Saturday, August 10, 2002

Single in Midwest

Down to earth as dull as dirt

        Being single in Cincinnati is about as exciting as a trimmed toenail. On this, everyone seems to agree.

        We have bars, sports teams, museums and theaters, yet rips us for lacking the right kind of “culture.” What's the problem, exactly?

        Maybe Party in the Park no longer qualifies, now that the Naked Cowboy is gone. But every Friday during the winter, the same crowd of handsome singles from PIP migrates to the Cincinnati Art Museum for more drinking and standing around in clumps. On their way to all the fun, they walk past displays of ancient pottery.

        Isn't this culture?

        Well, sure, if by culture you mean local custom. In Cincinnati, for instance, generation after generation learns the importance of wearing khakis.

Looking for "edge'

        When people long for “culture,” what they really mean is “edge,” which cannot be found in large gatherings of singles here.

        The Midwest has the defect of its qualities. People are solid, courteous and down-to-earth, which is wonderful but also dull.

        We do not engage in witty conversation sprinkled with speculation about Martha Stewart, as Easterners might do.

        Nor do we act like Californians, running off to the desert for events like the Burning Man Festival, in which 25,000 people smear themselves with fluorescent paint, destroy Barbies, jump on trampolines and so forth. This is all very edgy, but it has the downside of making everyone's hair look like ratty felt.

        Cincinnatians have better sense, which is both a blessing and a curse. In certain circles, it's considered avant-garde to have attended Fairfield High School. No wonder singles get bored.

        Traditional dating tips are no help. “Avoid talking about yourself. Ask your date about her interests.”

        Yes, we all love a good listener. But as a single, what I most appreciated was a guy who could riff.

Tell a goat story

        Riffing requires a bit of information about the world. Any world will do — you can travel to it, read about it or watch it on TV. The Simpsons is a gold mine. So is the New York Times, which recently reported on an interesting development in Lajitas, Texas.

        Seems the town's symbolic mayor — a beer-drinking goat — was injured (okay, castrated) by some idiot trying to be funny. Now the idiot faces serious prison time because you just don't mess with the goat/mayors of Texas.

        People, feel free to slip this gem into conversation anytime. No need to thank me.

        At a party in Mount Adams once, I met a guy who had worked for a food magazine in Vermont. He riffed not only on the quirkiness of Vermonters but also on his job answering reader queries, such as, “Will eating too many carrots make your skin look orange?”

        He was talking about himself, but so what? It was hilarious.

        With the right mindset, anyone can achieve the same groove, and our singles scene will be better for it.

        You don't even have to change your khakis.

        Contact Karen by e-mail: or 859-578-5584.


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