Ever had a yen to be a Mickey Spillane-style private eye? To dance like Zorba the Greek? To be able to flirt suavely with a kindred spirit . . . or perhaps chat with a dead one?
If so, you may be part of American education's fantasy market, now being tapped by schools that sponsor offbeat courses aimed right at the secret desires of a million hearts.
Southern California's colleges and adult-education centers offer an array of unusual mini courses designed for a student's pleasure and, in some cases, profit.
Most of these courses are non-credit and cost less than $100, with the bulk falling in the $25-to-$50 range.
In terms of time, the minis range downward to as few as two hours. However, at least one takes the form of a 24-hour marathon.
Many schools are distributing catalogues now, and a note or phone call will put you on a mailing list. In addition, most have staffs that will provide telephone information on starting dates, schedules, meeting sites, costs and other details.
Here's a sampler of 10 Southern California institutions and businesses that sponsor out-of-the-ordinary mini courses. All facilities listed here also offer more traditional classes.
Cal State Long Beach, University Extension Services, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach 90840, (213) 498-5561. Most classes are on campus.
"Sherlock Holmes Mysteries," hosted by Murder Mysteries Inc., invites you to come in costume. The class includes a dinner with wine.
"Your Invention--a Road Map From Conception to Profits" traces the development of new products, including patent, trademark and copyright laws, calculating production costs, pricing an invention and marketing and promotion on a tight budget. It is taught in a one-day seminar by inventor and writer Tony King, who holds 15 patents.
Contemporary Concepts, 139 S. Beverly Drive, Penthouse Suite, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90212, (213) 276-2000. Classes are at various sites.
In "Neon Art Can Light Up Your Life," Jose Sanchez teaches techniques that can be used by those seeking commercial careers. Students take home sculptures that they've created.
"Open Doors of Sexual Ecstasy With Tantric Yoga" reveals Hindu secrets of lovemaking. The teacher, Deva Maharaji, is described as a Ph.D., Tantric master and doctor of Ayurvedic medicine. Be advised: The course is all talk; absolutely no nudity or sexual activity.
Glendale Adult School, 1400 E. Broadway, Glendale, Calif. 91205, (818) 243-3184. Call for a free brochure. Classes are held at five Glendale locations.
In "You Can Have Beautiful Nails," state-licensed instructors show you how to do your own acrylic-nail applications.
Starting in January the school will offer a number of new courses, including one in graphology and one in rappeling for cliff climbers.
The Learning Annex, 11675 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 203, Los Angeles, Calif. 90025, (213) 478-6677. Phone calls are taken 24 hours a day for information on classes, offered at several locations.
"Looking for Someone? A Career as a Private Detective" taps into the secrets of finding a clandestine wiretap, locating missing persons and lifting fingerprints. Milo Speriglio, director of the Nick Harris Private Detective Academy, is the teacher.
"How to Flirt" gives shy people "pre-flirt training" to provide self-confidence. After you've flirted your way into a relationship, you're ready for "50 Romantic and Unusual Things to Do in Los Angeles," which delves into emotion-tugging locales that will put the two of you in the right mood.
And then, perhaps, you'll need the astrological insight offered in the "Introduction to Astrology" course. Nancy Frederick Sussan, magazine writer and author, lays in the heavenly basics and shares data from her book, "Love and Sex Under the Stars."
Orange Coast College, Community Services, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92628-0120, (714) 432-0202. Classes are at Costa Mesa High School, 2650 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa.
"The Artistic Sport of Juggling" guarantees that even first-timers will leave with the ability to perform basic moves. Students who prove to be naturals will advance to clubs, rings, spinning plates and cigar boxes. The teacher is Jahnathon Whitfield, director of the California Juggling Institute and a member of the International Jugglers Assn.
"Parapsychology ESP Workshop," which focuses on astral projection, ESP, ghosts and auras, is led by Dianne Morrissey, who has investigated haunted houses, worked with the Society for Psychical Research and appeared on "Eye on L. A." and other TV shows.
The Real School, 215 Long Beach Blvd., Suite 428, Long Beach, Calif. 90813, (213) 495-1175. Call for a free brochure. Small, informal classes are in studios, gardens, restaurants, museums, boats, offices and even on the beach.