So this guy approached me in the local supermarket. He was in his mid thirties or early forties, dressed casual but not sloppy, black, but not unattractive. He said “excuse me” and asked me what my name is. We were on the far side of the store with the socks and make up and feminine products, and there was no one else around. I backed up about 18″ and said. “That’s pretty aggressive, considering we’re strangers.”
He said that he just wanted to know what my name was, and something about finding me attractive. I reiterated that I didn’t want to tell him my name, but he insisted that he just wanted to know my name. Eventually I did give my name, and he said he was Steve. Then he followed up with “what do you do” which is one of my least favorite questions in the world. I told him I was a novelist. He said he wanted to give me his number. I said that I didn’t like to lie, and he could give me his number, but I wasn’t going to call him. He said something about you never know what will happen, and of course he didn’t have a card, so I wrote his number down in my phone just so he would leave me alone.
I talked with a friend about it afterwards, via text. Ever since I read the books on pickup artists, I’ve been thinking more and more about the hows and whys of female attraction. This approach that Steve used is what I call the “here, birdy birdy!” method. Imagine a toddler who wants to feed the ducks. He loves the ducks. He wants to hug the ducks and be their bestest friend. He takes a giant piece of bread and runs towards the ducks shouting “here birdy birdy!” The ducks flee. (except the ones who are sick or injured–more on that later) At first he wonders if maybe his bread isn’t delicious enough, but eventually (maybe around age 40?) he just decides that ducks are all lying bitches.
One of the things that I realized from this encounter is how much picking up women is like selling. If you want to sell something, you don’t find someone and shout “give me your money!” I mean, obviously, that’s what you want, but it’s not the way to get someone to buy your stuff. You first convince the person that what you have is valuable. This is part of the “approaching strange women” problem. Looks alone are insufficient. A man is attractive mostly on what he does and who he is, and his appearance is only maybe 30% of that. Asking a woman to decide she wants to date a guy she only knows from looks is like asking a man to judge a woman’s attractiveness by looking at photos of her purse–it’s insufficient for everything except disqualification. Unless he has the hair of Adonis, a rippling six-pack, and a Tardis, no one I have only known for <30 seconds is attractive enough for me to accept a date/give him my number.
This guy maneuvered the entire encounter so that he had the advantage. He’s already bigger than me. He approached me in a place where the was no one else around, from a direction that had me between him and my cart. He wanted to get important information from me (my name and occupation) before he offered his. He said I was attractive, which just made me more convinced that I had something he wanted. Everything was orchestrated so that he had the power advantage. He approached picking up women in the same tactical manner you’d use to destroy an enemy base. He probably felt very secure. He had maximized his approach so that the target was at a tactical disadvantage in every way. I’m sure he was probably baffled why I wasn’t keen on eating his bread, which he believed was of better than average deliciousness. Why don’t those duckies loooooveee me! I have delicious bread! I am a nice boy!
I am not an enemy base. I do not take kindly to aggression. I do not trust men who don’t understand “no.” You better believe that if he had followed me into the parking lot, I would have called security.
Then I had an epiphany. Emotionally healthy women care about being safe. There are women who associate “unsafe” and “chaotic” and “dangerous” with love, but there’s a lot of overlap with women who are not emotionally healthy. People who claim that all the women they date are crazy probably use a variation of the “here birdy birdy!” method of approaching women. They are preselecting for crazy.
Even though his approach basically made him strike out from the first 10 seconds, part of me felt sympathetic towards him. Part of me wanted to give this guy pointers on his game. I know what it’s like to be lonely, to want to meet people.
Ducks actually like bread, quite a lot. But you can’t blame them for judging people by their actions.