As a serious single, I've studied the subject. One of the many advice books I've perused urged attention to surroundings. One must, the author insisted, smile and consider any and all acquaintances as possible conquests.
I agree with the philosophy.
OK, being on constant alert is exhausting in the continual effort required to dress well, maintain good grooming habits and step forward each day as though love awaits only a few paces ahead.
However, whether on the hunt for a mate, a better job or any opportunity, Boy Scouts will tell you to "be prepared."
That said, I make the most of myself 99.9 percent of my day. I smile throughout visits to the library, the bank and the grocery store. I shamelessly put myself out there, with one exception, and that is at the gym.
SWEAT DOES NOT EQUAL ROMANCE
People who seriously workout sweat. OK, so women glow, but that glow drips off the ends of noses and greasy strands of hair.
Men who grunt through their reps have never caused my heart to miss a beat. However, a few of the more odorous have caused my nose to scrunch.
People - and I mean that sweet thing in the skin-tight Lycra - who don't sweat don't impress me.
Full makeup and bangles that encircle arms, ears and necks cause me to envision freak accidents involving the yoga ball. I don't fear the grievous harm they'll do to themselves as much as whether I'll be able to use the equipment afterward.
I also can't help but wonder: Do these people get their real workout elsewhere and then come to my gym to preen?
THE MEANS, NOT THE END
I work out in misshapen, comfortable, easy-to-wash clothes.
I deliberately go in the wee hours before my conscious mind awakes and asks, "We're doing what?!"
I'm not at the gym to impress the people at the gym; I'm at the gym to impress the people outside the gym.
You would never want to see the kitchen of your favorite restaurant or watch the magic illusion from back stage: It ruins the mystery.
And I don't need an audience while I gasp my way through abdominal crunches.
On dates I've gone hiking, kayak-ing, swimming, dancing and bowling - all of which I enjoyed profoundly but didn't do for physical exercise. And during all of which I kept my hair fluffed and smile intact.
In the 1990s, people flocked to gyms as alternatives to the bar scene - but why would you in Seattle?
Want to meet someone into physical exercise? Walk around Green Lake. Bike the Burke-Gilman Trail. Fly a kite at Gas Works Park.
KEEP THE END IN SIGHT
It may sound cynical, but in the battle of the sexes I always consider my exit strategy. Once a relationship ends, and some of them do, what'll happen?
As much as I'd love for every one of my exes to shrivel up and die, they haven't so far. I'll avoid the coffee shop, friends' birthday parties, parole hearings or wherever it was that we originally met.
However, I will not miss my daily workout to avoid stilted small talk with a once-upon-a-time love-of-my-life.
Instead, I prefer to be picked-up in co-ops and copy centers, and keep my gym sacred and holy, free of winks and come-hither glances.
If I've ruined your last, best outlet for flirting, I'll give you a suggestion: Next time, check out your local church, temple, mosque or synagogue. Nice people wearing nice clothes, and, more often than not, no sweat involved.
Sofia lives in North Seattle and can be reached at needitor@nwlink. com.