Ten thousand candy hearts, ?ve million blown kisses, one multi-billion-dollar industry. Scoring on Valentine's Day may be a numbers game, but at these prices, we're stacking the odds in our favor: a dimly lit bar, a romantic waterfront carriage ride and an aphrodisiacal dinner in the RA. If that formula doesn't produce at least a kiss, we'll kiss our matchmaking careers goodbye.
Eric describes himself as a "serial entrepreneur, investor and business consultant." He was raised in Calabasas, Calif., and now lives in San Diego, splitting time between his condos in Paci?c Beach and Downtown. Natalie is in entertainment advertising, working on HBO, CBS and other companies' marketing campaigns for television. She was born in Nebraska, grew up in Seattle, lives in West Hollywood and was imported to San Diego for tonight's blind date, because Eric seems to knows everyone in town-he was already Facebook friends with the ?rst three women we tried to set him up with.
Natalie and Eric are about to meet for the ?rst time where the antelope roam-or at least where they hang out (above the bar and in the restaurant's antelope sliders) after a life of roaming-the new Lion's Share in Downtown's Marina District. Before they arrive, let's review the pre-date interviews.
PacificSD: What do you do for fun?
NATALIE: Anything live: live music, live shows, live dancing. I also love to work on my ?tness-hiking, shooting hoops, yoga, bike riding, cardio, ballet.
ERIC: Travel as much as possible, drinks/dinner with friends, attend sporting events, attend concerts and build businesses.
What are you looking for in a date?
NATALIE: Personality ranks over looks any day. I don't like extremely good-looking guys; they're always a little off. I like dudes, guys that can hang with me, guys that can hang with my three brothers on Football Sundays. I'm into guys that touch with intention and say sh!t that means something.
ERIC: Looking for someone that is independent, con?dent, passionate about something in life, has a decent job, attractive, good sexual energy, positive personality, likes to smile, in good shape...and a nice ass.
What's your sign, religion or spiritual belief system, if any?
NATALIE: God, help me. Jesus, save me. Spirit, guide me. Universe, support me. Danny, speak to me.
ERIC: Sagittarius. I'm more spiritual than religious. Treat others like you wanted to be treated, et cetera.
Where's the strangest place you've had sex?
NATALIE: Your mom goes to college.
[Editor's note: Natalie is likely referencing a line from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," by which she's implying, I think, that this is a stupid question.]
ERIC: Poolside at the Sè Hotel during a pool party. I was on my back on a lounge chair, and my friend was sort of grinding on top of me to the music. We had a towel sort of covering things. Only the people dancing in the rooms above us knew what was going on and they gave us the thumbs-up sign.
The daters meet and take seats at the bar, talking over carefully crafted cocktails while the magazine crew scans the menu for the perfect brand of ?esh to get this wild game started. We choose right-the rich antelope sliders are tender and perfect; the exotic sausage sampler (pheasant, wild boar and buffalo) is a safari-ful of delish.
Somehow, amid the excitement and our own crafty cocktails, we neglect to order food for the daters...and now we have to catch a horse. (Sorry, Natalie and Eric! For what it's worth, everything was really good.)
The wild game continues with a carriage ride
After sipping drinks and almost eating antelope at Lion's Share, Natalie and Eric stroll a couple blocks to Seaport Village, where they mount a Cinderella-esque carriage for a romantic jaunt by the water. They're sitting close, talking and laughing as they ride off into the sunset.
When they return about 30 minutes later, they catch a cab to dinner in the RA...RA Sushi at Fifth and Broadway, that is. (Delivered by our designated/pregnant driver, the magazine crew arrives right behind them.) After they've toasted sake and tasted the chef's special aphrodisiacal sushi plate, the couple is split for mid-date debrie?ngs.
Paci?cSD: How's it going so far?
NATALIE: Eric is awesome. We have a lot in common. Just from a career standpoint, him and I connected immediately. And that's always what I look for, someone who has something going for themselves.
ERIC: It's going good so far. Things are great. She's really cool, and we're getting a long well.
What were your ?rst impressions?
NATALIE: A lot of jewelry. He has, like, two rings and a necklace. I mean, he's cute, totally cute, but right away, I was like, "Wow, that's a lot of jewelry."
ERIC: First impressions were relief that it was someone at least I could connect with.
Is this the type of person you would normally date?
NATALIE: Probably. If I met him out, we'd have a good conversation. And if he asked me out, I'd go out with him.
ERIC: It's rare that I date, but she'd be a girl I'd hang out with. She seems like she can handle me and my shenanigans. In other words, dealing with me being a workaholic, and my lifestyle.
What do you think about what your date's attire?
NATALIE: The jewelry is just a little not my style, but I respect people's style, because I love fashion. The pieces that he's wearing might be important to him.
ERIC: I barely noticed her attire because I don't really care about that type of stuff.
How was Lion's Share?
NATALIE: Lion's Share was really great. The servers were super attentive, and I liked their style. The art on the wall was beautiful-they took classic art and made it quirky, tying together the meat with their brand and the animalistic style within their art. I loved that. And their cocktails were amazing.
ERIC: Lion's Share is a very cool spot for Downtown. I had been there once before and I enjoyed it. Great drinks, great little atmosphere and vibe.
How was the carriage ride?
NATALIE: Champagne, the horse, and Robert, the carriage driver, were sweet. Robert was from Killarney, Ireland, and I've traveled there before, so we chatted about The Ring of Kerry and all the beautiful sites from his hometown.
ERIC: It was dreamy-the driver even came with the Irish accent.
What would your parents say?
NATALIE: They'd like him a lot, because he has something to bring to the table. That's what it's all about. It's not just about where you're from and who you are; it's your experiences, where you've traveled, what you like, what you don't like.
ERIC: They'd be happy to see me with anyone I like being with.
What's the most attractive thing you're date has done so far?
NATALIE: He ordered for me, which I really like. He asked me what I like and he ordered for me. That was really hot.
ERIC: That's hard to say, just a good vibe together, a good connection, mild ?irting.
Rate your date on a scale from 1 to 10 for looks.
NATALIE: Eight or 8 1/2.
And for personality?
NATALIE: Nine or 10.
If you could have sex with your date, the last person you had sex with or with some third person tonight, whom would you choose?
NATALIE: It's none of your business. I don't like to talk about my sex life.
ERIC: You gotta live for the moment, so I'd say Natalie.
Would you like to kiss your date right now?
NATALIE: Not now, but I'd kiss him.
Does your date want to kiss you?
NATALIE: Yeah, he probably wants to kiss me.
ERIC: I never would assume so, but my senses say she'd be down.
Three cheers for a scorching blind date
Three cheers for a scorching blind date
After the mid-date interviews, Eric and Natalie are ?nally left alone to enjoy the rest of their evening in privacy. We call the next day to see what we missed.
Paci?cSD: How was dinner?
NATALIE: RA was great. I've eaten there before. I loved it all. It was delish.
ERIC: Dinner at RA was great. We had cold sake, the good stuff, Asahi beer and a few of their killer rolls.
Did the aphrodisiac plate make an impact?
NATALIE: I don't remember which one it was.
ERIC: It must have, as we both seemed to be a bit more ?irty.
What was the best part of the date?
NATALIE: Being a part of Paci?cSD, they're such a great group of people.
ERIC: The ?rst few minutes after meeting her, as I knew the rest of the date was going to be fun.
What was the worst part?
NATLIE: Hearing that he is 40, only dates girls in their twenties and hasn't had a relationship longer than a year or two.
ERIC: The end-no one wants to end a good thing... especially with a good buzz.
What happened after the magazine crew left?
NATALIE: We went the The U.S. Grant-super fancy, loved the place. I had a glass of wine, then my girlfriend picked me up, and we dropped Eric off.
ERIC: We went to the U.S. Grant hotel for another drink while Natalie waited for her ride, as she had to go home. Gave us 15 more minutes to hang out.
Was there a kiss?
NATLIE: Yeah, he was pretty determined to get a kiss. And as the night went on, he got more comfortable with affection.
ERIC: Might have been a little something-something.
Will there be a second date?
NATALIE: I would totally hang with him again.
Free-range antelope, a domesticated horse, raw ?sh. Add that up, mix in a few cocktails and a Cinderella carriage ride, and what do you get? "A little something-something." It's not quite the animalistic behavior we were shooting for, but ?rst dates, even the gamiest ones, aren't always so wild.
For a real fairytail ending wrought with romance-including mouthfuls of meat and heavy petting not associated with antelope or horses- maybe we should have gone with a Valentine's Day card and chocolates.
629 Kettner Blvd., Downtown
Cinderella Carriage Co.
474 Broadway, Gaslamp
Coors Light Metal Pint