52 thrill-seeking, toe-tingling, laugh-a-minute, meltdown, sexy, swingin’

What makes a date great? Your companion is key. And we can’t help with that. (In fact, some dates are about having fun in spite of your companion.) But whether you’re married or meeting for the first time, what you do together defines your relationship.

The classic first date used to be dinner and a movie. These days, that’s too much of a commitment. Professional dating services advise, “Just do lunch” to avoid “wasting time” on incompatibles. Now, an accepted first date is meeting for a cup of coffee. No wonder there’s a Starbucks on almost every corner.

What’s next-drive-through dating? We suggest you put a little more creativity into your courtship. Who knows? Those dancing lessons you’ve been talking about for 15 years might make Mr. Honey-do seem like Prince Charming. If you can’t have fun together exploring the following suggestions, better call a counselor.

sexy surroundings

Okay, maybe you’re just getting to know each other, but things look promising, and it’s lime to test for romance. Or maybe you know each other too well: Every relationship needs a romantic spark now and then.

1. DAYS OF WINE... There’s a lot of romance at the bottom of a bottle of wine. Grapevine has grown into its name and become the wine center of Texas, with four vineyards featuring tours and tasting rooms. Learn about wine-making at the “Falconhead Experience” at Delaney Winery, then sample the wines while strolling the grounds. La Buena Vida Vineyards’ winery, in Grapevine’s Historic District, is a charming limestone building surrounded by native Texas gardens, fountains, and herb gardens. No need for a designated driver- buy a bottle and walk to dinner past the quaint shops lining Main Street for home cooking at Charlie’s Cafe. Delaney Winery 817-481 -5668; La Buena Vida Vineyards 817481 -9463; Charlies Cafe 817421-6256.

2. AND ROSES. In June, it seems there’s a bride beside every bush at the Arboretum. No wonder: The 66-acre garden, designed for color in all four seasons, is naturally romantic. Stop by Eatzi’s on Oak Lawn and pick up a picnic dinner, then take in a”Cool Thursday” summer concert (music ranges from the Light Crust Doughboys to Eddie Coker). Lounge amid azaleas during springtime’s Dallas Blooms; enjoy the mums on a cool fall day. If your relationship lasts through four seasons, the Arboretum will prearrange a blanket and iced champagne for a surprise engagement. Dallas Arboretum 214 -327-8263; Eatzi’s 214-526-1515.

3 LA SERENADE. Nothing’s more romantic than Venice, right? Fake it at Las Colinas. Step into a cushioned, canopy-covered boat with quiet electric motors and glide through 125 acres of canals. You don’t need to sing; just bring a tape of The Three Tenors-the boats are equipped with stereo cassette players. It’s just like the real Venice, without the jet lag and pigeons. After sunset, dine on the Italian specialties (especially the Bistecca all’ Ortolana) in the wine room ai Cafe Cipriani. Then walk along the twinkle-lit canals to the piano bar at the Omni Mandalay overlooking the lake. Who knows? By the time you’ve finished your second grappa, you may decide to get a room for the night. Las Colinas Water Taxi 972-869-4321; Cafe Cipriani 972-869-0713; Omni Mandalay 972-556-0800.

4 HORSING AROUND. We don’t know why a man, a woman, and a horse are such a romantic combination, but a thousand TV shows end with the beautiful girl swept up onto a horse by her rescuer and riding away into the sunset. See if it works for you: At Texas Hoedown (at Timber Creek Ranch near Glen Rose), they will load your saddlebag with iced champagne and lead you on a ride through woods and running creeks, then leave you alone for a romantic sunset picnic under a canopy of oak trees at Hidden Blue Bonnet Lake. The rest is up to you. (Don’t worry about saddlesores-they’ll come pick you up in a Jeep.) Texas Hoedown 254-364-2676.

5 MORNING CALL. Not all dales end with a goodnight kiss. Pack a picnic breakfast for two from La Madeleine and watch the sun come up from Flagpole Hill, on the north side of White Rock Lake.

6 MONKEY AROUND. The Dallas World Aquarium isn’t just fish tanks- it’s an indoor jungle, with paths looping around tropical trees, birds flying overhead, and monkeys (really) swinging from the vines. You Tarzan, she Jane. Return to civilization with dinner at Fish, just a short walk from the jungle. Dallas World Aquarium 214-720-2224; Fish 214-747-3474.

7 FANTASY SPREE. Pretend you need spare no expense: Put on your high heels and have brunch at the Mansion (it’s cheaper than dinner), then go to Park Place Motorcars and test-drive that red Porsche 911. Stop by Bifano Furs and see whether Black-glama becomes you most. Too politically incorrect? Then head out to the Galleria and try on a diamond necklace at Tiffany. A very Holly Golightly kind of day. Park Place Motorcars on Oak Lawn 214-559-4222; Bifano Furs 214-871-11U; Tiffany 972-458-2800; The Mansion on Turtle Creek 214-559-2100.

8 ROLLING ON THE RIVER. Moonlight and water equals time-tested, romantic ambiance, but the only place to find it with a view of the Dallas skyline is on the Texas Riverboat Queen, an authentic dou-bledeck paddlewheeler. at Lake Ray Hubbard. Join in solving the Murder Mystery “Who Dunit” performance; take a gamble on the casino cruises, or dance the night away to the rhythm you like best. Call for a schedule. Dinner could be Cajun, prime rib, or Italian, but you bring your own beverage. Texas Riverboat Queen 972-771-0039.

9 REMINISCE. If you and your date are both from Dallas, go to a football game at each other’s high schools. Sit in the stands and share your teenage memories (how revealing to know he was voted “Most Likely to Succeed”!). Stop by Gordo’s on Greenville for post-game pizza and beer. Who knows? You may end the evening making out in the car. Gordo’s 214-824-3333.

10 FLY AWAY. Think of the last scene of Casablanca–an airport can be a very romantic place. Pick up some travel brochures and drive out to DFW for a few hours of make-believe. Get a barbecue sandwich from Dickey’s (DFW has great airport food), then sit close together and do some people-watching while you lick your gelato cone from Bacio, The best terminal is Terminal 2E (as in Edward), where La Bodega Winery has the unique distinction of being the first winery and tasting room located in a major airport. Here’s to fantasy becoming reality. La Bodega Winery 817-574-1440.

share adare

Conversation is the quicksand of dating- but you can experience an awkward silence in any relationship. That’s why it helps to plan an activity: You can always ask for help with your golf swing, make small talk about [he mating habits of woodpeckers, or get your date to bail your hook. And face it, if you’re skydiving, the strong, silent type is just fine.

11 ROLL IN THE DARK. Dim lighting has long been a key component of the successful date, but midnight bowling makes novel use of the age-old idea of black lights. In X-Treme Bowling, pins and balls, not to mention your clothes and teeth (don’t forget to brush) glow in the dark like a ’60s nightclub. Loud rock music and fog machines further obscure the ambiance. Wear white, and don’t worry about making a strike. Fun Fest in Addison: Friday nights from midnight to 2 a.m. 972-620-7700.

12 GOING DOWN. We’re not even going to use the line about falling for each other. We’ll just say that if you want to share a heart-stopping experience, try skydiving. Jump one after the other, if you’re not really committed to each other yet. One of you can watch the other step out of the plane (connected by a harness to an instructor), free fall till the chute opens, and float five minutes down to earth. If you go out for the last jump, just before sunset, you can bring a bottle of wine and toast your courage at a post-jump picnic on the observation deck. In case you can’t believe you actually did it, they give you a video. Skydive Dallas 972-25/-5093.

13 SEEING STARS. Up close and per-sonal with the Dallas Stars is a thrilling-ly vicarious experience. Press your nose against the glass at an open-to-the-public Stars practice at StarCenter in Valley Ranch. When the puck smacks the glass in front of you, you’ll have more respect (or disrespect) for the goalie. (In hockey-speak, watch him lake a zinger to the melon.) After watching the greats, you can rent skates and practice your moves on the public rink. Post-practice, you can usually catch some of the Stars carbo-loading on health conscious dishes at Fresh N Lite. StarCenter in Valley Ranch 2J4-GO-STARS; Fresh N Lite 972401-1811.

14 THIS IS A TEST. Relationships are always competitive on some level- for one thing, you’ve got to know if someone ’s a sore loser. Or keeps score. Or cheats. And nothing tests a person’s patience like golf. Match the level of your relationship with the level of play: Start with miniature golf. (It’s okay to fool around and be silly- it’s just a game, right?) Progress to the 9-hole par three at The Practice Tee in Richardson. And you’ll learn more about your projected partner in 18 holes of regulation play than you would by dating them for 18 months. Does she count her strokes correctly? Does he improve his lie? The Practice Tee 972-235-6540.

15 WINNER TAKES ALL. Dating s a gamble-but even if your date’s a loser, you can win at Lone Star Park. You don’t have to know anything about horses; just bet on the jockey with the prettiest silks or the horse with the longest tail. Depending on how your luck runs, get a club box and eat upstairs at the upscale Silk’s, or settle for beer and nachos from a concession stand with the other losers in the cheap seats. Lone Star Park 972-263-7223.

16 A WALK IN THE DARK. Hold hands-and flashlights-on a romantic nighttime hike. Just 25 minutes from downtown Dallas are 630 acres of hills and woods with more than seven miles of hiking trails, where nocturnal animals’ eyes glow from the bushes. They might be something wilder than raccoons and possums-better cuddle up. Dallas Nature Center at Mountain Creek Parkway 972-296-1955.

17GETTING HOOKED. To fish is to philosophize. Get to know each other deeply while you wait for the cork to bob. If the fish aren’t biting, you can take a hike. Together. You don’t need a license to fish, but it’s BYOW-bring your own worms. Samuel! Farm 214-670-8551.

18 SKY HIGH. For Evel Knievel couples, power parachuting is daredevil dating. Imagine a go-cart with a parachute attached to the rear, looking like a retro-tech machine from an old James Bond movie. Future Flight Inc. (in ftinceton,anhournortheastofDaHas)offerspre-flight lessons; then it’s out to the runway, where you fly high over Lake Lavon. Dallas-Future Flight Inc. 972-756-6000.

19 BICYCLES FOR TWO. Strap on your water bottles, rent a couple of bicycles from Jack Johnson’s {or try a tandem if you’re feeling simpatico), and go for a 10-mile spin around White Rock Lake. Pack some bread, take a break, and feed the ducks. Finish the day with burgers and beer at the White Rock Yacht Club. Jack Johnson’s 214-328-5238; White Rock Yacht Club 214-328-3866.

20 LOVE. BIRDS. On the other hand, you may prefer a slower approach to doing White Rock. Get up early, pack your binoculars, a thermos of coffee, and a good guide, and go bird-watching. Start at the north end of the lake, past the parking lot off Mockingbird, and walk east. Depending on the season, you’ll see empids, wood ducks, egrets, and phalaropes. Then drive around to the Garland Road side and have breakfast {including the famous beer biscuits) at Barbec’s, lingering over coffee while you try to determine the difference between a least and a yellow-bellied flycatcher. Barbec’s 214-321-5597.

21 LOVE IS BUT A GAME. It’s overrun with teenagers until 10 p.m.; then the grown-ups take over at Game Works, a 34,000-square-foot environment designed by Steven Spielberg, the king of escape and adventure. Filled with state-of-the art interactive games, the place has a roving DJ who coaches and encourages competition between couples. The main attraction is Vertical Reality: Strapped into a seat, you combat criminals in a blazing skyscraper, ascending up to 24 feet when you succeed, descending in a free fall when you get hit. (Sounds like good training ground for a relationship.) After ridding the world of evil, relax in The Loft, a full service bar serving gourmet pizzas. Grapevine Mills 972-539-6757.


22 JITTERBUG. Get into the swing of things-lamp post, ace in the hole, dipping, diving, aerials, and sugar push: If you can’t do it, she’ll find someone who can. The town’s gone crazy for swing dancing. Every Thursday, Red Jacket offers free lessons, along with music from swing king Johnny Reno. The Sand Castle Swing Lounge and Casino (all swing all the time) offers free lessons Wednesday through Saturday. The Sons of Hermann Hall has Swing Night on Wednesdays, with lessons from 9-10 and music till midnight-all for only $5. The Red Jacket 214-823-8333; The Sand Castle Swing Lounge and Casino 214-956-8282 ; Sons of Hermann Hall 214- 747-4422.

23 WILLST DU TANZEN? The Dallas International Folk Dancers teach you to dance in every language. Every Wednesday night, learn folk dances from around the world-Sweden, Zimbabwe, Israeli circle dances, and Slavic line dancing. That’s right. Slavic line dancing. How hot adateis that?Dallas International Folk Darners 972-867-5858.

24 FRED & GINGER. Yean, you can go out fishing in a river or a creek, but you won’t enjoy it half as much as dancing cheek to cheek. Big Band Dancing at Sambuca in Addison. 972-385-8455.

25 GRAND PROMENADE. Scoot and Dodge and Flip the Hourglass. Allemande Left and Do-Si-Do-the great thing about square-dancing lessons is you don’t have to dance just with the one who brung you. Caller Doug Bennett keeps your boots scooting, whether you’re a pro or beginner. Global Hall Square 214-340-9410.

26 WALTZING MATILDA. It’s a little like Cotillion-but you can leave the white gloves at home. Study up at Arthur Murray’s ballroom dancing (they also teach Latin and swing), and when you feel like you’re ready, debut your steps Friday and Saturday nights on the Mansion dance floor. Arthur Murray’s 214-987-9977; The Mansion 214-559-2100.

27 REUVE RIO. Do the samba and the rumba, and if you’re the kind of girl with a passionate persuasion for dancing (and romancing), 1 Dance 2 teaches tango and cha cha. No need to spike the punch-it’s BYOB. If you don’t know-and don 1 want to know- the steps, every Sunday is Latin Salsa night at Monica’s in Deep Ellum, and it’s a great place to watch those who do like to step out. I Dance 2 214-352-5296; Monica’s 214-748-7140.

the dinner date

Dining is a lot like dating: You’ll never know what you like until you try it. And sometimes, the things that don’t look good turn out to be wonderful. Turn the metaphor into real life: Go on an adventure dinner. Pick a cuisine neither of you have experienced before and go for it, ordering the weirdest things on the menu. One daring experience leads to another.

28 HAI, HAI, HAI! When was the last time you went to a robata bar or drank a sakatini? Tei Tei on Henderson is small and lovely, and it serves some of the strangest and most exotic food in town: kinki snapper and kobe beef-the world’s most expensive beer-fed, sake-massaged meat. There’s also a great selection of sakes. Tei Tei 214-828-2400.

29 MAGIC CARPET RIDE. Ararat in Deep Ellum is a sensurround restaurant-incense bums by the door, and there are Persian carpets on the floors and the walls. For the full effect, request one of the back tables, where you sit on kilim-covered pillows while exploring Kurdish, Persian, and Turkish specialties. Don’t be intimated by ordering Urfa Tavak Stew-it’s a simple pot of chicken, walnuts, and mixed vegetables with a funny name. Ararat 214-744-1555.

30 CHINESE MYSTERY. Garland has a whole Chinese neighborhood of authentic oriental restaurants. Do the dim sum brunch at Arc-En-Ciel, or play Truth or Dare with the menu at Tong’s House. The truth? Or cold cattle stomach? You decide. Prudes can stick with something safe like dan-dan noodles. Arc-En-Ciel 972-272-2188; Tong’s House 972-231-8858.

dinner and movie

Dinner and a movie-the classic Dallas date. It’s the obvious option, and the least imaginative. You spend two hours in parallel silence, and if you’re lucky (depends on the movie), you’ll have something to talk about over dinner. Next time, why not offer a surprise answer to the old question, “How about dinner and a movie?”

31 DINNER: Bring in deli sandwiches. MOVIE: When Harry Met Sally…. Whether you recreate that famous scene is entirely up to you.

32 DINNER:Boilapotofwater.killsome lobsters. MOVIE: Annie Hall. Conquering the critters should prepare you for going to Thanksgiving dinner to meet her family. La De Da.

33 DINNER: Kevin Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches MOVIE: Footloose. Kick off your Sunday shoes as Kevin seduces the rebellious preacher’s daughter with his sinful rock music and dancing. Can you follow his lead?

34 DINNER: Chicken mole, tequila, and J^TPetlos de Rosa (the rose petal-inspired dessert) at La Valentina (972-726-0202). MOVIE: Like Water for Chocolate. You can go home and light a bunch of candles, but we take no responsibility for the consequences.

35 DINNER: Mi Piaci (972-934-8424). MOVIE: Big Night. Louis Prima will never show, but that’s okay-you can put on seamed silk stockings and dance to the nostalgic soundtrack.

36 THE TWO-FER. No wonder the Granada is expanding-it’s one-stop, no-brainer dating. The reliable Granada Movie Grill Theater makes it easy by providing the show, the meals, and the beer. The new location in Addison has romantic luxury boxes for a private viewing and dinner. (You can even watch the Cowboys games on Sunday, but we don’t recommend that for a first date or an anniversary.) Granada Movie Grill (Greenville) 214-823-9610; Granada Pre-stomood 972-991-6684.

intellectual pleasures

Face it-when you’re just starting to date, you need subjects to stimulate conversation, if you’re married, you need topics to divert you from your regular conversation. Either way. all you need is a starting point-something besides whether you would have liked each other in high school, what sorority you were in, or whose turn it is to pick up the kids from soccer practice.

37 YOU OUGHTA BE IN MOVIES. The new, interactive Blue Screen Show at the Movie Studios at Las Colinas allows you to see yourself in the movies. Watch your date (or a reasonable facsimile of your date) doing her best Helen Hunt imitation by dodging twisters or outrunning an erupting volcano. Or go together where no man has gone before: in the Starship Adventure on an original Star Trek set. After you have battled Klingons, head for the final frontier at Via Real for far-out Mexican food and margaritas that produce their own special effects. Movie Studios at Las Calinas 972-869-FILM; Via Real 972 -255-0064.

38 HOME FREE. Nothing says more about people than their homes. Find out everything you need to know about your date by touring open houses. (Who would have predicted he’d prefer the house with the flocked wallpaper and the mirrored bedroom? Maybe you are busy next Saturday.) Tour tract homes and million-dollar mansions, and check out the Queen Anne Victorian mansion of the Wilson Historic District, where you’ll see how the Meadows Foundation has brought new life to Swiss Avenue. Wilson Historic District 214-821 -3290.

39 TOKNOWHIMISTOLOVEHIM. Now that you’ve established your date’s taste level, find out what-or if-he really thinks. The Dallas Philosopher’s Forum discusses topics that range from the general philosophies of art, religion, and science to specifics like “Jean Paul Sartre, The Ultimate Humanist Revisited” or “Genes, Cloning, and Other Weird Issues.” Talks are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at Wy-att’s Cafeteria at Forest and Marsh (this much knowledge will only set you back $4). After expanding your universe, continue your debate informally over pizza at Al’s Pizzeria. Your topic: “The Sensuous Relationship of Sausage, Pepperoni, and Green Olives.” Dallas Philosopher’s Forum 214-373-7216; Al’s Pizzeria 214-350-2714.

40 THE HIGHBROW APPROACH. The best things in life are free-love and culture. Thursday evenings at the Dallas Museum of Art are the classiest cheap date in town. Relax in the Atrium Cafe under the Dale Chihuly glass flowers and sip a glass of wine with your supper while you listen to the jazz. Then wander through the galleries arm in arm and discuss the finer points of the Greek nude. Ordcm\.DallasMuseumofArt2i4-922-1200.

41 GVGEYUHl. That’s how you say “I love you” in Cherokee. Startle your date with your eclecticism-drop into Sequoyah’s Bookstore and Coffee House for Wednesday night storytelling or for the Dallas Poets Community’s open mic night. (Bring your own ode.) And, yes, on Tuesdays, you can take informal Cherokee Language lessons. Sequoyah’s Bookstore and Coffee House 214-987-2800.

42 SEDIMENTAL FOOL. The nose, the bouquet, the lingering finish-it’s the language of wine, not love, but the vocabulary certainly crosses over on Monday nights, when the wine experts at Marty’s pop the cork on their wine course. The wine tastings there take you on a tongue tour of the best wines in the world; if you ’ re interested in further pairings, the elaborate wine dinners match food to wine. If this date doesn’t workout, you’ll certainly be prepared to impress the next one. Marty’s 214-526-7796.

43 MIND OVER MANEUVERS. Skip the introductory stuff and really get to know each other: The main campus of SMU in Dallas and the Legacy branch in Piano offer informal classes for adults featuring “discussion and personal growth.” Short, mini-courses explore topics like ’Towards Understanding Your Dreams”-isn’t that what dating is all about anyway? SMU Main Campus and SMU-in-Legacy Plano registration and information 214-768-5376.

44 OUR HOUSE. Does he do yardwork? Does she do dishes? This is probably not a first-date idea, but if you’re getting close arid want to get closer, build your community and your relationship by spending a day building a home for the homeless at Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity 214-890-3030.

car dates

Hours alone together in an automobile can be romantically (or tragically) illuminating. It’s the perfect occasion to subliminally express your level of affection by playing your appropriate CDs or cassettes: “Our Love is Here To Stay” (Harry Connick Jr.); “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon and Garfunkel) or, straight to the point, the Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together.”

45 BACK IN TIME. Thirty minutes south of Dallas is the small Texas town of Wax-ahachie, filled with antique shops, gingerbread architecture, and the Webb Gallery, one of the best folk art collections in the Southwest. Dine at the Crazy Horse Cafe in the romantic and historic Rogers Hotel, then take a walk around the historic square. Crazy Horse Cafe 972-938-9X18; Webb Gallery 972-938-8085.

46 TWO STEPPING. Take the Tarantu-la Steam Train From Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards. All the highlights are within walking distance of the train station; Tour the Stockyards, have a cocktail at the infamous “White Elephant,” dine at Cattlemen’s. and discover that {believe it or not) Billy Bob’s isn’t just a tourist trap-you can see the roots of Fort Worth two steppin’. Tarantula Steam Train 817-625-7245, Stockyards Visitors Center 817-624-4741; White Elephant Saloon 817-624-1887; Cattlemen’s Steakhouse 817’-624-3945

47 WOULD YOU BELIEVE WACO? Okay, so Waco isn’t No. 1 on your list of romantic places. But there’s nothing like time alone in a car tor getting to know someone, and Waco has the distance advantage over local destinations. Plus, you can get a free taste of Dr. Pepper at the world-famous (can there possibly be another one?) Dr. Pepper Museum. Complete this funky afternoon at the mysteriously named “Health Camp” on the Circle, where the healthiest meal they sell is a good old-fashioned grease burger and the best chocolate shakes this side of the Brazos. Dr. Pepper Museum 254-757-2433; Health Camp 254-752-2081.

48 CULTURE CLUB. Just up the lazy Brazos is Granbury, the quaint home of the Granbury Opera House, built in 1886. Catch a Broadway musical, an original drama, or the ever-popular Musical Extravaganza in February. Just across the town square, dine on upscale New American cuisine at Henning-ton’s, located in the historic Nutt House Hotel. The prime filet in barolo wine sauce is always nice. And remember: There’s always a possibility of getting a room in the Nutt House. Granbwy Opera House 817-573-9191 ; Hen-nington’s 817-573-8400: Nutt House Hotel 817-279-9457.

49 QDRIVING AND FLYING. The nocommitment car trip: Drive to Fort Worth and taste a flight of wine at the Grape Escape. Walk across the street (downtown Fort Worth is romantically pedestrian-friendly) and take in a performance of anything (the show is the building) at the new Bass Performance Hall. Grape Escape 817-336-1009; Bass Performance Hall 817-2124300.

50 OUT OF AFRICA. Head out to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, near Glen Rose. Redford and Streep told one of the great love stories of all time against a backdrop of zebras, giraffes, and rhinos-the same animals that populate Fossil Rim. Who knows how a little wildlife might affect your relationship? Fossil Rim Wildlife Center 254-897-2960.

51 NOT REALLY ROUGHIN’ IT. A tew miles down Highway 67 from Fossil Rim is gourmet game cuisine in a hunting lodge atmosphere at Rough Creek Lodge. The menu is comprised of game from the nearby fields Rough Creek Lodge 800-864-4705.

52 AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Retro is detinitely in, and a return to the good old days makes for a great night out. Get back to the basics of a car date and pull into The Prince of Hamburgers on Lemmon Avenue, where car hops still tote shakes (and some of the best burgers in town) on little trays that hook to your window. At sunset, you can head over to the city’s last remaining drive-in theater-The Astro. Maybe drive-ins have gone out of business because today “scars have bucket seats that prevent us from necking. Didja ever think of that? The Prince of Hamburgers 214-526-9081; Astro Drive-In 214-339-2298.

survey says

Ever wonder what the other person thought after a first date? It’s just Lunch!, an executive dating service that arranges lunch dates {because, although more people say they want commitment and marriage, they don’t want to commit to lengthy dinners), recently surveyed 400 singles to find how people in Dallas look for love.

Dallas men (54%) can tell whether they’re interested in their date within the first five to 15 minutes. Women (70%) take 15 to 30 minutes to decide if the guy is worth a second date. (Hey guys, just what can you learn about a woman in five minutes-that she speaks English and needs more lipstick?)

Ninety-three percent of women list income as an important dating credential, but only 54 percent of Dallas’ single men agree. (And how do you find that oui in 15 minutes?)

Most women (72%) would go out with a man a second time even if there was no physical attraction on the first date. However, less than a third of the men (27%) would do the same. No surprises here. After all, Dallas leads the nation in the number of “gentleman’s clubs.”

Men and women do agree on the following: 75 percent of women and 82 percent of men agree that a relationship is more important than a career. (All those men must have misunderstood the question.)


That’s no bubble-headed, bleached blonde that anchors Channel 4’s nightly newscast. Ashleigh’s the “It Girl” of Deep Ellum. After reporting the news, she runs by her apartment to change into jeans and a T-shirt, and it’s off to the streets of Deep Ellum. On screen, Ashleigh looks as serious as Walter Cronkite, but when she’s on her own prime time, she prefers a faster pace. “My favorite place to meet a date is The Biker Bar on Main,” she says. “I love to play pool-it’s the ultimate icebreaker.” After running the table, she hops around the clubs and occasionally jumps on stage to sing a set with local bands. Next, it’s off to a late-night dinner at her favorite restaurant, Vietnam, around the corner on Bryan. “The best thing that ever happened to my social life was switching from the morning anchor to the evening,” Ashleigh says. “I don’t have to get up early.” So she ends her date late with a glass of champagne at the Gold Bar.


It’s no wonder that Jennifer and Alan Peppard want to be alone. Together they attend more galas, balls, luncheons, and tea parties than Queen Elizabeth. Alan is the “society columnist” for the Dallas Morning News, and he spends many a night on “the rubber chicken circuit,” reporter’s notebook in hand, keeping up with who’s who and who is doing what with whom. When the social calendar permits, the Peppards admit to being “notoriously dull.” Their dream date: Acasual dinner at Cafe Express on Lovers (hoping they don’t bump into too many people trying to get their name in his column) and a midnight movie at the Inwood Theatre. (D recently caught them sneaking out of Touch of Evil. Apparently, it wasn’t a great date idea.) When they really feel like getting gussied up, they head straight to the eye of the social hurricane-Cafe Pacific-where table-hopping is a no-no and the big names keep to themselves.


What bachelor wouldn’t want to spend his evenings in a glamorous nightclub surrounded by beautiful women just dying to meet him? That’s Kim Forsythe’s job description. He’s the owner of Sambuca in Addison and Deep Ellum, as well as the sister restaurants in Atlanta and Houston. When he isn’t holding court at Sambuca, air-kissing the celebrities that frequent his clubs, he’s sneaking out the back door to pursue another racket-tennis. You see, once upon a time, Kim was ranked among the top 400 on the pro tennis tour until a hand injury sidelined him and he got hooked on the restaurant business. He still keeps his courting on the courts. Put it this way: Kim’s date has to be able to serve and volley because the 38-year-old still thinks he’s going back on tour when he grows up.

dating disaster

My Blind Date with Barry Switzer It was 3:15 on a Wednesday afternoon. I was sitting at my computer trying to write when the phone rang. I picked it up to hear the static of a cell phone.

“Is this Naaancy?” the voice said in a thick southern accent.


“Well, I hear tell that you and I need to meet each other.”

Maybe I’d heard this voice before.

“Who told you that?”

“Oh, that’s my secret.”

“Who are you?”

“Waall,” said the secret caller, “I’m just a good Of boy from Arkansas who used to coach football in Oklahoma, and l just got a job down here coaching another team.”

I couldn’t think of anything clever to say, so I said the obvious.

“You must be Barry Switzer.”

It turned out Barry and I had a mutual acquaintance. My longtime girlfriend Sally assured me he was harmless: funny, charming, and sexy. A big teddy bear with a heart of gold.

The Cowboys had just won the Super Bowl. They were still wholesome guys, America’s team, not the sex and drug fiends we came to know later. Barry and I decided on a no-commitment, compromise date-we would meet the following evening at Mi Cocina.

I was already at the restaurant when big Barry walked in. (Not that I was eager-Coach was 45 minutes late. Obviously not worried about first impressions.) The family frenzy in the dining room froze instantly. You could hear a chip drop. “Hey Coach, congratulations,” some man said as we passed by tables on our way to the host. Switzer shook hands and kissed babies like a politician, repeating his mantra, “How you figure an ol’ country boy from Arkansas would end up winning the Super Bowl?” I felt like 1 was out with the president.

The host was so nervous he asked if we wanted “Smoking or Smoking?”

Our waiter dropped our first (of Barry’s many) margaritas.

I’ve heard a lot of opening lines, but Switzer’s was unusual: “I forgot to take my Ritalin today- you know I’m A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). But a few margaritas seem to do the same thing.” I took a deep breath-it was going to be a long night.

Our waiter approached without even a glance in my direction. “Hey Coach, can I shake the hand of the coach who won the Super Bowl?” Shaking his hand, Switzer repeated, “How do you figure an ol’ country boy from Arkansas would end up winning the Super Bowl?” Pull his string, and he says it again. His tape was stuck on that one line. I tried to change the conversation.

My girlfriend had filled me in on some of Barry’s latest adventures, so I began with his recent trip to Italy.

“Where did you go in Italy?”

“I went to a small place on the east coast.”

“Did you like the food?”


I suddenly had a newfound respect for sports-writers.

“Did you go anywhere else?”


I had used all my research in the first five minutes. There was nothing left to say but Barry, how did an of country boy from Arkansas end up winning the Super Bowl?-and I wasn’t going there. Barry’s eyes darted around the room. His legs were twitching wildly under the table. A 10-year-old boy was staring at us, salsa dripping from his gaping mouth. I tried again.

“Do you like living in Dallas?”

“Who wouldn’t? They’re paying me a shitload of money.”

The father of the 10-year-old winced.

Halfway through margarita #2, Coach Switzer reached across the table, grabbed my hands and jerked me towards him. “Come over here and give me a kiss.” Shocked, I made some joke about the table being too wide, but he kept one of my hands in his. I dont even think he knew my last name.

Food and more margaritas came, but conversation never did. Twice more he reached for my hands and demanded a kiss. He wrapped his feet around my ankles. I began to make conversation with the 10-year-old.

A customer came over to congratulate Barry on winning the Super Bowl. Pull the string release: “How do you figure an ol’ country boy from Arkansas would end up winning the Super Bowl?” Two hours later, I had heard him say it 20 times.

People were waiting around in the parking lot as we left. I stepped back and watched him go into his routine. Somebody asked him if he ate at Mi Cocina often.

“Only when I come with my girl Naaancy.” He grabbed my hand and twirled me in front of him, wrapping his arms around me and hugging me up against his body. He nestled his lips on my neck. I turned to shake his hand good night and lied, “Coach, it was great to meet you.” He twirled me again and held me close to his body, whispering, “Are you gonna tell Sally you turned me on on the first date?”

“No, Barry, that will be my little secret.”

-Nancy Nichols


Single guys are always looking for, how shall we say it politely, ways to score points with the ladies. Lately, “Come up to see my etchings” has been replaced with “Come up and taste my lobster bisque.” That’s right, guys are learning that the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach. So they’re doing things they thought only Martha Stewart could do.

Chef Chris Svalesen of Fish polled his bachelor clients to see if they would be interested in a cooking class for guys. “Do It In the Kitchen,” designed around creating sensual but doable menus and sponsored by Chivas Regal, drew 50 bachelors looking for ways to guarantee that second date.

“ft doesn’t matter what you cook, it is the thought that counts,” says Svale-sen. “If you cook something special, put some effort into it, get some music, and light a candle, the ladies will be bowled over. If you really want to impress them, cook something erotic and exotic but easy to do.”

For two hours the guys learned everything from setting a table to disemboweling a lobster and creating the perfect chocolate dessert.

“This dessert may keep you up all night,” warns Chef Chris.

Well, isn’t that the idea?


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