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Published: 8/3/2004

Starbucks crossed lovers here don't rate

Considering that I am writing this on my 18th wedding anniversary, it goes without saying that a few years have passed since last I thought about dating.

But a new-ish ranking called the Cost of Dating Index has me wondering about the price of pursuing love (or, at least, amusement) in Toledo.

I'm left to wonder about this, incidentally, because Toledo was not among the cities included in this index, a "snub" that only confirms what we already know: as cities go, we're an all-around comparative bargain.

No, this time we're talking about New York, Dallas, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, and New Orleans.

And - surprise, surprise - NYC is the costliest U.S. city for going out.

A six-date total for a pair of New Yorkers comes in at $1,198, which certainly implies that the date-worthy Sex In the City shoes are extra.

Cheapest of the nation's Top 10 cities?

New Orleans, where stepping out six times will set romantics back $647, and where - no doubt - the mayor already has called a press conference to defend that city's honor after being dubbed the "cheap date" of America.

These dates, by the way, were tallied according to six different categories.

There's the low-risk date for coffee. The meet-for-drinks date. Lunch. The get-together for a movie and ice cream. A sports event.

And then there's the big granddaddy, the romantic dinner for two, complete with tickets to the theater and flowers.

And, just to interrupt myself, allow me to point out that the price of two first-run movie tickets in cheapo New Orleans is a mere $14.50, whereas here in didn't-even-make-the-list Toledo, we pay $18 for a new release - just two bucks less than N.Y.C. and LA.

Chalk it up to life in a movie-market monopoly otherwise known as National Amusements.

But what the Cost of Dating Index and all other lists like it fail to take into account are the intangibles that, however much we try, cannot be measured.

Take for example the so-called coffee date, long a staple of tentative relationships.

The odds are good that, in at least one of the 10 cities, the Cost of Dating Index is adding up the menu at any one of the 4,000 Starbucks that exist within a two-block radius of one another.

But not so here!

We have just a handful of Starbucks - that one over by the clunkily named Westfield Shoppingtown at Franklin Park (or whatever it's called), and various kiosks sprinkled throughout town.

Now, to some people, the relative dearth of Starbucks would put Toledo at a disadvantage, but to my way of thinking, we are lucky to have thus far avoided the commodification of cool.

You want a coffee date in Toledo? Odds are it won't occur in a nationwide chain - and that's priceless.



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