The box of wine was nearby and necessary.
Not just because Meagan Thomas and Madeline Hoeppner were talking (and venting) about their love lives, but because their conversation would soon be heard by anyone who wanted to listen. Even their moms.
Sipping on wine helped their stories — about bad dates, encounters with butt tattoos and breakup texts — flow easier.
That was when the pair of twentysomethings recorded the first episode of ”Single in the Springs,” a podcast about, yes, being single in Colorado Springs.
“I used to have to drink before every podcast,” Hoeppner told The Gazette. “Now I can do it sober.”
Since starting the podcast in September, they’ve become used to airing it all without liquid courage. Well, mostly all.
The hosts try not to name the names of their dates (even though some people can figure it out) and they try to keep the talk clean enough because anyone might listen.
“There are certain things I keep to myself,” Thomas said. “My mom doesn’t listen to the podcast, but if she ever does, I want to be able to look her in the eye.”
Thomas got the idea for the podcast last year. But she didn’t want to do it alone.
She met Hoeppner while teaching a Pure Barre class and quickly observed something about her new friend: “You go on a lot of dates.”
It clicked for Thomas, who works for Springs magazine and runs the Instagram page called Springs Native.
She knew the show was “going to need a lot of content.” When she heard about Hoeppner’s weekly dates, she knew she found a fitting podcast mate.
Hoeppner, who moved here from western Massachusetts for a job with Team USA Field Hockey, was game. Soon they started recording weekly episodes at Thomas’ house in Old Colorado City.
The podcast exists to commiserate about the awkward, cringey or just plain heartbreaking that comes out of going on dates.
“I’ve been on a lot of bad dates. I attract some weirdos,” Thomas said. “And it’s really unfortunate for me.”
But it provides some funny material
Their hourlong episodes have titles such as “Stop Letting Your Mom Do Your Laundry” and “Dating Apps Decoded.”
They get specific in recalling dating drama: The bearded man who on a first date donned a “beer guard” to keep foam out of his mustache; the guy who licked barbecue sauce from a cup “like a cat;” an allergic reaction to a suitor’s pet cat during a sleepover. They sometimes preface stories with, “God, I hope he doesn’t listen to this.”
“Single in the Springs” aims to provide more than just laughs. The hosts offer advice about what not to do (go on a hike) or eat (chicken wings) on a first date (neither sets you up to look your best). Don’t go to the movies, Thomas says, calling films “literally the worst first date you could have. You can’t even talk to each other.”
The pair deals with the serious stuff, too. What if your long-term partner cheats on you? What’s your move after a three-month fling suddenly ends?
It’s OK, they say, to have a bad date. Or 12.
“Aside from maybe one relationship, I’m 28 years old and I’ve been single my entire life,” Thomas said. “It can be really discouraging when my friends aren’t even at the point of getting married, they’re having babies or they’re getting divorced. And I’m like, I can’t even get divorced.”
But Thomas and Hoeppner didn’t want “Single in the Springs” to be a big rant fest.
“We didn’t want to just talk about the negative stuff and the problems,” Thomas said. “We wanted to offer solutions.”
One problem they’re fixing? How to meet people beyond using dating apps. They call it “meeting people in the wild.”
In November, they started hosting singles events at local breweries and restaurants — events that have turned out to be fun.
“I think there’s a lot of negative connotation with attending a singles event,” Thomas said. “People think like, ‘Oh, you’re desperate.’ But in a place like Colorado Springs, there’s really not a lot of places where single young people are just hanging out.”
They plan to add events geared toward people older than 40 and in the LGBTQ community.
“Dating sucks,” Thomas said. “If I can help someone else find someone or just not feel so alone in that, that feels good to me.”