Ari and Peter are bundled up for a twilight ride: ski jackets, snow pants, the whole nine. They met about 30 minutes ago in the Epic Limo that picked them up - her from a salon in La Jolla, him from his home in Solana Beach - and are about to be dropped off at the bottom of the slopes in Encinitas. Before they arrive, let's review the pre-date interviews.
What do you do for a living?
ARI: I work at Internet Marketing, Inc. as a business development executive. I also hire and manage promo models around the country for my company, LittleMissPromo.com.
PETER: I sell orthopedic devices like replacement knees and hips. It's a cool job, because I'm in the operating room while they're implanting the devices to answer any technical questions.
What do you do for fun?
ARI: If I'm not CSI investigating the JFK conspiracy theory via YouTube or attempting to pay attention to my personal trainer at the gym, I'm traveling, snowboarding, going to a wine bar or sporting event or going out dancing to show off my salsa moves.
PETER: I enjoy playing water polo, surfing, Olympic weightlifting, Crossfit - basically, anything that keeps me active. I also enjoy more relaxing pursuits like reading, barbecuing outside on a weekend afternoon and strumming my guitar.
What are you looking for in a date?
ARI: I'd be happy to meet a tall, handsome, intelligent, powerful Christian Grey type - minus the whips and chains.
PETER: I enjoy a girl that has a good sense of humor. It's also important that they're outgoing, intelligent and adventurous. I prefer athletic girls. I also like a girl that can appreciate a relaxing afternoon hanging out and sharing good conversation. I'm 6'6" so being taller is always a plus.
What's the sexiest thing about you?
ARI: I've been told it's my intellect, curves, energy and smile.
PETER: People will say my eyes. It's my butt, though.
What's your surefire trick for making a date with romance?
ARI: Sweet nothings in Spanish usually do the trick. "Hola, guapo. Te gustaria bailar con una chica muy linda?"
PETER: Be yourself and be confident. If that doesn't work, then there probably was never going to be romance anyways.
What's the best thing that could happen during the date?
ARI: It turns out to be this holiday season's blockbuster hit - "The Notebook" plus "Serendipity" plus "007," starring Jennifer Lopez and Mr. Right. Ice-skating, salsa dancing and an action-packed exit, where we ditch photographers in our blacked-out Audi R8.
PETER: Have an amazing time with an interesting person.
Rain in San Diego means snow in the county's highest elevations (see "Flakin' Out," page 60), but skiing in Julian sucks, and it's way too far to drive for a blind date, anyway. Instead, Ari and Peter will be riding the local mountain: the rotating carpet slope at Adventure Ski & Snowboard School, where thousands of San Diegans have learned to ski since 1977.
After buckling their boots and learning safety tips from instructors Kent (he owns the place) and Eric, the couple is ready to ride.
Adventure Ski & Snowboard School
1105 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas
At least it can if you fall and aren't wearing pants
A typical run down a mountain, even one as big as Mammoth, takes about five minutes. But after getting the hang of the equipment at Adventure Ski & Snowboard School, the daters ride the magic carpet (which feels like heavy snow) for more than 30 minutes without stopping - not counting when the machine pauses after Ari falls down, sometimes pretty hard.
Sweaty from a rigorous workout, Ari and Peter freshen up in the bathroom at the adjacent Hansen's Surf Shop (also open in
Encinitas since the '70s), and then jump back into their Epic Limo for the ride (across the street, but it's fun to arrive in style) to dinner at Union Kitchen & Tap.
Union draws a young, fun crowd, making it stand out from the cougar dens that sprinkle the North County coast. The place is hopping when the couple arrives and grabs a booth in the back dining room. Once they've had a chance to order their food and talk over drinks, they're split for mid-date debriefings.
How's it going so far?
ARI: Totally good. I'm a little stubborn, so the skiing place was all about me making sure of Ari's ego. But the whole time, he was like, "Hey, how's it going?" Super cool. Most guys don't do that.
PETER: Going great. I'm lovin' it. Having a great time.
What were your first impressions?
ARI: Tall, and I really like tall guys. And he's super nice. And he's in medical sales, which is what my dad does, so my dad would love him.
PETER: I was really pleased. She seems like a cool person. We're both in sales, so it was instant hitting-it-off.
Is this the type of person you'd normally date?
ARI: He's definitely someone I could see myself hanging out with.
PETER: Definitely. I could see her being the type once I get to know her.
How was riding at Adventure Ski & Snowboard School?
ARI: I think he took the easy route by going on skis. I was a snowboard instructor for two years and I could barely do it. But I'm glad it was challenging, because if it was too easy, it probably wouldn't be as much fun. And the people there were so cool.
PETER: She was a snowboard instructor, and I've been skiing my whole life, but it was a bit humbling. Every imperfection was exaggerated by the carpet, but it was a lot of fun and a great way to break the ice.
How about for personality?
Do you want to kiss your date now?
ARI: Not yet.
PETER: Not right at this moment, but I think that could be something that happens further down the line.
Does your date want to kiss you right now?
ARI: Maybe. Probably.
PETER: I think she could, yeah.
Ari and Peter appear to be having a great time together - laughing, sitting close, toasting shots of tequila. By this time, the bar tables in the main lounge at Union have been moved out of the room, and the restaurant is now a-flurry with late-night action.
Union Kitchen & Tap
1108 South Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas
760.230.BEER (2337), localunion101.com
As the couple exchanges the $20-or-less holiday gifts they were asked to bring for each other, they're finally left alone to enjoy the rest of their evening. We call the next morning to see what we missed.
How was Union Kitchen & Tap?
ARI: I loved it. The vibe was great; good-looking, upscale crowd; amazing food.
PETER: There was a good crowd of people, and they had good music going. The ambiance was perfect for the date, not too formal, but great food. I would definitely eat there again.
What did you eat?
ARI: We ordered shrimp and grits, a ribeye steak, meat, scallops, Brussels sprouts, quinoa potato cakes. We probably ordered too much, but we were starving from our butt workout on the carpet. I can't wait to go back.
PETER: We ordered quite a bit of food, and it was all great. I particularly loved the shrimp and grits. We also tried the rib eye, and that was delicious.
What gift did you give your date?
ARI: I gave him a bottle of Rombauer. I don't think he'd ever heard of it, but hopefully he'll like it as much as I do.
PETER: I gave Ari one of those Russian snow hats with the earflaps. flaps up, flaps down, it does it all.
What did you receive?
ARI: I got a great furry hat to wear on my next trip to Park City during Sundance. It was perfect.
PETER: She got me a bottle of her favorite wine. I can't wait to try it.
What happened after the magazine crew left?
ARI: We went to a bar in Encinitas for a little while. Then, at midnight, the limo dropped him off at his house. He asked the limo to pull over right before his place, and he took me for a short walk to look at the ocean. It was really sweet.
PETER: We got driven a few blocks up the street to the first Street Bar. The line was too long there, and the bouncer was somehow unswayed by the fact that we had just stepped out of a limo. We then decided to brave the night air and made the block- long walk to The Saloon. On the drive home, I was disappointed to find out that the limo did not have a sun roof to stand up through and shout "I'm king of the world!"
Will there be a second date?
ARI: Peter is a great guy, super mature, has a great job, total catch. I just didn't feel a lot of romantic chemistry.
PETER: Sure, I think there will be a second date. It was a great time, and Ari is definitely someone I want to get to know better.
Aftermatch: Ari and Peter exchanged gifts, but the only fluid exchange seems to have been the tequila shots...and maybe whatever Peter's "Yep" refers to in response to the question about the romantic exchange.
We had hoped for 50 Shades of Grey. What we got was a few hues of meh. Sure, there may have been rug burns, and Ari did make reference to a "butt workout," but she never grabbed his pole - not while skiing, anyway.
858.270.LIMO (5466), epiclimo.com