I’m going to do something a little nerve-racking this Thursday night: give a speech to a mainstream San Francisco audience on the pickup community. Will I have tomatoes, or even worse, Mystery hats thrown at me?
One thing I do know: it will be fun. My presentation will be for Nerd Nite, a monthly bar series put on by my buddy Bart that combines education with alcohol. Their lectures cover a wide range of nerdy topics, and as many of you know, there’s nothing nerdier than some of the pickup-artist material out there.
If you’re in the neighborhood, the event will be held at the Rickshaw Stop at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, and I’ll be lucky enough to be the third and final presenter. That means the crowd will be drunkest when I’m on stage.
You can find info on my talk here, but you can expect a tongue-in-cheek explanation of some of the terminology and theories out there, and I’ve got a funny little skit planned that’s sure to entertain.
I hope to show some of our fellow geeks that picking up women shouldn’t be so taboo, and maybe I’ll be able to build some bridges. On the other hand, if I should take an iPhone to the skull, I want my body parts donated to nerdy, nerdy science.
If life does originate from the water, Don Draper is showing us one can be reborn in it as well. Don does a lot of swimming in “The Summer Man,” the latest episode of “Mad Men,” and while I’m not ready to call it a comeback just yet — he’d hit a new low last episode — he is getting his swagger back with the ladies. But in a deeper way this time.
Aside from the juicy fun of watching it all, there are lessons to be learned for all aspiring ladies’ men and guys on the rebound. Allow me to summarize:
Don isn’t quitting the sauce just yet, but he is at least trying to cut back on his drinking and it seems to be helping, along with his exercise. He gives up the Scotch for a can of Budweiser at one point, and that’s not even real beer.
The lifestyle improvements appear to be giving Don some clarity, to the point where he likes sleeping alone. This is a guy who would have taken Ol’ Miss Blankenship to bed if he were drunk enough earlier in the season. This newfound security pays off handsomely with the women of his life — he’s getting so much backseat taxi action that he’s about to get banned by Yellow Cab.
He’s making women jealous again, and the biggest surprise is that one of them is his ex-wife. When Betty walks into Don’s date with younger blonde Bethany Van Nuys (one swell porn name, by the way), one can’t help but see Betty 1.0 upstaged by Betty 2.0. Bethany’s pining for more time with Don, who’s keeping her at arm’s length, and after she sizes up her competition, she claims Don by turning their cab ride into a hummer ride. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Don doesn’t seem too impressed by Bethany, though. When she leaves him with a “To be continued,” his response is, “I bet she was thinking of that line all night.” Now that’s the cocky bastard I know. I suspect that Don sees her as another rich, frivolous hottie like Betty, and he thinks he can do better. Which he can.
Meanwhile, the sight of Don’s younger companion gives Betty fits, and she talks of envying the care-free bachelor life she thinks he’s living. I think it’s safe to say Don doesn’t envy her marriage.
Now, let’s get to my favorite part, and that involves his time with Dr. Faye Miller. I’ve been on record as saying she represents a crossroads for Don — either he grows up and connects with a woman like her, who truly has a lot to share with him, or he keeps hating himself while chasing bad relationships and meaningless hookups. This episode was a big step in the right direction.
Sure, he botches it a little when he tries indirectly asking her out to dinner, but when she taunts him about rejecting him before and tests him with a “Why should I go out with you now?” he doesn’t flinch and simply says, “I just thought the timing was right.” ‘Nuff said.
The Draper charm is on full display on his date with Faye, which includes giving her his jacket, opening up just enough about his problems, and this Don-ism on swimming: “It’s an effort when you get in the water but when you do, you’re weightless and you don’t even sweat. And in the end, you’re wrung out.”
After all his lame makeout attempts this season, his taxi-cab kiss with Faye is Vintage Don, and if anyone wants a lesson on how to kiss a woman without saying a word, you can consider this Exhibit A. (I’d link to it if I could.)
And then, when he’s got her all hot and bothered and asking to go back to his place, Don delivers the coup de grace: he turns her down. What made Don Draper Don Draper wasn’t so much women saying yes as it was Don saying no. I think the difference now is that before, he’d played hard to get by fooling himself into thinking he had everything with Betty and his job. This time, he’s doing it because he likes himself better. Big difference.
“That’s not what I expected,” Faye tells Don when he bids her good night.
Yes, exactly. And that’s why The Draper appears to be back.
I’ve never been into the whole hired-gun game. Nothing against the sexy bartenders/waitresses/Comic Con models of the world, but I haven’t felt the urge to pursue any of them. Especially if they work every night (those nights should be reserved for GK!). But I have been witness to a fun demonstration on how to do it, and I thought I’d pass it along to you.
I’ve been hanging out with my good friend Tre Tre for drinks once a week — it’s sort of our Man Date, where meeting girls isn’t a big priority — and lately, our first stop has been the same tucked-away cocktail bar that we both love. We can count on three things when we go there on Wednesdays: the bar will be empty, the martinis will be strong and cheap, and the woman making those martinis will be the same cute, frisky blonde wearing a wedding ring — only we’ve had the sense she might not be married.
Anyway, here are some pointers after observing our slow-motion seduction:
Don’t think of them as hired guns: They’re just women like all the others, trust me. Yes, the logistics involved are different, but don’t buy the hype about having to run some fancy-schmancy tricks on them. All Tre Tre did with our bartender was do what he does best: make fun conversation. Didn’t matter if it was about music, movies or travel. And it was easy to include her in that conversation because …
Go when the venue is dead: Women don’t have infinite time for chit-chat when they’re working. Unless, of course, they have nothing to do, which is often the case with our bar because there’s almost no one else when we walk in. So Cute Bartender is actually happy to see us, and we have lots of time to talk. As always, remember logistics.
Be a regular before you go for the close: You won’t always have this option — perhaps the venue is out of your way — but do it if you can. Especially in a bar, where the bartender or waitress might presume you’re a drunken buffoon like all the others who tried hitting on her.
Tre Tre has kept the conversation friendly, but a little more flirtatious each time we’ve gone. Now she’s so comfortable with us, she’s asking for our opinions on why people like anal sex. That’s when you know it’s safe to escalate things.
And it wasn’t until last night that Tre Tre finally asked about her ring. It turns out she is married, but she’s also separated and tentatively starting to date again. Which means Tre Tre was smart to wait, and the ring is probably a diversionary tactic against men. Kind of like the one Dr. Faye is using in “Mad Men.”
This was also the first time Cute Bartender asked us about our dating situations. Now she knows that she and Tre Tre are at similar ends of their relationships — a common bond that I’m sure they could spend a while discussing over drinks. It’s a bond that wouldn’t have existed had he tried getting her number on the first visit.
Don’t drunkenly take home diner waitresses named Doris and wake up next to them not knowing who they are: Seriously, Don Draper? After all the progress you seemed to be making in the prior episode? If you blow it with Dr. Faye, you’re in big trouble, buddy.
Days after my online intervention for Don Draper, who was fast losing his Grade A game with the ladies, he showed us some signs of life in the latest episode of “Mad Men.” It’s far too soon to say he’s all the way back, but we finally saw our first Vintage Don in Season 4.
The future Mrs. Draper? I say maybe.
Granted, he didn’t get off to the best start. He took the hot wannabe actress to Benihana, and he didn’t exactly wow her with his choice of atmosphere, office talk and ignorance with chopsticks — have I mentioned how dinner dates are a bad idea? But really, I think Don was there more to research Japanese culture than for courtship — as she points out, it’s only the third time he’s seen her in five months. And despite Don’s continued dating faux pas, she still seems smitten with him.
But it’s not that blonde I’m thinking about. It’s the more accomplished blonde, Dr. Faye Miller, and her revealing break-room encounter with Don. First, she reveals that she’s actually not Mrs. Miller after all — the ring is fake and intended to fend off men — to which Don retorts, “But you told me.” Dr. Miller doesn’t have an answer for that.
Then, Don does some revealing, and it’s a well-timed moment of vulnerability about his struggles as a divorced parent: “I don’t see them enough. And when I do, I don’t know what to do. And when I drop them off, I feel relieved. And then I miss them.”
Don knows she can read him well — she’s basically the female version of him — so he’s better off with being authentic about his emotions. It’s touching, and almost comical the way Don says, “It is not going well.” I would say those few minutes of talking in front of the dishes were more seductive than any of the weak and drunken come-ons Don was making all season.
Sure, maybe Don isn’t so smooth when he makes a passive attempt to ask Faye out by cracking, “Fake plans with your fake husband?” But even that’s pretty funny. I guessed at it in my previous post, and I can confidently say it now: if he can just get his act back together, I think Don’s found himself a match far more suitable than Betty was. They’d be fun to watch together just for the mind games alone.
Meanwhile, Don’s psyching out his advertising rivals and the Japanese, and he’s doing it all while looking sober. So score this week as a modest win for Don — hopefully with some real fireworks to come.
P.S.: Please don’t think I’m switching this blog to a “Mad Men” review site. I’ll have my usual content coming up next.
I’m about to do something I never thought I’d have to do: give Don Draper advice on women.
If you’ve watched “Mad Men,” you’ve watched one of the most fascinating characters ever to grace a TV screen. On one hand, Don Draper is an inherently unhappy man who is honest with almost no one, including himself — yet what guy hasn’t wanted to be like him?
A season ago, Don was being lured into his own hotel room by this stewardess. What happened?
Sure, Draper might be living a lie, but through the first three seasons it was one glorious lie. His air of mystery confuses us, but when combined with his status and looks, it makes women come to him — no easy feat in the early ’60s.
But our favorite womanizer hasn’t been closing the deal through the first four episodes of Season Four. He’s making the kind of clumsy passes that a college freshman would scoff at, he’s getting slapped around by a prostitute, and he’s drunkenly passing out on his couch every night. What happened to The Draper’s mojo?
Here’s my take on Don’s personal problems, which are not too different from what your average guy coming off a breakup might go through (watch out for spoilers):
This is what it boils down to: Don’s had an identity crisis throughout the series, but it’s much worse now. His wife stayed with him despite his infidelities, but once she learned he used to be Dick Whitman — just a poor, uneducated farmboy — she dropped him cold. In a brief moment of honesty in Episode 3 of this season, Don conceded, “I could tell, the minute she saw who I really was, she’d never want to look at me again. Which is why I never told her.”
Ouch. We may not all live under hidden aliases, but I would say we hide certain parts of us from those we care about or desire. Having our deepest insecurities aggravated by a heartbreaking rejection would hurt any man’s swagger.
And swagger is what Don is sorely lacking right now. The abandonment of Dick Whitman has bled into his Don Draper persona, which was once indestructible. Women once looked at his suit and his bravado and saw an elusive prize to be wooed. Now, he’s just another aging, drunk, divorced guy.
In the season opener, we see Don on a first date for the first time, and just like any dinner date, it looks awkward (although she clearly wants to see him again).
At least he looks dignified in that encounter (despite his failed attempt at getting into her room). But with the women who have followed, he’s been a clutz. His attempts at seduction have amounted to little more than lame come-ons like “You’re so beautiful … and young,” and the only girl who has fallen for it has been his secretary — secretaries, by the way, would have been beneath him a season ago.
Contrast that with the above clip from Season 3, where Don is on top of his game and effortlessly seduces a feisty teacher. This wasn’t a sudden move, either. Don had taken time getting to know her and building up the sexual tension. Then, when he saw his chance, he took it without apology. (And guys, consider this a great verbal and non-verbal demonstration of how to hold your ground with a woman.)
Don’s air of mystery has been punctured like a piñata, and perhaps because he’s suddenly so available, women are making themselves less so:
When he offers to walk his date up to her room, she says, “No. I know that trick.”
The blonde psychologist in the second episode manages to reject Don’s dinner invitation and sum him up glibly: “Don’t worry, you’ll be married again in a year … I’m sorry, no one wants to think they’re a type.”
The 21-year-old in Los Angeles has him pegged from the beginning and shoots him down in the car. She also delivers this gem about dating: “Nobody knows what’s wrong with themselves … and everyone else can see it right away.”
So yeah, these are dark times for our hero. But a comeback is not far away if Don gets his act together. Here are some free tips for him:
Pick an identity and own it: Whether that identity is Don, Dick or some new guy. Though he’s vocal about his distaste for self-analysis, he is going to have to know himself better — because women are catching on to him quickly. He may not like being labeled a divorcee, but that is how women are going to prejudge him from now on.
Get your sensitivity back: For all of Don’s alpha-male conquests, and there are many, a key weapon in his lady-killing arsenal has been his sensitivity to women. He spent an entire episode in Season 1 trying to figure out what women want, he was the only person in the office to notice Peggy’s new haircut in Season 2, and when he got caught cheating, he saved his marriage to Betty (albeit briefly) by writing her this tear-jerker of a line: “I understand why you want to go on without me, and I know you won’t be alone for long. But without you, I’ll be alone forever.”
This season, Don has been almost universally clueless to how women think. I’d say we were all meant to be appalled by Don’s callousness with his secretary after their hookup, and it culminated with her smashing up his office and walking out. And this time, Don didn’t even have the heart to finish his apology letter.
Regain the Draper Mystique: The best part of Don’s seductions is that he isn’t always the one doing the seducing. In Season 2 alone, Bobbie Barrett and that hot jet-setter in L.A. played the cat to Don’s mouse. Even his wife would stare at him while he slept and whisper, “Who’s in there?”
Now, Don’s idea of being a challenge is giving a girl he just met the reach-around. He’s still a star in the advertising world, and he still dresses like a million bucks — it’s time to act like that again.
Lay off the booze: Maybe it’s just getting older, but the mid-day Scotch sessions are taking a toll on him. Even his self-destructing secretary derided him as a drunk when she quit.
Consider being more than a player: This could make the show a lot less exciting, but it might be the best thing for Don. As down as he is right now, in a way he’s been liberated. He’s out of a frigid marriage to a woman who couldn’t understand him, and he can go one of two directions: continue to bed multiple women in a fun-yet-superficial way, or take the opportunity to find something he’s never found: a meaningful connection with a woman who loves Don/Dick for who he really is.
Could that woman be the very blonde who predicted he’ll be married again, and with whom he has shared office tension this season? Could be, but regardless, I want the old Don back.
This post was inspired by Rob “I’m About to Get Married” Overman, who suggested on the comments page of my post on Nice Guys that I should mention the Tripod of Stability.
As far as I know, the term was coined by an entrepreneurship guru named Ramit Sethi, who wrote a best-selling book called “I Will Teach You to be Rich.” The gist of it is, if you’re conservative in three core areas of your life — your car, your friends and your exercise, for instance — you can take all the risks you want with the rest of it and have little to lose.
I’ve included a video where Sethi talks about the tripod along with Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Workweek” (which is a book worth reading, by the way). What I particularly like is the mention of a “failure folder” in his Gmail account. This, even more than the tripod, is what I’d recommend to future Casanovas.
Any accomplished ladies’ man will tell you that if you’re not getting rejected, you’re probably not trying very hard. So go the extra step and make failure an objective — then keep track of all your failures and see what you can learn from each of them. I’d even set a quota: Ten failures a month, or more if you can help it. They can be approaches that didn’t go well, escalations that got shot down or even trying to get serious with a girl if you thought it was the right time.
It’s easier said than done — we all have egos, and something about women makes us extra irrational about taking risks that really have no consequence. But if you can gradually reduce the sting of it, you might see failure for what it is: a very necessary element in success.
Now that I’ve felt the ghosts of kings and queens at Westminster Abbey, pondered life’s mysteries at Stonehenge and gazed down from the gorgeous cliffs of the Irish coast, I can get back to writing about what is truly meaningful: hot chicks and stuff.
I want to address a topic that arose during my vacation, in the comments section of my previous post about nice guys. The industry term is “inner game,” and it was said that I should write more about it. I appreciated your ideas of what inner game means to you and how you’ve applied it. I welcome any such discussion.
Now, I want to offer my opinion on teaching inner game: I find it pointless and boring.
I’m sure I could come up with some “Inner-Game Mastery” DVD program and sell it to the insecure masses, but I’d feel awful guilty about that. Because here’s the thing: you can talk about confidence all you want, but you can’t really teach it. Real inner strength is obtained by setting goals and gradually meeting them, not from daily affirmations.
Before I became an instructor, I was inspired by a quote from Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” It’s a great quote, and I’ve used it often.
But here’s the thing: would we be talking about Sir Edmund today if he hadn’t actually conquered the mountain? For that matter, was he just sitting around in his apartment conquering himself while leaving the mountain to some other guy? I think not.
Everything I did as an in-field instructor, and what I try to impart to you here, is based not on feeling things, but on doing things. There’s too much inertia and analysis among shy guys as it is. So many of the questions guys have for me can be answered, or at least made easier for me to answer, if they just leave their self-analytic cocoon and get out into the world.
I understand the lure and comfort of wanting to discuss topics such as confidence — I was briefly one of those guys who was content to stand in a circle of other guys and talk about game. None of us would actually walk over and talk to a girl, but it felt safe and OK because hey, we were developing inner game!
Without getting graphic, there’s something else that guys have been known to do with each other in a circle. I think both activities are equally productive. And it can lead to what I call Stuart Smalley Syndrome, where the people who claim to know inner game the most are the ones who have the least of it.
My time with my students was brief, and I didn’t want to waste it with theory or pep talks. I wanted to help them become more confident by becoming more competent. That meant taking risks and talking to people, and learning through trial and error. It was no surprise to me that by doing that, their confidence and sense of self would improve in just a couple of days.
Some of you may disagree with me on this, and I’m fine with that. I welcome your thoughts about it, and I’ll help guys in any way I can. But my calling was, and always will be, helping guys learn how to get the girl and make more friends by having a plan and going for it. I’ll leave the inner-game stuff for the therapists. Because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.
I’m packing for more adventure — I’ll be visiting London and Dublin this week and next — and in my rush I wanted to give you something to chew on while I’m gone. My timeliness in mentioning this woman’s blog post/rant/edict is about as good as BP’s timeliness in capping the oil spill, but better late than never.
I ran across this fiery, five-year-old post about nice guys the other day, and I think it draws an accurate line in the sand between those who are nice because it’s who they are, and “Nice Guys” who are nice because they expect something from a girl. I’ve made a lot of the same contrasts to my students. And as she said, guys can be some combination of the two. Here are three quotes I especially liked:
The guys I have met and known who could legitimately be called Nice Guys were, for one thing, almost invariably bitter. Either they have never gotten over being picked on in junior high/rejected by the popular girls in school, or they haven’t gotten laid in a long time … Whatever it is, they have a huge chip on their shoulders about it, and in their eyes the women of the world owe them for it.
Quote No. 2:
The Nice Guy usually has some glaringly big issues in his life that he isn’t dealing with– things that make him unhappy, but rather than address them, he is convinced that if only he could be with someone, everything would magically get better. (Yeah, guess what, it doesn’t. You still need to get a job/move into a better place/go back to school/get therapy/clean your toejam/tell your parents to piss off/whatever it is.)
Quote No. 3:
Bring something to the table besides basic human decency. I’m not talking about money. Be responsible for yourself, your life, and your happiness. Have good things in your life that you want to share with a wonderful woman, rather than expecting her to fill the holes in your life. Even if you’re a nice loser, you’re still a loser.
So, on which end of the nice-guy spectrum have you been on lately?
Stay tuned while I’m away. I expect to have some exciting news for you in the coming weeks.