Young women, take heart! Cosmo's bachelor of the month is a reluctant single.
Baltimore veterinarian Kim J. Hammond, featured in the November Cosmopolitan, says he's all for marriage.
"I'd get married in a second if I found the right person," says the 38-year-old divorced father of a 5-year-old girl and owner of the Falls Road Animal Hospital in Ruxton, as he pauses at his office to discuss his new celebrity status.
"I happened to marry the wrong person, but I think the institution of marriage is great. It's a great feeling. It beats the hell out of being single. The companionship is wonderful and sharing all those experiences is extraordinary."
His latest distinction as bachelor of the month is one of many that have kept the Baltimore veterinarian in the public eye.
He appears in one-minute TV spots with pet care tips, which are syndicated nationally. He takes care of dogs that appear in stage presentations and movie productions in Baltimore. He spent three weeks last year at Beijing Agricultural University, helping start China's first department of small animal medicine and surgery. Now he's pushing for a statewide disclosure law that would require pet stores to provide buyers with information on what goes into caring for a pet.
Dr. Hammond claims his high-profile involvements arise out of an obsession with veterinary medicine and are intended to advance the cause of animal health care, rather than his own business.
He was selected for Cosmo, says senior editor Lisa Simmons, from about a hundred candidates, as a result of a letter and photo sent by someone in his office. Selection typically is made on the basis of occupation, photogenic quality and how well the figure comes across.
While waiting for the right woman to come along, Dr. Hammond says he makes the most of his bachelorhood, dating two and three times a week. For a first night out he likes to plan a leisurely dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, such as the Prime Rib or Tio Pepe's.
"I don't need a lot of peripheral activity, like shows and dances and movies, to have a great time," he explains. "If the chemistry is right, then a quiet evening can be great fun. What I enjoy most is the interaction. On a perfect date I'm totally consumed by the person I'm with, almost to the point where my appetite is satiated."
Usually the pair wind up at Dr. Hammond's penthouse apartment taking in the harbor view or watching fish in his large seawater aquarium. The invitation to come up is not meant as a ploy, the veterinarian insists, but as a way to add a nice, homey touch to a pleasant evening.
"If I was hustling someone for sex, any woman could see through that," he says. "But if we're having a great time and I have a nice place where we can continue the evening, why not?"
He tops the evening out with that time-tested gesture -- a kiss. "If I end the night with a handshake, I could be in serious trouble," he quips.
Asked about his ideal woman Dr. Hammond thoughtfully knits his brows under the dark brown hair and fixes his hazel eyes on the desk in front of him. "My ideal woman is very smart and has her act together," he elaborates. "She's an achiever and yet she can be a team member. My preference is for the healthy woman, in body and mind."
One such woman is Melanie Purdue, a 19-year-old sophomore at Towson Statue University, who is majoring in mass communications and hopes to become a network TV news anchor. She recently dated Dr. Hammond.
She calls their relationship a "blossoming friendship," and says she was impressed by the fact her date ate the same spare diet as she did at a Harborplace restaurant.
A native of Baltimore, Dr. Hammond earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Colorado, and went on to train as a ferrier (shoeing horses). He spent a year riding the rodeo circuit out west but decided his future lay elsewhere. In 1981 he graduated magna cum laude from the Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine.
The following year he returned to Baltimore and acquired a practice. Since then, the business has become a 24-hour-a-day operation, which includes a shock trauma center for small animals.
Now as bachelor of the month Dr. Hammond can expect further claims on his time. Cosmo people say previous "bachelors" have gotten as many 30 letters a day from interested ladies.