by Megan Ortiz
He was failing. Horribly.
Girl after girl walked away from him as my friend and I stood in the shadows to the side observing. He was doing everything wrong: ignoring her friends, rambling about nothing interesting and having no sense of direction with how he wanted the conversation to go. And I’m not going to lie, it was hilarious.
“He’s doing it all wrong,” said my male best friend and wingman.
“Yeah, I’m thinking I’m going to go talk to that girl he’s trying with and save him,” I responded.
To be clear, in no way, shape or form were we taking ourselves entirely seriously. It was just a bit of fun and an experiment on a game we couldn’t resist playing.
You know, The Game. The drink buying, smooth-talking, (hopefully) panty-dropping game that everyone, male or female, plays with the same common goal: sex. Some do it consciously, like Neil Strauss, author of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists;” some may do it subconsciously, what Strauss calls in his narrative a “natural.”
Regardless, Strauss’s semi-autobiographical how-to manual is much more than what it seems — you just need to initially get past the fact that the book itself looks like the Bible.
The most important piece of advice I was given when I picked up this book, which is traditionally read by men, was “wait until the end to employ any of these tactics,” and I have also passed that advice along. As Strauss tells his tale, his transformation from Average Joe to a guy who can “number close” a Playmate of the Year in a bookstore, is detailed with the particular steps and guidance on how he got there.
And although he and many others have proven that their techniques, negs, IOIs (Indicator of Interest) and tricks work exactly the way they’re intended to, there is still doubt. I have heard people say that anyone who would need to resort to something like this obviously has a lot bigger problems that they need to deal with — that it is, on many levels, pathetic.
The genius of this whole thing is just that: there is a superficial layer to this guide, and to the ideas behind it, that can easily be taken at face value and dismissed or embraced. But the deeper meaning behind it is what led me to the club to test my theory the same way in which Strauss does.
The Game is not only a lesson in sexuality; it’s an insight into social interaction. It is not surprising that the technique known to pickup artists as “anchoring” is highly effective in helping to get to the end of the road. However, it calls attention to how much we as humans do this without knowing it for other purposes. Anchoring, or linking an inanimate object to a feeling, is common: for example, every time I see a green Dodge Ram truck, I feel nervous, because it’s anchored to the memory of someone I am trying to forget.
Or how about whenever you see a prism with a beam of light going in one end and a rainbow coming out of the other? Pink Floyd’s “Darkside of the Moon” immediately comes to mind. They branded it, they claimed it and it will forever be associated with them without actively having to say so. They’ve got us all fixated.
Another teaching is the hat trick. which girls do to themselves on a daily basis. Rather than the male leaving the female with an article of clothing of his (also anchoring), females actually do this to themselves by taking hats, sweaters or anything else from a guy they are interested in. It is an IOI, an unconscious way of communicating that you’re feeling something between two of you. How can you complain that men would employ these tactics on you when you allow it to happen?
This compilation, this collection of knowledge, forces us to look humanity in the face and realize that we all actually want the same thing from all of this, and that it isn’t what we thought, but rather to be liked, admired and remembered. And what’s wrong with that? The fact that certain people can break down these once unspoken rules into a form helps us to analyze the way we communicate.
We clearly can’t do it straight up, and maybe that is or is not a problem, who knows? Don’t hate the player or the game, and don’t think you’re exempt from it because you aren’t. If you learn to recognize how you’re communicating with others, you can begin to improve upon and hopefully pass along the knowledge you’ve obtained to others.
Megan Ortiz studies journalism and English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.