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San Francisco:
Heart-Leaving Made Easy

by Evany Thomas

The city of San Francisco is incredibly full of life. And I mean that literally: Housing is at max capacity, available parking is tartare-rare, the bars are as cramped as Tokyo subway trains... even the residents are stuffed to the teeth with the city's amazing and irresistible food supply.

With so many potential love-connections cloistered away in restaurant booths or circling the block on a parking hunt, it can be difficult to connect with someone worth leaving your heart here. But that doesn't mean you're doomed to a life alone. You just have to think outside the boite and find some less traditional ways to meet people.

Get a Room

The usual pick-up spots -- museums, nightclubs, watering holes -- are gridlocked. So where's everyone else? As any veteran of the housing shortage can tell you, they're all frantically filling out rental applications for one of the three available apartments in the city. Well, why not join them? As more and more SF neophytes are learning, looking for a place to live can be a fab way to beef up your little black book. Standing with fifty people in an hour-long line for a dingy studio is bound to lead to some sort of conversation ("What's a girl/guy like you doing outside a place like this?").

Better yet, get in on of some food, drink, and rug-cutting at one of the open-house parties that people looking for roomies sometimes throw. No one knows anyone else at those parties, so they're particularly receptive to meeting and greeting (anything not to be standing alone, white-knuckling a drink). Before you know it, you'll be comparing rental resumes with a potential (house)mate.

In San Francisco, the best way to get the addresses of those love nests (i.e., open apartments and rooms) is by checking out Craig's List, which gives renters and tenants a free way to find each other (bonus: you can also use the site to buy used furniture, a car, or even belly dance costumes). If you don't find what you're looking for on Craig's, you can pay (sometimes up to $100!) to see additional listings on sites like RentTech or Metro Rent. But if those don't provide the opportunity you're looking for, there are still other ways to find a Bert for your Ernie.

Get a Ticket to Ride

Another unexpected way people are getting their love lives moving is by taking alternate modes of transportation. If the Missed Connections section of the SF Weekly is any indication, a lot of San Franciscans are exchanging glances on MUNI, San Francisco's infamous public bus system. The elusive 22 Fillmore, for example, may not get you where you're going on time, but the trip will be so surreal (is that woman eating raw chicken?) that you just may have something to talk about with the only other non-superfreak on the bus.

If the bus is just too much pressure, you can always two-wheel it at Critical Mass, a monthly "happening" in which you ride all over the city with hundreds of anti-auto-minded bicyclists. (Not from around here? Don't forget to look for it in a city near you).

Finally, if your heart is like an even smaller wheel, the Friday Night Skate, is a similar event (only less political... and on roller blades). It's another great way to run into someone. [SKATER IMAGE]

Raise the Bar

Of course, you can still use the tried-and-true bar scene to hook up with someone. But you'll be hard pressed to keep that lengthy, probing conversation going with the person on the next stool, what with all the people squirming between the two of you, waving bills and screeching out Cosmo orders.

You could always invent some way to avoid the crowded spots, but Garbo-ing yourself away in some quiet corner isn't exactly the best way to meet someone new. In this town, you have to find other ways to tip the odds in your favor.

One way to load your dice is to find yourself a theme spot. While people at regular old theme-less locales struggle to come up with an opening line ("I see you're the clear liquor type. Myself, I prefer brown booze -- and can I tell you that, after six Manhattans, you're really looking fine."), a theme bar or restaurant provides you with a just-add-water opening gambit.

Take, for instance, New Wave City (an 80s-inspired nightclub that celebrates the era of Reaganomics, Skylab, and Mork via full period costume, song, and dance), where you can avoid the loaded topics and use what you have on hand, like "Thank God I held on to this glitter glove for all these years."

At Butter, the white-trash bistro with "two turntables and a microwave" (where you can chug canned beer and eat your weight in mac and cheese), "You want ketchup on that?" would get the trailer rocking nicely.

And Foreign Cinema, the bar/restaurant where exotic flicks are projected against a wall and retro drive-in speakers provide the sound, "Ah, Fellini! The circus, the laughter, the tears!" might just reel in a winner.

Any of these convo-starters will put you well on the road to getting someone's digits (or, more likely, their email address -- this is San Francisco, remember). And, with any luck, you'll find yourself with your arms wrapped around a special someone when the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay.

Evany Thomas is all that, the bag of chips, a slice of cake, and a glass of milk.

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