Meetup Stories

Come here to post your adventures with Meetups!

I went to a Meetup back in May that was good. It was a hiking group, which meant that I could chit-chat with people but also squeeze in solo time when I needed a break. I haven’t gone back to that Meetup group because most of its events happen during the work week, but I keep up with it just in case another hike that interests me is scheduled.

Last week, I went to another Meetup. A vegetarian group’s monthly outing to a restaurant. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve been encouraging myself to eat lower on the food chain. I thought maybe being around vegetarians would give me more motivation. And maybe I’d find some cool people there.

I will say it wasn’t a total disaster. It wasn’t like they were all wearing horns or anything, and everyone seemed pleased that a “newcomer” would want to join them. But I have to say that this group fulfilled every vegetarian stereotype there is. The sensitive skinny woman who shreaks in horror at the death of every living thing (except for plants)? Check. Man with the bowl haircut? Check. A table full of middle-aged women wearing cat t-shirts and cat earrings, talking endlessly about cats? Check. There were some non-stereotypes present, of course. But the stereotypes were the majority.

The man with the bowl cut sat next to me, and kept taking potshots at me because I dared to order the grilled cheese sandwich instead of something like the big heaping bowl of pasta and roasted vegetables that he had ordered. He didn’t believe me when I told him that the menu said my sandwich was vegan. And he ignored the garlic spinach I had substituted for the fries. After the third jab about not being vegetarian enough, I wanted to tell him off. What an annoying man he was.

I spent a lot of time talking to a woman who fit the first stereotype I mentioned. She ended every comment with “that’s so sad.” Fishing? That’s “so sad”. Killing spiders that are in your bedroom? That’s “so sad”. When I told her that I was a biologist, her eyes perked up. But then I started talking about the research I used to do (testing the effects of various pollutants on invertebrate behavior) and then it was back to “that’s so sad” again.

The Crazy Cat Ladies invited me over to their table next. They had a vegan cake to celebrate one of their birthdays and shared it with the entire group. I had a slice. It wasn’t TOO bad. I didn’t finish it, but it wasn’t the worse thing in the world. But I had to excuse myself after five minutes sitting with them. I love cats, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got two of them and they have a special place in my heart. But my brain could only handle so many kitty anecdotes. And they were all so passionate. I felt like a zombie sitting there. I felt like it would be rude if I didn’t leave.

I will not be returning to that Meetup. It was not a bad experience, but the group isn’t my style. I have killed way too many things and I am way too insensitive about stuff. I also don’t like food snobs or neurotics.

I’m going to a “free-thinkers” Meetup later this week. A local professor will be giving a lecture about how to argue with Creationists. Hopefully Bowl Cut won’t be there.

I’m not quite so adventurous, but I belong to a very active meetup group for American Sign Language. There are three meets a week in central Manhattan, one in Washington heights, and one in Queens. I like to go at least once a week and just chat about whatever. Everyone’s pretty normal, and I’m friendly with a couple members now. We have twenty or so Deaf members, a few interpreting students, a few teachers, a professional linguist or two, and a good number of avocational students at every level. We’re lucky to often have Deaf international visitors, which is really fun. The group skews 25-40 in terms of age. At least two couples have formed, that I know of.

I used to belong to a knitting group in my neighborhood, it wasn’t through meetup, we set it up through which is a knit/crochet website. Since we had it on a weeknight, it attracted people-without-kids, which I enjoyed a lot. It went well for most of a year, then dissolved due to a combination of other commitments, and, I think, one member with no social boundaries who was making people uncomfortable by doing things like making rude and negative comments about their work.

I’m actually the organizer for a meetup group, namely a social group for women in and around our neighborhood. Our only truly regular events are a book club and a walking group, but we sometimes have coffee get-togethers, dinner parties, matinee movies, etc.

Overall, it’s a good group, but what drives me nuts are the people who sign up and don’t show. Even if you only figure out thirty minutes before the event that you can’t go, what’s so hard about taking ten seconds to change your RSVP?

I signed up for an ADHD group meetup. I went to one group meeting, and pretty much every problem that ADHD can cause showed up. I enjoyed talking to most of the people there, but one guy was a former libertarian and current Tea Party idiot, and another one had just had a meltdown which led to his diagnosis and coming to the group, so he took most of the meet-up telling his life story.

Not unsurprisingly, that group dissolved not long after.