I just read a book should be required reading. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s as crucial as the classics, as informative as an encyclopedia and as page-turning as [insert name of popular graphic novel franchise here].
I’m talking about The Game – the expose into the society of Pick Up Artists by Neil Strauss.
Fresh off the heels of something disappointing with some dude, a good friend told me to read it. This is a friend who lives by the “rules” of dating. I don’t have time to wait X number of days to call someone or not return emails so as to appear “unavailable” and I kinda like the ol’ ones and twos too much to sport a fake chastity belt so that Mr. RightAfterIFinishWatchingModernFamilyIt’sAReallyGoodShow!! thinks that I’m a good mother-virgin-whore. So when she suggested I read this book, I was reticent to do so.
If you haven’t read it, here’s the sitch: The book follows the author as he descends into the world of Pickup Artistry. Basically, these dudes get together and perfect elaborate games, schemes and tricks to make women sleep with them. They keep score, they try to “sarge” as many “two and three sets” as possible while “pea-cocking” at clubs. There’s a whole lingo and costumes and general douchebaggery.
The worst part of the story is that the tricks seem to work. Hot women fall for this madness and make life more difficult for regular looking heady girls like.. um.. you know, no one in particular.
One of the favorite tricks goes like this: Step One: Find a woman you’re interested in talking to. Step Two: Insult her. She will feel the need to defend her honor to you and will then suck up to you to prove to you that she’s not mean/ugly/smelly/needy/bitchy/boring or whatever it is you told her she was. Step 3: Show here where you keep your meat and two veg.
There’s also a bunch of stuff about hypnotizing people on the spot and duping girls into threesomes by pretending you know fuck all about Eastern massage techniques.
I read the book, fascinated by its exploration of hubris and pathos and certain that no regular person would ever think that this was the way to try and relate to other human beings.
And then I started paying attention to the way strangers talked to me.
And then I wanted to weep for all of mankind.
I don’t know that the three men I’m about to describe were actually and actively trying to hit on me. And maybe they really did just want me to go away. But there was something about the cavalier way that they were so super rude that it made me think they might believe this is how you’re supposed to talk to people.
A few nights ago, I was at a networking event. I was meant to meet someone there and they hadn’t arrived, so I was standing there feeling very awkward and trying not to look like it. I remembered one thing that the book DID suggest that is actually just helpful for starting conversations with strangers in general.
It described the benefit of greeting strangers with something other than “hey, what’s your name?” That is a boring way to start a conversation and makes people feel like you’re going to stand there forever and chat them up. Instead, they suggest, start with either a fun question about the event/picture you’re both looking at/drink you’re both drinking, etc. Or to ask them a question that they might be able to answer. This changes the interaction from interview to conversation immediately.
I approached a couple of guys and asked if they knew the host of the party. We were all invited via email list and didn’t know the guy throwing the shindig personally. They said they didn’t and we joked about how he might be a ninja or a wraith or some sort of rogue operative. It was fun and light and everyone was having a perfectly good time.
I asked the guys what they did. It was an industry networking event, after all, and so questions about the industry should be expected.
“Ugh!” one of the guys said. “I hate that question. It’s so fake and LA. I always ask ‘what do you do creeeeativelyyyyyyy?’ That’s way better.”
“Oh, I said. Well, it was great meeting you, then.” And I turned and walked away.
About 45 seconds later, I found myself at the beginning of another conversation. This time with a photographer. We got to talking about models and photoshopping and I said something about feminism and photography and he said:
“Well, if you’re such a feminist, then why are you wearing a short skirt?”
“I’m wearing this because I like it,” I snapped back. “I think it’s cute and fun and it’s comfortable. And, it was nice meeting you.”
And I turned and walked away.
That night I checked out ye olde dating profile (I really should take an effing break from that shiz) and someone messaged me and said that he just couldn’t understand why that was my favorite movie. It’s just so maudlin and over the top and dull.
Though he did get points for using the word maudlin, I was like: “What’s with all the insults??”
There’s a huge difference between saying “I hear there’s some contention in feminist circles over traditionally “girlie” clothing. What do you think about that?” And an accusation of being a liar.
If you’re taking the time to email me via my dating profile, why tell me that my fave movie is stupid?
And even if the weird black girl is hurting your game with the models (and oh, there were models) who I’m positive were just waiting to rip your pants off, why be a dick about it?
Conversation is not a competition.
And Sunset Boulevard is an excellent film.
Does being a jerk at first blush really ingratiate you to most of the population?
What do you think of the rules? Do you play by them? How’s that going? Let us know in the comments!
“Conversation is not a competition. And Sunset Boulevard is an excellent film.” Word.
I can look back on my pre-husband dating life and see that yes, I totally fell for the insult tactic, especially when drinking. When everyone else is being perfectly nice to you, there’s some weird need to be liked by the one guy who is not being nice. Similarly, there’s something about the guy who is mean to everyone else but nice to you (spoiler alert: he’s not a jerk to everyone else, he’s just a jerk). It’s effing backwards and weird but we fall for it all the time.
Sunset Boulevard is excellent movie but then I’ll watch a movie form the 30’s,40’s and 50’s before watching just about anything from today. I’m also tired of the the White Person to the Rescue movie (remember Sheena Queen of the Jungle?)
I stumbled across your blog from another site, thanks for the good laugh.
BTW not too sure about your song choice but Renaissance Faires I can deal with.
My friend just sent me this article on pickup artists. They’re studying the women these “hostile sexism” tactics work on (as opposed to the “ambivalent sexism” heterosexual women deal with) and make some reports here.
“What do you do creatively?” THAT isn’t a fake LA type thing to say? That’s ridiculous, and would prompt me to answer accordingly. Weird guy walks up and says “What do you do creatively?” and I say “Murder.” Guy looks at me oddly so I respond “I know, I know, murder isn’t usually creative, but wait until you see the way I(emphasized) do it.” and then laugh maniacally. Then, not all people get my humor. As far as pick up artists go, I’m not entirely sure they were trying to hit on you. They mostly just sound, well, dumb. And the women who respond to men insulting them, and other ridiculous tactics are equally stupid, so it’s a good match. Trust me, an intelligent, interesting, charming man doesn’t use such base trickery. Of course we aren’t interested in women based solely upon looks alone, either. In any case, you are obviously an intelligent, attractive woman so I wouldn’t worry too much about losing out on this type of man, this “pick up artist.” You’d find them dull, I’m sure. Just keep doing what you’re doing and being your overall interesting self and the right kind of guy will take notice.
Ib4m a 13 year old student from Mexico and Ib4m cotpeemlly the opposite of a great man. Ib4ve watched your videos for hours and they are really helpfull. Just one question. If you arenb4t an interesting person like in my case, should I learn something like jokes or a magic trick perhaps? You are a great man. Keep it up. ^_^