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Heart to heart, Cupid is where you find him

If you're out to charm, even the dullest places are friendly venues for meeting someone new.

February 10, 2005|Mimi Avins | Times Staff Writer

How difficult it is to meet single people in L.A. depends on your perception of opportunity. Consider Stan Rosenfield's experience. The divorced entertainment publicist was lying on a gurney at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, waiting to be wheeled in for a routine colonoscopy. He noticed that an attractive woman occupying the gurney next to his seemed nervous. They began to chat. He'd had the test before; she hadn't. He explained that she had nothing to worry about, reassuring her that when the procedure was finished, she wouldn't remember a thing.

"We exchanged names and phone numbers," he says, "and a few weeks later I called her and we went out to dinner."

Intrepid pickup artists don't think about humiliation, rejection or how awkward they might feel conversing with a stranger wearing a matching, well-ventilated hospital gown. They plunge into the process, hoping that each time they stick out a foot, the glass slipper will fit.

Romance is a year-round industry. But around Valentine's Day, especially, ranks of experts -- dating coaches, matchmakers for hire and freelance yentas -- stand ready to apply art, science, technology and prayer to affairs of the heart. To them, wallflowers are people who just haven't tried hard enough to find love in the City of Angels.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 11, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
Studio City newsstand -- An article in Thursday's Calendar Weekend section about finding romance in Los Angeles gave the wrong location for a newsstand in Studio City. It is at Ventura and Laurel Canyon boulevards, not at Ventura Boulevard and Woodman Avenue, which is in Sherman Oaks.

Assuming that loitering in the outpatient areas of major medical centers isn't an option, where else can you go to search for a potential soul mate? In Los Angeles, people spend much of their time encased in cars. That need not be a problem, according to Samantha Daniels, a former divorce attorney and author of "Matchbook: The Diary of a Modern-Day Matchmaker."

Daniels counsels her clients to pay attention to who's around them, at all times. "I was on the phone with one of my female clients who was stuck in traffic and complaining how she never meets anybody," Daniels says. "All of a sudden she said, 'Oh, my God. There's a really handsome guy in the car right next to me. What should I do?'

"I told her to smile at him. Sure enough, he smiled back. He motioned her to pull over into a gas station. They talked a little, and it turned out he was a nice guy, with a good job. She didn't feel comfortable giving him her number, but she took his. They went on a couple of dates and became good friends. One night they went out in a group, and she met a friend of his, who she's in a relationship with now."

Professional matchmakers and dating coaches believe it doesn't matter where you find someone, or even how you pick them up. What's important is having a positive attitude and a proactive approach to meeting new people.

"It's a numbers game," says Janis Spindel, a matchmaker and author of "Get Serious About Getting Married -- 365 Ways to Find Love in Less Than a Year." "If a woman meets enough men, she is going to click with one of them. If you look good and feel good, you're going to exude confidence and you're going to meet someone."

Spindel and her staff pick up men and women in public places all the time, to provide dates for clients. Although she's been married for more than 20 years to an obviously secure guy, she can pick up 100 men a day.

"I just initiate conversations," she says. "I usually use some kind of prop, or talk about what they're carrying or wearing. I saw a great-looking man buying a muffin, wearing a lavender shirt, a purple tie, a purplish suit. I said to him, 'What are you, Barney?' "

To a truly motivated singleton, no encounter is wasted.

An L.A.-based writer befriended a couple he frequently sat beside at his favorite sushi bar. They introduced him to their daughter. Next? A woman he met as they walked their respective dogs along the Santa Monica palisades. After an effervescent start, that relationship fizzled. But he's maintained a friendship with a woman he discovered in a concession stand line at the Hollywood Bowl. "The dog walker turned out to be a folly," he says, "but so much of life is folly. I'm endlessly curious, and my basic philosophy is I do want to know most people."

Does seeing pickup potential in every situation mean one must always be camera-ready? Not necessarily.

Janet Garrison works for a nonprofit foundation with offices in the Maple Drive Building in Beverly Hills. She had exchanged glances half a dozen times with a man who worked in the building. After listening to a friend vow to open himself up to meeting new people, the next time she saw Office Guy, she said, "Hello." The following day, she sat at the bar at Maple Drive, eating lunch. "I had no makeup on, and I was wearing sweat pants," Garrison says. "I saw him come into the restaurant with a young man, who turned out to be his son, and I thought, 'Oh, God. Please don't let him come over because I look awful today.' He came right up and sat next to me."

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