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But even more surprising was this: Few of the guys seemed interested in religion. And why, if these guys had little more than a polite interest in Catholicism, did they all sign up for a Catholic Speed Dating event? He described his business and politely asked about my job. The organizer looked confused, then worried and possibly amused. With his news, the evening's events made much more sense, and at the same time became even more absurd.
"It's published by the Jesuits," I said, trying to explain the background of the magazine where I work as an editor. But if the guys noticed my perplexed looks, they didn't show it. "So you're Catholic," he said when I told him about the magazine. "No, this one's just a regular NYC event, but there are a few Catholics here," he said, pointing out the guy from the young adult group. At the end of the evening I took out a piece of paper on which "yes" and "no" was written next to each date's name.
The guy from the young adult group seemed nice, and I noted that on the paper.He was also hilarious, enjoyed his work, and seemed interested in mine. And, well, I had to give him credit for his knowledge of Church history. As far as I could tell, there were far more accountants than ax murderers. My head was spinning: Was I that religious fanatic that I'd feared meeting? "Yes," I said, "I'm at a Catholic speed dating event, aren't I? His accent and the noise of the bar muffled his statement, but I thought I heard Latin. A moment later, the event's organizer called for the dates to change seats.After the first few "dates," I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone seemed kind and within some spectrum of normalcy. Why on earth was I going on about various religious orders? I asked him to repeat himself, but still I couldn't quite catch the foreign phrase, though this time I heard enough of the question to realize that my original worries were not unfounded: I was being quizzed on a papal encyclical. The men shifted, and because one of the participants hadn't showed up, the organizer sat down across from me to fill the time. The organizer got up, and I laughed, freely this time.
Or even worse, that the room would contain well-intentioned Catholics unwilling to discuss topics other than religion.