The Perfect Line
or, Don't Just Stand There, Do Someone
by Daphne Uviller
I have no patience for people who lament how hard it is to find dates in New
York -- or in any big city. Lower your standards, folks, and enjoy the scenery!
I'm not suggesting, by any means, that you compromise your ideals when it comes
to a relationship, but for a first date? Please. At worst, the evening (or morning
or afternoon) will make a great story. But how do you secure said date?
Believe it or not, to really exploit your city's dating potential, a good bet
is to stand around and wait. Think back to the first days of college when you
waited on one line to pick up your ID, then on another for your meal card. Universities
know that lifelong friends are made while standing endlessly in endless
Never to be outdone, New York City has the best lines and waiting rooms in
the world. For beginners, there are the universal queue locales, but enhanced
by NYC's colorful population: the DMV, jury duty, your morning coffee place
and airport check-in lines (even better, the line you wait in when your flight
has been cancelled: nothing fosters bonds like commiseration). Is the person
in front of you cute, ringless and age-appropriate? Start chitchatting. The
only way to make this or any city work for you is to show up and speak up.
In New York, the most extreme waiting area in which to meet people is the subway.
Hear me out! You're not going to just turn to the guy next to you and
start talking. No, you're going to stake out, over a period of weeks or
even months, the people who are on your route, those who stand on the same part
of the platform at the same time as you each morning. Check out what book he's
reading, what newspaper. Which section does he read first? You can learn a lot
about him before your first conversation. (NB: if you're staking out a woman
and she thinks you're creepy, she'll find a different place to stand; and that's
your cue to cool it. I can't guarantee this degree of perspicacity on the part
of a male target.)
If you haven't got this kind of time, there are other, more improvised lines.
Enjoy the theater? Year-round, you can wait at the TKTS booths -- there's one
at Times Square and one indoors at the World Trade Center -- for half-price,
same-day Broadway tickets, where you're likely to meet people who a) also like
theater, b) are in a similar economic stratum as you and, c) are capable of
spontaneity. (Check your hometown or nearby
big city for a similar service.) In summer, New York residents make an event
out of lining up for free tickets to Shakespeare
in the Park. Bring lawn chairs and a picnic while you wait outside the Public
Theatre on Lafayette Street and you'll be in couplet-loving company.
In addition to theater tickets, the World Trade Center offers one of the longest
lines in New York to one of its most romantic views
-- the Observation Deck. Don't pretend you haven't seen "Sleepless in Seattle"
(OK, the couple finally met up on the Empire State Building, but first Meg Ryan
went to the WTC). Be warned, though: tourist attractions can be both blessing
and curse. You may meet the love of your life (great), but she'll turn out to
be a princess (good) from Mozambique (maybe not so good).
geographically propitious courtship awaits you along the Hudson River, whose
piers provide miniature golf (for meeting that youthful and/or single-parent
mate), outdoor pool tables and, yes, kayaking. All for cheap or free, all requiring
at least a short wait (Pier 26: 212- 966-1852). Each of the five boroughs boasts
its own botanical garden to stroll through,
two have zoos, and one has a roller coaster (Brooklyn's Coney
Island). And there's almost nowhere in America that doesn't have a whole
host of similar venues. Just think of the lines in store for you at the ticket
counters, the cafeterias, and the IMAX
Another approach to the wait-and-bait strategy: adopt a Zen approach to transportation.
The goal will be the journey itself, not the destination. NYC, of course, is
replete with destination-less forms of travel. Hop on the free Staten
Island Ferry, the Hoboken ferry, the Roosevelt
Island tram or the Circle Line and it's like you're in a floating or flying
waiting room with terrific views. For those who prefer a destination, Paragon
sporting goods store offers daylong ski trips to nearby Hunter and Windham mountains.
For about $50, they'll provide you a seat on a charter bus, a bagel and a lift
ticket. The opportunity, as you should have gathered by now, dear reader, is
in the bus ride.
This winter, one of the best indoor sports is at the American
Museum of Natural History, which, for the second year in a row, is displaying
a live, exotic butterfly
exhibit featuring lepidoptera from around the world. Several exhibits around
the country have been huge hits. Here, you'll pay $14 to wait in a very, very
long line, after which you'll strip off sweater after sweater to enjoy the critters
flitting through the simulated tropical heat and humidity. I know of at least
one date that resulted after a man admired a Monarch that had landed on my friend's
rather creamy shoulder.
are generally a sure bet, but pick carefully. Anyone can (and should) go to
the Met and the Guggenheim,
but consider whether you wouldn't like to meet someone curious enough to go
to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum,
which features rooms as they were inhabited by different immigrants during various
periods in New York City's history. If you haven't checked to see what's going
on at your own local art venues, it might be time to pick up the paper and renew
Year-round lines are generously provided by television shows in need of studio
audiences. Whether your taste is David
Letterman or Regis and Kathie Lee, you know someone's willing to give you
a ticket in exchange for your prompted clapping and forced laughter. This phenomenon
isn't limited to the coasts, of course; check your regional PBS stations and
network affiliates to see what's filmed live.
When it comes right down to it, any queue will do. Take your place waiting
for the city's best lox at Russ and
Daughters on Houston Street, or preview the crowd before an auction in the
Flat Iron district. Join a Big Onion
walking tour to discover everything from famous murder sites to dead writers'
watering holes. Line up and sign up for language classes at the Alliance
Francaise and then go wait with a newfound fellow Francophile for a screening
booth at the Museum of Television
Think you can't meet someone is this pulsing, writhing, passionate city?
Oh, just you wait.
Daphne Uviller finally found love in the form of an ecologist who keeps
beetles next to the butter in her freezer.
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