It’s DATING WEEK here at In the Present Tense.

While there will be additional posts this week that touch on other subjects, at least one a day will be devoted to stories, subjects, and concerns I have being a single man in his mid to late twenties. While providing a glimpse into my mind (a frightening prospect the say the least), it’s my hope that this will also spark discussion amongst our single friends.

A special thanks to friends (and hopefully readers) Adam and Paul, with whom I had the conversations that became the impetus behind most – if not all – of the subjects we’ll be touching upon this week.


Against all advice and logic to the contrary, many people I know still try to (or do) pick up potential mates at bars. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat around with friends at a bar, talked about how bad it is to pick up women or men at a bar, then proceeded to try to pick up a pretty woman or handsome dude at that very same bar.

These two look so happy, but they're obviously not having a conversation.

The conversation came up again at Oh Bar while I was half-jokingly conveying my lack of success with hitting on women at that particular establishment. And yes, straight women; I know enough to not bother knocking on the door when all the lights in the house are out. I don’t know whether it’s the company straight women arrive with, their intentions (or lack thereof) in entering a gay establishment, or the overwhelming gaggle of gay and straight wingmen I have with me every time I’m there. But for whatever reason, I always strike out at gay bars.

I realized as soon as I wrote that last line that it was going to get quoted out of context. I can only repeat a line from “The Office” wedding episode that people have suggested I adopt as my own introductory phrase: “I’m not gay, I’m Kevin.”

Anyway, as we were discussing my ridiculous notion of getting lucky at a gay bar and running free with the jokes that write themselves, talk turned to what a bad idea it was to try to pick someone up at a bar and how we end up doing it anyway. I mean, really, at our age (mid to late twenties) we should know better.

But romantic inclinations are a tricky thing. Anyone who’s ever had anything resembling a true friend can tell you the frustration in getting and/or receiving sound, logical, heartfelt advice that is taken to heart and rarely put into practice. It’s easy for me to sit here and say that I know not to try to find my future wife at a bar, but it’s a different story when I make eye contact with a big-eyed brunette with a raspy voice, infectious laugh and engaging personality.

So why is it such a bad idea to try to pick up a man or a woman at a bar?

Well, firstly, there’s the more serious ramifications: things like health and safety concerns, which for the sake of maintaining a lighter mood I won’t get into. Let’s just say one has to exercise a bit more caution when trying to pick up a potential mate at what is often times a glorified meat market.

Then there’s the influence the alcohol and atmosphere can have on a person’s decision-making. You don’t have to be drunk or even have a strong buzz to have your hormones affected by the volume and tone conversations, music, or the excitement of having so many people around. It can stir something in you that leads you to put more emphasis on physical desires and immediate gratification rather than things like long-term compatibility. Even if don’t drink much – or like me don’t drink alcohol at all – you’re apt to encounter someone who is going to express far more interest at the moment than they would the next day.

Another potential minefield? When you make eyes with someone across the room for an extended period of time. You’ll do it once and write it off as a furtive glance. Then it’ll happen again, and a third time, and the anticipation will start to build as you discuss with your friends whether or not you’re going to approach her or how you should go about it. Then, with all that build-up, you finally talk to her and she’s an idiot. Now you’re trapped and need to find an out that isn’t super awkward or insulting. Unfortunately, they already know your name and are finding you on Facespace of Myyearbook or Friendster or whatever all the kids are using these days.

As stated previously, I don’t drink. But when socializing with people in my age bracket, we invariably end up at a drinking establishment. I know a lot of people my age that work under the false assumption that the only thing to do in this area is go out to a bar. It’s not entirely true and a view I chalk up to laziness and lack of creativity, but it’s still an idea that’s prevalent and needs to be eradicated if we’re ever to rid ourselves of the awkward interactions that occur with potential mates drinking out of a pint glass they assume was washed thoroughly.

I could point people in the right direction, but I’d rather have you guys do it. Besides, we can get a grander scope from the readership than from yours truly. So please, share your experience and wisdom. What do you guys do on a Friday or Saturday night that doesn’t involve hitting up a bar in Albany? Where do you find is a good place to meet men and women (not online – that’s another future installment)?

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18 Responses to Dating Week: Kevin Marshall Strikes Out at a Gay Bar

  1. Ellie says:

    I absolutely love to dance. Sadly most places to dance are bars or clubs of a sort that sells beer. Actually, when dancing I rarely drink. There’s too much excitement in the dancing and I’d rather not get dehydrated. So I may pound waters or soda, but rarely a spirited beverage. (Sometimes if the day’s been long, I might have a beer or glass of wine while the dance floor fills up.)

    There are swing lessons and all sorts of other dances too. They get a bit pricey though – I’m not a fan of spending $20 to get into a VFW.

    The thing about places with dancing is that if conversation gets bad, you can just go out on the dance floor and avoid further interaction.Another place is gallery openings. I’ve met a great deal of wonderful people at First Friday.

    Unfortunately for me if a man or woman is attracted to me, he or she is crazy. Inevitably if you’re single at 30 there is some defect in your personality that renders you undatable to me. I would rant further, but that’s off topic.

  2. Slacker says:

    “I’m not gay, I’m Kevin”

    Now THAT should have been the title of your TU blog!

  3. Amanda Talar says:

    When the warmer weather comes…

    Out walking around
    Hiking groups
    Maybe having a libation on a patio someplace. (technically, not IN a bar :) )


  4. Erin Morelli says:

    I stage managed a short play a few years ago called “The Line That’s Picked Up 1000 Babes (And How It Can Work For You)” that discuss a lot of these sort of topics. It’s a comedy, but it brings up some good points.

    As for alternatives to the bar scene, I’m a big fan of shows, concerts, etc. If you go with one or two people to watch a couple of bands play somewhere you inevitably end up meeting interesting people with whom you already have this sort of music in common with. I’m also always a fan of things like mini golf and bowling, especially when there are tournaments or special events; another good place to mingle without the bar. In general though, I don’t ever consciously think to myself “oh, it’s Friday night where can I go to meet guys”. I think about going out and having a fun time to relax after the week. If you over-think these things, I feel like it’s only going to make it more difficult and inevitably result in further disappointment when you don’t find someone because you set restrictions on yourself.

    Just my 2 cents :)

  5. RCG says:

    I agree w/ Slacker, next writers block, go there…

  6. Ski says:

    (Looking forward to the online dating article)

    Judging from Craigslist’s Missed Connections/Disney’s 101 Dalmations, get a dog and walk with it in Washington Park. Let the pups play. Just don’t be a weenie and ask for his/her number on Craigslist.

  7. Adrienne says:

    Well Kevin, as you know I met my husband and father of my child at the Ruck!! Granted I wasn’t looking for a long term mate at the time and we did not start from a one night stand but slowly became friends and so on… BUT never say never!

    Prior to having a baby in the nicer weather I have been a fan of mini golf, movies and BBQing at friends houses… However, I agree, seems like most people just want to go to a bar and aside from that don’t put themselves out there. I have some eternally single friends who don’t seem to see this pattern and continue to try without success… haha

  8. Adrienne – your situation was slightly different. You two met and became friends through the bar and mutual acquaintances, then it developed into something. You guys didn’t meet on the pretense of “hookin’ up” as the kids say.

  9. Em says:

    I like to lay face-down in the middle of Central Avenue

  10. Eileen in Selkirk says:

    I have to say Kevin I don’t know why you are striking out. With your looks and uhhhhh dance moves, you should be a hit. You are a natural sex symbol after all.

    Why don’t you hang out at places like the grocery store-at night…many of love match in the produce aisle or the laundromat. Better yet let me or one of your sisters set you up with a nice date? Actually you are better off in the produce aisle. lol.

    Keep blogging cous, I’m enjoying hearing about our Irish history.

  11. OCULUS says:

    Huh? You went to a gay bar to see what would happen? How about when you take Viagra?

    Not unlike the medicine, “gays” need some honest stimulation to matriculate.

    On the broader subject, you may want to consider places where you’ll meet people with similar beliefs or interests–that is the “first cut” is already done by being there. Churches and political party clubs used to play that role; now, interest clubs (as in hiking, skiing, photography, etc.) still do. It offers a chance for easy, casual, MUTUAL conversation on something more interesting than your birth sign.

    To return to your orignal theme, a further subset of related activities might be more gay-populated activties like the arts, theater, antiques, etc. But whatever you choose, make it one to which YOU can bring something to the table. And then, once there, try to avoid alluring lines like “I’m not an artist/thesbian/antiquarian; I’m Kevin.”

    You might even be accepted.

  12. Jen says:

    the library! I’m telling you there are single ladies at the library waiting for the right guy. I was not a single lady but I got hit on a few times when I worked at the library. You can tell what kind of person is by the books they are looking at (or if they are just there for the DVDs). Go to the library!

  13. 11 – “Huh? You went to a gay bar to see what would happen? ”

    Nope, I went to a gay bar because that’s where my friends were going.

  14. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will confirm that I am indeed a superstar at the gay bar.

  15. Tim O'Leary says:

    It’s true. I was there and was witness to the fact that Kevin is, indeed, a superstar.

  16. Chris says:

    All I can say is that I’m absolutely the wrong person to give anyone advice about picking up women in bars or anywhere else, or what to do if you’ve actually succeeded. You might as well ask Morrissey.

  17. Jen83004 says:

    I completely agree with you–that it’s difficult and possibly silly to find others at a bar, but you are right…when we get with our friends, we all think, hey maybe…

    As far as where to go to meet other singles, I am having this same problem. My girl friends and I have done happy hour, but no such luck. And if we stay out any later, we find the college kids who are not at all the type we are looking for…

    I think when the weather gets warmer, more people will be out and about…that being said, I want to see what others think about the hot spots in Albany.

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