Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit
In the spirit of the approaching Valentine's Day, the Chicago Reader and 2nd Story, a storytelling and performance group, teamed up on Friday to present Mismatched: Horror Stories from Chicago's Dating Front at The Bottom Lounge.
Mismatched, the brain-child of the Reader's Kristen Kaza, started as a pitch during her initial interview for her current position as their marketing director. "I'm really proud of it," Kaza said. "[Valentine's Day] can be a polarizing holiday. I just thought it shouldn't necessarily have the whole evening be about couples." Instead, Kaza thought it would go well if people shared their best bad dating stories. "It's something everyone can participate in," she said.
Hosting the event was up-and-coming comedienne, Cameron Esposito. Esposito warmed the audience with her story of how things can go wrong terribly on dates. "I'm not a big drinker," she said. "I recently had a instant case of hangover in the throes of passion. It went something like this, 'Oh, that feels so good. You should...stop doing that or I'll throw up on your face.'"
2nd Story's Margot Bordelon, Ric Walker and J. Adams Oaks all told gripping stories surrounding the theme of the dating sphere and its many pitfalls. They were lent musical assistance by the DJ duo, The Ordeal, accenting each reader's remarks with musical selections ranging from Bel Biv DeVoe's "Do Me" to Ry Cooder's bluesy slide guitar stylings.
Some quotes from the night:
"Have any of you ever done Ecstasy? I'm not a cop! You can answer." -Margot Bordelon
"He then reached into his back pocket and handed me a folded piece of paper with his number. It had already been prepared."-J. Adams Oaks
"I could tell she had really bad taste, which meant I had a really good shot."-Ric Walker
In between stories of jilted hearts, 2nd Story's Flirt-a-gram stand wanted to inspire some romantic tales of their own. At the 2nd Story table Flirt-a-grams, which cost a dollar each, allowed audience members to send a message to whoever they fancied with a hand delivered message from Cameron Esposito, herself.
For use of those looking to make a connection, the "I Saw You" table, based on the Reader's popular "Matches" section, served as another option for anyone they wanted to connect with or to just tell them, "You're hot!!!"
Upon entering, everyone was assigned a number to wear as an identifier and a simple sticker color system had been worked to express your expectations:
Red- Interested in women
Blue- Interested in men
Yellow- Just friends
Green- Friends with benefits
I received an "I Saw You" message complimenting me on my "power sweater" and telling me to follow my dreams.
"Maybe it'll be one of those serendipitous things. Maybe you'll see her again or you could put up signs on coffeehouse bulletin boards asking for #127," shrugs #122, Katrina Weimholt noticing no contact information.
Weimholt learned about the event through The Reader's Personals web service, which sends her invites to events like "Mismatched."
"It is a nice sweater," she pointed out.
Message to #127: "Thanks for the compliment. I will follow my dreams. My best to you and may you also find a power sweater."