Monday, May 27, 2013

50 First Dates: The Peril of Pick-Up Artists

I had to break up with someone the other day. This is an odd event for various reasons. Usually, I'm the one getting dumped, and this will be the first and only time I've broken up with a guy. Calm down boys, I'm still straight. Be happy about that. It's bad enough my attraction and libido are honed on half of the human species as it is, much to their detriment. This was more of a bro breakup...ooh, a "brokup"! You should all use this as a neologism...Let me explain what happened before I go off on another tangent and this winds up being an essay about how dubstep sounds like masturbating Decepticons.

One fine evening, I went out to my favourite bar wearing a jacket I just bought from a vintage store. I thought I looked badass, as it looked like something either Starsky, Hutch, or Bill Withers would wear when they fight crime and/or sing. If the Beastie Boys ever wanted to make "Sabotage II", I'd be a shoe-in as an extra in the video. I got many compliments, and my shallow id was quite pleased.

Then a man in a tiny-rimmed feathered fedora came up to me and said, "Dude, I love that jacket! Are you peacocking?", to which I said, "...?" What the hell is wrong with my jacket? Is it too orange? Was my fashion instinct off? He continued: "Let's do a shot! I'm here with my friend, but he's a s****y wing man, and I'm talking to this set of girls, and one is interested, but she's in the middle booth of the table, so I need you to help me distract the other ones....blah blah blah..."

The only part of his sentence immediately retained was, "Let's do a shot!" I like free liquor. The rest just didn't make sense. I left to go to another bar, leaving behind Tiny Fedora Man, and continued with my night. On my way home, I received a text: "Hey man, where'd you go? Need a wing man for next club!" After the shot, I must have given Fedora Man my number. Oh well, the night was young, let's go meet at the next bar.

These are the conversations I had at the next bar:

FEDORA: Oh dude, you dance? That's great! is that your game?
ME: ...No, man. I like the music. I'm just dancing.
[Woman comes up to me and dances with me a bit, then smiles and leaves the floor]
FEDORA: Holy s*** dude! Did you get her number?
ME: No, it was just a dance.
FEDORA: Dude, you have to always close!

My favourite:

FEDORA: Look at that set right there. We should talk to them.
ME: Ok [start to walk over, but interrupted]
FEDORA: OK, here's what we say: our friend is about to get married to someone we CAN'T stand, and we need their help to break them up.
ME: ...Or we could just go talk to them...

By this time, he had already gone up to the women and tried his yarn. I abstained, because I noticed that one of them had a diamond on her ring finger the size of what one might use in a death ray indicating that she was married. One of the others mentioned a fiancé.

As we left the club, he told me about what I was doing wrong, and the best way to pick up women. Each method involved making up a story or putting women down in a backhanded way, or a "neg", colloquially. And at the end of each sentence, I said, "Why don't you just talk to them?" The best part of the evening was when he pulled out a paper, on which was scribbled what I thought was blend of a script and a football maneuver play. The first few lines were intros to the stories he'd tell, then possible responses to what Person X would say, then different suggestions to "wear down" Person X (mostly passive-aggressive insults), then arrows and stars pointing to sentences at the bottom of the page that said, "CLOSE!!!!!" in bold, scribbled print.

It wasn't until the next morning when I was completely sober that I took in the entire night. He was not your typical Bro. He was wearing the feathered fedora, a grey suit, and a bright patterned button-up shirt untucked. This is what I imagine would be the uniform of a desperate compulsive gambler or a gonzo pornographer. Then all the buzz words he used clicked: "Peacock". "Set". "Wing Man". "Neg".

This guy was a PICK-UP ARTIST™!! :-o

For those of you who don't know, a "pick-up artist™" is a "man" who regularly goes out to pick up women, which in and of itself is not a big deal, as I think most everyone goes out and tries to pick up the members of the gender of his/her preference, whether consciously or unconsciously. The method of a pick-up artist, though, is to wear slightly off-kilter clothes to get people's attention, "pull" women by giving them back-handed compliments, wear down their self-worth, and then get their phone numbers and possibly bed them in their time of faltering confidence. Imagine if the mother-in-law of any 1960's sitcom were a man and on the prowl.

I had two conversations with Tiny Fedora Man after that night. One was a text conversation where he was asking me if he should date a stripper and whether it would be dangerous to date a cop. The whole time I was wondering if he was trying to pull me, because both stories were utter bulls***. The second was a phone conversation in which he wanted to know if I'd go to the mall with him to conduct a mock-survey on women about possible party favours or gifts for female friends, but the intent was to weed out the single ones, invite them to a fake party, uninvite them, but then invite them to a real party at his house where we'd theoretically choose who we'd like to f***, and f*** them.

After I recovered from the mild concussion from the face palm I gave myself after hearing this scheme, I flatly stated what needed to happen:

ME: OK, I'm not doing that. I have an issue with lying to people to just get them to sleep with you.
FEDORA: It's really lying; it's not much different from meeting someone in a class you're taking and striking up a conversation!
ME: No, it's definitely deceiving someone and manipulating her so that she doesn't know your real intention. I'm pretty sure this was the general plot of every 1980's teen movie.
FEDORA: Well what is your style?
ME: I don't have a "style". I talk to women, and if they tell me to f*** off, I do.
FEDORA: No dude! Don't take no for an answer! You have to always be closing!
ME: ...Ok, I don't like anything about the fact that you exist, and your method of interacting with people makes me want to punch you in the d***, or have a woman do it, just to drive the point home. I won't be rude to you if I see you in public, but I doubt we'd ever hang out, as I don't respect you as an organism.

He didn't have much to say after that, so he hung up.

I don't have an issue with people who go out to meet other people. I do, however, have a big issue when one of your mantras is, "Don't take no for an answer". That's when you're doing it wrong. Other terrible ideas:

-Talking about women as though they are another species.
-Using almost identical terminology about picking up women that Morgan Freeman uses on National Geographic documentaries about how large cats thin out a herd to target the sickliest antelope.
-Lying to someone as an icebreaker.
-Thinking that insulting someone, no matter how subtle, its a good way to enamour her to you.

I likely interact with much fewer women than I potentially could were I to adopt Fedora Man's "style". This might have to do with my need to be honest with people; it also might have to do with the Volkswagen van constructed entirely of Lego bricks sitting on my coffee table. Either way, at least I can look at myself in the mirror. People cringe at the term "rape culture", but there is no other term for an environment where this pick-up artist™ subculture can exist and thrive. Any manner of meeting someone where one will not accept the word, "no", and the sole purpose is to wear down someone until she finally relents after a barrage of light psychological abuse is indicative of a culture that still doesn't truly respect a human's autonomy. So until more people recognise and ignore the advances of these fedora-wearing insult machines with penises, I have to realise that this is the world in which we live. I don't have to accept it, though. Since I'm not a woman, I can't directly shut down a pick-up artist's advances and call him on his bulls***. I can, however, punch him in the d*** when I hear the cow pies fly from his mouth. And the next time I hear the term "Neg" not immediately followed by "-ga please", someone is getting a bottle thrown at him. That's a start, right?

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