Looking for love in all the right places | VailDaily.com

Looking for love in all the right places

Laura A. Ball
AE Speed Dating SM 3-8

AVON – By 7:30 on a snowy Wednesday night, nearly two dozen single men and women had arrived as Loaded Joe’s turned from coffee bar to cocktail bar. They were all there for the same reason I was, to speed date. A little nervous, I quickly scanned the room for potential matches and checked my watch. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that last cup of chai. I was starting to sweat. I used to be one of those people that cringed at hearing about an acquaintance who met their beau nouveau on match.com. How do you avoid the creeps? Aren’t they all creeps? Can you really get a feel for someone over the computer? Similar thoughts reverberated through my mind when my editor suggested I speed-date. “It’s not like I’m desperate,” I told myself. After all, I do live in the “Male Valley.” What if all the guys there are just desperate. Again, it is the “Male Valley.” What if I run into someone I know? What will they think? And then the positive voice inside my head started talking. My boss is always encouraging me to explore my options, and it did coincide with my practicing philosophy of “You never know.” What if I do meet the love of my life? What a great story that would be to tell our grandchildren. What do I have to lose? If the tradition worked for young Jewish singles to meet and marry inside the faith, it can work for me.Finally, the host instructed me to take my seat at Table No. 2. True to the rules of steadfast chivalry, the women would stay in their seats for the duration of the evening while the men played musical chairs. We had five minutes to chat, and the host would let us know when time was up. For safety reasons, you are advised not to tell anyone your last name, where you live or where you work. We were given a score card to return to the host at the end of the evening. If both participants checked each other’s names, your contact information would be released to one another. If you fail to make conversation, a set of questions that sat on each table could come in handy: Where are you from? Do you have any brothers or sisters? What are your hobbies? I was ready to go.

‘Playing with my emotions’First there was Brandon from Pittsburgh with the great smile, and as nervous as I was, he was cool. He told me he was a naturalist, which immediately sparked conversation, as I am a nature-lover. He was cute and nice and fairly new to the valley. As for chemistry, I wasn’t sure. Before he left, he had three questions for me. What’s you favorite color? What’s your favorite holiday? Who’s your favorite president? Yellow, New Year’s and Lincoln, I answered. (True or not, I was on the spot.) His were green, Halloween and F.D.R. Being a naturalist, I asked him what his favorite moment in nature was. He painted a picture of a beautiful sunset.Then there was Mark, a carpenter by trade and a music lover by heart. We had the music thing in common, although he called himself a “metal head” and I’m usually into anything but. Differences can be good. He was incredibly sweet, and when I dropped my pen he picked it up without an ounce of hesitation. A great sign, I thought. The piercings did throw me off a bit.

An hour and several dates later (Newmann, the structural engineer; Charlie, the hockey player; Jack, the sound engineer), I was eyeing up the bar for a glass of wine when I saw the guys were already there, lined up with beers in hand, waiting for the next open seat. This sight was a little overwhelming, but I had relaxed, a lot. I felt like a pro. Suggested questions? I’m a reporter. I can do this in my sleep. I was even having fun. Each date had something to offer and not one of them was a creep.Almost immediately, Onie, one of my future speed dates interrupted as if he had read my mind. “Would you like refreshment?” How did he know? Major points for this guy. Turns out we had lots in common, too. His love of the outdoors topping the list. By that time it had stopped snowing – It was “playing with my emotions,” he said, laughing but dead serious. I laughed, too, loudly. I knew exactly what he meant, desperate to get in a few more powder days before season’s end.Nine dates in one night

At the end of the night, we turned in our score cards and filled out a questionnaire. Was the allowed time to talk to my date was too much, too little, perfect? Well, depending on who I was talking to, it was either way too much, too little or perfect, and that’s what I wrote.Would I attend another speed dating event? Well, normally, I’m lucky if I can fit one date in a week. Tonight I had nine. And, if nothing else, it was also a great way to meet people. I checked yes.Did I meet the love of my life? (OK, that wasn’t on the comment card.) Probably not. But I was a step closer to finding love by putting myself out there.As I got in my car to go home alone, I realized, whether you meet the love of your life on a reality TV show, online or in grade school, do the details really matter when it’s happily-ever-after?

Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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