An intriguing piece of mail showed up in my post office box. It was a newsletter from the alumni association of my graduate school inviting me to a Denver-area event called "speed dating." For 30 bucks, "singles get to meet several age-matched counterparts for timed (and discreetly chaperoned) encounters" among graduates from a select group of universities.
I won’t lie: Small-town living in rural western
Colorado had left me curious, and a night of speed dating would
introduce me to more "age-matched" single women in three hours than
I regularly meet in three months. But crossing the Rocky Mountains
requires five hours on the interstate, which is pretty far to drive
for a $30 "timed and discreetly chaperoned encounter." I figured
even if I met a metro-Denver woman I really liked, she probably
wouldn’t return with me to the West Slope where the traffic
light nearest to my town is 30 miles away.
mine have scattered to New York, San Francisco and Atlanta to meet
similarly refined ladies. But they’ve taken to Internet
dating even though they live in cities filled with active social
scenes and unmarried girls older than the Olsen twins and younger
than Madonna. I visited one of the sites my friends surf, typed in
my zip code and turned up four available girls within a 60-mile
area. A friend in Manhattan can turn up over 200 women within a
one-mile area on the same site.
Without the help of the
Internet, I’ve met lots of beautiful women in my town.
They’re all dating or married to my friends. Quite a few are
having babies. At times, I wonder if it’s more to taunt me
than a sincere desire to start families that they’re in
The small-town romance game is
only negligibly better for the ladies, from what I understand. Yes,
there are more single men in the ski towns and resort outposts so
girls have their choices. But the problem is that single people are
single for a reason. Or as a ski resort spokeswoman put it to
The Denver Post in an article about the surplus
of bachelors in Colorado: "The odds might be good, but the goods
Why do some of us choose to linger at the
foothills of desperation in these rustic pockets of the West? What
is it about these communities where the dating goes slowly and the
people are odd? My town of 1,500 people has a hard time getting
year-round fresh produce or first-run movies, and there’s
barely a poorly lighted bar in town where I can even meet a new
girl. Instead, we have Western Family canned and frozen foods and a
video store that closes at 8 p.m. Single women are hard to come by,
but at the same time, anyone else who learns my name defeats my
precious small-town anonymity.
But I can pick fruit off
the trees in the fall and catch independent films during a Cabin
Fever Festival at the local theater on winter evenings. My
stripped-down lifestyle feeds a curious fascination with the
eccentrics in the coffee shops and the aspen on the mountain
slopes, both of which are better appreciated when I’m alone.
I live 30 miles away from a traffic light for a reason —
sometimes my own.
An unexpected solicitation from the
cosmopolitan Front Range can stir a momentary regret about my
bachelor state. But after contemplating an orchestrated series of
romances, I realized I’m devoted to the slow and the wild of
my small town. Otherwise, I would just move to the city, live at an
intersection with a traffic light and spend my time at the megaplex
and blind date tournaments.
It hasn’t come to that;
small-town romance struck first. Ironically, it developed in a
small town other than my own (and, no, I didn’t meet her over
the Internet). I began driving the steepest mountain passes in
search of romance. And there I found her — in a poorly
lighted bar in an isolated town. I commuted five hours on icy
byways to go see the girl during the winter, but this week spring
hit, melting some snow and making driving less of a slog: I think
I’ll skip this round of speed dating.