27 July 2006

How to Pick Up Chicks (As Told By Same)

I'm going to make a brief foray into service journalism (ahem, after a fashion).

As a young lady who occasionally wears cute outfits and smells nice, applies lip gloss, and attends gatherings wherein there is consumption of alcoholic beverages, I have had a fair amount of exposure to the romantic or lascivious overtures of men.

Over time, it has become clearer to me, gentlemen, that there are some of you out there who know what you're doing in the talking-to-women department, some of you who blunder into success, some of you who strike out swinging for the fences, and some of you who should probably be medically castrated. I have gathered a fair bit of anecdotal intelligence in these matters. This, combined with my greatest qualification (I am a girl, so I know how girls think....this is what makes us invaluable resources to you, the hapless male) and my propensity for grueling social analysis should, I hope, shed some light on that most shot-in-the-dark event: The Pick-Up.

First off, since we're all friends here, let me just say that this advice likely does not apply to unsavory women (read: sluts). I don't advocate pursuit of such females. Nor do I think they really warrant the extra effort. If you wish to pursue the lesser woman, by all means... offer to buy her a Bacardi and Coke, gesture at your clever t-shirt slogan and raise your eyebrow suggestively. Just be sure to hit the condom machine in the men's room before you drag her drunk ass home, mmkay? No, what you'll read here will help you in the wooing of actual women.* Ones with brains in their heads and beer in their refrigerators.

The Subtle Art of Chatting Someone Up

1. Assume that she is not stupid. Give us a bit of credit, gents. It's likely that our social wherewithal is more finely tuned than yours. Gather your wits about you and assume she has all of hers, that'll make the conversation livelier. And speaking of your wits about you.....

2. You should probably not be drunker than she is. That can only end poorly. Of course, we all know that the sauce lubricates these situations considerably, so I'd shoot for 1.5 beer's worth of buzz (adjust to accomodate your body mass and tolerance). This way there's something in your hand, you have a beverage that will eventually need refreshing (bonus tip: you're so in if she offers to buy you one, and it's pretty awesome to offer to get her one as well), but you are lucid and attentive (to more than just her breasts. The stare-at-the-chest thing is overdone. Which handily brings us to.....).

3. Do not be obvious. You are not a bear. She is not a bunny. Seriously, the times I have been successfully "picked up" are those in which I did not realize it was happening right away. I'm not suggesting a spy games level of subterfuge here, but rather, behaving like an adult who wishes to converse with another adult. We are all aware of the undercurrent at bars and parties where there are people of both sexes, so there's really no need to saunter up and try your best line. Lines are gross. Sauntering is gross (while were at it, you shouldn't sidle either).

This is where I admit that matters get sticky. It is difficult to not be obvious when you're trying to chat someone up. However, it is possible. Based on my experience, not being obvious was a happy accident for the gentlemen in question. However, I think it is completely possible to manufacture this comfortable and natural way of approaching strangers into whose pants you could see yourself trying to get. (Side note on directness, an approach favored by some: I agree that the "I'm cute, you're cute, let's hook up" approach has its devoted practitioners and its efficacy has been shown in controlled laboratory environments. Warning: You have to be really good in order to pull it off without seeming like a dick. Either you do it serviceably well and may therefore be assumed a troublesome player-type or you're blundering into "Oh, that's sad, he thinks he's picking me up in a 'direct, cut-the-bullshit manner' that he really cannot pull off"-territory. You have to look like George Clooney or have the kind of overwhelming charm that could make you an accomplished scab salesman. No joke. Utter frankness is an advanced maneuver, which, when performed in a ham-fisted manner, can come off creepy and cocky as hell. No semi-sober intelligent lady wants to date or sleep with an arrogant bastard or an unrepentant womanizer. Unless he looks like George Clooney.)

My best suggestion would be to avoid situations where you're going in as if to a suicide mission in the Mekong Delta. Consider the players. You, her. Who does she have around her? Friends? New acquaintances? Are they women or men? This is where your own women friends become invaluable (I hope you're reading carefully, Idiot Brigade). We are much better at sussing out the vital details of the people in a room than you are. We can perform quiet and effective recon, help you to weed out the taken, the psychotic, the slutty. Not only that, but our mere presence makes it obvious to young ladies you may desire that you are not a creep. Your wing woman may well be your best asset. You and your wing man look like a couple of dudes on the make. And while we all enjoy flirtation and sexual intrigue, two men winging for one another is... say it with me now... obvious. And that is not what you want to be. Furthermore, your wing woman adds an element of intrigue that may pique your paramour's curiosity. "Who is that girl? Is she with him? Well, dammit, pay attention to me! I'm cuter than she is!" And she'll get a little thrill of victory when the wing woman makes herself scarce so you can focus on her. See? The ladies engage in a bit of healthy competition now and then, no reason you can't indulge it.

So, you're slightly buzzed, you have a lady friend with you, now what? Mingle! Engage the target-lady's group as a group. See? We're all just people talking. Make eye contact with her and smile, but don't make a beeline right away (see notes on sauntering and sidling). Be confident. Even if you think you're punching above your weight, don't act like it. Forget that defeatist attitude! If you engage her first as an intelligent human being (contrary to some reports, girls are people too), she'll take notice and think "This guy's pretty cool. I enjoy talking to him. I find intellectual stimulation to be sexually stimulating." and then she'll be willing to find a corner booth or spot at the edge of the crowd to engage in a tête-à-tête.

4. Ok. You've got her alone (high five!). Don't get too drunk and don't get creepy (See #3. And remember #1. Still stands). If you have followed my advice and engaged her as a person first, this should go smoothly. You're making eye contact. You're listening. You're remembering that she is not stupid, so you're not talking down to her (I have been spoken to as if I were a silly girl in a pinafore more often than I'd care to remember.... needless to say, those dudes saw the back of me but quick). You're not behaving like a sycophant (almost as irritating as condescension because... it's an obvious ploy to get into my favor. See #3).

Here, I'd like to offer some tips on female behavior. It is true that a girl who is not interested or is taken will seem to flirt or whatever and then pleads "being friendly." This happens. I do not understand it. I, for one, being apprised of the "being friendly" conundrum, do my best to avoid engaging a guy one-on-one for very long if I am not interested in him at all (if I'm not sure, I'll stick around and see what happens). I'll incorporate someone else into the conversation or excuse myself. Your female friends may be able to help determine whether it's a friendly or flirty situation, but sometimes the distinction exists only in the lady's head. Yeah, sorry 'bout that (Ladies: I know, we ought to be able to talk to a guy without him thinking we're going to sleep with him, but knowing how their minds work, shouldn't we just put in the extra effort to make sure our intentions are clear?)

That said, there are some good signs: if she touches you or leans into you, basically breaks the personal space barrier, you should feel relatively confident that you're in business (or, you know, bidness). If she offers to buy you a drink or accepts a drink from you, also a good sign. She wants you a bit drunker! Sweet! If she ignores her friends or neglects to do further mingling she doesn't want to abandon you to the crowd. Also, if she wanders away but comes back to you, you're in good shape. It's safe to say that if she's interested in you, she will make herself as available as possible for you to seal the deal (get a number, make plans, what have you).

On sealing the deal (or, why put a stamp on the letter and never mail it?): If you just want to sleep with someone that night, you should not get a number and make vague allusions to getting together at a later date if she has bowed out of going home with you. That is lame. If you make your intentions relatively plain (you've been talking to her for the duration of the party, you're physically close and flirting and whatnot, it's obvious you either want to see her again or take her home.), she'll either concur ("yes, let's hang out, here's my number," OR "yes let's get out of here and make with the love") or bow out because her intentions weren't synch with yours... though I don't suppose there's a man on this earth who wouldn't adjust his intentions tout suite if the young lady just wanted to take him home.

Basically, we're aware of when the ball is in our court... it's just very important for you to actually hit it to us. You dig?

Here's your cut-and-keep recap:

1. She is not stupid.
2. Don't be drunker than she is.
3. Don't be obvious. Treat her like a person (see #1) first. Intellectual stimulation is SEXY!
4. Once you've laid the groundwork, don't get creepy. Slurring out compliments of her décolletage is not advisable, nor is it classy. A little of the touchy is good, especially if she touches you first, but don't molest.
5. Do make your intentions clear. We'll try to do the same. Unless we don't (sorry... a woman can be a mysterious creature, and I cannot speak for all of them, sadly.).
6. We will make it easy for you to seal the deal. So seal the deal, jackass.

I turn the discussion over to you, good people. Most appalling attempted pick-up ever? Best practices?

*This is true based on highly unscientific research among a handful of my women friends, so ladies please feel free to chime in. Because, if much of this is just how one should approach me, well, what's the point?


Joshua said...

Man, Toby and I have been looking forward to this forever. You have lived up to the expectations I feel.

My worst attempts at picking up a girl?

Two stories:

Sophomore year, Toby and Will had filled my head with so much nonesense that it had become a drunken hodgepodge of stupidity. All I remembered was tell her you have beer in your fridge to get her home.She said was cold and wanted to know if I wanted to go inside and I said "I have beer in my fridge."
I also peed on a tree in front of her. The deal had all but been sealed, and then I brilliantly unsealed it. See Rule Number 2.)

Second story, again with the Rule Number 2.) I couldn't remember a girl's name, so I kept asking for it. At one point I asked her to spell it, her name was something really complicated like Jill or Jane. I am a genius.

Follow Sheena's advice people and don't be like me, drunkenly peeing on trees.

Erin said...

Although I am of the aforementioned handful of women friends who had already been consulted in the hashing out of this theory, I feel compelled to add my vote of support to Sheena's advice. I have one brief addendum I'll describe in anecdote form: once, while out at a bar, my roommate and I overheard the two gentlemen (no, I guess they were just guys) debating the "who gets who" aspect of their impending pickup attack. Take away: if you must talk through the details of your approach with a buddy, make sure you're out of earshot.

Joshua said...

Some dude was hitting on you? I'll fustigate him.

Also, that's probably good advice.

Sheena said...

Josh, you are truly an ispiration to us all.

Erin, that is indeed sage advice. You are a gentlewoman and a scholar.

I believe those dudes forgot rule #1 (not stupid) and sub-rule #1a (don't assume the lady is deaf).

Flushy McBucketpants said...

... if you were dead, i'd be a necrophiliac...

... that's my line and i'm sticking with it.

"We will make it easy for you to seal the deal. So seal the deal, jackass." <-- I sense frustration.

why does it seem to be the guy's responsibility to be the pick-uppers in the first place? or rather, could not the woman seal the deal? seeing as how they know more about this ball and court business anyway. (really, who watches men's tennis?) i figure it should be a tit-for-tat kind of thing. if we actually got up the gumption to walk over to you and strike up a conversation in the first place, the least you could do, if you are in fact interested, is, at the appropriate time (whenever the hell that is), allude to getting together later, initiate an exchange of emails, or some other deal-sealing action.

the pick-up is not something i tend to partake in. mostly because i don't socialize with people i don't know and i'm a goddamn pussy. but the whole ritual to me seems a little one-sided. whatever happened to equal rights and all that bullshit?

also, how was friday's game?

Sheena said...

What's your success rate with that line, Will?

I don't mean to suggest that only men should be doing the picking up. Certainly not. I just don't have much anecdotal advice to offer my fellow women on the matter. It's much less funny if I write about chatting up men who turned out to be gay, taken, not interested, or only interested in *cough* *cough* y'know...

Furthermore, there are many of the male persuasion who prefer to pursue, and indeed become confused when chatted up by girls. Also, it's way easier for a girl to hit on a guy. Not much subtlety is required there, as they usually need to be beaten over the head with the "hey asshole, I like you" stick.

Flushy McBucketpants said...

No, I did actually find this quite helpful. In case I do ever find myself in a situation where I'm trying to pull someone, this will probably do me a world of good.

"It's much less funny if I write about chatting up men who turned out to be gay" <-- see, that is funny.

But... "Also, it's way easier for a girl to hit on a guy." Exactly. Wouldn't life just be way easier if that were the norm?

Dan Tolumbro said...

Sounds like you guys are getting some good practice in. We actually have a FAQ that includes that at http://www.pickupmastery.com, if you're interested in learning more about attracting women.