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Same goes for fundraising, wrapping holiday presents and teaching new skills. On planes, trains and automobiles — or waiting for them.
It's easy — or at least logical — to strike up a conversation with a seatmate; if nothing else, you've got your destination in common.
Reading to a very young child in a hospital room may be satisfying, for example, but it's also an activity that tends to isolate the volunteer.
By contrast, preparing food in a community kitchen or playing piano at a senior center — both of which I've done with friends — opens broad opportunities to meet other volunteers.
" Another, an avid cyclist, met her husband-to-be on a bike trip in France.
But take heart if online dating sites put you off, for many ordinary places make excellent potential meeting grounds.
At another, I struck up a conversation with the handsome, funny bartender, who happened to be an actor. We smiled, sat down on a bench and started talking. Next he tried Italian cooking, with better results: The class involved preparing dishes with a partner, so Larry picked the entrée course — and a single-woman partner.
We got to enjoy one dinner together before he was called to L. They made eggplant parmigiana and vegetarian lasagna, among other things, then enrolled together for a second cooking course (on soups). These days they're in each other's kitchen almost every night, cooking up a storm.
At conferences and work parties when I was single, I approached men who appeared to be alone. While planning her daughter's wedding, my divorced friend, Jane, developed a crush on the florist. From the time he walked in, he waxed poetic about his deceased wife. I couldn't be sure, but it was clear he was neither available nor ready. The subject matter should excite you — don't sign up for a bridge class if you hate playing cards — but the type of class has to be right, as well.
I went out with an instructor I talked to over the crabmeat canapés at a faculty event. Afterward, eager to keep the connection alive, she went to his shop and thanked him in person. Years earlier, newly divorced and pushing my daughter on a playground swing, I spotted a cool-looking man with his daughters. At a Web-design course, for example, my divorced neighbor, Larry, faced a computer and a blank wall — no interaction with fellow students, no chance to mingle.