Robot Hearts: The final episode

The time has come to bid farewell to our beloved Robot Hearts. With this last installment, Jack and Tess give their final thoughts on dating in our fair city.

Editor’s note: That’s right, kiddos. After bestowing so much love and dating advice over the last few months, our sages’ Robot Hearts have warmed and turned into real, beating centers of love. So, it’s time to bid them farewell. We hope they’ve helped you out from time to time and, at the very least, given you some laughs. Oh, we will miss them so.

Question #1

This wild Richmond summer is in full swing, and I’ve found myself dateless to every event. The internet (Myspace, Facebook, Craiglist’s Missed Connections) seems to prove that there are a lot of single guys out there, but all the ones I meet are taken. Where are the available guys hiding?

— On the Hunt in the Museum District

Tess: My dear Hunter, I have to admit that I’m not the absolute expert on this topic, for I doubt I would have been single for so long if I knew of this elusive hiding place. But I think the art of boyfriend-hunting all depends on what kind of guy you’re looking for. Looking for frat boys in pleated khakis? Try the bars around the corner of Main and Robinson. Sweaty, sporty dudes who enjoy bleached blonde girls and chain restaurants? Try Home Team Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, or Sine. Artsy types, musicians, decent haircuts? Try Ipanema, Empire, and Avalon. Perhaps we can get some more recommendations in the comments section. Just keep in mind that you still have to separate the wheat from the chaff at any bar you go to.

And of course you could always go to those tried-and-true locations which are repeatedly mentioned in Missed Connections. You know, the grocery store, the gas station, the VCU library, Chipotle. First, though, you might want to ask yourself if you’re okay with settling for a guy who can only voice his affections for you via an anonymous message board.

And last but not least I must personally suggest that you import a guy from out of town. Get out of your comfort zone and go on a road trip, preferably to a festival or conference where you’ll see tons of new people who have common interests with you. You’ll appear way more mysterious and feel confident about being yourself, because you don’t have the normal constraints of being around familiar surroundings. You’ll enthrall some great guy, and bring him back to Richmond where he belongs anyway. Good luck!

Jack: On the flipside a lot of the guys I talk to say the same thing: “All the good ones are taken…” Although usually the guy who makes that statement could have never gotten that girl in the first place and quite honestly, I hear less than stellar girls make that same statement as well. So what am I saying? Well, before attempting to answer your question with some random spots in Richmond where you can meet that available guy, take a look in the mirror. Is it time to maybe lower your standards a bit? Is there a reason why all these great guys keep throwing themselves under cabs when they see you? Just a thought.

On to your question. Available men? Hotel bars: Excuse that pale circle of skin on his ring finger. I find that many men in their thirties have that same affliction. Chat him up and get his work digits. Don’t, uhh, call him at home, or, uhh, leave any messages with his secretary.

Kickball/ Dodgeball/ Wiffleball/ Jai Alai Rec Leagues:This goes along with the Hometeam Grill and Sine answer. Same haircut, same neon orange shirt, same slightly beer-bloated bodies. It’s hard not to find available, somewhat slovenly men in this crowd.

Downtown bars: I work there. I like to go down there. Male availability is high. STD rate is high, though not as high as Chesterfield’s rate according to a recent study– So we got that going for us, which is nice.

Jefferson Davis Highway or Craigslist “Adult Services”. Both hooker hotspots. Are you above paying for an escort? From the sounds of your letter I would guess no. Go get ’em tiger.

In the end it’s not about the location, it’s about your mindset and your willingness to accept defeat. Do like the other girls in Richmond…settle, settle, settle. You will never get married and knocked up by 29 with your attitude, much less get some gent to escort you to the sock-hop.

Question #2

I will be moving to Richmond soon for my job. I grew up in New England and have never laid eyes upon your sure-to-be beautiful city. I am a 25-year-old, single female. I’m not looking to get married yet, but I’m not looking to sleep around with everyone either. What advice, do’s and don’ts, tidbits of info would you give a gal who is new to the city and looking to avoid the pitfalls of past newbie Richmonders? Anything helps.

— Coming down 95 next month – Boston, Mass

Jack: I’ve compiled a list of “tidbits”:

Avoid the fan bars. Avoid the Shockoe Bottom bars. Avoid the Southside bars. Avoid the bars near VCU. Avoid the West End bars. Avoid Northside. Avoid the East End. Avoid anywhere north of Broad in the Church Hill Neighborhood. Avoid Broad Street altogether. Avoid going within 3 miles of Richmond International Raceway. Avoid anyone who wears super tight pants. Avoid Short Pump. Avoid South Richmond. Avoid coming anywhere near Hull Street.

Hmmm, okay I think I covered everything. That leaves you Barnes and Noble, Regency Square Mall and uhhh….

The point of my ramblings is this. Try as you might, you will never avoid the pitfalls of dating in Richmond or any other city. My best advice is to dive right in and hope for the best. I can say with confidence, there are some great men and women out there in the Cap city. As long as you’re willing to take a chance and strike up a conversation… who knows what will happen? Hitting a “pitfall” or two is more exciting than writing into some dating column.

But seriously, there’s nothing good on Hull Street. Take my word for it.

Tess: It’s difficult to give you advice when I don’t know your tastes, but I shall try. If I told you where to avoid, all my advice would be based on my tastes, not yours, so I will be a little more broad in what I say. Since you are moving here for work, the temptation will be to just make friends with a few people at your office and hang out with them exclusively. Don’t get sucked into the laziness of killing time with the people who just happened to be placed in front of you. Seek out folks who aren’t necessarily just like you, but who have good taste and are involved in organizations, pursuits, etc. that you find interesting. Focus on making friends with a solid group of people and getting to know the girls very well. The kind of guys who hang around with these girls will become a natural dating pool for you. In a small town such as this, we ladies are always excited to recommend some of our top-notch guy friends when a worthy female presents herself and makes a good impression on us.

In advice that’s not related to dating: You should spend a couple of days driving and walking around town, getting used to the different neighborhoods before committing to a location. One thing I can recommend wholeheartedly is to live where you play, not where you work. For example, if the shops, bars, and people of a certain area are exciting to you, live there no matter how far away it is from work. Otherwise you’re likely to just get lazy, talk yourself out of hitting the town every time there’s something going on, and become a bit of a hermit.

Even though Robot Hearts is fanito, our sages aren’t falling off the Internet anytime soon. Keep tabs on Jack at Jack Goes Forth, and see what Tess is up to over at Parasol Party.

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