by Molly Lambert
So we just now saw the 2007 edition of Forbes’s (really silly) yearly list of the Best Cities For Singles. Apparently they changed the ratings system (like that weird new SAT that goes up to 2400) and now the number one city for Singles is…
SAN FRANCISCO! Mysterious Land of Aziz!
Like, on the one hand, duh. But on the other hand, ew. New York came in second and L.A. was third. Which means that between the This Recording staff we are covering the Top 3 Metropolitan Cool Young People Dating Scenes! Tess lives with her boyfriend but she generally makes up for it by having really good gossip and funny ideas for new foods.
San Francisco, San Francisco. You’re a muttering bum in a brown beat suit. Can’t make a woman on a rainy corner.
For some reason they felt the need to kick Providence, as befits its scruffy reputation. Providence is kind of the Charlie Brown of cities.
Of course, being single is about much more than just dating. Providence, R.I., fell to the bottom of our list this year. That’s partly because it came in last in the online dating category. But it also scored low in several other categories, coming 35th in job growth. Singles want to know that they’ll be able to nurture an interesting and prosperous career, and Providence just doesn’t look that promising.
Ayo Technology – 50 Cent ft. Justin Timberlake: mp3
You’re a Hot Chick, Charlie Brown?
Steve Almond is a kind of mediocre sub-Klosterman who clearly has a much better agent than we do (we don’t, call us!). Seriously, this fucking guy works ALL THE TIME. There is nothing we revile more than a bad, passably attractive, writer with a good publicist (see: Elizabeth Wurtzel, Bret Easton Ellis, He Who Must Not Be Named).
Steve Almond just chillin’ on the couch, being a douche
Almond even reviewed Ellis’s Lunar Park, a book which sounded to us like Stephen King for gays. This dude taking the piss out of Bret is the saddest limp-dick measuring contest we’ve seen in a few moons. So somehow Almond was contracted by Forbes to write a column on his experiences in the dating scenes of various American cities. He also went to Gawker’s Most Annoying Liberal Arts School winner, Wesleyan, and it SHOWS. His wiki says this:
He served as adjunct professor in creative writing at Boston College for five years until publishing an open letter of resignation in the Boston Globe on May 12, 2006, in which he explained that his resignation was intended to protest the selection of Condoleezza Rice as the college’s 2006 commencement guest speaker.
You know he was all “This aggression will not stand!” and stormed out dramatically. Guess what, you were an ADJUNCT PROFESSOR. I know it was probably a big sacrifice for Almond to give up all that B.C. teen ‘tang, but come on Dead Poets Society you are not. Also that movie is the gayest thing ever.
Life’s not the only thing these boys’ll be sucking the marrow out of
Anyway here’s Steve Almond’s verbatim (theoretically serious) thoughts on single life from his article City Confidential, with our comments on their revealing subtext:
One shouldn’t move to a new city simply to get chicks. At least, one shouldn’t admit to this motive in mixed company. No, one moves to a new city in the hopes of broadening one’s horizons, seeing a bit more of this wondrous nation and gaining a deeper appreciation for regional customs. By which I mean, if you sort of boil away the rhetoric, getting chicks.
I myself spent the greater part of my 20s and 30s doing just this. I lived for at least a few years in El Paso, Texas; Miami; Greensboro, N.C.; and Boston, and made extensive socio-romantic field observations about each of these locales, usually to friends of mine, often while inebriated.
I now feel qualified to share a few salient points with you, the gentle (and chick-hungry) reader.
SUBTEXT: Being married sucks, you guys. Remember how awesome it was being young and banging like tons of chicks all the time? Now I’m a lame old man who documents my daughter’s every move like anyone gives a shit on my blog. God I fucked a lot of women. I hate my life.
Run away child! He’s trying to bite off your fist!
EL PASO: BLONDS HAVE MORE FUN
El Paso isn’t exactly in the middle of the action, from the Texan perspective. From the Mexican perspective, however, it’s a major hub; El Paso and its sister city Juarez compose the largest border region in the Western Hemisphere. Accordingly, the prevailing culture is more Mex than Tex. For the single non-native dude, this means a few things.
First, ease off on the sexual throttle. Values are more traditional here. And family is a lot more protective. You can’t enter into a dating scenario expecting the normal gringo rules to apply. The one night stand, for instance, somewhat loses its charm when accompanied by an enraged phalanx of cousins.
El Paso, Texas at night
Machismo runs deep in these parts, so guys who have been trained out of opening doors and paying for meals should recalibrate. Dress like a man, too, by which I mean jeans and button-down shirts, not chaps, unless you are trying to be funny.
Second, try to have blond hair and blue eyes. To be a guero on the border is to boost your desirability by a factor of 10. My pal Holden spent his years in El Paso holding various women at bay. (All right, he didn’t try very hard.) He actually got whistled at on the street. Warning: This sort of unsolicited attention may not be so much fun if you’re a woman.
Third, make do with limited entertainment/culinary options. Among the highest-ranked restaurants during my tenure in El Paso was … the Olive Garden. I can remember one particularly dismal evening in which I took my date on a tour of bowling alley cafés. Not pretty.
Finally, steer away from Juarez early in the courtship phase. It’s a fascinating place, one that deserves investigation–just not on a first date. Poverty can really kill the romantic mood.
SUBTEXT: I “dated” a billion Mexican chicks. Some of their brothers beat the shit out of me for being such an unbelievable douche. Also, “POVERTY CAN REALLY KILL THE ROMANTIC MOOD” WTF FTW?!!
Asshole From El Paso – Kinky Friedman: mp3
MIAMI: TOUCH AND GO
The first thing you’ll notice about Miami is that everyone is half naked. Embrace this. By which I mean: Start exercising immediately. Your body is going to be on display much more than you ever expected.
Latin culture is dominant in Miami also, though it’s shaded toward the Caribbean. This means everything is more relaxed. Dinner reservations for 10 p.m. are no problem, just make sure your credit is in good order, guys, because once again you’ll be expected to pick up the tab, only this time you’ll be paying a lot more money.
Miami, Florida skyline
Also, the women in Miami enjoy flirting. Warning: This can be confusing. Just because the barista at your local café will happily show you how firm her gluteal muscles are, does not mean you can touch them. Trust me on this one.
Politics is also a touchy subject. Probably best not to share your progressive sentiments with that beautiful young Cuban-American chica, until you have determined whether or not she would assassinate Fidel Castro, given the opportunity.
SUBTEXT: I dated even more Latina chicks in Miami. Some of them were Republicans. I tried to touch a barista’s ass once without asking and she kicked me in the junk so hard one of my testicles popped. Also, “shaded towards the Caribbean” = darker skinned? What is up with this dude’s willingness to tell us about his gross ethnic fetishes? Oh, right. He’s a giant douchelord with no self-awareness.
Miami Life – Ras Kass: mp3
GREENSBORO: SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT
North Carolina is clearly the suburbs of the Confederacy, when compared with, say, Mississippi. But it’s still very much the South. This means you are in the province of the Southern belle. (And by extension, I suppose, the Southern beau.)
Greensboro, North Carolina
Best to mind your manners. Don’t suppose that you can score a date just by asking if your intended wants to “you know, hang out sometime.” It never worked for me. Instead, I found myself making formal declarations of intent. That wasn’t all. I had to make sure I wasn’t dressed like a slob, that I kept my elbows off the table, swore off curse words and, yes (once again), paid for all meals.
Most important, I had to learn to avoid speaking too quickly or directly. In Greensboro, an elliptical path to the truth is your best approach. So, for instance, if you’ve gotten to the part of the date where it might be appropriate to see a little more skin, you’re best not to say something like, “How’s about you free those chihuahuas from their angora kennel!” No, best to fan your face and say, “My, but it is hot in here. I think I might just take my sweater off.”
SUBTEXT: Ooh! Southern girls have fancy manners and don’t like it when you use the phrase “How’s about you free those chihuahuas from their angora kennel!” which usually makes the honeys tops drop for the Almond Joy. White Girls are uptight, yo.
Greensboro Woman – Townes Van Zandt: mp3
BOSTON: THE JOY OF SOX
Let’s start with the good news. You may not have to pay for every meal if you’re a guy. The women of Boston are, as a rule, enlightened, liberal and smarter than you. Or smarter than me, anyway. The downside of Boston is that everyone is incredibly ambitious, and they expect you to be too.
Another major obstacle: With 60 colleges squeezed into the area, students dominate the singles life of Boston. They roam in packs, smoking and howling at inside jokes and using the word “like” a thousand times per minute. If you’re older than, like, 25, they will make you feel (and look) very old. This is especially hard for women, as their male counterparts tend to gravitate toward the nubile and naïve. The nice thing about Boston is that most singles are extremely well educated, by which I mean, of course, more relaxed about sex.
One universal deal-breaker (this applies both to men and women): Never insult the Red Sox. In fact, if you expect to segue from a short-term affair into an ongoing relationship with a native New Englander, you must be prepared to feign interest in the team for the duration of your relationship. Having delivered the inside skinny, let me add an observation or two in closing: First, be wary of all generalizations, including the ones indulged in above. You may very well find a Boston sweetheart who hates the Red Sox, or a Southern woman who could care less about manners. Romance is best handled on a case by case basis.
Second, remember that the only rule that applies in every city on the planet is this: To thine own self be true. Women respect self-knowledge and they worship emotional honesty. So as you’re criss-crossing the country, take some time to think about what it is you desire in a relationship. The map that matters, ultimately, is the one drawn by your heart, not your loins.
SUBTEXT: Oh yes, BOSTON, that Liberal Eden on the earth! Where the co-eds are plentiful and “nubile and naive” enough not to see through my RIDICULOUS BULLSHIT. They’ll respect me for stepping down from my lofty position as adjunct professor. I’m sure some undergrad girl will let me sleep in her dorm room while I look for another job and a smaller apartment. Maybe I’ll start working on my next book…yes, what shall I call it? How about STEVE ALMOND: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A TOTALLY SUPER-LAME DOUCHECLOWN
“And in conclusion, I am an enormous douche.”
Twilight In Boston – Jonathan Richman: mp3
Molly Lambert is Senior Editor of This Recording. Today is her birthday and the Jewish New Year, you should celebrate by donating to This Recording. Mazel Tov!