At the end of a sweaty night in a dark, hipster coffee house turned makeshift blues bar, a musician friend of mine laid down the royal flush of man card material. “It’s all about strategy, man,” he said.
This was in response to my gaping shock when he relayed a conversation with a much younger, quite adorable, band mate. The kid wanted to play more gigs because he was broke. Why? He’d spent all his cash on his drums and the hot, red car he pulled up in. He’d bought them for one purpose: To pick up chicks, he confessed. “Dude. You already play the drums,” my friend instructed him. “You don’t need BOTH!”
This cute guy had banged on the drums for several hours, seductively throwing his head back, completely lost in the music, or so I thought. If he had just made eye contact or said hello to me, I would have been a puddle, and I didn’t even know about his sexy red ride. But in his mind, he needed a shtick — or strategy — to give him an edge.
After getting hit with this strategy card, it dawned on me: In all of life’s worthy pursuits, guys instinctively go into this game-plan mode; with deliberate actions designed for a desired outcome. Chicks get grossed out at the thought of guys running game on them, but it happens outside the dating world, too. I challenge that most men talk more before, during and after sporting events than at any other time of their lives, whether they’re on the team or on the couch. They strategize what needs to be done, what’s being done right or wrong and what contributed to the final score. This goes on for hours. It’s problem solving in one of its most-enjoyable forms for them — mind-numbing, second-guessing “you’re doing it wrong” babble to us.
Surely you’ve watched a gang of guys sort out a household or mechanical mystery. Even if they have no idea what they’re doing, they’ll keep at it, using non-stop ingenuity until it’s solved. They won’t give up. It’s in their DNA. Time to accept it.
I thought I witnessed an anti-strategy guy on this week’s premiere of “The Bachelorette,” when Andi Dorfman gave the first-impression rose to meek Illinois software developer, Nick Viall. During his interview, he seemed stupefied and repeatedly stumbled things like, “I have no idea what I did” and “Maybe she felt bad.” Andi found him to be “kind” and “genuine.” But fast-forward to the previews for future episodes and we see weak-kneed Nick spewing verbal venom to Andi’s other suitors, and it hits me: This aw-shucks, feet-shuffling performance IS his strategy. Ooooh! You almost had me, Nick.
Male strategizing in its most exaggerated form spawns the PUA (short for “pickup artist”). There’s an entire society filled with the disciples of PUA experts who were, in 2005, dragged into the mainstream by writer Neil Strauss in his book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.” Strauss, who went undercover as PUA “Style” (cuz a groovy name is necessary), became a New York Times bestselling author and pickup artist expert, himself.
There are plenty of others: uber-confidence coach Steve P, pickup boot camp leader James Matador and Mystery, the ultimate PUA who trained Strauss and even starred in a VH1 reality show in 2007-08, “The Pickup Artist.” Plus, you can find current non-stop dialog about PUA techniques on Reddit, if you dare.
The game for PUAs? Usually just to score because, “a win’s a win,” of course. Some sample strategy involves how to create an opener, recognize interest, come up with a bitchen PUA name and close the deal. Over the years (and thanks to some legit Internet outrage), PUA experts have softened their edge by offering strategies to “create lasting relationships” and “boost confidence,” rather than simply nailing one-night stands. But strategies are still strategies.
Enter the new “Ask” feature on Facebook. If you don’t have your relationship status posted, your friends (and possibly others, depending on your settings) will see a large button with a heart in it and the words “Ask for [your name]’s relationship status.” Could there be an easier opener for a guy?
I asked a friend: What would a guy do with this Ask feature? “Imagine being able to go into a bar and try an opener on every woman in the place at once,” he said, dealing me into the game. “Now expand that to every bar on the block … in the city … in your state. With no effort at all I can present myself in front of a thousand women. “I’ll use the ‘comment’ section to include a cute little note — witty, fun and flirty and just aggressive enough,” he continued.
“I will, of course, copy and paste the exact same comment in every ‘ask’ I send. I can send out 1,000 in an hour and if I get a 1 percent response rate, I have 10 warm leads.”
Now, I don’t know if my friend — who’s a good guy — actually did this. But it’s the strategy that popped into his head, because that’s how the game plan gets rolling. He knows women respond to a cute note and perceived individual attention, because it’s worked before. I believe that repetition breeds results, too, but I typically apply that to endless hours of lunges and cardio. It doesn’t make him wrong. But it’s a sure strategy that’s worked for him in the past, and he’ll certainly employ it again.