So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading The Game, and looking into the online pick-up network which inspired it, and I find myself fascinated and repulsed in equal measure.
The Game is a ‘non-fiction’ book about how journalist Neil Strauss went from AFC to PUA, then found an LTR with an HB10.
(AFC = Average Frustrated Chump. PUA = Pick-up Artist. LTR = Long term Relationship. HB10 = Hot Babe with a high rating on the physical appearance scale. Yes, there is an awful lot of jargon in pick-up, and most of it is a little embarrassing.)
So it goes like this: after years of fearing rejection to the point of not even being able to talk to women, Strauss is commissioned to write a piece on America’s burgeoning pick-up community. Consequently he becomes immersed in this world, addicted even. He meets all of the pick-up gurus – including (allegedly) the guy on whom Tom Cruises’s character in Magnolia is based. He learns all of their tricks of the trade – their demonstrations of value, their false time constraints, their peacocking, their NLP games and traps – and basically he becomes transformed into some kind of soulless seduction machine, a kind of bald, ripped, RoboStud.
The Game, also branded by other PUAs as Real Social Dynamics, is basically an attempt to make a science out of seduction. Furthermore, naturally, it is an attempt to make a profit out of that science. The money-making aspect is important. This is not philanthropy, as many of the gurus attempt to imply. It’s business.
Here however, is the part of the book that - despite myself - hooked me:
’When we walked into the dim sum restaurant, I was shocked by what I saw waiting for me. David X was quite possibly the ugliest PUA I’d ever met… He was immense, balding, and toadlike, with warts covering his face and the voice of a hundred thousand cigarette packs.’
That was the point I thought, OK, maybe I can give this a go. Maybe it’s time I got Game.
Apparently - because the Game is all about manipulation through deception - the first thing I need is a name that is not my own. A seduction name. A pulling name. Strauss is told early on in the book, ‘It’s not lying. It’s flirting.’ It’s something he repeats to himself every now and then, usually before he tells some great big horrible lie. ‘It’s not lying,’ he says. ‘It’s flirting.’ No, it’s not, Neil. It’s lying. And you know it.
Just as I know, of course, that I’m never going to be able to do it. Certainly not to the extent that the various characters in the book do it. Not to the extent whereby the attempted seduction of a woman becomes instinct, an habitual reaction to seeing an HB in the street. (Sorry. If it’s any consolation, every time I use the expression ‘HB’, a little bit of sick gets stuck in my throat.)
However, there is definitely a lot I can learn from The Game. Most of it’s fairly obvious stuff that only a moron wouldn’t already know of course: look good, feel good, learn a few magic tricks to make yourself look good. But there’s some other stuff too, stuff about learning routines and patterns – basically all the rather dodgy neuro-linguistic programming stuff used by magicians and shysters and conmen the world over. In seduction circles, we’re talking trance words, triangular gazing, the Yes Ladder, and so on. I could use some of that.
But first, yes, a name. Ideally it has to be something that makes you cringe every time you say it. Neil Strauss for example, became Style. The guy who took him under his wing and guided him deep into the seduction community - Eric von Markovik - became Mystery. Some of the other names of main players in the community are: Vision, Papa, Herbal, Rasputin, the Matador of Love… You get the idea. I would say it’s one step above McLovin’, but I’m not so sure it is.
So. Despair? Bulk? The Matador of Cellulite? OK, OK, I’m not trying, I know. What about Presence? Seriously. I reckon I could get away with that. I can see it now…
HB10: ‘So what’s your name, big fella?’
Presence: ‘Me? They call me Presence.’
HB10: ‘Wow. You’re making me horny.’
Presence: ‘Yep. That’s what I do.'
Next step I think a little background reading. A bit of NLP, some magic tricks, a book of openers and routines maybe. Or else of course, I could just grow the fuck up and get on with my life...
Of course I’m already doing what I can to improve my physical appearance. The diet is already in full swing and going well, stomach cramps and bad breath aside. And the exercise routine is picking up. I ran twice over the weekend, and I even did about half of a home-gym workout from the execrable Men’s Health magazine.
And tomorrow, tomorrow I’m going to have a haircut.
My main concern with The Game and the whole science of pick-up thing is that a) it’s practised by morons, b) you’d have to be a sad and desperate, at least slightly misogynistic moron to even consider it, and c) the only way this would work on any women is if she happens to be a moron.
But I guess the only way to know for sure is to actually try it.
So what I need to do is actually start talking to women – in real life I mean. I should force myself to talk to as many non-virtual female strangers as possible so that I am no longer afraid of rejection. That's what Style did at the beginning.
I need to get to the point whereby when I approach a woman and open my mouth to speak, my heart isn’t beating like Lee Chapman in my chest.
The Spring then. Before or after the speed-dating, I'm going ‘in field’, I'm taking some Game-style techniques with me and I'm talking to women.
And then when I’m swimming in HB sauce, getting more ass than Beth Ditto’s knickers, I’ll have Neil Strauss to thank.
Kill me now.