The five hours before my flight back home were spent curled up on a friend's sofa reading this book. It's about how socially awkward, conventionally unattractive guys who see themselves as social failures can get women into bed, as fast as possible, with as much success as possible (like a 90s success rate). A movement that started up on msn chatrooms, these pickup gurus work out their own strategies based on evolutionary psychology, psychology, something about astral projection...basically everything you'd find if you trawled the net for things explaining why we are the way we are and how you can manipulate it.
The odd thing is that it works. And the book is a cult offering that i hadn't known about-from Barney, on How I Met Your Mother=straight out of there, to lots of entrepenuerial blogs (from people who've actually made it) to the odd tendencies of some guy friends. Although as someone reactionary and opinionated it was tempting to hurl it across the room in a display of my disdain and general-I-am-so-above-this-cheap-superficial-trickery-because-I-believe-in-honesty-and sincerity etc, it made a lot of sense with people in general.
A couple of things. Most people don't really set boundaries, and they're way more elastic than we assume. Unexpected physical contact, someone asking something extremely personal, and generally letting go of the need to come across as interesting (by showing all the ways in which their life is awesome and how much they've achieved, although that ends with them sounding like an arrogant arse more than impressing you-slight twinge of guilt here) and instead just being interested in what they're being told and who they're with-that works. No one is as together and as impenetrable as the other guy imagines. It's a relief to have someone drop the act and the pretensions that come with trying to be 'somebody'.
Not that being bored isn't a good way to get what you want-enter the 'neg'. This is how you get someone who ranks higher than you (here in looks-women all get a rating, to one decimal point precision-but let's make this apply to any kind of status) to care that you exist and want to please. Telling a hot girl, used to being fawned over, that she has a cute bugs bunny overbite, or that her dress is really hot right now, in fact you just saw two other girls wearing it-and then making a point of ignoring her in favour of everyone else, that works too. Also, learning to see through women's 'shit tests'-the way we gauge how much you're willing to make a fool of yourself and compromise to have us, and not responding, that's a part of it too. Translate into context of work and internship interviews, and then suddenly the idea becomes more compelling and it's easier to ignore the shallow, vain and needy picture he paints of women as a sex.
Thankfully though by the end of this autobiography of sorts, all the 'gurus' wind up religious recluses disgusted by their former lives or succumb to 'one-itis', one woman committment. Entertaining, and a bracing reminder of the commonality of people for those who generally tend to overthink things.