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Working Harder at Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

March 18, 1988|CATHY CURTIS

Is county newcomer Russell "looking for love in all the wrong places"?

That's what Nancy thinks. She's a 34-year-old county native who lives in Garden Grove, and she wrote to Single Life to respond to the former Denver resident's observations on the county's fast-lane singles life.

According to Russell, county people are driven by "visuals--your looks, where you live, the kind of car you drive, the need to see and be seen in the proper clubs, the size of your paycheck."

Nancy replied: "If he's trying to meet people with serious social and spiritual values, he ought to go where such people congregate: to church, to an Amnesty International adoption group, to the Episcopal Service Alliance at Messiah Church in Santa Ana, for example."

(On the phone, Nancy, who works at UC Irvine, added, "Women who go to church are primarily interested in God, but at the coffee hour he will probably find someone interested in meeting him.")

Her letter continues: "He mentions going to the Red Onion. Fine. It's a club where people go to drink and flirt, and that's what its patrons will do. Russell could try involving himself in groups that speak to his own concerns and see what develops naturally."

But it's not always easy to find someone with your special interests. Listen to Mitchell, a 35-year-old physician from Ohio who has lived in Huntington Beach for four years:

"I have always been involved in cultural activities, especially classical music and opera," he wrote to Single Life. "However, trying to find a female companion to take to these events is a very frustrating experience.

"The usual response to an invitation to the opera is, 'Oh, I wouldn't understand it.' I then quickly explain that with the advent of Supertitles, anyone can enjoy it without knowing the plot beforehand. Still, they decline the chance to broaden their cultural horizons.

"I don't want to sound snobbish, but it always surprises me that an aerobics class will usually have priority over a cultural event. A friend of mind called this the 'leisure mentality,' which seems to pervade both L.A. and Orange counties.

"As an ophthalmologist, I seem to have a sub-specialty in blind dates. One memorable woman regretted that she had never traveled to the 'Hertz' Castle. Another listened intently to my description of an Eastern European concentration camp that I had visited several years ago. Her comment: 'I didn't know those things were still running!' I nearly choked on my food."

He also said: "I find that I can't relate to much-younger women. Conversations with them are limited to the weather, clothing and top 40 music. I don't dare mention politics, the stock market or the economy, or foreign films. As in Lily Tomlin's one-woman show, I am driven by the 'search for signs of intelligent life in the universe.' "

We called Mitchell to find out how he went about looking for culturally attuned women.

"I have used a lot of different techniques, including advertising in Los Angeles magazine and the Jewish Bulletin, with variable responses," he said.

"In the last five years, I've probably met--easily--150 women just through advertising, and I've both responded to ads and placed my own. . . . I basically describe my interests--classical music, opera, cultural affairs--and a lot of (the women) unfortunately did not share these interests, even though they responded.

"They said, 'Well, I like music, but I don't know much about classical.' Or, 'I like light classical, but I don't know the names of the composers.'

"Another thing I've noticed is that . . . they'd describe themselves one way and they'd be another. My favorite was a 'young tigress' who was more like an elephant in real life."

Mitchell always requests a photo in his ads, and he "usually" ignores responses that don't include one.

"One woman (responding to his ad) had an excellent sense of humor: She enclosed a photo of (an) archeological dig. I never pursued it, unfortunately. I probably should have."

In addition to going the personal-ad route, Mitchell has tried attending singles group meetings. He found the Y.E.S. (Young Executive Singles) group to be "somewhat older" than the mid-30s-and-under woman he's looking for. ("The times I've gone, people have been in their late 30s to 40s.")

Last year he attended the Cabaret chapter of the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, where the women were also "a little bit older."

He also thought women who showed up for a black-tie Casino Night event were there "to be seen" rather than to meet someone.

That lack of interest in connecting with men occurs frequently, he said: "You can approach (women) and they won't talk to you. I introduce myself: 'Hi, my name is Mitch. What do you think of the event?' And they say, 'Oh, it's nice' and walk away.

"Even when I was living in L.A. there was a certain--cliquishness is the best term. (Natives) seem to sense that you were not born in California--or born in Beverly Hills in particular--and they resent that or they feel you don't belong."

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