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Match Leaves Dateless Darrell Feeling Burned

Tue., Feb. 13, 1996

Cupid, draw back your bow.

Aim for poor Darrell’s forehead.

Any guy who gets dumped twice in 20 minutes at a Valentine’s Day dance deserves to be put out of his misery.

“I’m suddenly dateless,” said a stunned Darrell through the bedlam of the band and the chattering of happy couples.

“Oh, well,” he added later with a resigned sigh, “I guess it’ll all work out.”

Today’s lesson in romance is that not all beginnings are ideal even at Ideal Beginnings, the Spokane dating service and sponsor of this elegant ball held the other night in Spokane’s grand Davenport Hotel.

About 500 people showed up, most of them singles in search of that special someone.

And that search can be pretty danged desperate. A woman about my mother’s age rushed up, grabbed my shoulder and hollered in my ear, “I heard you were the type of person who would dance with anyone.”

I told her she’d been talking to the wrong crowd.

Ideal Beginnings invited me to the ball not to boogie, but to talk to people like Darrell, 36, who arranged to meet his date face-to-face for the very first time at the dance.

A few words about Ideal Beginnings: This is a business where members pay a fee for access to a file system of 800 possible partners.

These profiles of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes include photographs and such vital information as hobbies, education and whether they smoke, drink or will go out with those who do.

Doug, a 42-year-old forester from Keller, Wash., says he paid Ideal Beginnings over $2,000 in fees over the last two years. This translated to between 12 and 18 dates, which doesn’t sound like much, but Doug’s not complaining.

The Keller dating pool, he said, is about an inch deep.

“People need a way to meet people in a normal fashion,” said Rick Dullanty, a Spokane attorney who bought the dating service two years ago.

That’s certainly true.

Looking for love in a systematic, informed fashion beats the heck out of trying to pick up strangers by grabbing their shoulders and blurting lame pickup lines, such as:

“Hi, I heard you were the type of person who would dance with anyone.”

For example, women would want to know before they go out with Jim, 42, that he is looking for an open-minded lifemate to share his nudist ways. “I need someone who is very confident with herself,” he said.

Jim scoured the Ideal Beginnings files and came up with Vickie, 37.

She isn’t scared away by Jim’s nudism. Nor is she exactly wild about hitting the beach for an all-over tan.

“This is one date,” she said in a cautious tone. “If there are any more, well, I’ll have to do some serious thinking about that.”

But sometimes love is a many splintered thing no matter how careful you are.

Darrell scanned the profiles. He saw someone he liked. He asked her out. She said yes, but apparently chickened out at the last minute.

When the woman didn’t appear, Darrell says Ideal Beginnings staffers scrounged up a backup date so that their show could go on.

Before the band started blaring, Darrell and eight other men who hadn’t met their dates were introduced one at a time in front of the enthusiastic crowd.

The nine women were given red roses and offered free limousine rides.

Alas, Darrell was soon shafted again. His alternate date, he explained, “went back to her boyfriend after about 20 minutes of small talk.”

Darrell grimaced. “I think he got jealous when I gave her the rose.”

Sheesh. I’m sure glad I went to the Ideal Beginnings Valentine’s dance.

I’ve never felt more glad to be married in my life.

, DataTimes

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