IOWA CITY — When people ask how Tiffany Malcom and Kevin Roiseland met, the couple laugh.
“We generally say, ‘Do you want the long story or the short story?’” Malcom says.
The short story is simple: They were set up by friends.
"After we tell them that, they want the long story,” Malcom says.
That takes a little longer — nearly 350 pages, actually.
Malcom’s first date with Roiseland was in 2010.
That was the year she had 50 first dates, one in every state.
“People either say ‘Wow, that must have been a great adventure,’” says Malcom, an ELL teacher at West High School. “Or I get a weird look and told I must have been desperate.”
The former is the real reason.
Malcom, an Iowa native originally from Albert City, was living in Colorado when she decided to sell her home, most of her personal belongings and visit all 50 states before embarking on her next career. When asked what she’d do on her grand adventure, Malcom had several ideas. Relaxing. Hiking. Camping. Visiting old friends. Maybe she’d even write a book.
Finding a husband, though, wasn’t something Malcom expected.
OK, maybe just a little.
“I’m an eternal optimist,” she says. “Maybe it would happen, maybe it wouldn’t. Either way, I’d have a great adventure along the way.”
Malcom shared her plan with friends, many of whom helped by finding their state’s date. She kept her parents in the dark.
“They’re worriers; they watch ‘20/20,’” she says with a laugh. “They were worried about the trip already. They didn’t need to worry about this, too.”
Still, Malcom was cautious. Each potential date was vetted carefully. All of Malcom’s dates were made aware of the project. Dates occurred in public places and Malcom had her own transportation for most. She even had a chief safety officer, a friend who kept track of whom Malcom was going out with.
“I’d email her the information I had on each guy and tell her where I was meeting him so she’d knew where to send the police if I went missing,” Malcom says.
She didn’t need to worry. The men she met were enthusiastic about the project. Many took the process as a challenge to do well by their state. Malcom kept a blog about her adventure (Fiftydatesinfifty
states.jigsy.com), which some of her dates read in order to top others who came before them.
Mr. Alabama told Malcom he wanted his state to be the best date of all. So their date included a chauffeured car, an art fair and a sunset view via a Skyhawk 172.
“I think if I would have had 50 dinner dates, I would have been bored out of my mind,” Malcom says. “And the book would have been boring.
“I think of the book as inspiration for date ideas. It’s so easy to get stuck in the dinner-and-a-movie rut.”
“Fifty Dates in Fifty States” is a story of adventure, of exploring the country and, ultimately, of love. Roiseland was the only man Malcom thought about long after their date ended, but their second date didn’t happen right away. Jobs forced the couple to date long distance.
It was worth it, though. Roiseland proposed on Valentine’s Day in 2012; the couple’s wedding was in June that same year.
Their first child is due in April.
Malcom won’t say where Roiseland fell in her dating lineup; or which state he represents.“Those who know us know the story,” she says. “Everyone else will have to read the book.”