I'm the only person I know who didn't get into The Wire or Treme, shows that have been dubbed "city symphonies." They remind me of donuts, which are my least favorite food, despite their amazing ingredients -- bread, sugar, and fat. These shows have great acting, myriad subplots, metaphor, and tension, but when you throw it all together, they become a giant bear claw of meh to me.
Part of the problem is that I generally cannot tell what is happening on each show. I can't follow the subtleties of the plot, probably because nothing makes me want to. Shows like this are the same as jazz; I like reading about it, and I'm happy it exists, but I can't sit through it.
Still, I like the concept of a "city symphony," especially since bar-hopping is a microcosm of this idea. Each place I go is a different episode. In theory, bars have their own vibe and are populated with all sorts of people, though this city's differences are not as stark as Baltimore's. Sometimes my visits are transcendent, like a good piece of music; other times, I am constantly looking at the program to see how many more movements are left until the end.
Andalu, in the Mission, was like a Beethoven symphony, or a beignet, both of which I can stomach in small doses. I went there for what I told myself would be my last-ever Internet date. I'd given it the ol' community-college try: I met men who started talking about their hemorrhoids in the first three minutes; who lived in their parents' garage; who held our first date on their 30th birthday and began to rage and then cry when it wasn't going the way they wanted. Enough.
"City symphonies like The Wire are meant to be swallowed whole," said my date, in so many words. He then went on to further explain the form while I picked at a plate of almonds. I nodded my head once in a while and looked around the bar. Half of it is a restaurant, although they feature small plates, so technically the entire place could be considered a saloon with expensive bar snacks.
The first rule of dating for men should be to always ask your date about herself. Women are programmed to ask other people questions about themselves. Men are not. Even if you don't feel like asking her questions about her own life, at least move the conversation toward inquiries about what you have been yammering on about for the last hour: "So, what do you think about low-emission space heaters?"