If you are a single man in Laguna Beach, women call you contradictory names: eclectic, driven, casual, civic minded, rich, poor, educated, artistic, gay, straight, family oriented.
Tagged with labels, you are assumed to be many things, but the dominant attribute boils down to one — 92651.
In a casual poll of three single women, I asked them to comment on the "men of Laguna Beach." All have had different experiences, both with online and regular dating, but they agreed that the Laguna male is a curious one.
One woman is a screenwriter in Santa Ana who normally dates men from L.A., but occasionally stays more local. The second is a psychotherapist in Corona del Mar, and the third is a businesswoman and divorced mom in Laguna Beach. They did not want their real names used.
So what defines the Laguna single male?
"You have such a mixed bag," said "Piper," the businesswoman. "In Laguna, it's so eclectic. You don't even know what you're going to get. They could be an incredibly driven, business professional, living on the beach; they could be a pothead; they could be an artist, tree lover, doesn't-even-have-a-job Kirtan player. I mean, literally, eclectic."
"I always think of Laguna men as laid back — professional by day, surfer by morning or night," said "Sara," the psychotherapist.
"In Laguna, people are educated and how shall I say, anticipating less sexist interaction," said "Amber," the screenwriter. "They usually have an interest in the arts."
What became immediately obvious while talking with these women is that Laguna Beach men are not at all like Newport Beach men.
I didn't even have to bring it up.
"I would never again go out on a date with anyone from Newport, not because I'm biased against Newport, but the times I did talk to anyone from Newport, I knew I was in the wrong place," said Amber. "In Laguna, they have a higher level of integrity about money, like they didn't bring it up or make an issue of it. Anyone I talked to in Newport, it was like the No. 1 topic."
There were related descriptions that painted Newport men in a negative light.
"If you live in Newport, you're like after these juggy, big lipped OC housewives, and I'm not going to meet your needs," Piper said. "Is that really true? I don't know. It's a perception."
According to Sara the psychotherapist, it's more than a perception. There are clear expectations that go into where we live, whether it's during a simple bar scene conversation or the more elaborate strategy behind "landing a man."
"We always make assumptions from where people live, how they dress, what they do for work," she said. "I've had women tell me that they intentionally look in this area because they think that the man can support them in the way they want to be supported. And I think the men play on that too."
How do men play that game?
"They will make themselves look better than they actually are to attract a woman who is good looking or they want to play with or have fun with," Sara said. "I do see it."
If there are dating games being played — on both sides — does this mean that values, authenticity and honesty are lost arts?
No, but it probably means you are from Laguna.
"I think there are fewer show-offs in Laguna than Corona Del Mar," Sara said.
"If you chose to live in Laguna Beach, that says a lot," Piper said. "It means you're going to be more down to earth. You care about other people. You want your children to be contributing members of society and not so egotistical that they're off in some other world. You want something better, and you try to back it up with actions."
In other words, in Laguna Beach, we are not living the dream, we are living reality, shaping it into something new if needed.
And that's OK, single or not, eclectic or not, rich or poor.
DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.