Welcome to the second edition of the Mind/Body Problem.
Make that, the Plight of the Transplanted Easterner.
Or maybe, Elliott's Complaint.
Last week, Single Life interviewed a 33-year-old radiologist named Elliott who had written in response to a column about local fast-tracking women. A native New Yorker, educated at Cornell, New York University and Harvard hospitals, Elliott moved to Newport Beach four-plus years ago and, by his own estimate, has dated upwards of 100 women since he got here.
Elliott wasn't shy with his opinions of the county singles scene. Although he joined a host of cultural and professional groups when he arrived--hoping to meet and mingle with peers--he said he was disappointed to find locals generally less educated and less interested in cultural and political events than his professional equivalents in New York and Boston.
He laughed about women he had dated here who thought radiologist was a synonym for deejay ("Are you on AM or FM?"). He described, with astonishment, his discovery that many of his colleagues and acquaintances don't read a newspaper daily; don't read magazines such as Esquire, the Atlantic or Vanity Fair; don't know about shows opening on Broadway; don't read books.
"It's not that any of these things are intrinsically good," he said, "but when you add them all together you're talking about a life of the mind, which does not seem to be a value here.
"Here," said Elliott, "people tend to feel that if they're in good shape, that's enough."
Elliott's comments hit a nerve. Letters and phone calls from local women started coming in to Single Life over the weekend and hadn't slowed by deadline Wednesday. Here are excerpts from letters and interviews with three local women who empathize with Elliott's complaints and one who begs to differ.
From "An Astonished Anonymous Newport Beach Housewife":
I was astonished to read that you exist. I mean, a professional man who has interests beyond just watching TV at night, a man who likes to read, see the latest in theater, talk about interesting things. A well-balanced man. Perhaps the women here have just been conditioned to expect that there aren't any of you out there, that we must just settle for what appears to be the best we can do: men who work hard and make a good living but who want a woman around as a maid, as someone who won't bother (him) when he gets home so he can watch TV, especially sports.
I settled for a nice boring man, but I would love to have found someone who loved to expand his cultural horizons . . . who would think of me as an interesting person, not someone to just be around to keep quiet.
Elliott, keep on looking. There are so many single women who really do see the shallowness of excessive emphasis on clothes/makeup/general appearances. There really are some very attractive women who want more than surface accomplishments. . . . There are so many women who would love to have such a rewarding person in their lives as you.
I looked for 30 years and just decided that men like you weren't around. Now I find out that you are. I know there are unmarried women who would love to grow with you. Good luck!
From Julie, a 36-year-old lawyer from Irvine:
I really enjoyed reading (last week's column), which discusses the difficulties you are encountering in Orange County in . . . your search to find people who desire to cultivate their minds. I share your sentiments exactly with regard to the men I meet.
I grew up and attended school (and practiced law for five years) in Philadelphia until I moved to Orange County in 1981. Since my divorce last year, I haven't really gone looking for people to date. I love living and working in Orange County, but it has been extremely difficult to meet men and women here who meet the level of expectation developed as a result of living, working and attending school back East.
I always say that I am probably the only person in Orange County who has a daily and Sunday subscription to the New York Times!
(In an interview, Julie said her social life revolved around friends and the small dinner parties (featuring gourmet food she spends 10 to 12 hours preparing) she has several times a month.)
Of the local singles scene, Julie said:
I really don't go looking for people to date. Once in a while, I go to Jewish singles events, because I feel I would prefer to date Jewish men. But I can categorize the men I meet (at those events) in two ways.
Like Elliott, I like to think of myself as intelligent, and I look for someone who's intelligent, too. I have found some quite intelligent men at these functions, but there is clearly something socially aberrant about them. They're intelligent, but maladapted. The ones I meet who are cool are not up to my standards intellectually. Those seem to be the two categories of single guys I meet.