Love & Sex

Talking To Strangers: San Francisco, CA

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Heather, 25

How long have you lived in San Francisco?
About seven years now.

Where are you from originally?
I'm from Thailand. I came here for college — I got accepted to USF for business administration.

What do you do now?
I'm a restaurant manager.

Does being a restaurant manager get you a lot of dates?
Well, before I was a restaurant manager I got a lot of dates. [laughs] Now that I'm a manager, I don't have a lot of time to go out on dates.

When was your last crazy hookup?
About two years ago, I hooked up with a guy and realized in mid-hookup that one of my best friends was still in the room. He was pretending to be asleep in the chair, and he used to have a crush on me, so it was extra-weird. The motherfucker had his eyes closed, but I found out later he was awake.

Did you keep going?
Yes! [laughs] It was that good. I had to keep going. I thought, if he's going to pretend he's asleep, I'm going to act like he's asleep.

Is there anything that's an instant dealbreaker for you?
There are a lot, actually: too dependent, wants kids, egotistical, cheap, stupid, bad breath, or body odor. Those are the base ones — I have a lot more.

What would be the ideal way for you to get dumped?
Just for someone to be like, "Hey, this isn't working out." That's it. That's all I need.

What's the day of the week that you are the most likely to be hungover?
Sunday. Normally it would be every day, but I stopped drinking during the week last week. I was becoming a lightweight alcoholic, and it wasn't good for my job performance.

Have you ever been totally wrong about somebody?
Oh, all the time. Well, not all the time. You know what I was totally wrong about? About two years ago, my ex-boyfriend's best friend, who was also my roommate and my best friend, and who I always had the utmost respect for — I found out he was a total dog. He should have won an Academy Award.

Hampton, 29

What do you do?
I'm a software programmer.

Does being a software programmer ever get you dates?
Yeah, I sell software packages to people, and therefore they're interested in my package. [laughs] Not really. I've gone to conferences where I'm selling software, and it's more like months later when we hook up.

What is the most common day for you to be hungover?
Monday. Sundays are a day when you're not planning for it to be a crazy night and it ends up being a crazy night anyway, and at some point you forget it's a Sunday. Like the 49ers game the other day. A bunch of people from work came over my house and everyone ended up getting a lot more drunk than they anticipated.

So how does work go then on those Mondays that you are hungover?
Luckily, if you're managing people, you're able to pretend that you're not hungover and that it's their fault. There's no last name in this, right? [laughs] Okay, being middle to upper management is the best thing about drinking. You can come in hungover, and all you have to do is be kind of mad at them, and it kind of works. Everyone thinks they've done something wrong. You're like, "Ah, you didn't get that done? Ahhh," and then they think, "Oh, I must have really done something wrong," and they leave you alone, when really, it's just that you're hungover and you're upset. You're lovely on other days.

I was going to ask about a recent hookup story, but I see that you're married. How long have you been married?
Two years.

How did you meet your wife?
Husband.

Shit. Sorry. How did you meet your husband?
On the internet. He was living in England and I was living in Florida and I came up with a list of a hundred things that I wanted to find that I didn't think I was going to be able to find in anyone. I mean, I figured out what the chances were for me to find someone who was right for me. I said to myself okay, about fifty percent of people like horror movies, and so on, so I did the math, and the probability was something like one in ten million, so I decided to look in another country. I found him in England. He passed ninety-eight of them.

What is an instant dealbreaker for you?
If they're a religious conservative. I guess we're in San Francisco, so you won‘t find many of them. I'm an ex-religious conservative. I was in training to be a priest. A charismatic Southern evangelical.

How did you break out of the church?
I don't mean to sound pithy, but I started thinking. I was reading this stuff, thinking, "Wait, I like dudes, and none of this makes any sense." And then I moved to NYC and came out.

Katrina, 22

How long have you lived in the city for?
For two and a half years.

What do you do for a living?
I sell wedding gowns.

Are you single or in a relationship?
I am single.

How is it selling wedding dresses to women who're getting married?
Well, of course everyone coming in initially seems really thrilled with it, but it's interesting to sense people's subtle anxieties and to see whether they're able to be open and discuss their relationships. Some people say nothing about it. I also get to hear how all these engaged people came to get engaged.

Does the focus on marriage in your job affect your personal life?
I like to keep my social and professional lives separate. At this point, I'm excited to be meeting people and I'm not necessarily aiming for a married end point anytime in the next long while.

What was the first time you were ever totally wrong about some boy?
I was sixteen and he was super-angsty. We had a thing. We were dating, but we weren't boyfriend and girlfriend. Then he made out with my girlfriend. It was all that teen emotion! You live and learn from that. I was being a bit naive, and when you're young, you tend to get swept off your feet more often. Several years later, that's definitely not the case… thankfully!

What was the worst way that you've ever been dumped?
Um, text message from someone who I didn't even feel like I was dating. Things were casual and fun. He had been out of town for the weekend and I was in his neighborhood and had sent him a text saying I was close by if he wanted to get a drink. And I got this reply that was like, "Hey, thanks for thinking about me, it's been really great to know you, but I've met someone and I don't want things to get complicated." I thought, you could've just not responded to the text message. You could have just not responded and I would've gotten the point.

When was the last time you broke things off with someone yourself?
In August. It was shitty. We were together for two-and-a-half years. You try to be as respectful as possible and salvage something from that relationship. I think the way you break up with someone is really indicative of the relationship that you had with them. Especially when you're living with someone and there are things you have together and then you need to separate. It's a challenge to try to be good to that person when you're stepping away.

What are you doing tonight?
I'm going out with this guy. We spent the last two Thanksgivings together and it was at the second one where we realized, "Oh hey! You're single, I'm single. You're hot, I'm hot. Let's go out for drinks." Thanksgiving — it's the magical time.

Greg, 23

How long have you lived in the city?
I don't live in the city now, but I was born and raised in the city. Lived here for eighteen years. I went to college right after high school — Cal State East Bay in Hayward — but my mind wasn't conditioned to go to school at that point. I got kicked out of the dorms, blah blah blah. So I moved in with my grandmother in West Oakland. And I'm living there now while I get everything together.

How are the girls in San Francisco as compared to Oakland?
I feel like the girls in San Francisco are a bit more classy, if you will. That's just speaking from where I come from. I come from the quote-unquote "ghetto," and the girls in the ghetto… I feel like the girls in Oakland are a little more fast. They're down and, when I say down, I mean they're ready to do whatever you're ready to do. Whereas in San Francisco, girls feel you out a little bit more before they get into that boat with you.

What's your best hookup story?
There was this girl who was my elementary school sweetheart, when I was like eight thinking I knew what love was. Then when I was eighteen, I worked at the movies, and my elementary school sweetheart came in to see a movie while I was working at the concession stand. So I gave her some free popcorn and asked what she was doing afterwards, and she said she wasn't doing nothing. So after her movie, she came out and I was done with work, waiting for her, and we went to her house and… blah, blah, blah happened. You don't see a girl for ten years, and then you see her and it's like, "Hey!"

What would be your ideal way to be dumped?
Just tell me you're dumping me. Simple as that. No text message, no phone call, no Facebook. Well, I'm not on Facebook, so that's not my issue.

How are you not on Facebook?
I'm not on Facebook because it's supposed to be a social network where you just hook up with everybody, but it's a stressful situation when you're with someone, because you're going to have the groupie effect. Even if you're not famous, the groupie effect is when there are a lot of people who like you, and your significant other might not want to face that fact. When it comes down to it you just got to delete your Facebook.

Kristina, 27

Are you a native of San Francisco?
Yup, born and raised.

Are you in a relationship right now?
Nope.

How long have you been single for?
Oh, for about a year.

Was that the last time you hooked up with somebody?
Yup.

So you haven't hooked up with anybody in a year?
Yeah.

How's that been going?
I mean, hard. But guys are complicated.

What do you think is the most complicated thing about guys?
Being misunderstood. I feel like they don't understand me a lot. Well actually, goals. I feel like it's hard to find a guy who has goals. A lot of guys are just not ambitious.

Oh, I didn't even ask you what you do for work!
I'm an accountant and a CFO's assistant.

Has this ever lead you to hooking up with anyone?
Yeah. I mean, when I was younger. Not now.

What was that like?
Complicated. I'm just trying to focus more on myself now. I dated someone from when I was nineteen to when I was twenty-six. Not the same person, but I was with people that whole time. I'm just waiting for someone who's right and not necessarily to hook up.

What's an instant dealbreaker?
If someone didn't have a job I wouldn't go out with them. For me to go on a second date with someone, they'd have to have a goal in their career.

What about kids?
Oh, I don't care. I'd rather they have kids so I don't have to have them.  

Whats the craziest way you've ever had a relationship end?
Well, I don't know about the craziest ending, but the last relationship I was in, we started dating on a Friday night and by that Sunday I was moving in. We ended up dating for three years. I thought we were going to get married, but I got scared and ran off.

What did you get scared of?
Just commitment. My parents have both died, and I've had a lot of other things happen to me, and I feel like I need to work on myself. I don't need this baggage — I want to be better for someone. I don't want to be dragging them down with my stuff.

Corine, 23

How long have you lived in the city for?
It'll be five years in May.

Where did you live before?
Arizona. I came to the Bay Area for school.

How has dating been in the city?
Well, I met my current boyfriend of almost four years at school. We met in the dorms my freshman year. He moved into my building. It was my second semester, and I already knew everyone in the building, so he was the new guy on the block. So that's what kind of attracted me to him.

Who pursued who?
It was probably more me pursuing him. It started as kind of… well, not a joke, but as a game with a girlfriend of mine, and I ended up winning. We were kind of competing who could get his number first, and I won.

What's the closest you've ever come to breaking up?
He's in the Army, and last year he had to move away, so we've been figuring out what exactly we're doing. It came kind of close. It's still a day-by-day situation. He's still in the U.S. but he's moving overseas next month.

What are you going to do in a month?
Well, right now, we're going to still stay together, but he's moving to Italy, so I'm trying to figure out how I can go over there with him.

Do you think you're going to marry this guy?
Yeah, if things stay as they are. As long as we keep talking about our insecurities about him being in the military, I think everything will be okay.

Is that the biggest insecurity you have in your relationship?
Yeah. If he were here, everything would be fine.

Since you're in a relationship, what's your normal weekend night out like?
I usually hang out with friends and go to different bars or go out to dinner. I'm kind of their wingman. If they're out looking for guys, I'll help them out or scope things out for them. If they're scoping someone out and that person has a friend, I'll start talking to the friend to kind of move things along.

What's the most effort you've ever put in?
I don't think that my friends really need that much help. I have good-looking friends, so it's kind of just sitting around and waiting for people to come to us. 

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