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Flying solo
M reveals Milwaukee's 20 hottest singles - and what makes them tick


January 14, 2012

Gail Groenwoldt, 40

Self-Employed, Sales

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Realizing how quiet it is when falling back to earth the first time I went sky diving.

BOOK IíM READING: Right now I am reading "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen and "Cleopatra: A Life" by Stacy Schiff.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I used to live on a ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

RAINY-DAY ACTIVITY: Milwaukee Art Museum.

MY HERO: My great-aunt, because of her grand sense of adventure and love of life.

DREAM VACATION: Combining climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with a safari.

IíM A SUCKER FOR: A great dining experience.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: Laughing and playing with my son.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: I am looking for someone who is kind, has a good sense of humor, doesnít have a temper, has a sense of style, enjoys a good dive as much as a five-star restaurant, would enjoy attending the symphony as much as a Bucks game, is as comfortable in a tuxedo as in casual clothes, believes traveling is a must and embraces life.

I havenít been single since 2000. In fact, I donít know if Iíve ever really been single for more than a few weeks at a time since I was a teenager.

Some people may view that as a sickness of sorts; co-dependency, low self-esteem. I like to think of it as a special power. If I were a super hero, I would be Relationship Girl ó duping single men into relationships with one bat of my eyelashes.

It turns out, while that worked for me in my teens and 20s, the dating world has changed a lot since I was 22. Those hypnotic eyelashes that worked so well in high school and college seem more like a parlour trick in your 30s. And when the dust settled on my divorce last year, and the short, bound-for-doom relationship that followed, I wondered how in the world people do this "dating" thing in 2011.

I wasnít really interested in meeting someone in a bar. So cliche, right? Friend of a friend? Well, after a while, it seems like you know just about everybody. The chances of someone magically appearing out of thin air start to seem less and less likely. Online? Well, I tried that, too, for a few weeks ó purely for article research purposes, of course. Iím just not an online kind of girl. Itís like lining up 12 pizzas at a grocery store and asking me to pick the one that looks most tempting. Thatís not how I want to meet a mate. Fifty words or less and an image of someone taking an iPhone photo of themselves shirtless in their bathroom mirror? Not my cup of tea.

Itís not that I havenít been on dates. I have; plenty of them. But after a fun night out, then waiting for the phone to ring, it all starts to feel like a chapter out of "Heís Just Not That Into You." My life is too hectic to make time to sit around wondering why some part-time club DJ didnít ask for a second date.

So, here I am. Three months later. Single.

The craziest part? I have never been happier. I wake up every morning smiling.

Sure, there are some things I miss about being Relationship Girl ó the security, the togetherness, the intimacy, the cape. But overall, Iíve learned if you canít be happy alone, you stand absolutely no chance of being happy with anyone else.

Being single is almost like a rite of passage. If you can go it alone, you can do anything you set your mind to. It can be daunting, at first. But after a while you begin to relish the strength that comes from independence. You know you earned that strength; no one gave it to you. And itís all your own ó which means no one can take it away.

Truth be told, as much as I like to complain about dating, I rather enjoy it ó after I learned to stop taking it so seriously. If thereís one mistake I see my friends (and myself) make over and over again, itís expecting too much too soon. Dating should be fun, almost like recess. Itís the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, get out of your comfort zone. And even if it doesnít lead to a relationship, itís still a series of moments to reflect on ó from the butterflies of a fantastic first date to the hilarity of a bad blind one.

Dating, in its purest form, is meant to be enjoyable. When we sit back and just let it happen ó instead of over-analyzing every word we say to the point of exhaustion ó is when we find the pleasure of the process. And that, in itself, is exhilarating.

This is the common thread that pulls together these 20 Milwaukee singles ó besides that fact that they are all adorably cute, with great personalities and a zest for life. They are all single, and they embrace it. Not out of necessity, but choice.

Do they want to stay single forever? Probably not. And neither do I. But I canít imagine any of them curling up in the fetal position and crying about it.

So, read on to meet a 20-something blonde with an addiction to Twizzlers, a 41-year-old father who prefers the "smart" Charlieís Angel, a local morning show radio host looking for a really good make-out partner and an early 30s gal who just wants you to bring her cupcakes.

At the end of the day, the most significant relationship of your life is the one you have with yourself. And if Iím lucky enough to find someone who loves me for all of the quirks that make me who I am, then Iíll feel Iíve met my match. Until then, Iím going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Kyle Cherek, 41
Host, Wisconsin Foodie
Brand Ambassador and National Sales, Rufus Apparel

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: I always liked

the smart Charlieís Angel, the one most in charge ... I remember a debate about this in fourth grade during recess kickball. Seriously.

MY HERO: My hero is increasingly becoming my father. That has certainly been formed by being one myself, and now I more acutely understand the subtle and key nuances he gave me growing up.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: I try to be grateful for what Iíve got. It sounds corny, but at least once a week, I pull out this notebook I keep and write down all the things I am grateful for.

ONE WISH: I have always wished that everyone that ever threw something out of their car window would have it all materialize on their front door one morning. Crazy, right? But I bet we would have less oil spills, etc.

DATING DEAL-BREAKER: I use the "Walgreens test." If your date is sincere and considerate and decent to, say, the Walgreens checkout person, then when life gets difficult ... that person will be genuinely decent and considerate to you as well. It seems simple, but I have left a number of people at the "proverbial" checkout counter.


Matt Reynolds, 37
Sales Executive, Metro Thief
General Manager, Bradford Beach Cabana Co.

BOOK IíM READING: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.

SECRET HOBBY: Crossword puzzles. "You caught me. I like to break a mental sweat, too." ó White Goodman

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: Elizabeth Shueís character in "The Karate Kid." She was the first girl that convinced me that sometimes the poor, scrawny kid could win the pretty, popular girl with the heart of gold.

IPOD EMBARRASSMENT: Billy Oceanís "Loverboy."

DREAM VACATION: Rosa Alpina Resort in Cortina, Italy.

PART OF MY CHARM: I try to find something about everyone that I like, and then sincerely compliment them on it. This world has enough people in it that make you feel bad about yourself. I try to be the exception.

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Girls in baseball caps.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: Coffee. Black. Lots of it.


Sara Baumann, 26
Account Executive, Company B Brand Marketing

IíM SO OVER: People over-sharing about their children on Facebook. Believe me, you are the only one who cares that your child went on the potty today. 

DATING OBSTACLE: Height! Iím 5í8" and wear the tallest heels I can find. I donít mind a guy whoís shorter than me, but Iím not giving up my shoes.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I went to Sturgis last summer.

FIND ME HERE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: The Yard at The Iron Horse Hotel. It definitely doesnít feel like Milwaukee. Nothing beats a night out on that sexy patio.

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Cute guys with big, cuddly dogs. I melt.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: Two words: Gummy. Candy. I literally buy a family pack of Twizzlers on a weekly basis.

SECRET TALENT: For whatever reason, I seem to know the lyrics to every song ever made. I donít know, my friends call me an old soul.

DATING DEAL-BREAKER: Lack of confidence is a total deal-breaker. Even the most confident female wants the man to take charge. Please pick a restaurant!

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: I rarely take things seriously, so a sense of humor is a must. I also appreciate when a guy has some sort of individual style, and he must be intelligent. That being said, I would consider giving all these things up for someone with the ability to fix my car.

Dario Melendez, 25
Weekend Sports Anchor/Weekday Reporter, WISN 12

BOOK IíM READING: "For Milwaukee Braves Fans Only!" by Tom Andrews and Rich Wolfe. Iím new to the area and I have to get caught up on the history of the teams I cover.

PERFECT PET: I am a dog lover. So Iíd have to go with a brown Chow Chow, just like the one I grew up with.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I played bass in a country music band in high school ó went on tour and everything!

RAINY-DAY ACTIVITY: Lying on the couch, watching a good game or a good movie.

MY HERO: Hands down, my mother. Itís not easy raising a boy as a single parent. I owe her everything.

DREAM VACATION: A world cruise. I love traveling and I love cruising! So itís the best of both worlds. No pun intended Ö OK, maybe a little.

FIND ME HERE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: Behind the sports desk at WISN 12, bringing you the latest on your Packers, Brewers, Bucks, Badgers, Golden Eagles, Panthers and/or whatever else your sportsí hearts desire.

GREAT NIGHT OUT: A funny movie followed by a night out on the town. Canít beat a good laugh with good company.

BIGGEST FEAR: Lizards! Ugh! I canít stand those prehistoric terrors! And yes, I will scream like a little girl if I see one.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: A strong, independent woman who has a good head on her shoulders. Someone who likes to laugh and joke around. Likes to play sports and try new and fun things.


Evan Christian, 33

BOOK IíM READING: "Love" by Leo Buscaglia.


DREAM VACATION: Six months in Rio.

PART OF MY CHARM: I can make beats with my mouth!

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Pabst Blue Ribbon.



BIGGEST FEAR: There wonít be enough bacon.

IF I HAD ONE WISH: Free healthcare, education and buffalo wings.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: I want a girl with extensions in her hair, bamboo earrings ó at least two pair.

Josh Pietrykowski, 34

ON THE BUCKET LIST: Getting in the cash cab, being on Tosh.0ís Web Redemption, throwing out the first pitch at a Brewers game, becoming the private "touring" bartender for The Rolling Stones, running for president of Milwaukee with Stephen Colbert, having my name added to the international no-fly list and finding the cure for cancer.

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Women wearing stilettos and dresses.

PERFECT PET: A baby orangutan. Right Turn Clyde.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: Iím spiritual, but not religious. If religion is what centers you, weíre probably not a good match.

PART OF MY CHARM: My blunt honesty (and my eyes).

DATING DEAL-BREAKER: Iím pretty easy going and tolerate a ton, but my line is drawn with lying to me, mind games, excessive negative drama, constant arguments. Oh, and the V.D. You give me something, and all bets are off.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: An attractive, easy going, well-mannered lady with a great outlook on life. A sense of humor is a must, along with an open mind capable of handling conversations of all types, and a willingness to do things out of the norm Ö or an alcoholic.


Trenni Kusnierek, 34
Co-Host, Sports Central
Sports Reporter, 620-WTMJ

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Spending January teaching English in New Delhi, India.

IíM SO OVER: Face-engulfing sunglasses. Trust me, you look stupid.

ON THE BUCKET LIST: Visiting all seven continents. (Yes, even Antarctica.)


YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I was captain of my dance team in high school.


RAINY-DAY ACTIVITY: My own version of a Sunday Funday. But, you have to know me well before you can know the details.


SECRET TALENT: Photography.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Spontaneity, confidence and a real sense of travel adventure. Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower are great, but Iíd prefer to climb to Everest base camp or backpack through Southeast Asia.


Rickie Weeks, 28
Milwaukee Brewer

PART OF MY CHARM: Iím a good listener and Iím humble.

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Good food and good music.


ON THE BUCKET LIST: Travel to Egypt.

GREAT NIGHT OUT: Dinner and live music or a concert.


BIGGEST FEAR: Not living life to the fullest.

IF I HAD ONE WISH: To accomplish everything I want to do in life successfully.


WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: God fearing, family oriented, spontaneous and good-looking, of course.

Wendy Strong, 40
Television Reporter/Writer, The Business Journal/Fox 6 News

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Meeting Mikhail Baryshnikov. I was a hostess at Maderís in the early í90s. We opened exclusively one night for a mystery celebrity. I was not amused, until the door swung open and in leaped Baryshnikov! My gasp still echoes through the streets of Old Milwaukee.

ON THE BUCKET LIST: Learning to speak Spanish fluently.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Soap operas, butter and salt on my pizza.

PERFECT PET: Any shelter animal. My dog is named Ruby. By the way, I donít believe shelter animals should be called "rescues." It sounds demeaning. Plus, they rescue us! I guess that makes me a "rescue."

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: John Ritter. I still mimic his schtick from "Threeís Company."

IPOD EMBARRASSMENT: I recently received a really cool iPod Nano as a gift. The embarrassment? Thereís nothing on it. I have no idea how to work it! However, I did name the device Mork. "Nanu Nanu" Ö get it?

MY HERO: My grandmother, Adelia Strong. Always smiling, always a lady, never flinched. Lived 94 beautiful years.

SECRET TALENT: The art of improvisation. I graduated from The Second Cityís improv program in Chicago last August.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Confidence, humor, humility and kindness. Oh yes, and a hopeless romantic.


Bob Murray, 34
Director of Acquisitions, HSI Properties LLC.

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Iím taking a cab from Milwaukee to Los Angeles to find love while filming a documentary about the experience.

ON THE BUCKET LIST: Skydiving, and it was just crossed off on May 2 with my Kansas City date.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Cake donuts with a lot of sprinkles. Iíve noticed one unnamed grocery store has been going light on the sprinkles, and Iím not happy.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: Iíve teared up watching "Extreme Makeover Home Edition."

DREAM VACATION: Chartering a sailboat and sailing around the British Virgin Islands.

PART OF MY CHARM: Iím humorous and I donít keep many things secret about myself. I may need to start working on the latter.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: Long underwear in the winter. Someone told me about it this winter and it has completely changed my Wisconsin winter experience.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: I prefer women who are intelligent, confident and adventurous. It is crucial they treat other people well.

Jenna Kashou, 29
Nonprofit Development Director/Freelance Writer

GUILTY PLEASURE: Reading magazines in bed on Sunday mornings.


PERFECT PET: Anything that doesnít bark too loud, shed or poop.

RAINY-DAY ACTIVITY: Jumping in puddles.

DREAM VACATION: Sailing the Greek Isles.


PART OF MY CHARM: My clumsiness.



WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Someone who is honest, compassionate and has a good sense of humor.


Mike Vassallo, 36
Director of Media Relations, Milwaukee Brewers

SECRET HOBBY: Singing (Frank Sinatra).

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: Princess Leia in the bikini from Return of the Jedi.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I worked for the Yankees for three years but rooted for the Mets.

IPOD EMBARRASSMENT: Among many, many others: Air Supply. I celebrate their entire collection!

MY HERO: My grandmother ... and Bill Schroeder.

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: I live it every day.

ON THE BUCKET LIST: Iím gonna die?!

PART OF MY CHARM: Doing the old-fashioned things, like opening doors.


WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Sense of humor. Someone who can laugh with me and at themselves.


Theri DeJoode, 41
Owner, Groom for Men
Technical Director, American Crew

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Bath time at Kalighat, Calcutta, India.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Champagne, but I donít feel all that guilty about it.

DATING OBSTACLE: My schedule. I work nights and weekends.

PERFECT PET: My Australian shepherd, P.Joe.


YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I invented a product for the frequent traveler: the head hammock traveler.

FIND ME HERE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: P.Joe and I are free-wheeling at one of my married friendsí homes.

PART OF MY CHARM: Acceptance.

GREAT NIGHT OUT: A long hike and dinner.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Understanding, graciousness, adventurous, sense of humor, atonement, chill.

Wes McKane, 35
Morning Radio Host, "Wes, Rahny and Alley," KISS-FM

IíM SO OVER: Shaving, dusting and potholes. Not necessarily in that order, it depends on my mood that day.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Stalking pretty girls on Facebook. Are we friends yet? Add me!

DATING OBSTACLE: When they get arrested. Yes, it has happened. The second date was lame after that.

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: The woman on my momís Redbook that month. I used to make out with the magazines. Donít judge.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: I got Aís in psychology, economics and political science. And I like the word "suckle."

PART OF MY CHARM: Iím not arrogant. Oh yeah, and Iím awesome!

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Peanut Butter. Chips and Salsa. Plaid Skirts. HGTV. Cool cars. Plaid skirts, did I already say that?

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: Oxygen, my friends, my kids, my cell phone. Baseball. My plaid skirt.

SECRET TALENT: I can unfasten a bra in less then a second. I know it makes me sound piggish, but I am no good at anything else.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: You have to be beautiful (Iím a little shallow.) Be patient, because Iím a little bit crazy, and have a good sense of humor, because I am seldom serious. And is a good maker-outer. I feel that skill has been lacking lately.


Andy Nunemaker, 43
President, Intermedix EMSystems

GUILTY PLEASURE: Iím addicted to art collecting. Iím trying to get over it, and nothing is working!

IPOD EMBARRASSMENT: I tend to leave my iPhone on the conference table at work during meetings. Unfortunately, some of my friends find it fun to text me inappropriate photos during the workday Ö

DREAM VACATION: My passion is international travel and photography. I love exploring remote places in the world and getting lost in other cultures.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: I need seven hours of sleep each night and to exercise every day. Iím not very fun to be around if those two things donít happen.

GREAT NIGHT OUT: Any Friday night out in Milwaukee must end with a trip to Mad Planet. They havenít changed the music since I first went there in 1989.

IF I HAD ONE WISH: My prevailing wish is that I make a positive difference in the world every day of my life.

DATING DEAL-BREAKER: It would be nearly impossible for me to date a smoker, or someone over 30.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Iíve been cursed with having extremely high standards. I was spoiled by finding the entire package in the past, so all candidates need to pass my qualifications for intelligence, culture, humor and wit. Oh, and looks too.


Jessica Kaminski, 32

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Iím lucky enough to have a photography career that lends itself to a lot of once-in-a-lifetime moments!

ON THE BUCKET LIST: To revisit Puerto Rico with my mom, to attend New York Fashion week and to go to Mexico for Day of the Dead.

BOOKS IíM READING: "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain and "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer.

SECRET HOBBY: I love hunting for vintage frames at antique malls and flea markets.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: Iím half Puerto Rican and half Polish.

MY HERO: Katharine Hepburn.

FIND ME HERE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: Foundation Tiki Bar or dancing at Mad Planet for The Get Down.

PART OF MY CHARM: Iím sassy and classy.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: A thoughtful, self-confident, humorous guy who has ambitions and is a good communicator. Heís grounded and likes to explore life. And once in a while, heíll bring me cupcakes.

Justin Krol, 29
Online Editor, Shepherd Express
Musician, Death Dream and Invade Rome

MY HERO: Nick Cave is one of my favorite musicians and one of the coolest dudes alive, so he getís my vote. But it should also be known that Ghostface Killah is a close second.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Nerd stuff. I probably shouldnít elaborate on this.

RAINY-DAY ACTIVITY: Re-alphabetizing my record collection ... see above.

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: BluBlockers ó hands down, the most profound innovation in eyewear of the last 30 years. Theyíre perfect for all occasions. They also look great on everyone ... unless you buy the Eagle "sport" model. Youíll look like a total dick if you do that.

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: Betty "Lady" Aberlin of Mister Rogersí Neighborhood of Make-Believe and Maria from "Sesame Street" were definitely the highlights of PBSí afternoon programming.

BIGGEST FEAR: Jazz music. Itís pretty terrifying and itís popping up everywhere these days.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: I usually prefer women with bangs, hobbies and some sort of an affinity for local culture.


Kerrie Clark, 45
Photo Stylist, Ford Models Artist Division/Actress

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: Improv-ing with Robin Williams.

GUILTY PLEASURE: I love to watch movies twice in a row (itís an actor thing.)

BOOK IíM READING: "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.

CHILDHOOD CRUSH: George Michael (I was extremely naive). My current crush? Alec Baldwin.

FIND ME HERE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: Watching live music at The Riverside, The Pabst or Turner Hall.

IíM A SUCKER FOR: Men with gray hair (itís like a moth to a flame.)

CANíT LIVE WITHOUT: My iPhone. Itís my digital Swiss army knife.

NICKNAME: Ker Bear, KB, Karrot and Clarkie.

SECRET TALENT: Iíve been told I take the most amazing portraits. I am absolutely intrigued with peopleís faces. Itís a genuine passion of mine.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Alpha behavior, confidence, charisma, kindness, humor (one has to be smart to be funny), and, of course, chemistry is non-negotiable.

James Valona, 29
Manager of Desires/Promotions, The Iron Horse Hotel

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT: I have been fortunate enough to have a few of them. One was swimming with wild sea lions in the Sea of Cortez. To retain some level of respect from my peers, I will keep the others to myself.

ON THE BUCKET LIST: To travel Europe for a year.

DATING OBSTACLES: I work very odd hours and they always change.

SECRET HOBBY: Sadly, I am a gamer and I also like Japanese Anime. No judging.

PERFECT PET: A dog. Iím a huge dog guy. I would steal Mr. Winkle if I could get away with it.

YOUíD NEVER GUESS: Iím a published poet.


PART OF MY CHARM: I am the first person to laugh at myself.

BIGGEST FEAR: Ending up in jail. I donít think I would last too long.

IF I HAD ONE WISH: You better believe it would be to fly (that might be on a G6 with the trillion I wished for.)

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A SIGNIFICANT OTHER: I am clichť. I like tall, dark and handsome. Give me a bit of a dark past ó and someone who is funny ó and I am good to go. 



This story ran in the June 2011 issue of: