Sunday, August 26, 2007

Residents say singles scene needs help

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Being single is a way of life. Some people like it, some don’t. Saturdays are often lonely, and dinnertime can be an obstacle that must be overcome. Do I eat alone tonight - again? Or is there someone who might want to go with me?
Where you go to meet people “can make or break” the productive single life, according to the local singles the Telegram interviewed last week.
Of the 30 people contacted at random, 19 said it’s no fun being single in Temple.
“It sucks being single in Temple,” said Jackie Morris, 25, as she dined alone at Duckhorn Tavern. “I’ve been single for way too long. There are places to go and things to do here, but there is no variety. All of the community events draw the same kinds of people, either way too old or way too young.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Terry Steele, a single man her age who works as a bartender at Bum’s Sports Bar and Grill.
“Single life, in general, is alright,” Steele said. “You have to get out of Temple to meet anybody, though. I’ve met most of my girlfriends, who are from Temple, mind you, in Austin. I couldn’t meet them here. I had to meet them out of town. There isn’t anything to do in this town that will draw people out.”
The single people who shared the opinions of Miss Morris and Steele were between the ages of 18 and 49.
Most of them offered ideas of what the city could do to improve the local singles scene.
“What I think would help is a bigger city transit service,” said Brian Williamson, a 39-year-old divorced man. “It would be nice for people to go out and have a good time without worrying about driving home drunk or shelling out 20 bucks for a cab.”
Entertainment is something else that could be improved, he said.
“Get a big name in, like Audio Slave,” Williamson said. “Let it be gratis every once in a while. That’ll be what will draw my friends to Temple. Otherwise, I’m going to keep going to Austin and Dallas.”
Miss Morris suggested that Temple implement a community play day.
“How great would that be? A day when everyone could come out and just play and be goofy,” Miss Morris said. “It would be something that wouldn’t attract such a limited audience.”
Additional community events are something else Miss Morris said would improve single life in Temple.
“The Blooming Fest - that was great,” Miss Morris said. “But it only happens once a year. There should be more things like that.”
Relocated from Tempe, Fla., Patrice Monigan, 32, is in a relationship now, but she said she very much understands how “hard single people have it in Temple.”
“There’s no place here that’s good for romance,” Miss Monigan said. “There’s no place to go where people dress up. Denim and tennis shoes are acceptable everywhere.”
Entertainment, in Miss Monigan’s opinion, is sorely lacking in Temple.
“I’d like some jazz,” Miss Monigan said. “Or something contemporary. People like to go out to eat and drink. They don’t want to sit there and listen to music by people who are dead.”
Keith Thomas has been married for five years, but he lived 25 years of single life in Temple.
“The town isn’t geared for singles,” Thomas said. “There aren’t things to do. Not for young black men. The community events aren’t things we want to do.
As an example, he said, “I don’t want to square dance.”
“Why not get an arcade room or a YMCA that will have sport-focused teams for adults, something that will help people between the ages of 18 and 50 get acquainted,” Thomas suggested. “And I’m not talking just about dating. I’m talking about meeting people, period.”
Steele seconded Thomas’ motion for adult co-ed leagues.
“Having teams for young adults would be an awesome way to meet people,” Steele said. “But this town doesn’t have anything like that.
As it is, both Steele and Thomas go out of town for baseball tournaments.
“But I’d love to give those other guys from Dallas a reason to come to Temple,” Thomas said.
Richard Mayer, a single man in his mid-20s, suggested a city-sponsored round of speed dating.
“Invite all the single people out and give them five to 10 minutes to talk each other, have the buzzer go off and then switch,” Mayer said. “That would be awesome. Worth a try anyway.”


It’s hopeless
Some of the single people who said single life in Temple wasn’t fun didn’t have any suggestions on how it could be improved.
Ken McNear, a 35-year-old single man off of a nine-year serious relationship, is one of them. For him, it seems there is no hope.
“There are no females in this town,” McNear said. “The male-to-female ratio in this town is way off. Every semi-attractive female in this town already has a circle of guys around her, competing for her.”
Shawn McMahon, 28, echoed McNear’s troubles in locating “available women.” Coincidentally, the Telegram also had a difficult time in finding single women to interview.
“The hardest thing is to find a woman with no children,” McMahon said. “Not a lot of men can handle a pre-made family. It seems like 80 percent of the women here already have kids.”


It’s OK
Two of the 30 people interviewed said single life in Temple “is no big deal.”
“I just come out and hang out. I go play pool, I go to the movies, go out to eat and hang out at my friends’ houses,” said Emmanuel Perez, 19.
Michael Meyer, a divorced man over the age of 40, said he doesn’t worry about being single.
“I have such a good time myself, that I crack myself up,” Meyer said. “If meeting someone is meant to be, fine, if it’s not meant to be, fine. It’s not like every time I go out, I’m looking for a woman. What happens happens.”
His advice for younger single people was cryptic.
“Don’t expect too much,” Meyer said. “But at the same time, expect it all.”
The rest of the 30 people said single life in Temple is great. Each person in this sect of respondents was 50 and older.
“I don’t have any trouble getting out and meeting people,” said C.J. Craft, 69. He was enjoying a senior’s dance at the Sammons Community Center on Aug. 23.
Craft said the Temple-Belton community offers a good variety of trips, dances and dinners for people his age to enjoy.


Singles find solace in groups
Several local churches in Temple offer singles ministries.
Kelly Brooks, 33, said she’s found a nice group of friends with the singles group at Temple Bible Church.
“We’re a good group of friends. We have similar beliefs, of course,” Miss Brooks said, referring to religion. “But we’ve got a lot of other interests.”
She said there have been times when movies and restaurants get old.
“So it was nice to have that group. We could go to each others’ houses and hang out,” Miss Brooks said. “There have been a couple of times where we’d get on a SkipBo kick or a Phase 10 kick and just play and play. Things like that are fun.”
Over the years and through the grief of losing loved ones, Miss Brook said her singles group has become more like a family.
“We can count on each other for support,” Miss Brooks said. “Most of my family lives in Colorado, so there have been times when I’d spend Thanksgiving with them even. We’ve have the opportunity to grow close.”
The Texas Association of Single Adults has local branches in Temple, Waco, Harker Heights and Mexia.
“Most of us don’t come to TASA events for the express purpose of finding someone to date,” said the president of the Temple chapter, Patricia Pickett, at the group’s July meeting. “If that happens great. We’re more about making friends.”
She said the TASA dances that take place the first and third Saturdays of each month at Bo’s Barn in Salado draw a crowd of more than 100 people.
“They are usually 35 and older,” Ms. Pickett said.
Tickets to those dances are $5 per person. Information about the group is available by writing to P.O. Box 1364, Temple TX 76503.
The members of the TASA club that meet in Temple on a monthly basis for fellowship are 50 and older.
“Our main activity is dancing. When we’re not dancing, we’re talking about dancing,” said Frank Sodek, the group flirt. “I love dancing with good looking ladies. But then again, I’m so old and ugly, I’ll gladly dance with anybody who will let me.”
But beware, ladies. Sodek does have a girlfriend.
“But she doesn’t stop me from dancing,” Sodek said.

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