Saturday, February 28, 2009

Can I ask you ladies a question?

I have a confession to make. Ready? Okay, so, for me, there are very few things in life more satisfying than being able to call out a guy who is attempting to hit on me using the techniques from The Game. For those of you who don't know what The Game is, let me enlighten you. It's a book that tells men how to pick up women, and it's written by this guy:

I know.

Somehow, this dude, Neil Strauss*, also known as "Style," magically transformed himself from a d-bag who can't get women to a d-bag who wrote a wildly successful manual on picking up women. This book is so ubiquitous that it inspired a TV show, The Pickup Artist, as well as seminars attended by scores of desperate dudes who want to know the secrets to picking up chicks. Girls, I guarantee that every guy you know has read it and has used it. Guys, we're onto you.

Now, there have been plenty of articles written about the phenomenon of The Game and the so-called Mystery Method of seduction. But I am just going to give you the basic outline so that you, the reader, can identify/mock The Game technique when you see it in action. It's fun, trust me. The technique proceeds in three basic steps:

1. Peacocking: this refers to the practice of wearing a ridiculous and attention-catching outfit, like a white fedora and a mustard-colored bomber jacket, or a string tie and a mink stole. Case in point: Mystery, star of The Pickup Artist.

I mean, what girl wouldn't want to make out with a guy sporting a soul patch the size of a pea and a hat made out of some sort of Alpaca-polyester blend? I'll be honest, I'm kind of really into it. That hat looks soft.

2. Breaking the ice: this usually involves approaching a small group of girls with a contrived question that ALWAYS involves the word "ladies." For example: Hey, can I ask you ladies a question? Or: Hey, can you ladies settle a bet? Or: Hey ladies, my buddies and I are having a disagreement about something, can I get your opinion on it?

Once the girls say "sure," then the guy asks his inane, made-up question ("my buddy's getting married and we either want to get him a stripper for his bachelor party or else tattoo his face while he's asleep. What do you ladies think?"), before quickly transitioning into witty and lively conversation with his "target" (the girl in the group that he thinks is prettiest).

3. Insulting: once conversation is sputtering along, the guy then must insult his target so as to sufficiently lower her fragile self-esteem so she will continue to talk to him. In practice, it goes something like this:

Guy: So, okay, seems like the consensus is that we should just tattoo his face, am I right?

Girl: Yeah, I don't know, whatever.

Guy: Hey, you have food in your teeth. And you're chubby.

According to The Game, at this point, the girl will be so taken aback, she'll have no choice but to have sex with the guy. It's just inevitable. To me, this is pretty obviously one of the most idiotic pieces of flirting advice ever given to men, but apparently, it works on some girls. I guess it's one of those "thinning the herd" techniques where you look for the limping gazelle and tell her you can see her roots before going in for the kill.

So, that's it -- the Game, unmasked. Let me tell you a little story. So, last spring my best friend from high school was visiting me in Boston. My roommate, my friend and I went out for a girls' night at some semi-sketchy bar in Boston on a Sunday night. We're sitting in a booth, drinking Coors Light, when a guy in a loud checkered shirt and scarf sidles up to our table. Here is the dialogue that ensued.

Guy: Hey ladies, can I ask you a question? My buddies and I are having a debate, and --

Me: The Game.

Guy: Uh, what? What? Uh --

Me: You're using The Game. And you're peacocking. That plaid shirt -- that's peacocking, right?

Guy: I, uh. I don't know what you're talking about.

Me: I think you do. What was your question?

Guy: Uh...

He ended up awkwardly squatting next to our table for a while and then my roommate relented and let him sit down, where he lamely attempted to continue the pretext of having us "settle a debate" before he crept back to his own table after a few minutes. It was awesome.

My theory on this is that if a guy's going to interrupt a girls' night with some really widely disseminated pickup technique while wearing a ludicrous shirt, he kind of deserves what he gets. Maybe I'm a bad person. But before you judge me, please watch this video and tell me that Mystery doesn't deserve to have his method shot down a few times by actual women:

*What else would his name be?


  1. Anonymous10:33 AM

    interesting to hear a female perspective!

    i have a couple of point which i wanted to share/discuss:

    1. the aim isnt to engage the pretty one its to engage the group to such an extent that the pretty one wants in on the action which leads to...

    2. the pretty girl predictably tries to get the new guys attention (and they will) usually by talking over the other girls. this is rude so the new guy has to show that he has social skills, so should say something like "thats cute, how do you guys put up with her?!". this is said as a joke to the group so is not an insult. it would be an insult taken out of the context of putting someone in their place (guy or girl). the fact that the new guy can display this dominant trait only increases the pretty girls desire to be noticed (theyre used to getting all the attention) so the game continues with the girl trying to get attention, the new guy being busy with group until...

    3. the new guy has to say to the group "i think i have alienated your friend - would it be ok if i took her over there and make it up to her?" where they can make out passionately as there is the magic ingredient of tension (the barrier is the group). genius.

    4. we know you are onto this and have moved on and evolved! this trick doesnt work anymore but there is a system in place so powerful noone can resist and its been in place for thousands of generations - nature!


    ps dont be hard on us poor dumb guys trying out stuff to improve our dating life, its scary talking to new groups of people - can you do it? plus it should be flattering even if you are not interested as it means they like you ie you are attractive - just take it as a compliment!

    pps. if you wanted a privacy with your friend, why are you in a public setting?

  2. Hey Leon,

    Thanks for reading and posting. I'm not going to argue with you over the specifics of the Game technique (or whether a really pretty girl who is ignored for five minutes by a stranger will then make out with him just to get attention), but I do take issue with your last point.

    You asked why I went to a "public setting" with my friends if I wanted to be left alone. Here's the thing, Leon. Girls are allowed to leave the house and still have the expectation that they can hang out with their friends and not have to talk to some guy in a loud shirt just because they've dared to enter a public place. Women shouldn't have to sit at home in the dark for fear that if they enter a bar, they'll be forced to talk to people they don't want to talk to. I mean, sure, if you're at a bar and see me and want to come talk to me, go for it. But that doesn't mean I owe you anything or need to be nice to you because it took guts for you to approach me.

    As it turns out, I'm a nice person, and I am usually polite to people I don't know, even if they are using a hackneyed, transparent pickup technique on me and I'm not interested. But you need to know that if you're that guy using that technique, you're going to run the risk that a girl like me will point it out. So if it's true that men have "evolved" past using the Game, you'll be fine. If not, accept the consequences.

    I'm sure, given your faith in the Game and the way it manipulates "nature" that you're pulling in the ladies left and right. So let the ladies have their fun, too, Leon.

  3. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I just loved this sentence: "I guess it's one of those "thinning the herd" techniques where you look for the limping gazelle and tell her you can see her roots before going in for the kill."

    To me it is great that a book advices men to be mean when trying to pick up girls. It lessens the competition a bit :) But it is so sad when it actually works...

  4. Anonymous6:15 PM

    Some guys who cannot master the technique might really get rejected. If the pickup artist technique is too obvious for the girl and that it has been found out, you have to be prepared for it. So you've got to have a Plan B. For the ladies, if you aren't into this game, you might at least be nice to these guys who are trying to improve themselves. If you can't help them improve, at least don't let them down.

  5. Taylore -

    Sorry, but what? Guys hitting on girls are trying to "improve themselves?" Unless "improving oneself" is a euphemism for "having sex," I think you're giving guys a little too much credit.

    Also, what do you mean that women shouldn't let guys down who are using the Game technique? Are you suggesting that women owe something to the men in bars who hit on them? You might want to readjust that expectation the next time you go out, so as not to leave with hurt feelings/a slapped face.

    Anyway, good luck improving yourself!

  6. Josh G.7:01 PM

    Cool blog, Steph. Now, I haven't read The Game so I can't judge it either way. But it seems like the right move for the guy who came up to your table would have been to just embrace how you called him out. Anyway, the Village Voice ran a cover story after The Game came out about how women were catching on to its tricks. Only the story was totally made up. So for some reason Charles Nesson invited the fake journalist to HLS and to hold a "class" (aka YouTube debate) with him.

  7. Anonymous5:17 AM

    Hi Steph, your blog is a bit old, but I came across it because I'm halfway through reading the book "The Game", as well as reviewing tons of other material by other PUG's (I'm guessing you know what they are). Name's Marko, (cbf signing up just so it could display my name), but I have never heard of anyone except 1 friend in my whole life who has mentioned this book, so I guess the area where I live in could be a useful practise ground.

    After reading it, it sure beats the hell out of boot-licking and complimenting which I have been doing my whole life, and basically, my game has improved (and yes, it IS a game, because women have decided to make it that way). My favourite line is "beauty is very common, but do you have anything else to offer?" - Best way of shooting down a girl with a mega ego who is being downright rude.

    As for you Steph, is your love life going well based on that story of how you shot that guy down? I mean, your comments are really depressing and you are in fact a lawyer, so you're a good speaker? How do YOU judge what an attractive guy is? A footballer? An actor? I'd love to hear your response :)