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Getting Ahead: L.A.'s Got Its Own Set of Rules

July 05, 2002|MARY McNAMARA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In Neil Simon's "California Suite," Jane Fonda plays a high-strung East Coast intellectual doing battle with her ex-husband (Alan Alda), who has, in her opinion, committed the unmitigated heresy of leaving New York and becoming an unapologetic Angeleno.

After she has criticized his haircut, sweater, girlfriend, use of the word "girlfriend" and general laid-back attitude, he loses his temper.

"You're such a snob," he says. "Thank God there's a few of us left," she says right back.

So bearing in mind that one person's snobbery is another person's good sense, here are a few hallmarks of snobbery, the L.A. version:

* When mentioning your alma mater, you say "Cal" instead of Berkeley, and you mention it often.

* Your candy comes from Edelweiss chocolates, your diapers from Dy-dee Diapers, your jewelry from Harry Winston, your nanny through Nannies Unlimited, you got sober at Promises, your hair was colored at Louis Licari, and you found all of these services in a book called "L.A. First Class," but in conversation you neglect to mention this last fact.

* You read books in galleys, see only the director's cut of movies, and get the weekend sections of the Times (L.A. and New York) the Thursday before.

* When it comes to filmmaking, you hate Hollywood, love India and assume any film without subtitles is a (shudder) blockbuster.

* You have never seen a Thomas Guide but assume your driver has one somewhere.

* You ask who's catering the event before R.S.V.P.-ing.

* When you receive a bouquet of flowers, you're less interested in who sent them than in what florist was used.

* You never go to Chinois on Main with a party larger than four because you only ever eat at the bar.

* You registered for your baby shower at Barneys.

* You say things like "Pinot Noir is the new Merlot," and you mean them.

* You don't believe milk chocolate is really chocolate; if you're not allergic to something ubiquitous enough to make you a high-maintenance dinner guest then you pretend you are; you do yoga at Larchmont only; and the walls of your child's bedroom are decorated solely with signed lithographs from Every Picture Tells a Story or Storyopolis.

* You know the borders of your neighborhood down to the last "acceptable" address and take it upon yourself to correct those who claim they live in, say, Hancock Park, when they are actually "Hancock Park adjacent."

* During a party, you're more interested in who's sitting at the other tables than who's sitting at your own.

* You only have "good" friends who are famous, and the friendships inevitably (and often quite inexplicably) predate the fame.

* You truly believe there are people you shouldn't be seen socializing with, and you live in fear that there are other people who feel the same about you.

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