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First, we asked Breakup Dad -- who grew up in the Peachtree city --  if he'd like to write a memoir of what he did for fun in his high school days and how things have changed. His response: "I did not have any fun when I was in high school. We didn't do anything, I'm telling you. In the sumer we played rook and canasta. That's it."

Then we asked someone else.

In Atlanta, There's a Science To Dating

by Peter G. Helfrich

It's virtually impossible to talk about dating in the capital of the new South without mentioning Buckhead -- described by Atlanta's Journal-Constitution ("Covers Dixie Like The Dew") as the place "where old money lives and new money parties." A haven for upscale shopping by day, Buckhead is best known for its raucous, happening nightlife. The place for Atlantans on the make, like a college town on steroids, it bulges at the seams with over 100 bars and restaurants -- featuring everything from swing dancing to disco, and every trend in between. Dressed for pickup success, the throngs here are young and chic, and they course through the streets like desperate spawning salmon.

Be warned. Buckhead is the Normandy Beach of Atlanta dating. Like the first half-hour of "Saving Private Ryan," the action is fast and furious, dizzying and loud, and definitely not for the faint of heart. For every happy couple united beneath Buckhead's gaudy, neon moonlight, there will be ten broken hearts in need of Breakup Girl's ministering by morning.

You don't need that kind of aggravation.

Instead, use your head and your (purple) heart. Start your Friday night prowl at a "Martini's at IMAX" screening at Fernbank Museum of Natural History (767 Clifton Road, Atlanta, 404-370-1822). The atmosphere is hip but unpretentious, The Discovery Channel meets Monte Carlo. In terms of dress, that means you need to look soigne(e) and ready for adventure.

Your M.O.? Arrive early, snag a couple of exotic drinks, and case the place. Fernbank conveniently brings in a wide variety of talented, local musicians to set the mood -- usually loungy, light, toe-tapping jazz. If you feel like you're in a fishbowl, relax! It's just the museum's serene, aquatic lighting -- not to mention its ongoing exhibition of seashells -- that surrounds you. It's the best mood lighting since your senior prom. Work it.

But what if you can't get up the courage to ask to sit next to that cutie whose eye you've caught? No problem. The crush that signals showtime in the IMAX theater gives you ample opportunity to jockey into position and "accidentally" land in position.

IMAX films, generally speaking, are a blast -- even if a four-stories-tall documentary about polar bears isn't your idea of romantic. They run less than an hour, leaving plenty of time for you and yours to head into town and grab a bite. Atlantans love to eat, drink, and be merry, so go ahead; ask her (or him...). But do yourself a favor -- skip the Buckhead crowds and go somewhere where you can talk.

Such as: Atlanta's kinder, gentler Virginia-Highlands section. This haven for in-town BMW-bohemians is also home to a great American bistro: Atkins Park (794 N. Highland Ave. 404-876-7249). Aged 75 years, it's one of Atlanta's oldest restaurants, and the sort of place where everybody knows y'all's name. Whether you're wearing Doc Martens or are Dr. Martin, this a place where you and the object of your affection can get to know one another better in cozy anonymity. And hey, if you hit it off, they serve a late night menu until 3:30AM!

But maybe you move slower. If a late-night dinner just seems too-much, too-soon, get to know one another better over coffee and dessert -- dutch, of course. A best bet? Midtown's Cafe Intermezzo (1845 Peachtree Rd. NE). An elegantly appointed coffee bar swathed in operatic atmosphere, it's the perfect place to linger. And if s/he doesn't turn out to be "the one" after all? No matter. Their cafe latte is as good a consolation prize as you could hope for.

Peter G. Helfrich found happiness in the arms of an Atlanta gal and married her. Four-story high documentaries about polar bears are his idea of romantic.

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