Best Romance

Best Romance

Mating Game

“I love love,” she said, closing her eyes. I promised her beautiful love. I gloated over her. Our stories were told; we subsided into silence and sweet anticipatory thoughts. It was as simple as that. You could have all your Peaches and Bettys and Marylous and Inezes in this world; this was my girl and my kind of girlsoul, and I told her that. She confessed she saw me watching her in the bus station. “I thought you was a nice college boy.”

–from ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac

Photograph by Michael Amsler

Best Place to Wrestle an Ocelot

At Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), the pagan New Year, my sweetheart and I ventured for the weekend to the Isis Oasis in Geyserville. After unpacking the truck (we brought masks, cloaks, and an enormous down comforter), we toured the grounds, exploring yurts, huts, and big rooms full of Egyptian goddess gear. After a nontraditional dinner of pomegranates and other symbolic foodstuffs, we took a dip in one of the three hot tubs as well as the swimming pool (briefly though, it being the first weekend of November). Much pagan revelry and fun ensued, but the most memorable part of the weekend was the animals. The Isis Oasis boasts a large, well-cared-for menagerie, including black-and-white swans and other waterfowl, five pygmy goats, one unicorn, ocelots, pheasants, serval cats, Egyptian geese, emus, parrots, cockatiels, parakeets, llamas, and bobcats. One of the ocelots, a rowdy teenager, needed more human contact. After he snapped on his leash, we were allowed to take him out of his lofty tree-filled cage and onto the lawn, where he proceeded to violently claw and try to maim us. How sweet!

20889 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville. 707/857-4747. –E.L.

Best Romantic Meal in a Manor

At one time, dining at Madrona Manor Restaurant, an 1881 grand gabled historic landmark, meant sitting up straight, conversing in whispers, and listening to polite, if not pompous recorded chamber music. Not too conducive to melting your honey’s heart. But lately the venerable Victorian country inn and restaurant on the outskirts of Healdsburg has shed its stuffy image. The walls are softer-hued, the music sexier, and chef Jesse Mallgren’s menu lighter. The restaurant is still elegant, with its comfortable upholstered chairs, white linen tablecloths, cut-glass candlesticks, and heavy silverware, but now the ambiance succeeds in also being laid-back. After a relaxing wine-pairing dinner, take a dreamlike stroll through the beautiful landscaped gardens with their illuminated fountain, benches, urns of cascading flowers, and gorgeous scents.

1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg. 707/433-4231. –P.H.

Best Place to Meet Mr./Ms. Right

So you’re looking at the poor slob at the end of the bar–the loud-mouthed guy with the vodka stains on his necktie, the guy teetering on his scuffed Florsheims, the guy blabbing to his friends about his double alimony and triple child-support payments–and you’re wondering, Why can’t I meet the right guy? A sensitive guy. A caring guy. A guy with visible means of support. Maybe you’re looking for love in all the wrong places, as the old song goes. Where can you find a sober, motivated, financially secure mate? Check out the “How to Manage Your Inheritance” seminar at the newly opened SRJC Technology Academy. Sure, you might not be the only gold digger there, but why not give it a shot. Hey, you might even pick up some tips as a beginning investor. Caveat emptor: Of course, there’s always the possibility that everyone in attendance is on the make and the whole class could be just as poor, broke, and lonely as yourself. (Check the schedule for upcoming workshops.)

Redwood Business Park, 1372 N. McDowell Blvd., Suite H, Petaluma. 707/778-2410. –G.C.

Best Sunset and Samosas

There are two Sizzling Tandoor restaurants in Sonoma County. The downtown Santa Rosa location has great food and a view of Mendocino Avenue. The Jenner location has great food and a view of the Pomo Canyon hills, and, beyond, the ocean. Aah. This lovely spot is the place to wine and dine your lover. If you really want to make an impression, take your toots to a window table about an hour before sunset. Then, with bellies full of chicken Tiki Marsala, spinach samosas, and kheer, you can gaze deeply into each other’s eyes and then look westward for the breathtaking sunsets.

9960 Hwy. 1, Jenner (707/865-0625); 409 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa (707/579-999). –E.L.

Best Place to Get Your Socks Knocked Off

The upstairs dining nook at the Thai House in Santa Rosa is quite possibly one of the most romantic places on the planet. The lighting is dim, the decor superb, and the waitresses discreet and attractively dressed in traditional Thai costume. I save the Thai House as a special-occasion restaurant, dining on soft-shell crab and Thai iced tea on birthdays and anniversaries. The food is served in large dishes, set down on the middle of the table in traditional Asian-cuisine style. This makes it easy to share bites of whatever delectable dish you order. I really can’t think of a nicer way to spend an evening than snuggled up next to your sweetie, cross-legged on floor cushions, feeding each other perfectly cooked morsels of kung ka prow and pad thai noodles.

525 Fourth St. (above the Sonoma Coffee Co.), Santa Rosa. 707/526-3939. –E.L.

Best Way to Make Your First Date Laugh His or Her Ass Off

If you can’t win somebody’s heart through his/her stomach, try humor instead! Here’s the scenario. You’ve asked out the cutie behind the coffee-shop counter (or wherever you’ve found him/her), and he/she actually says, “Yes.” Keep your cool, but, for heaven’s sake, abandon the tired old dinner-and-a-movie routine. It’s been overdone. For a guaranteed smashing first date, take your swoon to Michele’s Restaurant on a Saturday night to see the Clueless Comedy Company perform. Michele’s is a great old Italian restaurant, complete with a large leather bar and booths, and pictures of old Santa Rosa taken nearly a hundred years ago. The Clueless Comedy Company puts on a hilarious show based on the English improv TV series Whose Line Is It, Anyway? The show starts at 9 p.m., but get there early for good seats. It’s $8, which is cheaper than a movie these days, anyway!

Seventh and Adams streets, Santa Rosa. 707/542-2577. –E.L.

Best Reason to Remember that the Fundamental Things Apply

Love is dead. That’s a drag and it’s all right at the same time. It’s not that I’ve given up hope or that I ever even care about this one way or another. After all, one learns to get along, to be alone with being lonely–most of the time. But a lot of my 30-something friends are getting nervous about spending not just Saturday nights, but the rest of their life alone without that special someone, someone with whom to share love and lust. Worst of all, I’m beginning to become aware that somehow, somewhere along the way, all that well-honed angst of my youth has mellowed or, worse yet, just dissipated. Yet the longing lingers. The part that gets tiresome is the same old story. Lose yourself in a new lover–for a while. Then wait for the disillusionment to settle in. Lately, I think about that Beck song “Beautiful Way”: “Searching on the skyline/ Just looking for a friend/ Who’s gonna love my baby/ When she’s gone around the bend?” I think I’ve gone around that bend. Then I remember that old Herman Hupfeld classic “As Time Goes By” (the Harry Nilsson version, of course): “You must remember this/ A kiss is still a kiss/ A sigh is just a sigh/ The fundamental things apply/ As time goes by.” OK, sounds hokey, but somehow it makes sense. Hopefully, the world will always welcome lovers–that just might give me enough time to figure this all out before I go crazy. –A.J.

Best Place For a Roll in the Hay

Yeah, you really do it, and at the ultra-swanky Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa no less! The Hay Flotation Back Treatment involves a tension-busting massage followed by a stint laying on “therapeutic alpine hay packs” while being “suspended on the warm flotation table.” If this all seems a bit too B&D for your taste, there are other more tender-sounding treatments available. How about a Couples Wine and Roses Kur, which features a bath à deux in rose petals followed by a grapeseed oil massage? Or maybe you and your sweetie would prefere a Couples Instruction in Massage, which all takes place in the privacy of your hotel room and gives you all the tools needed to begin the romantic rub-down.

18140 Sonoma Hwy., Boyes Hot Springs. 707/938-9000. –P.H.

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From the March 22-28, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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