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Win Friends (Fast)

Finding buddies, pals, mates and the elusive "chum.

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Variety recently reported on a new reality show on CBS that sticks 40 boys and girls into a New Mexico ghost town to develop their own society, a la "Lord of the Flies."  "American Idol" it's not, unless the kids decide to bring karaoke with them into their desolate new world.

Will the experiment prove that societies eventually collapse? Or finally offer scientific evidence that to make friends, kids named Piggy must disarm their peers with humor … or else?

While we wait for the results, we can report on consensus from the world's foremost sociologists: To build relationships, you must go where people are.

So it's summer in Richmond, and you need friends fast. Here's what to do:



Be Hot

Tip: This works mostly for women and gay men.

How it works: Men will creep toward you at outdoor concert series, pretending to search for a better view of the band.

Directions: Try Innsbrook After Hours for a down-home kinda guy who knows whether the living Dale drives car No. 3 or 8. Go for Friday Cheers to snag a just-out-of-college and/or VCU med-student type who's convinced he rules the world. Hit Groovin' in the Garden for the buttoned-up, sensitive sort.

Degree of difficulty: Men, 9; Women, 7.



Become a "Young Professional"

Tip: You most likely qualify, assuming you aren't wearing a mesh wife-beater.

How it works: This town loves "young professionals." That means you must be (a) not older than 53 (or older but recently divorced and reinventing yourself) and (b) have a job. The reasoning goes that young professionals will like to network (and/or make out) with other people who have jobs.

Directions: Join a nonprofit board of some sort — or if you're lucky, be a lawyer who gets generous incentives to volunteer.  Go to benefits. Order a martini wherever you are (other options: Red Bull and vodka — still — or expensive tequila). Show up at Metro on a Thursday night.

Insider information: The new HYPE group — Helping Young Professionals Engage — is holding a mixer for people ages 21 to 40. But hurry, it's tonight! (Wednesday, May 23.) Get to Texas de Brazil at Regency Square Mall, 5-7 p.m. Or look for more events on www.hyperichmond.com.

If it's too late for HYPE, check out Hyperlink Café, 814 W. Grace St., which says it is leading the charge of the local networking trend and has "answered the call of the young professional." Find food, music and a "safe, sexy and classy atmosphere" in which to socialize every Friday this summer, starting May 25.

Degree of difficulty: Most people, 3. Young lawyers, 1.



Sit at Home

Tip: "Tom" counts as a friend.

How it works: You're still going where people are, just not physically. Go ahead and join MySpace.

Directions: Join. Hit "Browse." Decide whether you're looking for men, women or both. Click anything else that interests you and hit "Update." At last count there were at least 3,000 potential friends between the ages of 18 and 35 within a five-mile radius of ZIP code 23230. Those are good odds. Even "Samsonite Man," whose name pops right up (Giants fan, 25, pictured shirtless) has 236 friends.

Insider information: Remember that what you put up will most likely be seen by your boss. So go crazy! Wear a mesh wife-beater!

Degree of difficulty: 4.



Get a Dog

Tip: May get pee in your shoe.

How it works: Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just can't make friends. So head to the nearest animal shelter or group, or the Richmond SPCA. They don't call dogs "man's best friend" for nothing (see the potential friends we ran into here).

Directions: The folks at the SPCA lay it out: Visit them at 2519 Hermitage Road. Bring a picture ID with your current address, your landlord's telephone number if you're a renter and a credit/debit card, money order or Richmond SPCA gift card. Meet with a counselor.  Fill out an application and get matched up. Write a check (the regular adoption fee is $100; $75 for people ages 65 and older). Go home with a friend.

Inside scoop: Yes, the dog is your friend. But a side benefit includes the other dog people you'll meet. … and the automatic ice-breaker you'll have on your next walk. Be warned: The SPCA cautions that dogs are a lifetime commitment. Unlike your "best friend forever" from third grade.

Degree of difficulty: 4.

  • See some friends up for adoption.





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