Single In The Valley
Here they are: Meet our team of 13 very eligible men and women who bare their souls with the hope of finding true love — or at least a good dinner date.
by jess friedlander, jennifer leba, and
photographs by michael polito
Ah, the single life. You’ve heard the stories about how tough it is to find a mate, and how all the “good ones” are taken. But we’re here to tell you that’s just not true. Sure, the dating game can be full of disastrous dinners and coffee-shop catastrophes — as Shakespeare famously said, the course of true love never did run smooth. But our area — which offers such a wide variety of career opportunities, cultural activities, and leisure pursuits — is a prime place to meet eligible members of either sex. In our first annual Single in the Valley report, we’ve assembled an eclectic group of 13 unattached ladies and gents ranging in age from 24 to 64. They work as attorneys and DJs, engineers and mixologists, and pursue passions from motorcycle riding and swing dancing to relaxing on the back porch. We asked our group to gather at Shadows on the Hudson, the happening hot spot on the Poughkeepsie waterfront, for a photo shoot; afterward, we grilled them about the singles scene. We think you’ll be surprised at what they had to say. >>>
42, Croton-on-Hudson “It’s interesting; part of the reason I’m good at what I do is less my technical skills and more my people skills,” says Lisa, the chief information technology director for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. After earning degrees in both communications and psychology from SUNY Albany, Lisa admits she wasn’t sure where life would take her. “I didn’t pursue my majors at all. I worked with a pay-per-view company in their technology department after college, and I just found my groove. Afterwards, I found this job, and it’s worked out wonderfully.”
What could L-I-S-A stand for? Lovable, Intelligent, Silly, Active.
How active? I love hiking and bike riding. I’m a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club. We go on group hikes to different parts of the Hudson Valley.
For such an outdoorsy person, how did you ever survive living in Manhattan? I would take a train or bus outside every weekend. I make the best of wherever I am. Whatever the situation is, you’ve just got to work with what you’ve got.
Ever Google yourself? What did you find? When I worked at the PPV company — which included an adult-entertainment channel, the Spice Channel — we would have parties, and my colleague would post a Web site with the pictures. If you Googled me, what would come up was my connection to this channel. There were a couple of dates I went on where I had to say “Look, lower your expectations right now — I’m not a porn star!”
What do you find now? There’s a girl who has my exact name — she’s an Australian writer and she does archeological stuff. So some people might think I’m this smarty-pants archeologist. Either that, or the porn star.
Teacher’s pet or class clown? Definitely more of the teacher’s pet in high school; I saved all the bad stuff for college.
Ever pull any pranks? Oh, I did. I was close friends with a Hasidic Jewish guy; they’re extremely strict in their religion, even his friendship with me was kind of taboo. But he was rebellious, and on his birthday I invited him and a friend over for a small get-together. I had a woman come dressed as a police officer and tell him that his car was illegally parked — then she put on some music and stripped. They had a great time, it was really fun, and I videotaped it. But afterwards, they were mortified that the tape could get out, so I had to destroy all of the evidence.
Are you a big practical joker? Only when it’s appropriate. I like to have fun and laugh; you can’t take life too seriously. When I think there’s a good razzing to be done and it’s harmless, I like to throw it out there.
Describe yourself in three words: Sarcastic, creative, self-analytical, compassionate.
That’s four. Okay, take out creative.
Do you have any pets? No, but I’d like to get a cat or two.
Tell us about your best date ever: Hmm. I have to think about that. (Long pause.) In college I went to an Incubus concert. That was pretty fun.
When on a date with me, I’d be impressed if you: Danced badly. (Laughs.) For real. I once gave my number to a guy because he was a bad dancer. It showed he was trying.
I’ve broken up with someone before for: Cheating.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? An artist.
What’s your must-see TV? The Office. I love it. My favorite character is Pam. And Jim.
What about Michael? Oh yeah, he’s really funny, too.
What was the last vacation you took? A backpacking trip in
Your closest friend describes you as: Her “sarcastic twin.”
When is the last time you got a speeding ticket? About a year ago when I was on the Taconic. It was my first one. I was so upset, I was crying. The officer lowered it though. He was really nice about it.
Irish pub or trendy club? Irish pub.
Favorite cocktail du jour? I’d have to go with a cosmopolitan.
What’s your favorite place in your apartment? My back porch. It opens out to a lot of wildlife.
What do you eat for breakfast during the week? Hard-boiled eggs. Nothing exciting.
Describe a perfect summer weekend day in the Valley: Going to Andy’s Place in Poughkeepsie and sitting on the back deck with friends and a bucket of beer. There are stunning river views there.
In a dream world, who would you look like? Kate Beckinsale. Sing like? Mariah Carey. Dance like? Michael Jackson. And cook like? Rachael Ray.
What do you do every day? Drink coffee and check my E-mail. And go on Perezhilton.com.
What’s your go-to homemade meal? Tilapia with a lemon sauce.
So you like to cook? No, I can’t stand it.
What’s your remedy for a tough day? Come home, take a bath, and watch Lifetime Original movies. With ice cream.
25, Wappingers Falls A Minnesota native, Rick has made a smooth transition to the
How is the Hudson Valley different from Minnesota? Compared to Minnesota, the scenery is just so amazing. It’s very relaxing out here. There’s also much more to do. Aside from the city, you have Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and the waterfronts. There are just so many places to meet people. The weather is also much more agreeable.
What’s an immediate turnoff for you? Smoking.
Tell us about your best date ever: When I was working in Nashville, my girlfriend at the time was coming to visit, so I decided to impress her. I got a suite at the Opry Mills Hotel and reservations at this nice restaurant. When we got to the restaurant, I told her I was going to valet the car. At the time I had this beater car, so she didn’t want me to do it. But I had arranged for a limo to pick us up. When it pulled up outside the restaurant, I said, “Let’s just get in here, there’s no one around.” She was like, “We can’t just get in someone else’s limo!” But I walked up to the limo and the driver said, “Hi, Mr. Kubitschek.” She couldn’t believe it. After that, we drove around to all of the historic places, listened to two dueling pianos, and went on a riverboat.
I’ve broken up with someone before because: The summer had ended.
Describe the most boring date you’ve ever gone on: My buddy was trying to hook me up with his girlfriend’s sister. We went out to dinner and ended up having nothing in common. We ran out of things to talk about before our food even came out. We were supposed to go to a movie after, but I told her I was too tired and left.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? A professional athlete. I’ve been playing ball since I could walk.
What’s your must-see TV? I always put on ESPN when I get home. And if I ever happen to come across Everybody Loves Raymond, I’ll watch that.
What book are you still talking or thinking about? Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.
When is the last time you got a speeding ticket? I’ve never gotten a ticket. I’ve been pulled over about eight times though. But I’ve always been able to talk my way out of it.
33, Fishkill When asked about her job as manager of an all-male team of engineers, Stephanie — who works at Verizon in
What’s your go-to meal for a date? I’d make a filet mignon with a red wine tarragon reduction sauce, and on the side have a rice pilaf with Parmesan and scallions. It’s so good, I could make it with my eyes closed at this point. Ah, and maybe later, a little flourless chocolate lava cake, with a raspberry sauce.
You sound like you know a thing or two about cooking. I take a lot of classes at the Culinary Institute of America. I’ve also taken a couple of wine appreciation courses.
What kind of wine do you drink? It really depends on the season. In the summer, I love California Chardonnay; it’s buttery and kind of dry. But in winter, I’ll go for a really dry, rich Cabernet.
Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni, nothing special.
Describe your fashion style: I wear suits to work every day. Cute, not too geeky. And I love shoes. The higher they are, the better. I can run in stilettos, but I’ll trip in sneakers.
Do you have an impressive shoe collection? My closet’s getting out of control. I can’t imagine how many types of shoes are in there. (Laughs.) It’s fun, my friends love to come over and just look at my shoes. But I don’t go over the top with the $500 shoes, probably $120 is the highest I’ve spent.
How would your closest friends describe you? Fun, spontaneous, smart.
Ever had a boring date? I dated a guy who was really cute, very smart. He had a Ph.D. I told him a story about leaving my hand lotion in the car during the winter, and how it froze like a rock — and he started arguing with me that it couldn’t possibly freeze because of the sort of oil in the lotion. It was bizarre. He wasn’t laughing, he was totally serious, no sense of humor. Not my style.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve done? I went up to the [Mohonk Preserve’s] Lemon Squeeze. It’s this crevasse between two huge rocks and it’s so narrow, you can’t see the sky. I was by myself which is really stupid and dangerous. I couldn’t fit through the rocks while wearing my backpack, so I just took it off and threw it up over my head, with no idea where it was going to land. I climbed the remaining eight feet and, thank God, it was lying there on the ledge. There was no way I was getting through with it on.
50, Gardiner “If I could do what I do now, up here, I’d quit in a heartbeat,” says Scott, an attorney for Escada (a premier fashion company). “I love my job, but I love being up here.” About six years ago, Scott bought a house in Gardiner. Since then, he’s been spending half the week at his Manhattan apartment and the other days enjoying the slower pace of Ulster County. When he’s not skydiving or bike racing (he’s currently ranked in the top 10 in the state for his age group), he’s likely to be found buffing his prized vintage cars. Anyone up for a cruise in an Alfa Romeo?
Describe yourself in three words: Curious, upbeat, respectful.
Tell us about your best date ever: Back when I used to live on Cos Cob Harbor in Connecticut, my parents had a boat. I took my date out for dinner on the water. We cooked off the back of the boat on a little grill. The water was so calm and the moon was as big as a building hanging over us, reflecting on the water. It was magical.
What’s an immediate turnoff for you? Dishonesty.
When on a date with me, I’d be impressed if you: Laughed at yourself.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut.
What’s your must-see TV? It was The Wire. But they’ve finished that series. I used to
watch The Daily Show quite a bit. But I’d have to go with Jeopardy.
Do you watch reality TV? Nope. I wouldn’t know who Ryan Seacrest was if he slapped me in the face.
What was the last vacation you took? A real trip? About two years ago I went to the Dolomites in Italy for cycling.
Your close friends would describe you as: Loyal. I pride myself on keeping up with everyone’s birthday and anniversary.
What’s your favorite place in your house? I enjoy my garage the most. I like working on my cars.
Irish pub or trendy club? Trendy club.
What do you eat for breakfast during the week? Maple brown sugar oatmeal, blueberry yogurt, and a Pink Lady apple.
How much time do you spend on the Internet each week? Probably about three hours. I recently bought an antique pipe organ, so I spend a lot of my free time playing that.
Describe a perfect summer weekend day in the Valley: A bike ride around the Gunks, followed by a barbecue lunch, and, as the air cools down, a drive in my antique Jaguar convertible.
What’s your remedy for a tough day? A good workout.
Do you have any tattoos? No.
But if you did? A rocket ship on one of my butt cheeks.
What time is your alarm clock set for? 5 a.m.
And how many times do you hit the snooze button? Zero. I get up right away, sometimes before my alarm goes off. I love every day.
26, LaGrange “When I was a kid, I used to make the weirdest things,” laughs Jason, a Bronx native. “I’d take Bisquick and just mix it with anything.” Jay, now a sales representative for Verizon Wireless in Wappingers Falls, abandoned his childhood culinary prowess for an elementary education degree at Dutchess Community College, where he’ll return this fall to explore the computer science field. But he still swears by his cheesecake. “About three years ago, I was bored at home, and I had a craving for it. I found the recipe on-line and modified it a little bit. It was really good.” Any chance we’ll get to try some? “Unfortunately, no. Since then I lost the recipe, and I can’t remember how to make it.” We knew it was too good to be true.
Ever Google yourself? Yes, actually; a couple of months ago. There’s a Philadelphia Phillies minor-league catcher with my name.
Did you become a Phillies fan after that? Many of my friends root for the Mets, so they trash-talk the Phillies. I’ll go for the Phillies just to spite them, but I’m primarily a Yankees fan.
We like your a ReggaetÃ³n ringtone. I listen to a mix of everything — I’m more into house, techno, and ’80s hair metal… go figure!
How about Bon Jovi? Been to eight of their concerts. I own every single CD, every single one.
Your closest friends describe you as: Honest, humorous, loyal. The guy who’s always there when you need him.
What’s the most daring thing that you’ve done? I went out partying with my buddy in Cancun. Perhaps a little too much; when I woke up the next morning, I had a tribal design tattoo on my arm… and I didn’t remember getting it.
Did you regret it? I tried scrubbing it off in the shower, and it wouldn’t work. So I thought to myself “All right, I got it, it’s no big deal.” It finally came off three weeks later — I guess it was a henna tattoo. It was huge, it took up my whole arm.
What are you afraid of? I’m not a big fan of heights. I tried parasailing — I liked it so much I did it twice, once in Cancun and once in Key West.
So that took care of your fear of heights? Oh God, no. If you got me up on a roof or ladder or something, I’d still be scared.
Describe a perfect summer weekend day in the Valley: If it’s a nice, warm, sunny day, I’ll take my boat out on the Hudson and have lunch on the riverfront, maybe a couple of drinks. If I’m looking to chill out, I’d go to Gully’s. If I’m in a more going-out mood, we’ll head to Torches. I like spontaneous dates — they’re always the best ones. Where I can call up and we’ll go out in the city for the day, nothing really extravagant. I like to keep it simple, but nice.
When on a date, you’d be impressed if: She had the same sense of humor as me. I’m witty and I like slapstick. It seems a lot of people are too much into themselves nowadays, they’ll put up a front, or an act. You don’t get an honest response that way. I like it when she can just be herself.
64, Haverstraw It seems that 65 is the new 35 — at least if you look at Linda Raffa’s life. The CEO of a plumbing, heating, and air conditioning company she started with her late husband 32 years ago, Linda pursues both work and pleasure with gusto. This grandmother of four cruises around the Hudson Valley (and beyond) on her Harley, enjoys her 38-foot boat, is the Queen Mother of the local Red Hat Society, and still manages to squeeze in weekly babysitting duties as well as charitable endeavors.
How did you get into the whole motorycycle thing? My husband and I always rode. After he died five years ago, I sold our bikes and had a Harley trike [a three-wheel bike] made so that my kids wouldn’t worry about me. Now I’m assistant director of the Hudson Valley Hogs, and we go out every Sunday. In the summer, we ride up to 225 miles a day. I like to ride, it really relaxes me. You only think about what you’re doing right then and there.
Where are your favorite places in the Valley to ride? I like to ride up to Cold Spring, that’s fun. And I really love going to the Kingston waterfront and sitting by the water