By David Perloff
Photos By John Mireles
The Clash's 1982 album Combat Rock poses the existential question: "Should I stay or should I go?" In a few hours, tonight's blind daters will have to answer that question, deciding whether to stay in a hotel suite at Harrah's Resort Southern California or return home in the limo that's about to drop them off by the casino entrance. Before they arrive, let's review their pre-date interviews.
PacificSD: Where are you from and where do you live now?
LORI: Navy brat, born in Honolulu. I grew up in Missouri, I went to school in Arizona and I now live in San Diego, by the beach.
KEN: I was born and raised in beautiful sunny San Diego. I currently reside around the College Area.
What do you do for a living?
LORI: Event and floor manager for Puesto. I've been in hospitality for the past 13 years; it's a big part of my life, and I love it.
KEN: I work as an antenna engineer for a private company in Sorrento Valley. Currently, I am in my ninth year with the company.
Why are you going on a blind date in Pacific Magazine?
LORI: Because I am single, I am always looking to meet fun and interesting people and I love boys.
KEN: A friend recommended me, and I thought it would be a great experience.
What do you do for fun?
LORI: Any art project I can get my hands on; hang out with my dog, Stevie; let loose on the dance floor; trying out a new restaurant.
KEN: I enjoy hiking and taking my dog to Fiesta Island. Surfing is also a big part of my life, and paddling out into the water is a great way to clear my mind. I also enjoy visiting local breweries around San Diego with friends. Family and hanging out with my nephew bring me a lot of joy.
What are you best at?
LORI: Dancing, helping friends, conversation, photography, getting dressed.
KEN: It's hard to say; I am a pretty balanced person. I've always had a way to make people laugh.
What do you suck at?
LORI: Hiding the way I really feel. Honesty is the best policy... most of the time.
KEN: Driving behind slow cars in the fast lane.
What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
LORI: Confidence, not arrogance, great style and a great smile. Hopefully taller than me. Charisma and care for people. Witty and smart, always a must.
KEN: Someone that can have an intellectual conversation as well as being goofy. Easy on the eyes never hurts.
Describe your special brand of sex appeal in five words or less.
LORI: Sweet. Salty. Soft. Simple. Stylish.
KEN: Confidence, compassionate, easygoing, trustworthy.
What do you like least about yourself?
LORI: Sometimes I give too much of myself to my work and the people that I care about, and then I don't have enough for myself.
KEN: I tend to overthink things.
Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
How about for personality.
What traits could your date exhibit that would be complete deal-breakers?
LORI: Insecurity, bad style, lack of respect, lack of manners, stupidity.
KEN: Someone who is shallow and stagnant. Also, if she's a Raiders fan - GO CHARGERS!
How many people have you slept with?
LORI: None of your damn business.
KEN: Life brings you lemons; why not make lemonade?
Fill in the blanks: I want my blind date to be "blank" and "blank."
LORI: Stylish and confident.
KEN: Comfortable and interesting.
Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
LORI: Depends on the chemistry. If it's a friend vibe, they get a hug. If it's more, maybe a kiss.
KEN: The night will end, hopefully, with a connection.
What's the most important thing in the world?
LORI: Taking care of each other - pay it forward.
KEN: Family is the most important thing in the world.
When the couple arrives, they head to the hotel registration desk to check in. They know they're getting a room, but they've been told it's just to put down their things, as they've both brought a change of clothes in case they decide to hop into one of the resort's hot tubs or take a ride around the Lazy River.
Harrah's Resort Southern California
777 Harrah's Resort Southern
California Way, Valley Center
Cocktails, Gambling and Kobe Beef
After walking arm-in-arm to their hotel room and dropping off their bags, Lori and Ken head back down to the casino to have a couple drinks before trying their luck at gambling. At Spiked, they sit close to each other, laughing as they talk over craft cocktails. About half an hour later, as a casino host arrives to let them know he's cleared a roulette table for them, they step into the heart of the gaming action.
With color-coded chips in front of them, the daters begin to place their bets. Lori's stack dwindles more quickly than Ken's, but he shares the wealth, and the two seem to hit a winning streak.
Once they've had the chance top celebrate hitting a couple lucky numbers - and the pit boss comes over to help sop up Lori's spilled drink - the couple heads to Fiore Steakhouse for a decadent dinner on the house.
Fiore's high-roller menu offers a full deck of gourmet options, several of which arrive at the couple's table with paired wines and champagne. In addition to an array of side dishes, Lori and Ken order an eight-ounce Kobe beef steak, a 16-ounce lobster tail, lamb chops, crab cakes and a shrimp appetizer.[Editor's note: We told the daters the sky's the limit. They shot for the moon and hit it - with a $409 tab. Sorry, Harrah's. And thank you!]
Somewhere between the steak and lobster, the couple kisses in the booth at the restaurant, but refuses to do so for the camera. After the opulent meal, they head up to their hotel room, where they're split for mid-date debriefings.
PacificSD: How's it going so far?
LORI: It's going really good, and Ken is awesome.
KEN: I think the date's going very well. I mean, she's easy to talk to and she's definitely got a lot of qualities that I enjoy being around. She's very easygoing, upbeat - go with the flow, you know? It couldn't have worked out any better.
What were your first impressions?
LORI: I noticed that he looked really nice and has nice style.
KEN: Beautiful. Her eyes were stunning, and as soon as she opened her mouth, it was very easy to be able to talk with her.
How was the limo ride here?
LORI: Amazing. It was a lot of fun. We got to know each other quite a bit in that time, had a little bit of Milagro, and we both agreed that we were going to make this a great night together.
KEN: Initially, it was just filled with laughs; and at the end, it was still filled with laughs.
How was Spiked?
LORI: Spiked was great. We both decided we were going to have whiskey drinks, and I suggested the Soho for him. I usually drink a Manhattan, so that's what I had. It was great.
KEN: The atmosphere was definitely something that I would like to go back to and enjoy again.
How was the gambling?
LORI: It was really fun; we had a blast. We came out one dollar above - we put in a total of fifty-five dollars and came out at fifty-six.
KEN: Awesome. We had a lot of fun with that.
How was dinner at Fiore Steakhouse?
LORI: It was amazing, delicious. The food was great. I went through the wine pairings, and it was great. And he was, like, flabbergasted by all of it.
KEN: The dinner was phenomenal. It was great being able to experience all the different styles of foods and to be able to expand our palates. We tried different things, and I let her order. I wanted to see what she enjoyed. That way I could see if I enjoyed the same things, you know?
What's the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
LORI: Be, just, the nicest. He's just been an amazing person the entire time,
Rate your date on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
LORI: I'm goin' for a nine.
KEN: I think she's a ten. I mean, everything about her - she's got her little quirks, but everyone's got their quirks, and I think that she's just a very beautiful person.
How about for personality?
Does your date want to kiss you?
LORI: Yes, he does.
KEN: She's already kissed me.
If you had an opportunity to keep this room for the evening or go home, which would you choose?
LORI: I'll keep it... in my pajamas.
KEN: I think we'd probably enjoy the casino a little bit more and see where the night leads us. I feel that having the room here might just be a place to sleep. That's all it would be.
Spiked and Fiore
Harrah's Resort Southern California
777 Harrah's Resort Southern
California Way, Valley Center
Time to Decide Whether or Not to Stay Overnight
After the mid-date break, the PacificSD crew informs the daters that they can actually keep the room at Harrah's if they choose. We wait in the hallway while they deliberate (or whatever it is they're doing) inside their room.
The question to contemplate, as posed by another stanza from the Clash's rock anthem: "Should I cool it or should I blow?"
About 10 minutes later, Ken sticks his head out of the door and announces they'll be heading home. Having bet they'd stay the night (the kisses at dinner seemed to tilt the odds in our favor), the PacificSD crew finally leaves the daters alone to enjoy the rest of their evening away from the camera. The next morning, we call to see what we missed.
PacificSD: What did you think of Harrah's Resort Southern California in general?
LORI: The place seemed huge. We got kind of turned around right when we got there - kind of embarrassing, because I was doting on my excellent sense of direction on the way to the casino. We went to their craft cocktail bar, which was a nice start to the evening. Nothing like a whiskey cocktail to get you feeling warm and fuzzy.
KEN: The casino was very nice, and the food was amazing.
What led you to the decision not to stay in the hotel room?
LORI: We decided not to stay, because we both had things to do the next day, and the limo ride back into town was about an hour. We also had just met that night and, although Ken was an amazing date, staying in a casino hotel room together on our first date was a bit much.
KEN: It was a first date. The pressure of staying in the room was not necessary.
Where did you go and what did you do for the rest of the evening after the magazine crew left?
LORI: We checked out of the hotel room and hung out in the lobby lounge for a bit together. We had a cocktail and waited for the limo to arrive.
KEN: Took the limo back to San Diego to end the night.
How was the limo ride home?
LORI: We snuggled a bit, and I fell asleep. Ken woke me up when we pulled up to my house.
KEN: The limo ride was excellent, and Linda, the driver, was very accommodating. My date and I talked and drank.
Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?
KEN: There was a kiss
What was the best part of the date?
LORI: The ride to the casino was actually really fun. We both had no idea what was in store for us, but Ken was very welcoming and sweet. We got to know a lot about each other in that one hour. Also, the roulette table was a lot of fun. We came out one dollar on top.
KEN: The best part was just hanging out with my date. She had such a great sense of humor.
What was the worst part of the date?
LORI: The worst part of the date was having to decide whether or not to stay at the hotel at the end of the night. We made the right choice but after we did, I was like, "Wait! Should we stay?"
KEN: I felt very pressured to not let the magazine down with a good story.
Will there be a second date?
LORI: I would love to see Ken again. He was such a gentleman, not to mention very good-looking. We had a blast together.
KEN: Yes, there will be. She is an awesome woman, and I look forward to hanging out again.
What's one thing your date should know before going on another date?
LORI: My advice would be to continue doing what he's doing. He mentioned in the limo ride that he usually dresses a bit more casual, but I thought he looked great on our date. Please continue looking so dapper for ladies - we love it.
KEN: I'm not as fancy as I look.
What could have made this date better?
LORI: Winning millions of dollars at the casino.
KEN: A helicopter ride to a private island.
AFTERMATCH: Although (or maybe because) the daters had reservations about staying in their fantasy suite last night, a second date seems like a sure thing. As the Clash song goes, "If I go, there will be trouble. And if I stay, it will be double." The latter might have made for a better story, but hitting the blind date jackpot happens only so often. Of course, we'd love to have been able to work in an "Ace in the Hole" joke, but we'll have to settle for the kiss we saw... and hold out hope that Lori will end up being Ken's Queen of Hearts. Place your bets.