Date Knight: Summertime Sadness and the Places to Avoid for Love

Rome Ants, Hard Ache and running from fire work during a date in Denver

Murphy, you sonuvagun.

The American engineer’s eponymous law — that being that if your shoes are untied, you will, indeed, trip — has been the credo of pessimists and the thorn in the side of optimists for, well, ever. And there’s nary a more befitting application of that defeatist, albeit largely accurate, rule than the irksome arena of dating. Be it online or in carne, bungles, blunders and imbroglios between star-crossed Tinder matches are all but guaranteed to transpire, even for the most meticulously planned plus-one proceedings.

In honor of St. Skeptic and his all-encompassing axiom, here’s a quick hit of some favorite Denver-based courtship activities that, though they may seem dreamy in pamphlets and Facebook feeds, really are just empty vessels waiting to be filled with Murphy and his kill-joy karma. It’s not to say that Downtown debauchery isn’t beguiling. But many of the enchantments surrounding these supposedly lovey-dovey activities have been lofted to such helium-filled heights, they could benefit from a realistic ribbing. 

All right, maybe this is just a dig at Denver, and a pat on the back to Sisyphus, er, Aurora, er, whatever, who is constantly trying to push the boulder of coolness up Reputation Hill. No guise of shame here. I just figure someone’s gotta put those damn Denverites in their places and point out the fact that it is really, really friggin’ hot here in the summertime. And trying to woo young fawns or bucks among that insufferable inferno is a far crueler task than shoving a rock up a bump until the end of time — even if it’s in a millennial mecca teeming with pot smoke, startups and Zuckerbergs, or something.

Bickering and frustrated couple

Denver Cruisers

Song to play on the way over: Can it really be anything other than “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash?

What can go wrong: Nothing, other than waving goodbye to the skin on your hands, knees and melon.

Ah, Cruisers: a great way to start a safe, sober-ish evening — said no rider ever. Any event that ends in something called “the circle of death” may not be the best initial step toward the whole happily-ever-after, white picket fence thing. For the uninitiated, Cruisers invites a modest army of costumed hooligans to drunkenly take siege of Downtown Denver very much à la Mad Max. Is it fun? You betchya. Is it a safe, even somewhat romantic way to spend an evening with an established or desired significant other? Sheesh, no. To explain the song choice, the weekly blockade often ends with Cruisers pedaling ferociously in a massive, garbage disposal-esque circle that has been described as, “the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done on a bike.” So yeah, good luck with some “what light through yonder window breaks” after that. Also, you will become sweaty.

First Friday

Song to play on the ride over: “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley

What can go wrong: Just some singed eyebrows.

What’s not to like about free art, occasional free boxed wine and food trucks on food trucks on food trucks? Only the fact that every person in the Front Range thinks this is like the coolest, like, thing, like, ever. With a crowd large enough to make a Rockies game look like a Little League game — to be fair, not the hardest thing to do — many of the city’s First Friday festivities can feel more like elbowing through a bazaar in Marrakesh than an art walk. If you can steal a few moments of privacy in a gallery cranny, goodonya. But, be warned, with the city’s nasty habit of turning on the tornado warning-inducing thunderstorms in the early evening hours, you may be stuck there for a few more ticks than you bargained for. And be wary of those pesky poi aficionados who are a tad generous with the butane on the end of their artistic wands. They are natural predators of peach fuzz and eyebrows alike. Also, you will become sweaty. If a mob scene filled by throngs wanting to know what to say about yet another cool painting of the sun and wondering why they’re not drinking more sounds like fun, you’re going to have problems staying in a relationship anyway, so why bother with this?

Exhausted and tired fitness couple silhouettes at sunset

Kayaking at Confluence Park

Song to play on the way over: “Love Stinks” by J. Geils Band

What can go wrong: Smelling like a moist sock for approximately one week.

Not only might this be illegal given Ms. Nature’s recent aquatic gifts, it really, truly, sincerely isn’t conducive to great impressions. If you really want to see into someone’s soul, put them in a 4-foot-long plastic tub and shove them into a swirly, twirly riptide of murky suds. Their screams and pupil dilation should be revealing enough. Given that a duo of love-struck daredevils makes it through the city’s arterial gauntlet, there is that whole smelling like a skunk living inside of a dumpster inside of a fish hatchery thing to deal with afterward. The hotter the day, the richer the scent. And you can’t imagine what Denver insect life is like in a place filled with heat, humidity, water, sand and sludge. No need to go looking, the ants and flying this will find you. Granted, if either party involved here doesn’t mind the other’s zesty aroma at this stage in the game, head to Zales and lock it down right then and there. And while there are a host of surprises on the South Platte you can encounter on the way to Nebraska, the biggest surprises is what’s upstream from Confluence Park. You don’t wanna know. Did we mention that you will become damp at the hands of many fluids.

Market Street

Song to Play on the way over: Who are you kidding, music is the last thing on your mind at this point. But if you insist, probably a song by Chumbawamba. And by a song, I mean the song.

What can go wrong: Everything.

The inevitable end to any time spent in Downtown Denver after sunset. It’s where dreams of stability, dignity and sobriety all go to drink the overpriced Kool-Aid and die. So when you saunter and/or stumble to this heart of darkness after completing any or all of the aforementioned diversions, either smelling like a wet dog, rubbing the freshly nude skin patch above your eye ball, or licking your physical, circle-of-death-induced wounds, take a peek at the zombie like creatures around you. Was it worth it? That’s for you to decide. But a hint: Probably not. Also, you will become…well you get the picture by now. It is summer, after all.

Maybe I’m a curmudgeon. Maybe I’m a cupid killer. Whatever the spiteful epithet, all I know is that Freon is the nectar of the Gods, and with “Seinfeld” now on Hulu, my couch has never sounded more appealing. Man, these pretzels are makin’ me thirsty.

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