Summer is over in Los Angeles. The weather is chilly, sometimes as cold as 60 degrees. Clothing must now be worn. The smell of chlorine no longer hangs in the air. Yes, it's time to fold up the convertible top and reflect. What better time to review Hollywood's favorite summer pastime -- the pursuit of the starlet. What is a "starlet" you ask?

The Starlet and Environs

The starlet, or nippus erectus, is ubiquitous in Los Angeles. She may travel alone or in a pack known as a lather of starlets. Starlets can be found shopping on Sunset Plaza, lunching at La Scala (salad is a favorite food) or tooling around town in the finest cars. And their familiar cry, a high-pitched warble of pal-a-mon-eee! pal-a-mon-eee!is well-known in the attorney-rich canyons of Century City. To say that starlets (both the common blonde and her rarer cousin the natural blonde) are young and beautiful is missing the point. Yes, they are that. But their purpose is so much more vital. They are the reason the men who pursue them got into the film business in the first place, a reminder of what they won't have if they fail. The large number of both starlets and starlet hunters are, in fact, what account for the logic behind movies that pair Sean Connery or Michael Douglas with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Gywneth Paltrow. They are why films that feature such cross-generational love stories get made without a hiccup of doubt as to their plausibility. It is because no matter how old the men of Hollywood become, the starlet is ageless, and there is a new crop every year, eager to make all their doubts go away.

Identifying The Starlet

At the county line of Los Angeles, there is an invisible sieve that keeps out all but the most beautiful women. But not every beautiful woman is a starlet. Thus, it is vital for the starlet hunter to be able to identify one on sight. Spotted alone, the true starlet often has a small dog, one that can be carried in her purse into restaurants. Frequently the starlet also has a mother with whom she is very close and who shares her raison d'etre:"This time, we're getting cash." This is because another indicated feature of the starlet is a dark past and a stint as Miss Grazzarri's is only the beginning of a story you will never fully hear.

The true starlet also has time on her hands, time she spends with other starlets to pursue -- something. They are always coming from the hippest workout, delving into the latest beauty treatments and... shopping. Yes, they might have a job -- somewhere. But it's the type of job that requires not showing up or driving an expensive car for some tax reason that can never be explained. Yet they have money! How is this done? It will become clear to you too late.

Approach With Caution

Once one has scoured the underbrush and identified the starlet one wishes to pursue, the initial move must be made with wily skill -- for the starlet is skittish and suspicious by nature. First impressions are everything for the starlet who can have her choice of wealthy men and would prefer to have one that none of the other starlets in her lather can get. Pick-up lines such as those that involve taking her to an exclusive party, getting her a small part in a movie or saying "Hey, is that Mac lipstick you're wearing?" will not do for the starlet. It may even ruin your chances of pursuit. It is also a mistake to believe that simply because the starlet carries eight-by-ten glossies of herself and is taking classes with "Frank" or "Bob" that she wants to be an actress. For the starlet, this is only a means to an end.

In a sense, one must get the starlet to approach you, often with verbal lures that appear, on the surface, not to be meant for her. In over-the-shoulder conversation with another, one might tell an amusing story your pilot told you or refer to the trouble you're having with the Bimini house. If this attracts her attention you are halfway home. Odds are she has already checked you out with the other starlets in her lather. It is the only reason she is aware you exist.

Now things will happen very quickly. Trips out of town. Intimate evenings with illegal substances. Rendezvous in places you would never dream of, often while downshifting. The good news is you have her, the bad news is she has you.

Care And Feeding

In the initial rounds with nippus erectus, the starlet hunter will be convinced he has found something truly amazing and that he must be amazing in order to have her. But there will be indications almost immediately that will give him pause. Even the most powerful studio boss or film director, no matter how sophisticated, will be thrown by a 19-year-old girl who does things in bed with a silk robe tie and a box of animal crackers that he could never imagine. Where did she learn these tricks? When you were nineteen, you were still playing hackey-sack. Then you remember that when you were nineteen, you were a virgin and Jimmy Carter was president.

It is only the beginning of trouble. For now the starlet hunter realizes that her needs are his. She will demand her own condominium, for instance, and put it in such a way as to sound like she is doing you a favor. What to do with the empty hours of her day will also become an issue. What about her career?!! she will demand, as you are on your way to the most important meeting of your life. It soon becomes clear that, in the parlance, this will not work out.

Saying Goodbye: Getting To Know Your Lawyer

The smart starlet hunter always has an exit -- and an attorney. Lovely parting gifts are offered and accepted. As you bid farewell to "Bria" you are amazed that your bout with the starlet has had the opposite intended effect: it is you who feels older. Yet despite this wear and tear, your heart is soon assuaged. After all, there is always next summer.