Banks County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 11, 2004


Column

By:Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
February 11, 2004

Speed dating comes to area
Who says first impressions don’t matter? In the world of speed dating, they must be crucial. The “dates” literally have minutes to make an impression and introduction that might make one or the other want to come back for more.
Not so different from a “regular” date, I guess, if you really think about it — can’t you usually tell if an evening is off to a good start or is just going to be painfully awkward? — but for the fact that with speed dating, you can have about a dozen “dates” in one night and can meet a lot of different people.
The idea is this: a group of eligible, single people meet for one-on-one time at a restaurant or some other public place, spending a few minutes alone with the other participants to see if there is interest in a future “full date.” In some instances, the participants write down who they met and who they would like to meet again. Some speed dating services advertise the chance to have 12 “dates” or “pre-dates” in an evening, and, apparently, the trend is growing nationwide.
And now, singles in the Jackson County tri-county area who are interested in giving speed dating a try have an opportunity to do so.
There was an ad run in past issues of The Jackson Herald for a speed dating event in Commerce: “It’s sweeping the country...a new way of meeting lots of eligible singles, ages 30 and above, in a fun-filled, relaxed evening!....Take charge of your happiness!”
The kick-off event was to have been set for this week in Commerce but, according to Karen Stout, as of Monday, 13 people had called and she wants to postpone the event until the numbers increase. So far, the calls have ranged from those in their early 30s to those in their late 50s.
“I intend to have this be ongoing,” Stout said, adding that while the event will be held in Commerce, it is open to the tri-county area. “We need 10 to 12 members of the opposite sex, ideally 20 members, for the optimum opportunity...It’s for ages 30 and above – I want mature individuals.....I’m not going to rush this. I had hoped to have this around Valentine’s Day, but I want to have a good group.”
Stout said she has friends all over the country who have told her about speed dating.
“It seems to go well in metropolitan areas, so I thought, why not try it here?” she said. “There are no large singles classes at area churches, particularly for mature individuals. There is nowhere for adults to meet quality individuals. So many people may work out of town and don’t know of the other single people who live here.”
Stout describes speed dating as an opportunity to meet other singles in a “controlled, safe environment” and said she wants it to be a “fun, healthy approach.”
“I’m looking at two- to three-minute intervals to keep it lively,” she said. “We’ll have the men move from table to table and by an hour or an hour and a half, everyone will have met.”
She cautioned that there is no guarantee of meeting someone on the first evening, but said she hopes more people will come so there will be new faces each time, eventually growing into a singles group.
“Even if you are not interested in dating someone, be polite, find out about them,” Stout said. “They may tell someone about you or become a business connection or a friend.”
So, OK, if you are shy, speed dating — hurry dates, quick dates, 8-minute dates, 6-minute dates, 3-minute dates, fast dates, mini-dates, facilidates or whatever you want to call it — might not be the best option for you.
According to a web site offering speed dating services, it’s for those who are “The busy. The beleaguered. And those with a healthy fear of dating at work.”
More specifically, the speed dating world is advertised via Internet for those who are tired of the bar scene, don’t want to date co-workers and clients and have a busy schedule and find it hard to meet other singles.
“It’s the efficient, effective and fun way to meet other singles and figure out which ones you want to see again, without the awkwardness of ice breaking or getting stuck in long conversations with someone who is not for you,” one speed dating service says.
While most of the services advertise for “career professionals” to participate, there are cautionary notes included that, just like Internet dating, those who attend speed dating events may be meeting total strangers.
And safety is a consideration, Stout said of the local group she is putting together. There is no passing out of addresses and names, and if a person does not want to be contacted by someone they met during the evening, they can let her know.
Once Stout is contacted by someone interested in speed dating and they pay their $25, she sends them a questionnaire.
“I ask them to write out their answers and express themselves,” she said. “You can tell a lot about someone that way.”
She plans for participants to wear a name tag with a number, rather than their name, when they come to the speed dating event.
“They will keep notes on an index card during the evening, maybe something witty number 14 said, and then they can choose six people they want to be introduced to,” Stout said.
Stout said she will then send the profiles of everyone who wants to meet an individual to that person.
“Then it’s up to her (or him) to contact that person,” she said. “It’s up to that individual to do a background check, just like they would with Internet dating.”
The trend of speed dating has been broadcast on national television and other media, and has been featured on NBC Today, USA Today and Fox News, just to name a few sites. It is now such a growing trend, there is information available on buying into a speed dating franchise, which facilitates the dates. Hence the term “facilidates.”
Speed dating has made its way south and east, with quite a few speed dating events listed in the metro-Atlanta area. Next stop, Commerce and the tri-county area.
“I thought it’s a reasonable way of meeting someone on the local level,” Stout said. “Take a chance. It may take some time to meet someone, but I hope people will come back, even if they don’t meet someone the first time...I like to see people be able to meet.”
Stout can be contacted at (706) 202-7264.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor for The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.

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Column

By:Angela Gary
The Banks County News
February 11, 2004

Vacation again’
“Vacation again, Gee Gee.” This is a phrase that I hear from my 2-year-old nephew at least once a day. He had so much fun on our last vacation, a Christmas trip to Nashville, that he has been saying “Vacation again” ever since we returned home.
I don’t like to go on trips when it’s cold or go anywhere that it might be cold. Since we have only traveled on short car trips (four hours or less) with Jake, I don’t think we can drive out of the cold for at least a few more months. I keep trying to put him off by telling him that we’ll go on vacation again when it warms up, but we may break down and head for the mountains for a quick overnight trip.
I hadn’t realized that I only travel to warm places until just recently. I told my boss that I wanted to take off in July to go to Puerto Rico. He asked why I only go to warm places. I started to deny it then remembered Cancun last year and Hawaii the year before.
OK, I like warm places. I love the feel of sun across my face and the sound of waves splashing in the background. Sounds more fun that sloshing through the snow and shivering in my coat and gloves.
I really think bears have the right idea about cold weather. We should just hibernate for the winter months. If it wasn’t for work, I probably would curl up and sleep from November through March. Work is about the only thing that gets me out of the house during this time.
In the spring and summer, I have something planned most weekends. Concerts, day trips with my mom or longer vacations with friends are among the plans. But for now, I can’t even muster up the energy to head to the mall. I would rather be curled up on the couch with a good book, my cat and a warm blanket.
I did go on a 24-hour trip recently but it certainly wasn’t a vacation. A group of Banks County business and political leaders headed to Washington, D.C., to visit with their congressmen to tell them of the needs and concerns of the county. It was a fast-paced trip with us leaving Homer at 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning to head to the airport and arriving back at midnight. During the whirlwind trip, the group met with six congressmen, including Zell Miller, Johnny Isakson and Charlie Norwood.
I was impressed with the group for heading out in the middle of the winter for a day trip to our nation’s chilly capitol. One lady had never flown before and it was the first trip to Washington, D.C., for several in the group. They didn’t get much of a look at the city-only seeing a couple of the monuments from the train as we whizzed by on our way from the airport to the capitol.
Packing a bag for the day (with snacks and books for the plane ride), dealing with the hustle and bustle of the huge airport in Atlanta and catching a glimpse of a few historic sites as we hurried through the capitol did get me to thinking about vacation time. If the weather will just heat up, I’ll be ready to take Jake on “vacation again.” In the mean-time, you can find me on the couch with a mystery book and my cat, Quincy.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.


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Homer, Georgia
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