HIGH LIFE: A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : So, What Do Guys and Gals Really Want? : Communication: Two aspiring journalists discuss 'free form' what the opposite sex is thinking when playing the dating game.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Claudine Ko, a senior at Irvine's University High School, and Justin Chan, a recent graduate from Capistrano Valley, both managed to respect each other after this conversation

Claudine and Justin, two aspiring journalists with their fingers on the pulse of today's youth, sat down recently for a little free-form chat. The assignment: to find out almost everything about what the opposite sex thinks.

Following their editor's wishes, they reminded each other to avoid preaching, to merely express what teen-age girls and guys think and give suggestions. Their conversation was an honest attempt to peacefully express what girls and guys want to know about each other.

JUSTIN: So, let's say I'm a high school guy looking for some girl action. I've got nice hair and a nice personality, but I'm still wondering--what do girls really look for in guys?

CLAUDINE: Now that you mention it, you do have nice hair, Justin, but that's beside the point. Initially, what counts is an attractive guy. As shallow as it may sound, girls won't go for someone they can't stand looking at--which, of course, depends on personal taste.

A sense of humor is a definite must--a guy who's uptight is no fun, and the point of meeting someone is to have fun, right? Girls want someone who's considerate even if he acts like a typical male (translation: egotistical swine) some of the time.

JUSTIN: Let's deal with the Pig thing. Traditionally, men do the asking out, so in order to deal with the inevitable rejection, they need to be crazy or have a thick protective psychological barrier so they can salvage some scrap of dignity--hence, male egos.

I mean, how often do girls ask guys out compared to guys asking girls?

CLAUDINE: (Silence.)

JUSTIN: That's what I thought. Knowing this, why do girls find such immense pleasure in deflating a guy's ego?

CLAUDINE: Obviously because we know we can. We also like to see the real person behind all the burly machismo that gets in the way of who you really are. We like to see that well-hidden sensitivity that seems so passe in the '90s.

JUSTIN: Just because guys aren't as emotional or sensitive as girls doesn't mean we're insensitive. Guys just deal with things differently. Stoic, maybe. But insensitive pigs who are emotional cripples, no.

For the most part, guys want someone who is unique--no clones. The girl, for the most part, has to be good-looking, personal taste considered.

There are, however, a few characteristics a girl generally can have that most guys will fall over backwards for: a desire to have fun, intelligence, and a sense of being her own person, not some weak-kneed leech who clings to your legs.

CLAUDINE: Likewise for girls. Girls want a man--not an oversensitive wimp or, for that matter, a macho sex machine, but someone who's comfortable with who he is.

They want a guy who doesn't have to constantly prove his masculinity or have his ego petted and pampered.

JUSTIN: All right then, let's assume that I have these qualities. Now, I want to meet a girl. How do I go about it?

CLAUDINE: Whatever you do, don't be obnoxious or cocky--it's annoying. Persistence pays off, just don't get obsessed--psychopaths are a definite turnoff.

Common interests help, of course. They give you an excuse to acknowledge each other's existence.

JUSTIN: And on the first date?

CLAUDINE: Go somewhere fun and public; that way if you run out of things to say, there are distractions so you won't feel uncomfortable and the girl won't feel threatened (or vice versa).

JUSTIN: What about all those chivalrous notions like opening doors, paying for dates, etc.?

CLAUDINE: Girls feel flattered, and it lets them know the guy cares. Girls, however, don't like to feel bought. Guys shouldn't expect to pay all the time.

JUSTIN: Another problem is the day-after syndrome: How do you acknowledge that you both had a good time? Simple. The next day, give the girl a call and set up the next date. By that I mean ask them to give you a call if they want to do something again in the near future. If she's interested, she'll call back; if not, start looking elsewhere.

CLAUDINE: Ultimately, it will always seem like guys and girls are dancing and keep stepping on each other's toes, but with a little love-defying common sense, at least some of us will look more like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire than Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

JUSTIN: That's very wise, Claudine, but never mind that--I was wondering, what are you up to next Saturday, hmmm?

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