In just such a step-up-your-game effort, Jason Ryan surprised his wife with an “artfull” adventure – an Art and Soul “Arty Party.”
“I wanted to do something special. ... We’ve done just about everything there is to do on the beach in the last umpteenth million years,” he said. Eating out had become so routine that it was no longer memorable, he said. He wanted something that lasted longer than their leftovers, “... a memory we will always have.”
As attendees at one of the art gallery’s “Chardonnay meets Monet” events,” the couple got exactly what they ordered.
“Everybody goes home with a masterpiece,” Rebecca Zydbel, art class coordinator and instructor, said. “You have a memento with a story attached to it.”
This is just what Gina Trimarco-Cligrow sought when she and then fiancé Ted attended the “Couples Glass Heart” class at Conway Glass. In addition to supporting local art, they wanted to “... participate in something unique. ... We had no idea what we were getting into, but it was a great experience,” she said, “and you get to take something home with you.”
Their take-home is now treasured as a token of the celebration of their impending nuptials.
Sometimes the take-aways are not tangible.
Such is the case with Kitchen Capers’ “cooking experiences.” Proprietress Myra Botts describes them as non-intimidating learning experiences.
“You have a gourmet meal and learn something,” said frequent attendee Fred Jasper.
Kaci Horonzy, who often recreates Kitchen Capers menus, concurs.
“It’s an education, but we get to have a lot of fun,” she said.
Diners in Chef Instructor Debbie Turner’s kitchen will leave with recipes for epicurean delights: Crème Brulee, Chicken Marsala or Steak au Poivre; techniques: how to properly brunoise, julienne or blanch; and a little more culinary confidence.
While these activities allow participants to express their creativity; other outings test their physical mettle.
According to Manager Hope Veer at Inlet Point Plantation Stables, many of the folks who come out “have never ridden [a horse] before ... it’s a totally unique experience.”
Riders, who join them on any of their tours – be it the beach, waterway, plantation, sunset or moonlight – are never the same.
“It changes your whole attitude,” said Carmen Shaw, whose husband was never “a big rider before,” now asks when they are going next.
The same could be said of stand up paddle boarding lessons from Sail and Ski Connection. It’s truly an “ ‘I can’t, I can’t, I can’t ... hey wait, I’m doing it,’ experience,” said instructor Joey Roper. Once you have gracefully ridden a rough wake, there is no going back. Confidence building aside, Roper said “It’s a great opportunity to get to know the one you’re with real quick.”
This happenstance is as welcome to poet Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Old Marrieds” as it is to those in the first blush of a relationship.
“It’s a good way to get to know somebody. You’re on a horse for two hours, you have to talk to them,” said Inlet Point photographer Mary Bruce. Of relationship newbies, she offered, “It’s better than speed dating.”
Movies are great for conversation afterwards, but on these adventures, you have something to talk about during, and the pressure to find shared interests is off, at least for a little while.
“Conversation is not the issue,” said Turner. Her students are usually good friends by the end of the evening, which is something Betty Stadnick has experienced.
“You meet a lot of fun people,” she said. “In a restaurant, we never reach over to the next table and say, ‘Hi, and what do you do for a living.’ ”
“Instead of going out to find entertainment, you become the entertainment,” said Horonzy.
Stand-up paddle boarding participants have a similar experience.
“A big thing in the dating scene is being with someone fun ... [and] you find a lot of humor in it,” Roper said. “I see people getting closer together during the trip.”
So, if your dating goals are in accordance with those revealed in an Arizona State University study – “have fun ... find out more about the other person [and] develop a friendship” – find that shared, unique experience that might put you both a little out of your comfort zone. After all, according to these interviewees, it’s the perfect way to get to know somebody.