“Looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me” – Bruce Springsteen
Some coworkers from my old job invited me out with them in our (uncomfortably preppy) neighborhood. I readily accepted as I had never been to the particular joint they were going and wanted to see if they could have any more luck with women than their recent history. (One guy was engaged, which I leveraged to introduce him to to Athol Kay’s material.)
Is this some smashing-success field report, with slam dunk routines in it? No. It does, however, illustrate the dozens of incremental social exchanges that make up an evening. In one sense, game is the art of recognizing those exchanges and capitalizing on them for your social benefit – a girl is free for a few seconds to be opened, a guy slips his game and can be AMOG’d, a woman flashes an IOI across the room. A lot of people go through a party or a pickup with no real concept of the small picture, looking at the big goal (number, close, exit strategy, etc) instead of threading a pastiche of small sequences together the way a musician gets from measure to measure.
The first thing I could tell was that one guy (let’s call him Eastern Boy as he hails from east of the Danube) was getting a oneitis case for a woman he hadn’t even talked to, a late 20’s woman known as Glasses Chick for obvious reasons. The three-second rule had been broken about a hundred times over; he ran a continuous outer monologue about her body language, position and availability – and never went to talk to her. All the while I exlpained various game principles by way of example – body language, set theory, competing frames. I quizzed the guys on the Indicators of Interest (IOIs) – fidgeting, touching herself, touching you, asking your name or other questions, comfort in your personal space, laughing at lame jokes, continuing the conversation or a tingling gina (difficult to detect in public). Gameless guys could do a lot worse than begin their quest by simply memorizing the IOIs and bailing if they don’t get them in the opening phase.
THE POWER OF ESCROW
Finally tiring of the oneitis, I loaded Eastern Boy with a Mystery gambit – “give me $20, and I’ll give it back to you when you talk to that woman, or any woman.” He declined, so I flipped the script, took out my Andy Jackson fake ID[link to $20 bill] and handed it over to him.
I went to the men’s room as a pretext to scout the environs. Read an email from Susan Walsh while at the sink; Susan’s a nice lady so it boosted my confidence. I came back out; having seen no better sets I planned to open Glasses Chick one on one but she was occupied by a strapping dude. (Eastern Boy had predictably stayed on the bench.)
SWAP MEET LOUIE
Instead I noticed two women (one married) I had seen ordering at the bar earlier, carrying matching Louis Vuitton purses. When I returned from the john, they were at the window table with their backs to our backs. I took my seat, then spun around.
“Excuse me, I noticed you both have Louie,” then with a sly teasing grin, “…is it real?”
I had a backup story ready about buying fake accessories in NYC (got a great pair of $10 shades) but didn’t need it as they beamed with pride – “it IS real!!!” They told me about the single woman’s ex-fiancee who bought hers for her. They told me where they were from, a town near where I once had a summer internship (more rapport) and we fluffed about the local flavors and sports teams. They told me their girlfriends were coming to take them to another bar soon and how awesome that bar was. They were pleasant to talk to.
As I anticipated an awkward silence was imminent, I said I had better get back to my friends and held out my hand. “It was nice talking with you.” They gave me their names unprompted and asked mine, at least a vague IOI.
Eastern Boy gave me my $20 back and I tried to play it cool as a fistbump came my way. Mystery had a bit where he said that it’s important for a guy to be discreet on his way out of a successful set; it’s a DLV to show you felt lucky it had happened, not to mention activating her anti-slut defense with locker-room backslapping.
I recounted my opener – a ripoff of Mystery’s fake nails neg – and one of the guys reacted with derisive shock: “dude, you can’t call their stuff fake!” Another guy said he could call ten girls right then and they’d all tell him they wouldn’t talk to a guy who said that. This despite the fact I had just successfully opened a set with it. I told him you’d get one set of answers on the phone, and another set of answers if they actually got opened by a guy with a halfway decent frame (sadly, white-collar male America is full of well-dressed hard betas).
I explained the purpose of an opener, to get open-ended conversation moving. It also gives them an opportunity to either DHV themselves (I won’t try to explain the conspicuous consumption of designer labels but I know it’s important to the women who carry them) or humorously come clean about living on the cheap (sometimes it builds trust and rapport to admit you are faking it). On the other hand, if they wanted to be offended that I asked, I’d just close the set and go back to the guys – it’s happened before and will happen again, and I don’t really have time for people whose egos are so easily pierced that way.
Someone pointed out a pair in front of the bar, to which I explicated the three-minute rule: if you don’t anticipate being able to hold a set for three minutes, don’t enter. In this case they were waiting to order drinks, and as soon as the bartender was ready for them they’d turn away from any new guy talking to them. Mr “don’t-talk-about-fake-Louie” asked if you could buy the drinks for them to keep them focused on you. I facepalmed. I had to explain that trading resources for a single woman’s time, especially one you’ve barely talked to, is a major DLV. That’s not even Game 101, that’s what was in the reading you were supposed to do before the first lecture. (Did anybody do that pre-reading in college? I know I didn’t.)
It began to feel a little like Office Space, where the hapless protagonists look up money laundering in a dictionary.
THE MOTHER NEG
Two early-middle-aged women walked by our table and with a couple of hellos, we had them hooked into our conversational loop. (That made us 2 for 2 on the over-thirty crowd.)
One of the women had a distinctive stylish watch. I said honestly, “oh, my mom has that watch!” Don’t-talk-about-Louie nervously shushed me and told me not to mention my mother; I literally waved him off and told him I would explain later, which I did. Suffice it to say it’s a neg in the classic Mystery definition, a comment with neither positive nor negative value that simply shows you are not captivated by her frame. Just like the purse comment, it’s plausibly deniable as a totally innocent observation. I complimented her, but offset the DLV of the compliment with a brief mention of my mother (your mother is someone with whom no woman, whether she’s sleeping with you or not, wants to be compared.)
The women worked for a competing firm, which gave us rapport to fluff about the industry and joke about hiring each other (big firms are always poaching mid-level talent).
Eastern Boy began chatting up one of them. As he moved from across the table to right next to her and they got even closer as the bar packed tighter, her friend insisted she was “just being nice.” I concurred as I had yet to see any positive IOIs.
I noticed a new pair of girls at the adjacent table munching pizza. Slim and pretty but very young and somehow empty looking, I was not expecting much. What better time to practice? As I leaned over to initiate, Engaged Lady warned me “oh no, don’t embarrass yourself!”
Gesturing to open space, I said “we’re having a good time over here, would you like to join us?”
The girls looked at each other with a nauseous glance. “Well we’re having a good time over here.” [Our tables are two feet apart.]
“You can take the pizza to this table…[I pointed at our companion] she’s having a good time with us!”
The girls dithered without really knowing what to say. After a couple of seconds I shrugged and said unreactively, “suit yourself.” They kept talking at me (maybe they had thought of a delayed-reaction comeback), but by mid-sentence I had turned back around and rejoined the original conversation. No malice, not defensive, not with a Parthian shot, I just turned around and went back to what I was doing. Apparently I had not embarrassed myself after all, as Engaged Lady changed her story to compliment my frame: “I really admire your confidence.” I played it off as just part of my deal.
CLOSE THE DEAL
Eastern Boy and Marketing Babe continued to get closer with escalating kino including her hand on his shoulder and his hand on her waist. Engaged Lady reiterated the same story: “oh, she’s just being nice.”
I responded with incredulity: “For 45 minutes?!? I couldn’t be nice to those girls behind us for more than five seconds!” No sooner had I said that than I looked over at them and noticed them kissing – on the lips, with their eyes closed. If she was just being nice, it would be the nicest being nice I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know how drunk they were if at all, but sober or not they were definitely in the lovers’ intoxication. Hi-Yo dopamine.
Baby steps. Is this some virtuoso pickup example? Not at all. But I got to catch up with some pals, met a few interesting folks and a guy did have a taste of the real success that had been eluding him for a long time. I also “picked up” the guy next to me in a totally non-sexual way – he was a freelancer in a field of interest so I got his contact info for professional purposes and to cement a new friend. Interesting how the guys most critical of (very mild) game were the ones who talked to zero single women all night. The positive for me is that I was completely non-outcome-focused. I was there to enjoy spending time with some friends, not !close some liquored-up tart blowing off steam from her corporate workweek. One of the guys and I tapped out at the location bounce and went back to our places; I got home early enough to type this report and prepare for another social event tomorrow morning.