Saturday, August 20, 2011

MANOPOLY and other Bastardly Dicktard Games

After & before.
In 2005, a memoir entitled The Game caused quite the sensation. The author, Neil Strauss, an Average Fucking Chump (AFC), details how he evolves into a self-confident, smooth-talking, lusty lothario, or Pick Up Artist (PUA), peacocking and practising game on womankind.

So, I'm a little behind the times--six or so years to be precise--but why in Jesus Christmas would I want to read boys' book about picking up girls?  Good question.  Because, dear Reader, it was recommended by a good friend, with whom I share other literary likies, and this thirsty mind thought that, at the very least, it would give me a little insight into the boggling black hole of the male psyche.
Little did I realise that I was, with a crack of the spine, a crease of the cover, a turn of the page, opening a literary Pandora's Box.

Forget the stiltonesque, ‘Do you come here oftens,’ Strauss’s game, which he preached via online forums and taught at workshops for the seduction community, was far more evolved.  From hand-writing analysis and magic tricks, to evolution phase shift (a Neanderthal tug and bite sequence that precedes a kiss) to dual induction massage (oily moves to orchestrate a threesome), he used these sophisticated strategies to collect more numbers than the IRS during tax season. 
Whatever the game plan, Strauss always demonstrated value, knowledge and power.  Hence this self-described, ‘skinny Elmer Fudd’ scored hide.  On the Sunset Strip it was open season and Strauss, or ‘Style,’ as he called his arrogant alter-ego, was bringing a bazooka.  Like shooting ducks in a barrel, he was getting fucked like Colin Farrell.

As a single female reading this book, every fibre of me wanted to hate it—like a series of The Bachelor—awful and demeaning, cheap and pitiable, and yet, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.  I loathed the daily disposal of nameless vaginas, but I was fascinated by their willing sacrifice. 
So, sure, most women can look beyond the short, balding cartoon, and if I had just read Strauss’ words, I would have imagined a PUA with a voice like molten chocolate, and an contagious energy that made women leap into bed like jumping beans.  But I listened to his voice.  Now, I don’t wish to come across as a complete bee-atch, but he sounded like a weak, hesitant, undersized 12 year old.  Probably with knobbly knees and peach-fuzz.  I just didn't get it.  I would never be seduced by Style.
He seemed the complete antithesis to Ryan Gosling’s PUA character, Jacob, in Crazy, Stupid, Love.  Jacob lavished attention upon the victim, target and made her feel special; Style, however, would ignore, focus on others and ‘neg’ her (give her a negative compliment such as, ‘You have lipstick on your teeth’ or, ‘Haven’t I seen you wear that dress before?’).  His inattention would make her feel vulnerable and would make him seem mysterious.  Once hooked, Style would take her to a new location--isolating her from her friends--whether in the bathroom stalls or his place, and there he would whip out his trusty Trojan.  (Which, can I just say, Strauss, great, you had lots of sex—yay for you—you ‘acted responsibly,’ ermm, well, kind of—you did at least keep the Strip safe from many Elmer Fudd looking spawn—but seriously Dude, you'd leave used ones lying around?  Really?  G.A.G.)

As Strauss reached new, epic heights of douchebaggery, rattling off the names of women he'd 'played,'  my thoughts, in order of appearance, were these:
Wow.  He’s good.
Tricky Little Bastard.
What a wanker!
Ew!  Seriously?
How disrespectful. 

How low. 
How… douchey!  
No one would ever play me like that!  I’m unplayable!  I have defenses like a fucking fort, with a moat, filled with flesh-stripping piranha, trained to chomp to the bone and suck on the marrow of any Bastardly Dicktard, as if their sorry cock carcass were slow-braised and osso bucoed.  I have look out posts at each turret.  I have laser sights trained to pick off unsolicited, unwarranted, opportunistic pick up movement, ready to blow from the castle ramparts, sending Bastardly gizzards into next Tuesday’s Tripe Special.  I have vats of boiling pitch, ready to pour from on high and denature every fucking protein from the tips of Dicktard’s hair follicles to the chalky white of his toenails.  And that’s just me.  My girlfriends, like the longbowmen of Gwent, stand at my shoulder, flaming arrows ready, an impenetrable cock block.  Behold!  Am a veritable Boudicca, (with a manicure, underwire and nice shoes).

And, as empowerment throbbed through every vein and I smugly congratulated Self for being far too aware to fall prey to such knicker-swindling, I remembered the last Dicktard.


My smile reeled in.  My hot air hissed out of my lungs like some sad, pink, birthday balloon found withering behind the sofa. 

Those stories of foreign travel; the invitations to exotic climes; those business disappearances, which made him seem so important, so in demand, so exciting; the engrossing mind-fucking word games; the guru-like analysis to make me feel as if he really ‘knew’ me; the touches here and there, just north of inappropriate, but whose hasty removal would suddenly, inexplicably, leave me hungry for more.  And ravenous, I had become.
Then the sudden tug from the rug under my BCBG heels and...

All the Strauss styling I had thought I was immune to had been used upon... me!  I had been played, like Human Manopoly, circling the track, rolling the dice, enjoying the hotels, the ritzy avenues and then--shit balls of fire--I had pulled the Chance card and was sent directly to jail, forbidden to pass go or collect 200 pounds. 
Up until now, I had thought it was just sheer bad luck, a case of unfortunate timing.  I made up plausible excuses for Bastardly Dicktard.  But now I knew.  Now, it was clear.  I had been sucked in and I hadn’t even realised.
And now, consigned to the oubliette, I have digested this renewed disappointment.  I have taken some time to ruminate on Game Play, the different approaches of Strauss’s Style, Gosling’s Jacob and Bastardly Dicktard, and have isolated the uniting trait all three have in common.  What is it that makes women forget themselves, and apparently, their knickers?
No, not alcohol--although that does, of course, help--but the attribute the PUAs and B.Dtards have, is power.  It’s why women have fallen for Trump, Clinton and David Fucking Mellor.  (Yes, Brits, I still remember, it fascinated me that a man that unattractive could have an affair with the de Sancha woman.  I was only about 10, but that’s how well the scandal burned into my memory.)  Ew, ew, ew.

And yet… powerful women: do they have men frothing at the mouth, eager to pack a weekend bag, rent a car and drive off east for a weekend sojourn in the Hamptons?  Nein danke.
I know a shit tonne of self-assured, beautiful, independent, go-getting, powerful women and yet… *mass generalization alert* from their stories of disappointing dates and game play atrocities, men do not find powerful women as attractive as women find powerful men.  In fact, damsels in distress seem fair more alluring to men.   Maybe they are just easier to please, like women who don’t read.

So maybe, I just need to act like Paris Hilton: get myself into trouble (check), say asinine things (can do!), pout (I'll work on it), shrink to a far cuter 5ft 1 (I'm screwed), be adorable (more screwed), and think that Belgium is a small state in Russia.  (Has Damien Samways invented that mind eraser yet?)
Maybe I’ll use a pair of rusty pliers to extract all my teeth, sans anaesthetic, and I will make Halloween necklaces for the neighbourhood children.
Or maybe, I’ll just wait for someone grown up.  Someone I can call or message without worrying if it is 'my turn' or not; someone whom I can ask out somewhere without fear that I might be surrendering my power.  (So, okay, no woman actually wants to ask a chap out.  But wouldn’t it be nice to have the emotional freedom to be able to?)
In last week’s blogette, Crazy, Stupid, Oh Dear God just TELL her, I wrote how men should MAN UP!  After reading The Game, I realize women need to do this too.  Not necessarily become a braless Boudicca, or shave our heads and visit the island of Lesbos, but POWER UP to withstand game play.  Know the rules so that the game can identified and called what it is—a crock of fetid, reptilian shit. 
I don’t wish to sound like an embittered bovine, am quite the happy-go-lucky gal.  I like men.  C'est vrai, mes amies!  I like games, I do.  I think there are times games can be utterly necessary: like Twister at a university house party.  This innocent game of human pretzeling has been the icebreaker for many a nervous whipper snapper. And, it’s okay, because everyone knows the rules.  A casual grope is expected.  It’s a downright travesty if, after various mysterious green cocktails, left hand red doesn’t accidently-on-purpose glide against right hand boob.
It’s the rules.  Fair play.   But playing The Game?  Being shifty, tricky and caring more about a score than the person?   Well, enjoy the kudos.  You are officially a Dicktard.
So what say you?  Have you taken a turn on the manopoly board, and been left holding your lead, mini-tophat in hand? Have innocent games of Twister gone wrong?  I won't judge you.  (Other readers might, but I won't.  Promise.) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crazy, Stupid...Oh dear God, just TELL her!

Each time I watch the trailer for Crazy, Stupid, Love  I am, by the time Steve Carell turns to the beautiful Julianne Moore and whispers in cracking voice, “I should have fought for you,” a thickly-lidded, glistening-red-eyed trout.

So, maybe this line resonates with me for mucky reasons I won’t go into, but set against the crescendo of Muse’s pleading "I just wanted to hold you in my arms…" as Carell looks longingly at the wife he lost and didn’t fight for, it creases me.  Creases me, I tells ya!  (The movie did not have this soundtrack playing in the actual film, so I was able to retain some emotional restraint.  Good job too, as I never have a hankie when I need one.)

“I should have fought for you.”

Do men fight anymore?   Do they go for what they want?   I’m not talking about another slice of pizza, or Stoli when they could have Grey Goose.   I’m talking about putting in the effort, real effort to earn, retain, and nurture love.  Or is a relationship more of a convenience item nowadays, a microwave ready meal, satisfying for five minutes, but then thrown away and out with the rubbish she goes?  Is marriage such a ‘convenience’ that men shrug their collective shoulders and wait for something easier to come along?  Someone you don’t actually have to engage in conversation, but who you can contentedly live along side, passionlessly, without conflict, but for leaving the goopey ice-cream scoop out on the kitchen side, sticking to the surface in its pool of congealed cream.

When does this relation erosion happen?  When do you stop really caring about the minutia of your loved ones’ day.  When do we stop asking questions?  When does it get boring?  And why do we allow it to happen?

Oh Lordy, has Eleanor been Chardonnay-blogging again?  Nope, am in complete control of my faculties—just not my tears, apparently.

But back to the flick… the movie begins with a realistic enough premise: endearing 40-something Cal Weaver (Carell) is told by his teary, not unkind wife, Emily (Moore), she thinks they ought to get a divorce.   And that she slept with another man.  As she steers the Volvo and their relationship, she asks him, “When did you stop trying?”  GAH!  Gouge out my eyes!

Without much fuss, but rolling from their moving vehicle, he accepts it, moves out, and so begins the *jazz hands* comedy section of the movie.  Enter tailored, trimmed, and groomed Ryan Gosling, or as I shall now refer to him, Ryan Oggling.  Oh I oogled alright.  It was hard not to.  The movie makers milked that particular feature of the film.  (Enjoy the gratuitous semi-clad photo.)

He is a Pick Up Artist, or, as I am learning from the fascinating, if not rather horrifying The Game by Neil Strauss, a ‘PUA.’  He has his routines: buy drink for The Mark, don’t reveal personal information, and make her talk about herself; interestingly, very different tactics from the ‘Neg’ (negative compliment), general neglect and alpha dominance employed by Style, Mystery and the PUA’s in The Game, but we’ll talk of that another time.

Jacob (Oogling) takes Cal under his wing, tailoring him without mercy.  The clothes are a great disguise, as a well-put together Cal learns the tricks of the Pricks and tries to forget his wife of over 20 years.  But it’s not that easy (Scarlett).  Jacob encourages him to move on, to schmooze women, and fuck ‘em to oblivion.    And like a Lemming, he goes along with it. 

We all know someone who has been broken by divorce.  Some of us know the couples, some of us pick sides—ouch—and some of us just want to smash the couple’s heads together.  It’s hard to watch our friends flounder.   It’s hard to feel ourselves fade as the unsaid slowly poisons us.  In Cal we see this accepting, fading dolt and he is relatable, he is human and we love him and want him to find happiness (hopefully with Emily.)

But, what isn’t relatable is the onesidedness.   We see very little of Emily Weaver’s internal struggle, bar a short phone call she makes just to hear Cal’s voice, her son commenting that he heard her crying and her confession of going to see Twilight on her own.  We can, at least, feel for her about that.  Without those brief nods to conscience, she would appear a hard-nosed slut.  That is certainly how the children’s sweet babysitter sees her. 

But I’d like this to be apology for Emily, because what the male screenwriter or perhaps brutal editor misses is her deep conflict, her certain doubts, her regrets and her emotional crippledom.  She cannot tell him that she loves him, that she misses him and wishes he would fucking buck up his ideas and take her on a date and make her feel desired again. He alone has to come to that realization and risk it.  Because if she takes his sweet goblin little face in her hands and tells him herself, then nothing would have really changed—she would just have been forcing it.  And it’s back to the everyday complacent couplet.  He has to be the one who not only admits that he should have fought for her, but he has to actually do it. 

Really, Emily is pole-axed by her own courage, hopeful and yet hopeless by the way she has just sabotaged her cozy family vignette.  Yet, from the movie, I didn’t pick up on much of that.  I just know that that is how she would have felt. 

No wonder she dresses like Daphne from Scooby Doo.  She needs to scour for clues to find any grain of character justification.

Sound like diatribe?  Well maybe it’s hit a nerve.  Maybe I am mad (in the American sense, not the English—shit, who am I kidding, maybe both), but I finished reading David Nicholls One Day this week, I’m reading The Game, I watched C.S.L. and there’s a theme.  Yes, reader.  It’s people being too casual, too convenient, and not saying what they really mean.  People not taking risks.  Sure, if we always said what we meant, where would the mystery be?  Wouldn’t we hurt people?  Goodbye to the thrill of the chase!  Yeah, piffle.  You want mystery, read some Grisham—there are enough of them out there to keep you well suspended.  If you are truly meant to be with someone, if you do really care for someone, oh dear God, man up (or woman up, as appropriate) and tell them!  If they don’t feel the same at least you can get on with life, move to Brooklyn, and torture yourself thinking of the effort you should have made and how you will rectify this in the future.  Because, *spoiler alert* like Emma Morley (One Day), you might be speeding into the arms of your beloved after 20 years of not saying what we readers have been waiting for, for 300 pages, and a wreckless lorry driver might slam into you and send you flying through the air as if you are playing a game of quidditch. 

So there.  That’s my non-chardonnayed take away.  Don’t be casual.  Be truthful, be honourable, be noble, be kind.  
Take risks. 
Fight for it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BigamE. Evie's bite of the apple

And so it is.
I have finally lent the dulcet tones (or not, you decide) to the first chapter of BigamE.  My, I give so much credit to those actors who record audio books!  I won't blather on, Evie will speak for herself.
BigamE isn't one of those Joe Dever books where you get to decide what the heroine does next, but I would be interested to know what you think she *should* do. 
Who votes for the Lorena Bobbit or Catherine Becker plan of attack?