What's in a name? Everything if you want to score high on the Social Awareness Test.
It would be unfathomable, for instance, for you to consider yourself socially aware and then sweep into an Orange County Performing Arts Center gala and not have the foggiest who Henry Segerstrom is. And it would be equally unfathomable for you to trot into a bash at the Newport Harbor Art Museum and not have the vaguest who Donald Bren is.
What's even more important, once you know the right names, is the chance to drop those names. Name-dropping is the name of the Social Awareness Game.
Now, no one is suggesting that you be a faux social type and bandy names about simply to impress. As social behaviorist Taylor Hartman of Laguna Niguel says: "Show me a constant name-dropper and I'll show you somebody who is insecure. If someone has no reason to refer to somebody and they do so, it's because they feel they don't bring enough prestige to a situation. They use a name to raise themselves up, to up their social ante."
But, as Hartman also says, "there is a clean (sincere) way to drop a name." Sincere name-dropping happens when somebody actually has had contact with the person whose name they drop and they want to share the fact with somebody, Hartman says. "It's all in the inside motive. You know when you're name-dropping clean and when you're not!"
Here then, in the interest of heightened social awareness and clean name-dropping, is a list of people and places that are currently scorchingly hot-to-drop:
People: (Give yourself 10 points if you know them, 100 points if you've been in their manse, 5 points if you've been in the same room and 3 points if you could spot them in a sea of tuxedos.)
Clifford Heinz: Scion of ketchup mogul H. J. Heinz. Very hot to drop because the Dalai Lama was his house guest in Big Canyon last month when the spiritual leader learned he had won the Nobel Prize for peace.
Irvine Co. Chairman Donald L. Bren: As Orange County's only billionaire, he's a Hall of Famer for name-droppers, but he's especially hot now because he sat next to President Bush last month when Team 100, donors of $100,000 to the Bush campaign, dined with the First Couple in the East Room of the White House. (The Irvine Co. donated the land for the new Newport Harbor Art Museum.)
Henry Segerstrom: Arts philanthropist who is outgoing chairman of the Orange County Performing Arts Center and managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, owner of South Coast Plaza. Hotter than ever to drop because he and his wife, Renee, are saying oui to more party invitations than ever.
Walter Henry: Powerful, man-about-town dean of UC Irvine's College of Medicine (very hot to drop because of his position, of course, but also because he is one of Henry Segerstrom's best pals).
Sen. Pete Wilson: Because his local supporters say he's going to be governor.
All local members of Forbes 400: Bren, of course, and developers George Argyros, William Lyon and Richard O'Neill.
Georgia Frontiere, owner of the L.A. Rams (always hot, but very hot now because she was spotted schmoozing recently at a local splash for songbird Sarah Brightman, wife of superstar composer Andrew LLoyd Webber).
All local members of Team 100: Bren, of course, and Jim Baldwin, Argyros, Lyon, Michael E. Parker, Donald Koll and Kathryn Thompson.
Places: (Give yourself 10 points if you've heard of them, 20 points if you've been there and 5 points if you have plans to go there within the next five years).
The private Pacific Club in Newport Beach, sanctum sanctorum for the power set (give yourself extra points if you've done breakfast there and you're not a member).
The wine cellar at the Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach, site of many a hush-hush power party (give yourself extra points if you've done dinner there and Ritz owner Hans Prager was on the guest list).
The private Center Club in Costa Mesa (give yourself oodles of extra points if you've done lunch, dinner and a post-performance gala there, all in the same day).
Georgia Frontiere's suite at Anaheim Stadium (100 bonus points if you've been invited to check out Frontiere's personal suite on the second floor).
The passenger lounge of Lyon's Falcon 50 jet (extra points if you've even seen the plane).
The Art Deco-style lounge of the P'zazz, the megayacht owned by Beverly and Robert Cohen, residents of John Wayne's old manse (extra points if the Cohens have invited you to the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, which they own).
The new Robert Mondavi Wine and Food Center in Costa Mesa (extra points if you've been toasted with Robert Mondavi 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve by Robert Mondavi himself).
Adding up your SAT score:
If you scored over 1,000 points, they're probably dropping your name.
If you scored between 800 and 1,000, congratulations. You're probably dropping names with perfect sincerity.
If you scored between 500 and 800, time to start reading the society column.
If you scored 500 or less, you could probably care less.