The summer blockbuster season must be upon us, for this is my second post in a row about movies as they relate to my BFF search. But today there’s serious business to attend to, folks. I read yesterday that Neil Strauss’ bestselling book The Game will soon(ish) be hitting the big screen.
Why is this of any interest to me? Well, the book’s subtitle is “Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.” The gist of the story is that Strauss takes a year to dive headfirst into the world of female seduction. Along with his tales of conquests, Strauss shares some of the methods he learns in his seminars, including the most offensive, or maybe the most intriguing: “the neg.” Per Strauss himself, “Neither a compliment nor an insult, a neg holds two purposes: to momentarily lower a woman’s self-esteem and to suggest an intriguing disinterest. (‘Nice nails. Are they real? No? Oh, they look nice anyway.’)” Basically, by insulting women just enough—most of his “negs” are backhanded compliments a la “You have the cutest Bugs Bunny overbite”—he distinguishes himself from the other fawning men and makes her come to him.
Since starting my quest, two people have suggested I use Strauss’s methods to pickup friends. The first was a male friend, via Twitter, who wrote: “@rberch I know how to make a girl like you. Ignore her or be rude. It works.” I was horrified.
But then I got this email from a female friend. “The basic premise is to ignore the other person and not show interest. You actually have to insult them at first. I wonder if it would work in the friendship setting. You should try it … It’s sort of sick if you think about it. Who wants to be ignored and insulted? But honestly, I have seen my brother do it. He would walk up to a group of girls, insult the one he liked and talk to the other ones while completely ignoring the one he liked and then, before the end of the night, she would give him her number.”
It is sick. The empowered woman in me vomited a little bit when I read that. And yet, it’s probably a decently successful method for guys looking to hook up. Women don’t like to be ignored, especially if they’re the only ones getting the silent treatment from a guy showering attention on their friends. It’s an insecurity thing.
So could I use “the neg”? Here’s my take: The guys it works for are looking for one-night stands. The Game isn’t written for men who want to settle down. And in the friendship realm, that’s what I want. As long as we both shall live and for better and for worse and all that. To make the kind of local best friend who will last a lifetime, not a gal to party with for a single evening.
And anyway, I don’t have it in me to up and insult someone I like right to her face. You have to be pretty horrible for me to put you down like that—I’m usually nice enough, even to the people I can’t stand. (I wish I could honestly say, “Oh, I would never say anything behind someone’s back that I couldn’t say to her face,” but I can’t. And I know I’m not alone.)
For now I’m going to pass. Being civilized has worked so far. But it’s an intriguing, if totally disgusting, concept. Could the art of the pickup be universal no matter if you want friends or lovers?
What do you think about The Game? Are you entirely horrified, or is there a part of you that sees how it might be just the ticket? Could it work in a friend-pickup setting?