“At the approach,” says Sid, easing into guru mode, “it’s about creating value. If you jump directly to creating attraction, the girl is going to say, ‘Who is this guy? Why is he talking to me?’ and she’ll close up. You have to give her a reason for you to be talking to her.”
“Because otherwise it’s just a sleazy pickup line?”
“Right!” he says, snapping his fingers over the table. “And then you’re not a pickup artist, you’re a player trying to hit and run.”
As I struggle with what the difference between the two might be, the waiter lays out our crispy hipster Pali Village pizzas—Sid veg, me non—and I steal my hand back to my side of the table while Sid flattens a napkin to ladle out the recipe for his secret take-out sauce.
“First you need to get a girl’s attention,” he says. “This could be verbal or non-verbal. Or you could wear these kind of specs, or some crazy outfit. Or it could be as simple as bumping into her.”
Or as dishonest as telling her you and former Miss India need her to settle a bet, that you’ll have her back to her seven man-friends in just a couple of minutes. Or it could be as greasy as telling her you’re an expert face reader, that you intuit she may be troubled, that you can tell at heart she’s a good person but is feeling under-appreciated, that sometimes the world thinks she’s bitchy but you can tell she’s just got her guard up because there are so many jerks out there—all of which could apply to just about anyone in a bar environment, and sound deep and observant to the vulnerable and the unintelligent.
“It really doesn’t matter what you say first,” Sid assures me. “What matters is you’ve got about five seconds to ‘engage your target’ and ‘create value’.”
“First there’s generic value,” explains Sid, drawing out his napkin diagram, “which could be your good looks, your beefy body, your job title, your money. But what’s more important is ‘relevant value’”—pen tapping on the table like it’s just X-marked a treasure map—“that’s value which is relevant to a particular situation. And that, you can just make up.”
Just make up? Whatever happened to being yourself?
Sid insists, “If the girl is a six or a seven, whether for her looks, or maybe because she’s not rich, or she has some other insecurities or whatnot, you have to adjust your value. If you show her too much value, she’ll feel you’re out of her league and she’ll close up.”
“This is where the self-deprecation comes in, right?” I neck the rest of my wine. “I’m half Irish, I went to Catholic school, I’m good at that.”
“Self-deprecation, or, you know, just not showing all your cards at once.” Sid dusts the pizza crumbs onto his empty plate and assumes seminar leader mudra. “Let’s assume the girl is a ten.”
“The problem with humans is that we only want to interact with people who have equal or more value than us.”
“Nobody likes to date down.”
“Exactly,” he whispers, with a chicken-neck bob of emphasis. “But you can create value with words only. You could be dressed like a beggar but create the value of a millionaire. Would you like me to give you an example?”
“Yes. But I think I’m going to need more wine.”
“Imagine this,” says Sid. “You’re sitting in a plane, the window seat. You’re Dave, an editor from GQ, and let’s say there’s a hot girl in the middle seat. She’s an aspiring actress and she’s coming to Mumbai, and the person in the aisle seat is a middle-aged guy, not so great looking. Everybody wants to kill time, so you say hi, and this guy also says hi, so now the girl has to choose. Obviously, you’re preferable in this situation.”
“She’ll ask what you do, and ‘What do you do?’ is a question that gives you a chance to assert as much value as you want. So you’ll say, ‘I’m working for GQ,’ but you don’t give it all away at once. You let her ask, ‘What do you do for GQ?’ And then you say, ‘I’m the deputy editor.’ And then she says, ‘Oh, wow, cool.’ And now you’ve established value without potentially alienating her. In the case of generic value, you’re pretty good-looking. You have cool tattoos. So now she has all the reason to talk to you, right?”
“And she is talking to you. Everything’s fine. Then you decide you need to go to the washroom, say, ‘I’ll be back real quick,’ and this other guy who’s been sleeping, he wakes up and says, ‘Hey, hi, what’s up?’ And this guy is really a gross, ugly guy. But when she asks, ‘What do you do?’ it turns out he’s a hotshot Bollywood crorepati producer.”
“That sleaze! Moving in on my airplane girl. How dare he.”
“That’s why these kinds of guys get laid all the time. They don’t have anything to attract, but they know value works so they just flaunt value. In this case, she is an aspiring actress who wants to get into movies and he’s a producer. So for her right now, this guy has more relevant value. He may be ugly or whatever but he—“
“He can get her a job.”
“It’s that simple. You cannot move on to attraction until you’ve shown enough value for a girl to interact with you and open up. Relevant or generic value, the degrees of each depend on the situation, but it’s really a key thing, especially in cold approaches.”
“And if all goes well, they’ll sleep with you? Or is it always getting the agreement to meet at a later date?”
“I’ve done several same-day closes. On a plane it’s really difficult, but I’ve developed a system for plane scenarios. I’ll show it to you. We should take a flight together and you’ll see. It can even be a forty-five minute flight, that’s all I need.”
“The mile-high club? You’re telling me that in forty-five minutes you can be fucking a girl in the bathroom?”
He laughs, shrugs, swallows. “It’s possible, but the goal is usually a kiss-close. Even in a bar, in America, mystery often ends with a kiss-close.”
“Yes. It’s when you’re able to kiss a girl after you run game on them. It works over there. But in India? In a bar? Forget the kiss. In Indian culture, you’re automatically a scumbag if you try to do that.”
Excerpted from Laid in India: Eight Weeks with Bombay’s #1 Pickup Artist, Dave Besseling, Penguin Books. This post originally appeared on Scroll.in.