Nov 25, 2019

Alone Again, Preternaturally

By Ed Goldman

A recent survey suggests that California’s capital may be one of the worst places in the U.S. in which to be single.

Well, of course it is. I live here. I’m single. Surely you can do better. Try Bellflower.

I should point out that the survey was conducted by an organization called Apartment List. Not a great name, in my opinion, mainly because those two words could also be the content of a very terse note to your landlord to explain why you’ll be giving up your flat in the Tower of Pisa. But I digress.

When I first read the story, I thought it said California’s capitol-with-an-o was the worst place to be single, and I wasn’t so sure that was accurate. The capitol is a big, domed building with lovely grounds surrounding it. (It even used to have a talking soft-drink machine in the basement, which scared the Tab out of me one afternoon when I was down there alone buying one.) But you do meet a lot of interesting people in the Capitol, many of whom haven’t been indicted for misuse of public funds nor accused of sexual harassment.

But government towns, at first glance, tend to feel insular. The legendary Washington, D.C.-based satirist/pianist Mark Russell used to say that if you hung around in restaurants and bars where politicos, policy wonks and lobbyists congregated, you’d keep hearing above the hum, “the Hill.” California’s capitol-with-an-o isn’t on a hill, of course. In fact, there are damn few hills throughout the entire capital-with-an-a region, with one exception being a low-angle rise in midtown known, perhaps ironically, as Poverty Ridge. This was where the wealthiest Sacramentans built their often-magnificent homes to protect themselves after the floods that devastated the area in the 1860s.

As another aside, I lived here during some very bad floods in 1986, 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2017. In addition, our local flood control agency says Sacramento poses the country’s worst metropolitan flood risk. So don’t think there’s not some serious pluck at work as I sit here typing this column, a mere quarter of a mile from the banks of the mighty American River, with a light drizzle having just started. It makes me remember when Sir Richard Attenborough directed the epic film Ghandiand told an interviewer he was drawn to the story because “I adore courage.”

The State Capitol even used to have a talking soft-drink machine.
To get back (just think how many mileage points you just earned on our flight of fancy): Sacramento comes in 112 out of the 130 best cities in the country in which to utter deathless lines in bars like, “Don’t worry. I never hit on beautiful women.” And even though the capital-with-an-a was listed in the bottom 10, we had company, though if you have a passing acquaintance with the state, I’m sure these won’t surprise you: San Bernardino, Fresno, Stockton, Bakersfield and Anaheim. Anaheim, as you know, is where they keep Disneyland (or is it vice versa?). When I saw it on the list, I thought, come on, if you can’t find a date in The Happiest Place on Earth, something is definitely amiss in the universe. Then I realized almost everyone there is already ona date. They probably met in Madison, Wisconsin, or Bloomington, Indiana, two of the top-10 dating cities, according to Apartment List.

A story in The Sacramento Bee which first reported the survey results a day or two before the start of autumn (a season that brings singles together if they both like football or one can pretend to), said, “Cities were ranked on a number of factors: Are renters satisfied with the dating and social life in their city? How high is the percentage of singles? And just how affordable are two movie tickets and a three-course meal for two at a relatively nice restaurant?”

Herein lies the problem. Let’s deconstruct this, factor by factor:

  • Why does Apartment List presume most singles are renters? Most of the younger ones I’ve been meeting live with their parents, either still or as part of a return engagement.
  • The survey shouldn’t be asking about high the percentage of singles is. It should be asking what percentage of the singles are high?
  • Why does anyone think a movie followed by dinner, or the other way around, is a terrific first date? You want to get to know someone in a hurry? Suggest a day of bungee jumping followed by tracking down a food-truck without using your GPS. Anyone who takes you up on that offer, regardless of gender, is worth knowing. He or she has courage. And we adore courage, don’t we?

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).