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My ex-wife wants me to find someone so I won’t bug her.” Lomeli pulls out his wedding ring, which he wears on a gold chain tucked under his shirt. “I want the excitement of someone new, of looking forward to what we’re going to do next.” The room is thick with hesitancy.

Few attendees seem as positive as Reno resident Helaine Greenberg, who takes a Zen-like approach to being single.

A cheer goes up and Gosse regains control of the mike. “There’s always a surplus of single men who are too chicken to ask a woman on a date.

The game starts with mastering dating strategy at a convention The middle-aged professionals gathered for the Northern California Singles Convention have resorted to the “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Junior High” approach to mingling.

The men, starched and uncomfortable in sports coats and ties, lean against the back wall of the ballroom at the Red Lion Inn.

Ever the party host, Gosse whispers something to the DJ and invites everyone to join him for “the greatest dance song of all time.” No one moves, so he takes Linda Coker by the hand and leads her onto the floor.

More couples follow suit until nearly everyone is up.

A collective groan rises as a hundred single Sacramentans realize they didn’t have to choose between televised sports history and the search for true love. Contrary to the advice offered in The Rules, Gosse encourages women to abandon the “play hard to get” strategy and initiate contact with every single man they find attractive.

The disappointed crowd threatens to turn ugly until a woman in the audience holds up a small television and informs everyone that the Kings are ahead. Tons of activities every week.” He holds up a copy of the Bee’s Ticket section and scans the pages. “The average guy out there is scared to death of rejection. All you need to know about men—this one lesson is worth the —is that they’re chicken.” The women laugh, while the men stare blankly into their cocktails.Martin Lomeli, a 36-year-old man dressed entirely in black, hovers at the edge of the dance floor with drink in hand.Recently divorced and new to the Sacramento area, Lomeli “just started looking into these kind of events because I’m very lonely. I’ll always love her.” Bristling at the suggestion that it may be too soon for him to start dating, Lomeli insists he is ready.None seems nonchalant about the mission of the evening. Young lovers were asked to dance or went home crying, only to wake in the morning with a different beloved in mind.The juvenile separation of genders notwithstanding, this gathering bears a distinct difference from the middle-school mixers of old. Feelings, and the torrid but temporary bonds that followed, just “happened.” A singles convention, however, is about planning and focus.Many in the audience scowl or shake their heads in disbelief, but only one man challenges this advice. The singles get their cocktails and settle into tables on the periphery of the dance floor.

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