Put'em up: I'll date you with one hand tied behind my back

Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2010

I must admit, I did get more handsome and witty as the night wore on during Rough House Friday Boxing at Marlintini's Lounge. I also am smart enough to know it probably had something to do with the consumption factor of my date's beverages.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

As I looked around, it appeared to be the United Nations of dating.

Sweat flying, blood splattering and scantily clad girls parading around a roped-in ring carrying huge numerical signs. This might not be the best place to bring a first date, or a blind date, but I soon discovered people like to socialize.

Former mixed martial arts fighter Charles Batton and his wife, Jamie, shot pool and watched the action.

"This is our first outing in a year," Jamie Batton said. "He works so much. My advice is don't try too hard; it puts people off. And don't stare at other women. I've been getting stared at a lot, and my husband is right here."

"Wear protection," Charles Batton said. "Just like boxing, protection is important. Guys and girls, be safe and be truthful and honest to yourself and your partner. It is important to get out, get away from that cabin fever."

Alaskan Brewing Co. sales and merchandise representative Aubrey Reese has a job which often puts her into bar and restaurant situations. Her boyfriend, Chris Rushman, is allergic to beer.

"I met my boyfriend in a bar," Reese said. "I think dating in bars is good, but you have to do smart dating in bars."

I determined that smart dating consists of not hooking up on the first date.

"Bars can be good social lubricants," Reese said.

Bar maid Kacie Timothy, who is dating someone, sees plenty of daters meeting in the bar and dates who come to the bar together.

"I think there is a difference," Timothy said. "I think a lot of couples come out to socialize and keep from falling into the stay-at-home relationship rut. And a lot of singles need this surrounding to become couples."

Friends Stacie Cross, 24, Makana Fields, 24, Brandon Sylvester, 24, and Russ Bullock, 26, came to hang out and play pool and celebrate Bullock's birthday.

"We're homies, just friends," Fields said. "I am actively trying to not have a relationship. I think it is a good idea. I've been in love with two of my best friends, so I'm just trying to avoid the whole situation."

"Dating in bars? Don't," said Fields' ex-boyfriend, Sylvester.

"Twenty-six is the oldest I have ever been in my life," Bullock said. "That is enough to worry about."

"I like the social atmosphere," added passer-by Heather Cramer, who is married. "I like to be around people. It's a happening place."

Marlintini's owners Ethan and Brandie Billings are a bar romance success story. When they first met, Ethan owned the bar and Brandie checked coats. Finally, dressed as a devil on Halloween, the sparks flew.

"It's possible to meet someone in a bar and have a lasting relationship," Brandie Billings said. "We have kids and life is good."

Their advice to daters out there:

"Have a sober date," she said. "Honesty and open communication."

"Own a bar, and chicks just flock there," Ethan Billings joked. "Seriously though, it works because she knows what it takes to run this place and we talk a lot. It's Juneau and a lot of people have multiple jobs."

As for the signs carried by the ring girls, someone told me they were emblazoned with the numeral of the round the fighters were about to start. I hadn't noticed.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com if you know how to remove a large tattoo that reads "Ring Girl."

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