Go Ahead. Skate on Thin Ice

Meeting for the First Time, All Over Again

There are fewer things in the universe more awkward than the first contact following the first meeting — perhaps after the first kiss — after the first night of the year.

Maybe the look from the late-night pizza guy when you’re about to house a whole Domino’s in your pajamas, but that was in October. Things have changed.

Sexy Ice Skating WomanYou were practically Baby New Year that night, at least from what you can remember. From beyond the lip of your red cup, your newborn courage spied the only other single person worth talking to, and for the rest of the night you performed the semicircle conversation dance until you were elbow-to-elbow with Mr. or Ms. “New-To-Me-This-Year.”

Hands were shaken. Jokes were made. Glances were reciprocated. And then you were lucky enough to escape the New Year’s party with more than a haze from the champagne: a phone number. Ten digits stand between the new you and your first date of the new year. Successful planning stands between you and, well, success.

Perfect planning prevents protracted partnerless periods, as the saying goes.

If I could go back in time and give the 25-year-old me the what for, I would emphasize planning. Back then I was more attractive. I had potential. I had fewer obligations and a functioning sense of adventure. I also prepared less than a junkie.

Your first date must not only combine the sense of who you’d like to be, but also shed any preconceived notions that you’re a one-hit wonder after your first encounter. We’re talking character and depth.

Start your excursion at Dry Dock Brewing (15120 E. Hampden Ave., 303-400-5606) to reapply some of the social lubricant that got you there in the first place. The brewery has some of the best suds on tap yet won’t overwhelm your palate or pocketbook. (Pro tip: Lie and say that you knew Kevin, the owner, way before all these people got here. He’s friendly and may back you up on that claim if he’s actually there.)

When the clock strikes 6:23 p.m. — but don’t look at your watch ferchrissakes — leave and head farther south to the Wine Experience Café (6240 S. Main St. Southlands, 303-690-1025). That gives you 17 minutes of drive time and 20 minutes when you get there to pretend that you actually know something about wine before your 7 p.m. dinner reservations. See what’s emanating from the kitchen before you open your mouth. Chances are the chef’s pick that night is better than your own, but remember: the sea scallops here are safe like muni bonds. (P.S. You can drop coin here. If you’re between paydays, stop at McCabe’s Bistro and Pub (6100 S. Main St., Southlands, 303-627-6234) for gastropub Irish fare — inexpensive, yes; cheap, no.)

Predictably, that brings us to our main event: Ice-skating at Southlands Pond (6100 S. Main St., Southlands, 303-928-7536). At $10 per skater for rentals, it’s cheaper than your dad’s aftershave. It’s also one of the few activities where the less you know, the better off you are. Gliding around like Dorothy Hamill only breeds contempt in your date. If you’re falling around, stumbling like New Year’s night, you’re likely to make good on the notion that you’re attractively vulnerable in certain situations.

After all, the premise of your first date with your New Year’s crush was based on the notion that you were, one, attractive, and available, a close second.

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