Not, "Want to grab a drink?" Not, "Hey, come down to the bar!" And definitely not, "Wouldst the fair lady deign to join this knave for a chalice of brandy?" That's when I decided on Resolution No. 1 for 2006: No more wasting time with guys whose grandiose dating gestures involve late-night T9-ing on a Sidekick. This year I get serious; this year I find "The One."
My resolution makes me one of thousands of soldiers in the lovelorn army, entering 2006 determined to find a relationship that transcends fuck-and-run. While there's no foolproof method for finding The One, the odds of doing so dramatically increase with the number of new people you meet, which often involves ditching your normal routine and expanding your comfort zone -- a regime change of the heart.
In the spirit of sampling, read on for 12 new ideas, one per month, for meeting that special so-and-so by this time next year.
January: Everybody and his hot single brother made the same resolution you did to work off those last few holiday-induced el-bees, but trolling for tail at the gym is so passé. Still, you can kill two birds with one stone by joining a running club, hiking group, ultimate frisbee league -- whatever. The point is to get your pulse racing while exposing your assets to new faces. And it never hurts when those new faces also have McConaughey abs or Aniston glutes.
February: If Mr./Ms. Wonderful didn't materialize during spin class, find another pool of potentials at a Quirkyalone party. Sasha Cagen's 2004 book struck such a chord with the single-and-not-gonna-settle crowd that it spawned a movement, complete with its own official day of observance (Valentine's, natch). The local parties are always superfun, draw hundreds, and feature crafts, games, and a dance party without the cheesy singles-scene vibe (www.quirkyalone.net).
March: It's rainy, you're stuck indoors -- might as well make it interesting by taking the soulmate search online. Oh, get over it, it's 2006 -- the stigma of Internet dating went out the window when that guy from The Bachelor started shilling for Match.com. When you're tired of browsing Casual Encounters but not yet important enough for the invite-only ASmallWorld.net, go update your Friendster profile -- the site's "Who's Viewed Me?" feature gives it even more voyeuristic pleasure. And if finding a religiously aligned individual's important to you, there's also JDate.com (for discerning tribesmen and women), CatholicMatch.com, and FreeThinkerMatch.com for the atheists in the house.
April: The return of baseball season is good news for sports fans but frustrating for singles trying to make a connection at a testosterone-filled sports bar. SBC Park has a Singles Night for Giants fans on April 25 (and again on June 27 and Sept. 8; there's also an LGBT Night Sept. 12). The package includes a ticket to the game, a mix-and-mingle party, and a drink ticket. Tickets go on sale soon; call 972-2298 or visit http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/sf/ticketing/group_special_events.jsp?loc=singlesnight.
May: Spring's in full swing, pheromones are flying, and it's time to start pounding the pavement again. But instead of braving the bar scene alone, get some expert help from a professional pickup artist. The gurus from Pickup 101 will turn socially inept AFCs (average frustrated chumps) into superseductive PUAs (pickup artists). (Ladies, get the inside track in Neil Strauss' new exposé, The Game.) If the $1,800 weekend workshop fee is too tough to swallow, an Andrew Jackson gets you into a two-hour intro seminar held monthly at Project San Francisco, the North Beach mansion that doubles as PUA HQ. Call (877) PICKUP-9 or visit www.pickup101.com/introseminar for info.
June: With their stylish, well-coiffed, and culturally aware attendees, art openings are always a hotbed of hotness. The canvases on the walls provide a built-in conversation starter, and there's almost always booze at these things (everyone knows liquid courage does wonders for breaking the ice). Hit receptions at Southern Exposure, Balazo, 111 Minna, and the Luggage Store or First Thursdays at the 77 Geary galleries.
July: When the nights turn warm, get out of the house and head to a bar with a regular board game or trivia night. Try Muddy's in the Mission or the Albatross in Berkeley for Scrabble, or put those Jeopardy! skills to work at the Tuesday night trivia quiz at the Bitter End. Skip Edinburgh Castle's too-popular trivia Tuesdays in favor of the occasional Monday film night, when the city's hottest cinephiles come out and play.
August: If Paul Giamatti's dysfunctional, guarded oenophile could find love over a bottle of pinot in Sideways, so can you. Become an expert by harvest season with a service like WineSingles.com or just show up at a restaurant wine tasting or wine bar happy hour, where your eloquent banter on the merits of zin over syrah won't be misconstrued as a pickup line -- unless you want it to be.
September: It's back-to-school time for the kiddies, but unless you're still living in a dorm, it's time to make some grown-up changes to your usual Hamburger Helper/frozen pizza routine. Learn how to julienne stuff, make paella, and maybe meet the chef of your dreams at a cooking class. Try Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, or Tante Marie's Cooking School; this is San Francisco, after all.
October: James Carville and Mary Matlin somehow make it work, but if you don't want to gamble with dating someone on the other side of the ideological line, find your right, left, or center soulmate while working on a political campaign. Not only will you be doing your civic duty, but you'll also be meeting people who are likely pretty educated and passionate about their cause.
November: Channel your charitable side and volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen over the holidays. Use the time to bond with your fellow volunteers or, better yet, a staffer (anyone who willingly devotes so much time for that six-bucks-an-hour nonprofit salary has gotta be a giver in the sack, too). Find options to do good at the Bay Area Volunteer Center at www.thevolunteercenter.net.
December: Use all your newfound skills to throw a holiday party. Whip up some chic hors d'oeuvres and make all your friends bring somebody new to the group. Show off your extensive knowledge of Sangiovese, pictures of you with the mayor, and your ability to debate the value of abstract art in a post-postmodern world. By the end of the night you'll have more numbers than the Yellow Pages. Just be sure to make that New Year's Eve date via an actual phone call. Texting is so 2005.