Stokes and the City: The Art of Dating Yourself in Edmonton

By Caroline Stokes
Feb 18, 2021

Meet Caroline Stokes, a local Edmonton comedian-artist who wants you to feel good! Her beloved characters Doug Carl and Wendy with a Smile (just to name a few) want that too. While she loves performing onstage, she has found a niche online celebrating talent and “Normalizing Awkwardness” with her well-intentioned movement series #CarolineSideBySide. During the pandemic, her passion made national news and continues to be shared widely as people find comfort in her comedic, uplifting, and colourful content — check out her remakes of The Queen’s Gambit and The Handmaid’s Tale! Whether she’s performing live or behind a camera, one thing is certain...it’s gotta be kind.

No matter how you explore, be sure to continue practicing physical distancing, frequent handwashing and following the guidelines put in place to keep everyone safe. Some of the businesses mentioned here may be offering modified services at this time. Please check their individual websites for the latest updates, and note any applicable health/safety restrictions (you can always use this guide to inspire a future outing too!).

Stokes and the City

Hi! I’m Caroline Stokes and I like to date myself. Let me clarify — yes, I did use a rotary phone to invite my friends over to play pogs on my pink shag carpet while playing Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me” — recorded on cassette from the radio — but this time I’m talking about actual dating. Turns out, swiping right on myself and exploring Edmonton on foot has led me to, not only a more loving relationship with myself, but also to some of my favourite places in the city. This article highlights some of my most-loved spots in Edmonton. In light of being current and original, let’s call this article Caroline in the City. Oh, wait a minute. How about Stokes and the City?! Perfect.

Several years ago — newly single and nearly 30, an older (and wiser) friend had been telling me about the art of “dating yourself”. What?! This was a new concept for me to grasp back then; so, how does it work? Who makes the first move?! How long do I wait to text?! You and I both know that timing is everything.

My first date! Wearing my favourite lippy and accidentally/on-purpose brushing hands with myself, I nervously approached Situation Brewing’s expansive window front. I felt awkward! Sitting in a far corner with my head buried in my phone would have been waaaaay easier, but I forced myself to sit at “the wood” and disconnect to connect. Guess what? I soon felt fully charged as Situation soon became my favourite situation (they love those jokes!) and you’d find me there on days that end in “y”.

Next stop on my dating journey: The Next Act Pub. Any great date has great conversation. Having high hopes for this, I had compiled a list of easy questions from Google: “what to ask on a date”. The Next Act was an ideal choice for this date because the sea of plaid and Blundstones is always inclusive and I felt comfortable talking to myself there. Being myself. The first question on the list was “What do you like?” and I immediately blamed Google for this incredibly difficult question. How dare it ask that! I was drawing blanks. I stuttered and stammered and without thought ordered the MEAT™ Brisket Donair on a whim as a way to hopefully deflect and distract.

Date #3 - puts on faux fur vest - It’s showtime! Laughing is one of my favourite things to do with myself (my psychologist is aware of this habit of mine and we both agree it’s healthy!). Have you been to the Grindstone Comedy Theatre & Bistro? The walls are lined with quirky knick knacks, a cookie jar collection and the last of the world’s supply of VHS tapes stacked near the DJ booth. It’s the perfect spot to see some incredible local comedians and listen to some of the best karaoke in the city.

The lattes, which you’ll surely crave week to week, will likely make your knees weak, and the other edible artwork is reminiscent of my time in Paris. I’m trying to figure out a good segue to talk about sitting on a plane beside Bill Murray in France but perhaps that’s for another time. I’ll finish by saying that he is incredibly wonderful and so is La Boule. Sweet segue, Caroline!

I can’t thank Explore Edmonton enough for this opportunity to share some things about our city that I love. But I’ll try again…THANK YOU x INFINITY! Perhaps after reading this, you’ll start flirting with the idea of dating yourself. Heck, you might just fall in love.