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Brief dating

On my name tag were all the vitals: My name, how much I could afford, and my ideal location."The people looking for a room will be wearing a blue sticker, while people with rooms to spare will have a white sticker on," a staffer instructed me.

I was seeking "The One" — a chill, non-smoking roommate suitable for cohabitation and watching sitcoms over a shared bottle of wine.

That's how I found myself at an event aptly named "Speedflatmating" (a "flatmate" is U. speak for "roommate"): A weekly series of mixers aiming to bring apartment hunting people — and those looking for a new housemate — under one roof.

If you've ever been on the lookout for a spare room in a big city, you can probably relate to what a pain it can be: Competition is fierce, everyone is game to commit, and openings get taken in the blink of an eye.

I could feel my fellow blue stickers sizing each other up and eavesdropping on parts of other people's conversation — all masked in a vague sense of politeness and uneasy smiles.

I wondered how many of these exchanges happened that night. I ended up finding a great apartment just 10 minutes north of the bar by answering another ad on Spareroom — the old-fashioned way for the digital age.

My search for the perfect living situation ended up being a lot less dramatic than a quest for love.

This label feels oddly reminiscent of that, in the sense that you feel a bit like cattle sporting a price tag at a marketplace.