Best Romance

Cupid Strikes

High on amour: Things go better with caffeine, at least among the county’s lovestruck café denizens.

Photo by Janet Orsi

‘Best of’ local romance–
slow strolls, java jive

Romance is hardly dead in the ’90s, but it does tend to be more expensive than it once was (prom night excepted). Let’s face it, a quiet dinner à deux, elegant chocolates, even a night at the movies can set one back more working hours than the time spent savoring the fruits of your labors. The trick is to avoid having to choose between love and money, especially if you happen to be a little short on the latter. But Independent readers are a resourceful group; they know that money buys love only if you’re a friend of Heidi Fleiss. Instead, a good cup of coffee, a seaside sunset, or a casual midtown park picnic can open the door to Eros, and on a shoestring, too. And for advanced amour, the great outdoors can hold abundant opportunities. Herewith, our guide to social foreplay for the economically challenged.

Best Place to Become Unmentionably Afflicted with Poison Oak

There’s a right way and a wrong way to commune with Nature and your honey simultaneously; the secret is knowing how to pick your spots. For those who get off getting it on in the open air, the ideal vehicle to the venue is a canoe (Bob Trowbridge rents canoes for upper river trips from Asti to Healdsburg at 20 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 433-7247; for the lower river from Forestville to Guerneville, see Burke’s Russian River Canoe Trips, River Road at Mirabel in Forestville, 887-1222). Patches of sand and thickets of willow along the banks of the Russian River provide myriad opportunities and adequate cover for a little riverside rapture, but the truly discreet will select a spot where they can stash the canoe out of sight, too. Muting your audible exuberance is also recommended, but post-coital smoking remains an option in the great outdoors. Plan ahead and bring a blanket, insect repellent, and sunscreen if you’re not into quickies. But if your interest in anatomy greatly exceeds your awareness of botany, it’s always wise to pack a little calamine lotion, too.–B.R.

Best Place to Propose Marriage

The story goes like this: There were two brothers, the sons of a pair of Rohnert Park educators. They grew up, they each met a smart and talented young lady, and they fell in love. The oldest boy, looking for a spot to propose to his sweetheart, chose magical Lawson’s Landing at Dillon Beach. He popped the question, she responded in the affirmative, and all they ever told anyone was that they became engaged “out at the coast.” A bit later on, the younger brother, also seeking a place to proffer an engagement ring, decided without consulting his brother to do the deed at Dillon Beach, and ended up, the story goes, in the exact same spot. She also said yes, and both couples have been happily married for decades. As someone once said, love is a beach.–D.T.

Best Place to Swipe Flowers
for Your Honey

Temptation is blooming in early spring at the side of our highways and byways, especially along River Road, where thousands of daffodils have been planted over the past few years. The sunny yellow clusters bloom in such profusion that it’s easy to rationalize a pause to pluck a handful to take home. But, as Richard (“Anthony Hopkins wouldn’t have dared impersonate me while I was living”) Nixon once said, it would be wrong. As an alternative, consider a fistful of delicate wild iris, collected along the Sonoma coast, or, for the truly daring, a bright, but illegal bouquet of California poppies, now appearing all over the place.–B.R.

Best Place to Stroll Romantically, Hand-in-Hand, Doing Nothing in Particular Aside from Being Together

Romantic moments are perhaps sweetest when they seem the most spontaneous. (On the other hand, effective pre-planning has its moments, such as when you make dinner reservations, buy flowers and a card for your date, deliver them to the restaurant ahead of time with instructions that they be waiting on your table when you arrive; hardly spontaneous but highly effective!) When planning a romantic stroll, it is best to disguise it as something else, such as a means by which to walk off the candlelight dinner you just enjoyed downtown. In Old Petaluma, a walk down the picturesque, charmingly lit-up boulevard is nice, made even better by a sashay across the bridge overlooking the river. Farther down, the happy couple may wander past McNear’s, where the sidewalk oyster-griller will cook up a few steaming aphrodisiacs-to-go. Both in Healdsburg and in Sonoma, the town square is a poetically pleasant spot to wander in, though the truth of it is, if you’re with the right person, wherever you are will probably look just fine.–D.T.

Best Place for an Instant Honeymoon

We know that it’s pricey. But for just one silvery night of love, the Sonoma Mission Inn (18140 Sonoma Hwy.; 938-9000) offers one of the most romantic, European-styled getaways around. And the sensible mind asserts that there is no reason why only tourists should enjoy it. With its gorgeously kept grounds, masseuses, hot tubs, in-room fireplaces, and just general swish of elegance (think sparkling drinks al fresco by the pool, swathed in the hotel’s comfy terry robes), it’s hard to beat this inn. Have your nails done, work out in the weight room, or have your muscles pleasantly pummeled–your toughest decision is which way to please yourself. Then there’s all that hot air coming straight up from Mother Nature to gently warm the hot springs so that you can relax most happily. Pack your best dress or a tie, and allow yourself to be pampered in the first-class dining room. Or just steal yourselves away to that aforementioned fireplace and order up. After all, you’ve checked in to be together.–G.G.

Best Place to Buy Erotica

You’ve come a long way, baby, from the days when you secreted away that illustrated copy of the Kamasutra. And forget about those tasteful Japanese erotic art prints. Now you’re hot for. . . a nice pair of furry handcuffs? The Santa Rosa Adult Book Store (3301 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa)–a popular spot for bachelor and bachelorette party novelty buyers–is the hands-down winner of this category, and we can only assume that our readers are harboring some fairly, well, liberal tastes when it comes to spicing up their sex life. This shop sports dirty books and adult movies galore–rentals and 25-cent peep shows–for folks of every persuasion. Spanish fly, nipple clips, penis enlargers, humungous rubber vibrators, handcuffs, leather bondage gear, and even a little plastic penis filled with red fluid that becomes engorged when the barometric pressure rises–it’s all here. But the item that captured our imaginations is the latex replica of the late-porn star Savannah’s vagina in a box. Truly strange. Do you suppose that Slash–the Guns n’ Roses guitarist who once dated her–keeps one of these around for old times’ sake?–G.C.

From the March 28-April 3, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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