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Looking for love

Caramie Schnell
Matt IndenNot on a blind date here, Carolyn Gash, has a drink at the Main St. Grill in Edwards.
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Ask Carolyn Gash about the dating scene in Vail and she’ll likely laugh and sum up her experience in nine, oft-heard words.

“The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

It’s become the anthem of the single girl looking for love in the Vail Valley. And yes, it’s an adage that gets thrown around sometimes loosely in happy valley. Beware: if you say something long enough, it just may become your truth.

Last Valentine’s Day The Trail looked at three local couples who shared their love stories with us. Each of their tales were full of the idiosyncrasies and quirks that make life and love interesting, but the theme that wove through each story was how their love for each other had sustained them. Love made it work.

This year we took a look at what it’s like to try and find that love right here in Eagle County, and to do that we checked out the dating scene. Gash, a local single and blind-date virgin, agreed to test the dating waters for us by bravely participating in three dates with total strangers.

Gash, a 25-year-old interior designer, grew up in Eagle County. After spending almost eight years in Quebec, Canada, she returned to her hometown two years ago. She owns her own place, has a good job and has met her share of men here, just not very many fond of dating or commitment. The biggest hurdle she’s found is the transient nature of the valley. Oftentimes the Vail life is just a stopover for 20-somethings, before it’s time to grow up and find a “real job.”

“The men in this valley seem to think they’re just going to pick you up at a bar,” Gash said. “They don’t understand the concept of dating – of calling a girl, asking her out, picking her up, going on a date. I’m not looking for something super serious right now, just finding someone that’s interested in more than a one-night stand would be nice.”

Gash is not alone in her perceptions. While researching this story The Trail ran an ad in a recent edition of the paper asking the questions “Have you found love in the Vail Valley? Are the odds good or the goods odd?” The morning the paper came out a local woman by the name of Amy e-mailed her answer.

“The only thing Vail Valley guys want is it get lit and get laid … needless to say if that is what you are going for then I guess the odds are good, otherwise they are not. Not to say that the girls don’t want to get lit and laid as well, but there is no hope in finding anyone in Vail that wants more than that.”

Eagle-Vail resident Jim Naughton doesn’t see the dating scene in the valley as being necessarily good or bad, just different from say, somewhere like Denver.

“It requires someone to be a little more proactive,” he said. “Dates don’t just fall in your lap. You have to go and make more of an effort to meet people than I think you would in the city.”

Carolyn’s first date was with Jim, a 31-year-old low-voltage systems technician who has lived in the valley for three years. The men chosen for the blind dates agreed to participate and give us their honest feedback as long as we only used their first names. Carolyn and Jim met at the Gore Range Brewery in Edwards for dinner on a recent Friday night.

Carolyn: “He arrived on time, which was very nice. He was very nice. We had a couple of things in common – work, his family has a similar job field as mine does, he was very polite, very appropriate. There just wasn’t any chemistry there. We had conversation because it turns out we work in the same building, otherwise I felt like there really wasn’t a connection.”

Jim: “It was a nice date, it felt kind of casual. I got there and was looking for her and hung out in the bar. She went up to the front and I figured out it was her. It didn’t really feel like a date because I didn’t know the person. She was really nice and we had a lot of things in common as far as work and just in general. It was cool to meet someone new.”

For her second date, Carolyn was set up with Tom, a 27-year-old waiter that moved to the valley about a year ago. The two met at Fiesta’s in Edwards for dinner on a Monday night.

Carolyn: “I told him that line about the odds are good, but the goods are odd and he came back and told me that as far as girls are concerned in this valley, the good ones are taken and the others are handicapped, in the sense that they’re psychotic. He was very nice, very funny and just crazy enough that we could have fun, but he was never offensive. He got my slightly sarcastic sense of humor. He could become a good friend, maybe more. I wasn’t sure if he was the type to go on second dates, or into hang-out mode and then straight to hook-up mode. His sense of humor is where we really connected. He’s not my normal type, but he’s cute.”

Tom: “(The date) was pretty good, it’s kind of hard. I like to go big and it sounds like she likes to go big so going out on Monday probably wasn’t a great idea. I’ve never been on (a blind date) before, so it was kind of different for me. I had a good time. She’s a cool girl but it’s a not-my-type, type of thing. I don’t know, it was just kind of weird. In the first 10 minutes she said the word inappropriate 10 times. She was talking about something else, but I felt like I did something wrong. I just got the wrong vibe. But she’s cool, she’s not crazy, she’s got a good job, so as far as girls go in the valley, she’s a catch.”

Carolyn met Graham, a 24-year-old local television producer who moved to the Vail Valley three months ago for dinner at Vista in Avon on a Wednesday night.

Carolyn: “He’s very cute and very nice. He showed up on time. He was pretty much the perfect mix – sophisticated enough to know about good food and good wine, but not at all snobby. He was intelligent and funny. We had good conversation. He seemed to be very driven, which is always a plus. He is transient, though; he travels a lot for his job. He kept it very low key and casual. He gave me a handshake when he left, which would make me think there wasn’t chemistry on his end. I wouldn’t say there was mad chemistry on my end, but I definitely thought he was interesting and matches the profile of what I’m looking for.”

Graham: “It went really well. We had a lot of fun. We had great conversation. I’d never been on a blind date quite that blind before. Where I had no idea what to expect. Usually you have some friend saying, ‘they’re like this, they’re like that.’ I was like, maybe I should have at least gotten her last name so I could have Googled her. I think it turned out better than I expected. I was like, this could just be a total bomb. As I parked my car I walked in and was like, what am I getting myself into? For all I know this could be a divorcee with two kids. It was a real pleasant couple hours, though. I’d do it all over again. I don’t think Carolyn and I have the chemistry to take it any farther, but I think we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.”

Our second blind-date candidate, Tom, said Vail’s dating scene isn’t about looking for a lifetime mate.

“I don’t think anyone is looking for ‘Mrs. Right,'” he said. “From what I’ve seen, it’s all about ‘Mrs. Right-Now.'”

And even though Carolyn didn’t find “the one” on any of her blind dates, she did have fun, she said.

There are plenty of people who have discovered true love here. Scott Marino had the same problem many people have: the girls he would meet weren’t planning on sticking around town very long and thus, were not looking for serious relationships. And at the time, Marino wasn’t sure how long he was staying in Vail, either.

But, as he said, he “lucked out.” He met his now-wife, Kari, nearly four years ago. She was the athletic trainer for his rugby team and when he tore his Achilles tendon, she was the therapist that helped him heal, albeit painfully.

“I asked her out right away,” Marino said, “and I proposed pretty quickly, too. I pretty much knew right away. She could ski better than me, she could do most sports better than me. She wasn’t a girly-girl and she liked to do everything I like to do. She was perfect.” VT

Caramie Schnell can be reached at cschnell@vailtrail.com.


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