Recently, I wrote an article about being single and feeling fabulous about it. The response was enormous and the comments were enlightening!

Here’s the yin to that yang. I’m happy in my single life but sometimes I wonder who’s out there? Is there a nice guy for me somewhere? Might be nice to have a companion to do things occasionally.

So here’s what I did in case you want to try dipping your toes into the social pool without resorting to online dating.

But first, a note. I wrote the title as “How a single older woman can meet 150 new men in 3 hours” and my millennial daughter pointed out to me that my title was ignoring LGBTQ members of Sixty and Me, and that I should be more inclusive. And she is right!

Maybe you are a woman wanting to meet women. So, now it’s titled “How a single older woman can meet 150 new people in three hours.” You can change the pronouns to fit your gender identity.

“Only Connect,” said E. M. Forester

My friend Judy has a charity event each year at the beach. It is to raise money for her education program which benefits the children of a fishing village. It’s called Full Moon Jazz and is held on a full moon day/night in the winter when all the snowbirds are in Tropica enjoying the warm weather.

It’s a favorite event of couples who buy a table, or groups of friends who buy a table together. They let afternoon slip into evening as they drink, dance and buy raffle tickets.

When she asked me to buy a ticket, I didn’t want to disappoint her, but the fact was, I didn’t have any friends who were going to the event this year and I didn’t want to be wandering around and feeling like an ugly duckling. As she’s a good friend, I didn’t want to disappoint her.

I told her I’d buy a ticket to the event to support her charity, but that I probably wouldn’t go. She thought and said, “Why don’t you volunteer?”

Of course! I thought. It’s a great way to be at an event, and not have to deal with the social rules of it. She gave me a list of volunteer jobs and I immediately knew which one I’d do – bartender. It was a cash bar and they needed hearty souls to keep pace with the evening.

I read up on my bar making skills, put on my official event t-shirt and reported to the bar. I had a blast dancing to music behind the bar, enjoyed the camaraderie of my fellow bar tending volunteers and what’s more, in the space of the three hours I was on duty, 150 people came up to me and asked for drinks.

While I made rum and Cokes, vodka tonics and margaritas, we chatted. I got to see who’s out there and do a little flirting if I wanted to. It was a great evening.

I was up for this event, my friends, I truly was. But I can report, at the end of the evening, my eyebrows hadn’t raised even once. I hadn’t felt any rush, any hmmm…he looks interesting. That’s how hard it is to date and to connect with a kindred soul.

But I didn’t feel disheartened. I felt good. I often accuse myself of being a hermit, of not “getting out there” and seeing who’s available. Participating in this event was a triple win. First, I had the feel good factor of contributing my time to a charity that made a big difference in the lives of young people.

Second, I had the feel good factor of having a great time and working with nice people who became new friends. And finally, I was able to confirm that finding a date, much less a soul mate, is as hard as it always was. And now, when I do stay home on a Saturday night, I don’t torture myself with hmm…maybe I should be “out there.” I had been “out there” and could now say that I was probably missing nothing.

Don’t tell me I’m picky, that certainly there must have been one guy in the dozens who bought drinks from me. Reality check: First there are the married men. They’re out. Then there are the gay men. They’re out. That’s a lot of men right there. The rest? We’re unappealing in different ways, but looks aside, I didn’t feel a spark, a zhuzh, a rush.

A Free, Nonthreatening Form of Speed Dating

Undaunted I took on the next challenge. The next event was the Library’s annual Chili Cook Off. The previous year I attended the event and realized that the people who were having the best time were the chili cook contestants. So, I volunteered to cook a pot of chili.

To stand out even more in a crowd of traditional meaty chilies, I made a vegetarian chili and named it, “Meaty vegetarian chili” made with black beans, dark beer and roasted poblano chilies. I made a colorful, peppy sign and took my pot to the event. I put on my official Chili Cook Off apron and took my place with all the chefs.

I had a blast serving little tasting cups of chili garnished with sour cream and taco chips to everyone who wanted to know how a vegetarian chili could be meaty (it’s the roasted poblanos) Once again, I had a great time, I helped a cause, and I got to see who’s out there.

This is not rocket science. What I am doing is a free, nonthreatening version of speed dating. I was thrilled that I realized how easy it is to meet new people.

Third time out, I took myself off to a charity polo event. This time, I did go as a guest. I made a hat for the hat contest, and when my name was called, I stood up to circle the enclosure to all the good cheer.  It was a hoot and a howl and I mingled with lots of people.

I wish I could give you a fairytale ending and say I met a wonderful someone. But I haven’t. And while I could be sad, I’m not. I’m “out there” and having a good time. And that’s a lot. In fact, that’s everything.

Do you have any creative tips on how to meet more people? Have you met someone at an event that you felt was interested in you? Perhaps you met the man of your dreams! We’d love to know!   

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