What You Need To Know When Talking To Girls In the City By The Bay
It was a late sunny Sunday morning, and my friend was telling me about the political difficulties of being single in San Francisco. No matter where he goes, he said, he keeps running into ex-girlfriends and when interest peaks in a potentially new romantic interest, it turns out she is friends with, or is the friend of a friend, of someone he previously dated.
He wants to keep everyone happy and not develop an undeserved reputation as a guy out to get more hits than Buster Posey, so he’s constantly playing a social shell game.
A bit later, I sat down for breakfast at a tasty crepe place on Washington and Polk. Two girls, a couple of years younger than my friend, were at the next table having the exact same conversation. The characters were different but their situation was identical to that of my friend.
This town, I deduced, must be one serious reality show for dating.
Getting an inside look at San Francisco’s incestuous singles scene wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for this particular weekend. I came to the City – as locals refer to it – to visit the aforementioned friend and party like a rock star with people whom I had met during Bay to Breakers a couple of months earlier. But that’s how things turned out and it was not only entertaining, but quite enlightening, as well.
Now, I live in L.A. – Manhattan Beach, to be exact – and the social order of the two areas is as different as the Hollywood sign and the Golden Gate Bridge. In Manhattan Beach, it’s party first and look to get hooked up second. In San Francisco, the priority is meet someone early and if that fails, then start bonding with the bartender. Anyone alone after 11 is likely to stay alone (or so goes the thinking).
San Francisco is a classy town, at least the way my friend does it. The people dress well and like the low-lit martini-type clubs and restaurant/bars. In Manhattan, it’s shorts, sandals and beach bars.
Saturday, we went to a benefit for the Museum of Modern Art (at $75 a pop, I learned just before walking through the door) which, on the surface, was a worthy fund-raiser attended by San Francisco’s elite. I met the daughter of the guy who started Atari and the event was covered by the Chronicle, the big daily newspaper.
Yet behind this facade, a huge sexual undercurrent was evident. People were there not to admire and support art but to search for a new love interest. Mixed into the scene were former dating partners, each trying to keep from bumping into one another while discreetly striking up conversations with new blood. The scene was right out of a “Sex in the City” episode.
Meeting people for an outsider like me (who had not to worry about past date distractions), was ridiculously easy. Once they found out I was not from San Francisco, however, it was like grounding into an inning-ending double-play. Despite my obvious charm, I was too G.U. (geographically undesirable, a term we use in L.A.) to justify further attention. Politely, I was brushed aside for someone more regionally acceptable.
This was pretty much the case everywhere I went. Only later did I learn the trick is to say I was “considering moving to the Bay Area.” Those magic words take you from straight from the bench to the startling lineup, a much more desirable position to be sure. The conversation then takes on renewed enthusiasm, largely focusing on a Chamber of Commerce-type endorsement of how great it is to live in the Bay Area.
And that’s the thing. It’s not one-night stands people are really after but someone with whom they can spend quality time.
There are so many romantically cool activities in and around San Francisco – a drive down the coast, the Wine Country, scenic bike rides, the opening of the Opera which is a huge deal in this town – that it’s much more enjoyable to do them with someone than alone. The problem is that when interests, income and age groups are combined, there is a fairly small group of people from which to choose and everyone seems to be fishing out of the same pond.
The pressure must be immense. The bars are full of people in groups checking out people in other groups while roving eyes search for any “ex-es” that may be lurking around the corner. The local paper carries Dear Abby, Ann Landers AND Ask Beth.
I was at the Giants game earlier Saturday but the real game in this town is played at social functions and the bars.
Only briefly did I meet up with one of the Breakers groups and since my friend had to make a couple of office calls on the weekend, I had time to myself. Confidently, I can report it’s not an entirely bad thing to be alone in the City. At least for a while.
I thoroughly enjoyed going to a Giants game. The ballpark is nice and you can walk up to a fence at the back and watch some of the action without actually entering the stadium. Cruising around the place also proved to be quite enjoyable.
I also took a stroll about town, to places I had only previously seen through a car window. Columbus Street through North Beach with its small restaurants, park and local shops is an example of why San Francisco is the most European of any American city except New York.
I also visited a couple of favorite bars such as Pier 23 and The Fiddler’s Green, went to some new places and even managed to navigate MUNI and BART, the city’s public transportation system, without becoming too disoriented. That’s no easy task for someone from L.A.
One night, after my friend and his friends unsuccessfully attempted to increase the size of their dating pool by attending a mixer hosted by the Golden Gate Sports & Social Club – where they KNEW none of their “ex-es” would be found – we wound up at an oxygen bar in the Mission District. I tried “Euphoric, a relaxing and invigorating temptation” off the extensive menu and while can’t I report anything special, the others in the group did feel a “tingle.” At any rate, I was not charged for not feeling anything and for that, I felt good.
Hmmm. Maybe I AM considering moving to the Bay Area.