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SINGLE IN THE CITY

Don't pop your cork for every guy you see

September 04, 2003|Michelle Maltais | Times Staff Writer

If romance were one of the three Rs we were graded on, I'd have failed miserably a long time ago. I've instead excelled in rejecting, repeating and retreating.

Being the consummate overachiever, I decided to better myself in an effort to boost my average. (No, I didn't go for Botox, lipo or lasers.) I went back to school, sort of.

Los Angeles City College offered what seemed to be a perfect fit -- an intensive, one-night class on the finer points of male-female interaction. How great. It promised to help us master "50 body language cues that bring Mr. Right running" and, more important, how to ditch the dud.

So seven of us lonely hearts eagerly awaited enlightenment. What have we been doing wrong? Aren't we lovable? Where are all the eligible men and women? Well, in three hours, we got the answers -- the answers to none of it.

However, the one bit of potentially useful advice that stuck with me was "spill your bubbly." (As if I could forget that lesson. The instructor had us all stand up, mime a bottle of champagne in our bellies and shake.) Despite the interactive in-class demonstration, the instructor didn't really want us to channel "Seinfeld's" Kramer. He was going for something more conceptual.

The bubbly, as I understand it, is that effervescent something inside that makes people feel all tingly inside -- good about you and good about themselves.

A typical student, I procrastinated on the lab requirement -- go out without an army of friends and meet at least three new men. Of course, the downside of letting the bubbly sit around too long is there's no fizz left and you're just flat.

But I didn't wait that long. My bubbly was well aged and ready to be enjoyed by others.

A business conference offered the perfect controlled environment. Spill a little here and there, watch the effects for the next few days, then, goodbye, we're all on planes back to reality. Perfect.

I decided to survey my surroundings. Two nonfat lattes later, I felt I had a good handle on the scene. Lots of folks glad to be there and eager to meet one another -- but sans the desperation of an actual singles scene. I took a deep breath, and opened the bottle: I invited two guys at the conference to dinner. Whoa, that was a big one -- great conversation and even better food. That was enough for day one.

The next day, I was a bit more clearheaded, not so caffeinated. The bubbly-spill I was going for was more like something that can be cleaned up with club soda, not the Exxon Valdez.

I took the next steps more slowly: A smile here, some eye contact there, and once in a while, some sparkling conversation.

Wow, it actually worked. Decent men were noticing me, introducing themselves and hanging around. I became a one-woman Gatsby party. Before I knew it, I too became a little high off my own bubbly. I began to like myself as much as others apparently like me.

So I shook up my internal bottle and sprayed the crowd. That's when things got a bit out of control. Somehow, I ended up with two dates Saturday night -- dinner with Jamal and dancing with Gary. And dancing with the other Gary, and Calvin and Ron and William. My head was spinning.

The whole experience left me buzzed, so to speak, basking on the plane ride home in that happy medium -- feeling good but without any specific reason.

Even though the experiment worked, this bubbly is strong stuff. Sure, being intoxicating is good. But maybe it's best shared one-on-one and not chanced on a random crowd. While I was lucky and met some wonderful gentlemen, who really wants to risk the wrong guy getting drunk on your charm and the whole drama of his love hangover?

So until I can figure out how to alter the proof of what I'm serving up, I think I'm just going to put a cork in it for a while and bring out the bubbly for a special occasion.

Michelle Maltais can be contacted at michelle.maltais@latimes.com.

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