is vapid. She talked with pride about being the “McDonalds” of Samburu, the most common and prevalent creature in the park. “There are so many of us,” she said with pride. I’m in search of uniqueness, so it’s on to my final date.
- I’m now at the penultimate date, a warthog. I’ve been told that there is more to a book than its cover, beauty is skin deep, there’s more to a relationship than good looks. This all may be true but not in this case. This poor thing is downright ugly. She came to our session after wallowing in mud, a shower would have been nice. We talked for a moment, and it was clear she is a pig. Sorry miss warthog, you are not for me.
- My final date is here in front of me, another reticulated giraffe. Again, I tried to strike up a conversation, hoping we would click. But she just strutted around, displaying an aloofness hard to accept. I pondered for a moment why there were two reticulated giraffes at this event. Then, I stopped, why waste the time. Ding-ding, the event is over.
Speed dating was a lot more difficult than I had hoped. They all had redeeming features, well, at least most did. But I decided to go back to my wife and leave speed dating to others.
This game drive lasted just 90 minutes. And what an amazing 90 minutes it was!