What's that you say? Doesn't exactly jibe with your experience? Take it up with the good folks at the Sperling's Best Places guidebook series, who have teamed with a deodorant company, AXE, to compile and publish the second annual list of "America's Best and Worst Cities for Dating." (Things are a tad slow down on the antiperspirant farm, we gather.) San Francisco, we're bemused to report, came in third, just behind Seattle and Honolulu.
Now lest you think this was just a silly, nonscientific exercise whose findings were preordained (you must be thinking of the Project Censored list -- no, that already came out this year), the dating study's authors are only too happy to outline their grueling methodology. Among the "33 distinct criteria" employed: measuring the girl-to-guy parity, weighing the percentage of singles, counting the number of hook-up venues such as dog parks and coffee shops, and totaling up the recreation memberships, lingerie shops per capita, and flowers and jewelry bought as romantic gifts. Hell, the study even made use of the most currently available figures from the Census Bureau (for population and demographic breakdowns), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (to find the frequency of sexual partners), and Match.com (to get an estimate of online daters). Then a crew of "leading relationship experts" was brought in -- blindfolded, we assume, in long black limousines -- to weigh all the categories and data in terms of dating importance.
"The perception might be that larger cities like Miami and Chicago would automatically be the best places for socializing, but that's not necessarily the case," says Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's Best Places (hence the name). "A city needs venues and activities that are conducive to meeting potential hook-ups, as well as an equal guy-to-girl ratio, to be considered for the top of this list."
You know what we always say: You can trust a guy named Bert Sperling when it comes to romance. But how the hell did San Francisco get up there? It ranked 22nd in male-female parity (duh), 74th in flower purchases per capita (often a "post-hook-up gesture," according to the study), and a whopping 75th in lingerie and sleepwear purchases (New York claimed first in this category). Ah, but San Francisco's romantic appeal can't be bought with a dozen roses and a pair of crotchless panties. OK, sometimes it can, but more often we're looking for genuine interaction, perhaps in a coffee shop (only Seattle finished ahead of San Francisco on this score), on an online dating site (again, those sleepless singles in Seattle beat us for the top spot), or in a dog park (take that, Seattle -- San Francisco was No. 1 in dog parks per capita).
So there's your answer: dog parks. Meet the lover of your dreams, or step in a pile of crap -- it's pretty much all the same. Or you might get to wear a spiked collar. And while you're patrolling the park with your pooch, take heart that you don't live in Birmingham, Ala. (the worst city in America for hooking up), Bakersfield (No. 2), or Ventura (No. 4). And consider a move to Oakland; it was named the 11th best city for hooking up in the study. Mostly, we assume, because it's so close to San Francisco.
There is, however, another reason for our fair city's mingle-heavy reputation: the ridiculous parties.
Last Tuesday a good friend called with an invite. "Want to go to an open-bar party at Chanel, starting a little after 7?" he asked. Seeing as how that sentence contained four of our favorite words ("bar," "party," "Chanel," and "7"), we couldn't resist. What's more, attending an opulent, pretentious soiree at a designer store would give us a chance to put this best dating city survey to the test -- surely, the single men and women (who cares about parity when everyone's gorgeous?) would be fawning all over us, especially since we'd visited both a dog park and an online dating site that very day!
Beyond our own romantic aspirations, the party, sponsored by the almighty Vanity Fair and SFMOMA's Contemporary Extension, was intriguing. Maybe we would finally be able to corner Dede Wilsey so she could sign our copy of Oh the Glory of It All, or perhaps we would spot the rare, taut-skinned Getty foraging in its natural habitat. After all, the night promised to "unite San Francisco's social community with Bay Area artists." Translation: Fill out Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire," then quickly scamper back to your appropriate circle of friends and class level. But where else in San Francisco would you be able to schmooze and find eye cream at exorbitant prices? OK, OK, sure -- but, remember, not all of those places have open bars.
We'd like to report all the juicy goings-on among high-society types we uncovered that night, but did we mention the open bar? Because we were scarcely into our cups when we learned how dangerous it can be to ignore those nagging warning labels on the little orange plastic bottles we carry with us. Much like shampooing directions that recommend to "lather, rinse, and repeat if necessary," the last little guideline regarding pills is rarely, if ever, followed. But sometimes, it seems, directions are given for a reason; sometimes you really should think twice about bringing that glass of wine to your lips after downing a few dolls. At Chanel, we should have realized that. We should have realized we were not at our most socially shrewd when we tripped down the staircase. We should have heard the venom in the Chanelette's voice when she hissed at us: "Don't spill wine on our carpet!"
Next thing we knew (and last thing we remember), we were asking a salesperson if we could just, you know, have that $5,000 oversize black Chanel bag that had caught our dilated eye. Then it was morning.
We awoke in a friend's bed, assured that it "looked like [we] were really, really having a blast" last night. Oh, God. This kind soul had driven all the way from Glen Park to pick us up, after the party had shifted to Polk Street and we had allegedly tried to mount a pool table (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!). There may have also been some drunk-dialing of exes. Maybe.
But hey, if we're gonna black out in a drunken stupor, at least we did it in a place of total taste and class. At least we can say we got totally shitfaced at Chanel -- perhaps the ultimate San Francisco singles' experience. How many other people would even want to say that? Karl Lagerfeld would be proud. (Brock Keeling)