My roommate plays in a "Vampire: The Masquerade" LARP. For those lucky few of you unfamiliar with the concept, this is where a bunch of pasty, overweight geeks pretend to be pale creatures that never have sex and feel a constant urge to feed. I'm not sure where the pretending comes in, but that's not important. What's important is thanks to my roommate and his host of pseudo vampires I attended my first Sci-Fi convention last weekend.
Also my last Sci-Fi convention.
Of course, in order to attend and observe the geeks, it was necessary to blend in with them. I had to dress the part. My first choice was black trousers, black shoes and white socks. It certainly made me look like I belonged at a Sci-Fi convention. Unfortunately, I was unwilling to be seen in public like that.
So I went with plan B and dressed as a Romulan. Not only did I look like I belonged, but I could also walk around grabbing my crotch and asking "who wants a ride on my warbird?" In retrospect this should have been plan A.
I arrived at the convention in full Romulan regalia, and immediately felt a new sensation that I'd never experienced before. I felt slender. Slender, well sexed and well adjusted. My friend Ryu, who I invited for moral support, was less exhilarated. As 6 butter-beasts in Anime t-shirts walked by, he remarked "You know, if we'd won WWII, we'd have had their kind exterminated."
At this point, two guys in imperial storm trooper outfits walked by. They had little rainbow stickers on the back of their uniforms. Just what I needed to see, gay storm troopers. Now, every time I watch Star Wars all I can think about is hot clone on clone action. I used to like Star Wars, now I love it.
I would have turned around and left if it hadn't been for the Klingons. I like Klingons. Whether they were strutting about like they owned the place, scarfing down Cheetos in the hospitality suite or just relaxing with a bit of karaoke, the Klingons never got old.
The fat women in bondage gear got old fast though. In fact, some of them had gotten old during the Coolidge administration. I had no idea they made rubber dresses in a size 36, but I know they shouldn't. Wow. After a half hour of these blubbery belles, I began questioning my own sexuality. Not that I found the men more attractive, it was more the "giving up on the human race entirely" sort of sexuality questioning. I was looking around for a nice brook trout to slam my meaty shaft into.
I didn't find one, but I did manage to locate the bar. That helped. After 2 beers, 3 long islands and a shot of Don Julio, the weirdoes didn't seem so weird. It was time to start messing with people.
Every time the gay storm troopers walked past, I would wave my hand and say "these aren't the hard throbbing cocks you're looking for." The one on the left told me to move along, so I pointed at his crotch and said "aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?" He hit me.
So I went off in search of easier prey and that's when I saw them, the only 4 attractive women in the entire hotel, standing together in the lobby. What followed will no doubt go down in history as the infamous "warbird decloaking incident of 2004." Needless to say the shields went up and it was red alert time. Fortunately nobody recognized me after I ditched the wig, costume and makeup, so I didn't get arrested.
After that, Ryu and I decided to hit the room parties and find a good time.
Room party number one: a man with no front teeth was boasting about his ability to channel "psychic energy." I asked him if he could channel a dental plan. Then I was asked to leave.
Room party number two: a 350 pound woman in a halter top was boasting about her high pain threshold. Eleven well chosen words later, she left the room in tears. The Mighty Incognomen would like to take this opportunity to remind you that not all pain is physical.
Room party number three: we didn't make it. On our way there, we pass a 250 pound middle aged woman dressed as Sailor Moon. Ryu began weeping and denying the existence of God.
He'd matched me shot for shot despite weighing half as much and could not be consoled. I began shaking him and screaming "Snap out of it man! You can handle this, you're Japanese! Your ancestors gave us the Bataan Death March and the Rape of Nanking, don't dishonor their memories!"
It didn't help, so I left him to go to the dance.
Everyone, at least once in their life, should watch Sci-Fi fans attempt to dance. It's hard to describe, but here goes: Imagine if they held a wheelchair race in Pamplona during the running of the bulls. It would be horrible, bloody and cruel, yet funny as hell. The dance was kind of the same way.
There were 3 types of dancers: too large to move well, too spastic to move well and the pink blob.
The pink blob was topless, wearing a pink tutu and holding two giant feathered fans. It shook and wobbled and waved the fans about in a manner that could not, under any conceivable definition of the term, be described as dancing. In fact, the pink blob moved faster when the music stopped.
The pink blob was about 5 feet tall, 3 feet wide and shaped like, like, well really, like a turd. Pointed at each end, lumpy in the middle and with little visible chunks of corn. Well they were pustules in the pink blob's case, but the effect was similar. I'm not sure if the pink blob was a he or a she, or even what phylum the creature belonged to.
I was looking for an impromptu weapon with which to harpoon this monstrosity when I got busted. Yes, I had failed to pay the $40 convention registration fee and snuck into the dance without a pass. I was thrown out before I could put an end to the pink blob and its reign of terror.
Not sure what happened to Ryu. I think he's still in a hallway at the hotel, curled up in the fetal position crying.
PROCESSING phat beats and mad rhymes about reformed theology...
ERROR ERROR ERROR! DOES NOT COMPUTE!
The scoring is explained below, but you probably want to take the quiz first.
- Your wife has been gaining weight and asks you "Does this dress make me look fat?" How do you respond?
- "I love you just the way you are."
- Ignore her.
- "It's not the clothes that make you look fat, it's the second helpings."
- "You look gorgeous, give me a kiss."
- "A little bit, yeah."
This is both evasive and cowardly, but it's not the worst possbile response. 2 points.
This is evasive, but not cowardly. After all, this is the most infamous marital shit test in the English speaking world and your wife knows it as well as you do. You're not obligated to answer. 3 points.
This is the best response. Sure she'll be angry and hurt, but it's honest and it clearly puts the responsibility for the weight gain on her shoulders, where it belongs. It's not at all loving to lie to your wife (particularly when she knows you're lying and she will). It's even less loving to allow her to persuade herself that her weight is something beyond her control--something women are very prone to do. It's your duty to steer your wife away from self destructive behavior. You'll probably get yelled at, but so what. You'll live. 5 points.
This isn't just the worst response listed, it's probably the worst possible response anyone has every given (and I know people who have done so). It's not merely cowardly and evasive, it's also desperate. Showing affection is not a favor, it's a duty. 1 point.
Honest and direct. Depending on the woman, this may actually be the best option. 4 points.
- "Like Jabba the Hut in a peasant skirt."
- Roll your eyes and point out that you weren't born yesterday.
- "Clothes don't make people look fat. That's what gluttony and sloth are for."
- "You look gorgeous, give me a kiss."
- Hug her and tell her that she's beautiful.
I consider this the best option, but it is risky. If you know your wife has serious issues about her weight (despite being in shape) don't use it. That being said, your wife is asking you what she knows to be a famous gotcha question, she knows exactly what she looks like and she has way more confidence in her ability to judge women's fashion than in yours. Choosing this option means that she'll never ask again which is worth quite a lot.
The beautiful thing about this answer is that it's so completely over the top. If she gets mad, point out that she asked a loaded question, that she knows perfectly well she looks great and that she can't take a joke. All of these will be true. 5 points for not being risk averse.
This was my answer and it served well. This is not a serious question when asked by a fit woman. 4 points.
This is a perfectly fine answer for the previous question, but it doesn't work here. It's too likely to be taken as an insult and isn't over the top enough to be blown off. On the plus side, it does show that you're not a chicken. 3 points.
Never, ever ASK your wife to kiss you. Women hate it. Pickup artists recommend "would you like to kiss me?" instead. Every Cary Grant character ever recommends just grabbing her and planting one. Either works, but women love Cary Grant a lot more than they love Mystery. 1 point.
This is a little better, but she didn't ask the question to be reassured about her attractiveness. It was a shit test. Treat it like one. 2 points.
- They want a man who talks about his feelings.
- They want a man who listens to them talk about their feelings.
- They want an unemployed musician with multiple tatoos who sings about his feelings for other women.
- It's ok to cry on her shoulder when the weight of the world is too much to bear.
- They want a man who isn't afraid to talk about his feelings, but would never do so in a million years.
No they don't. If they wanted that, they'd have said that. Women have female friends for this sort of thing. 2 points.
Getting warmer, but if a woman is depressed talking about her depression makes her more depressed. This is why therapy is so lucrative--they keep needing the therapist more and more. 3 points.
Yes indeed, this is what most American women want these days. Not the ones who are good marriage material, but I didn't specify that. 5 points.
Unless you're joking around, you can't have a penis and select this answer. It's a scientific fact. 1 point.
This is what women who are good marriage material want: Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. 4 points.
- Change the subject.
- Agree to buy her one and then keep putting it off in the hope that she'll forget.
- Refuse firmly and categorically.
- She comes home from work to find a toy poodle with a bow on its head sitting on a handmade card saying how much you love her.
- "If you get one, I'll turn it into Korean food."
A perfectly fine answer if not for the fact that if she really wants one, she'll change the subject right back. 3 points.
Nothing says weak, disrespectful coward like this. 1 point.
A fine choice. Some things you simply can't compromise on. 4 points.
Your wife is sure to tell her new lover what a great husband you are. 2 points. It's weak and cowardly, but at least it's not disrespectful.
The best answer, unless you picked the Jabba the Hutt answer for the second question. You can make too many mean spirited jokes. 3 points if you did this, 5 otherwise.
- Punch her in the face.
- Tell her you would take the garbage out, but you're not in the mood.
- Go to the bar. Don't come back until closing time or you stop being angry, whichever comes last.
- "Ok honey."
- By emulating Clark Gable in "Gone With the Wind."
You should never, ever hit your wife. That being said, there are actually two options here that are even worse for the long term health of your marriage. 3 points.
Being passive agressive is bad. Being passive agressive with a woman is even worse since she's going to be better at it and can nurse a grudge longer. 2 points.
It's petulant and childish to do this, but you do have an excellent reason. Make sure to order quality drinks. 4 points.
Why not just file for divorce? It's a foregone conclusion anyway if you pick this option and you'll at least keep some of your dignity. 1 point.
The only acceptable answer. If you didn't pick it, rent the movie. Your wife will enjoy the movie and you'll learn something. 5 points.
- "Of course not, you talk too much."
- Rack your brain for the last thing she was talking about and say "Sure I was, you were talking about X."
- "Of course I was listening."
- "No. Were you saying something important?"
- "No, I was busy picturing you naked."
Mean without being funny, playful or helpful. 3 points.
It's dishonest and it won't work. She knows perfectly well you weren't listening even if you are capable of recalling what was said. 2 points.
This tells your wife two things. That you are dishonest and that you think she's stupid. Now you're really in trouble. 1 point.
A fine answer. It will always work and usually she wasn't saying anything important, which helps disharge the anger. 4 points.
The perfect answer to use once. Don't use if too often though or disaster will ensue. 5 points.
- No, but I did before I got married.
- Does taking kung fu lessons count?
- I have both.
Uh oh, you're boring. Marriages can die of boredom. 1 point.
At least you have good stories. 4 points.
No, no it doesn't. 2 points.
Hooray, you are an international man of mystery. 5 points.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Your wife may well snap from constant worry. 3 points.
- I tell her to calm down.
- I give her a non-apology apology like "I'm sorry you feel that way."
- I apologize right away. I'm going to anyway, so I might as well get it over with.
- I invite her to sit down and talk about it.
- I make fun of her.
She's not going to calm down for a while. At least you didn't validate her irrational rage. 2 points.
The Clinton special. It works wonders. 4 points.
Congratulations, you've just persuaded your wife that she was right to get mad over nothing. I hope you enjoy getting yelled at because it's going to happen a lot. 1 point.
Not the best option, but it's better than telling her to calm down. If she keeps yelling, make sure you don't backtrack to one of the lesser option. That will only make things worse. 3 points.
The key word here is fun. It should be playful teasing. She's taking herself too seriously and needs help not doing that. 5 points.
- My wife doesn't work or doesn't work in a job where that would be an issue.
- We move. I don't want to stand in the way of my wife's happiness.
- We sit down and discuss the pros and cons before reaching a mutually satisfying decision.
- We probably move, we need the extra money.
- We don't move.
The best answer. You're the provider, that means that you're supposed to do the providing. 5 points.
You've forgotten which one of you is the wife. Don't worry, the custody battle will remind you. 1 point.
Unless you plan for the discussion to involve the phrase "if you don't start taking your job less seriously, you'll wind up childless, bitter and surrounded by cats" this is a bad idea. It's not a great idea even if you do. 3 points.
You're the provider, you're supposed to provide. 2 points.
Of course you don't. 4 points to you, buddy.
- Makes you feel better.
- Creates a sense of openness in the marriage that will strengthen it in the long run.
- Wastes valuable time that could be spent thinking of ways to fix the problem.
- Makes her nervous too.
- Is a really strange thing to do.
Unless your definition of "talking about it" means "discussing a couple of possible solutions I'm considering," it won't. Give yourself five points if that is your definition. Otherwise 2 points.
It won't. 1 point.
This is true, but it's also selfish. 3 points.
This is also true and not selfish, but incomplete. 4 points.
Exactly. Unless your wife has both the relevant experience and the temperment to offer useful advice, it's an odd combination of impractical, conterproductive and against your male instincts. 5 points.
"Pride and Prejudice," the favorite book of marriage minded women in the English speaking world is a great many things, the greatest of which is a perfect illustration of a truth universally acknowledged—that there is an enormous gap between what women say they want in a man and the men they want.
If you were to ask any woman of your acquaintance to describe her ideal man, she would probably produce a list similar to the following: kind, open, a good listener, mature, professional, dedicated to self-improvement and capable of paying a decent compliment. If you were to counter that what she really wanted was a cold, arrogant, emotionally distant and occasionally cruel man, she would dispute your claim most furiously. If, on the other hand, you were to ask her opinion of the book’s Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy, she would shudder with disgust at the first and confess eternal love for the character of the second.
How can this be? Mr. Collins is kind—he wishes to protect the interests of his female cousins. He is open—he discusses every aspect of his life in tireless detail, right down to the hour of his bedtime. He is responsible and dedicated to his profession and the interests of his employer. He not only vigorously seeks his own improvement, but constantly exhorts everyone around him to better themselves. He even spends several hours a week reassuring an old woman of her worth through flattery and kind words. In short, Mr. Collins is everything women (or at least modern American women) claims to desire in a man.
Without exception, women consider Mr. Collins the creepiest, most repellent loser in the history of English literature.
Then we have Mr. Darcy. He is, without question, an asshole. Consider this passage from chapter three where Mr. Darcy first sees the novel’s heroine:
"Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you."
"Which do you mean?" and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me."
Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings toward him. She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.
If your reading comprehension is lacking, what just happened is that Mr. Darcy was not content with merely negging a target, as the pick up artists do. Instead he landed an insult that could only be more crushing if he followed it up by throwing her to the floor and delivering the people’s elbow to her solar plexus. The result is that the lively, intelligent and charming Miss Elizabeth Bennet can neither speak nor think of any other man for days afterwards.
"His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud."
"That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."
This is beautiful. Mr. Darcy’s savage rudeness is excused by all the women as a DHV, and the particular target is now exerting an exclusive claim on him. Note that she emphasizes the word mine. The only thing missing is speculation that he could run a three legged race all by himself. Presumably the copy editor removed that bit.
As the novel progresses, Mr. Darcy’s character is established as more and more alpha. Consider this passage, where Elizabeth has rejected his first proposal and angrily denounced him.
"Can you deny that you have done it?" she repeated.
With assumed tranquillity he then replied: "I have no wish of denying that I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself."
Elizabeth disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection, but its meaning did not escape, nor was it likely to conciliate her.
"But it is not merely this affair," she continued, "on which my dislike is founded. Long before it had taken place my opinion of you was decided. Your character was unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Mr. Wickham. On this subject, what can you have to say? In what imaginary act of friendship can you here defend yourself? or under what misrepresentation can you here impose upon others?"
"You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns," said Darcy, in a less tranquil tone, and with a heightened colour.
"Who that knows what his misfortunes have been, can help feeling an interest in him?"
"His misfortunes!" repeated Darcy contemptuously; "yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed."
"And of your infliction," cried Elizabeth with energy. "You have reduced him to his present state of poverty—comparative poverty. You have withheld the advantages which you must know to have been designed for him. You have deprived the best years of his life of that independence which was no less his due than his desert. You have done all this! and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortune with contempt and ridicule."
"And this," cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across
the room, "is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! But perhaps," added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, "these offenses might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I, with greater policy, concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by reason, by reflection, by everything. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?—to congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?"
This is the true heart of what pick up artists call alpha behavior. He makes no attempt to persuade, defend himself, grovel or apologize. That’s what betas do. The only weakness Mr. Darcy admits to is his interest in a woman as far below his social status as she is.
The rest of the book details how the increasingly obsessed Elizabeth Bennet goes about persuading herself to eventually yield to Mr. Darcy. She even goes to far as to visit his home when she thinks he is away and collect information about him. The novel ends with an improbable white knighting by Mr. Darcy (it is female wish fulfillment lit after all), which conquers all of the heroine’s objections and reduces her to a quivering mass of gratitude, but even after all of this Mr. Darcy is unwilling to drop his masterful reserve and the book ends with him offering her no higher compliment than praising “the liveliness of your mind” and refusing to apologize for being the strong silent type.
As for Mr. Collins, the book ends with him being made the butt of yet another joke.
The point of all of this is very simple. The continuing popularity of Pride and Prejudice is further proof (not that further proof is needed) that when a woman says say that the techniques of pick up artists are ridiculous or that she would never fall for any of them, the woman is lying.
Mr. Darcy would probably pimp slap her. She'd like it.
One thing that puzzles me though, is why it's the single-by-choice PUA crowd who systematically analyzed the "shit test" and how to respond to it when it's us married guys who face the most diabolical shit tests and and we do it without the luxury of being able to turn around and walk out the door. I think it's because men who don't already know how to deal with the shit test either can't get someone to marry them or they can't manage to stay married long enough to work out a system.
If you're unfamiliar with the term, a "shit test" is when a woman give you shit to see how you'll respond. The best known example is the sitcom trope "Does this dress make me look fat?" She isn't asking because she values your opinion or because she wants to be reassured about her attractiveness; she's asking to see if you'll answer like a man or not. (On a side note, my wife actually asked me this during the first year of our marriage. I responded by rolling my eyes and telling her I wasn't born yesterday. Make of that what you will.)
With that out of the way, I'd like to relate the story of one of the the nastiest shit tests I've ever heard of and how the hero triumphed by dint of simple manliness (what the PUA crowd calls alpha behavior, our generation having forgotten the correct term).
Ann was a school teacher and George worked as a forklift mechanic until he retired at 65 (still strong enough to beat some manners into a 30 year old welder on his last day). His retirement messed up their marriage no end. George had no idea what to do with himself all day and was starved for conversation when Ann came home full of resentment that she still had 10 years of trying to force literacy into the heads of unwilling teenagers before she could join him in doing nothing. Tensions built, arguements ensued and then Ann devised a truly vicious little shit test. Although her husband had traditionally handled all the home maintenance and remodeling (competently, although the demands of his job prevented him from doing the work as thoroughly as he would have liked), Ann announced that she she wanted the kitchen remodeled and, because she wanted the work done right for once, she was going to hire someone and oversee the work herself.
As she intended, George took this as a direct attack on himself and his worth as a man and he responded as a man should. He asked what she had budgeted, agreed that they could afford it, wished her luck and wandered off to the local salvage yard. Although the results were not what she had expected, Ann proceded to canvas the other teachers at school for recommendations and recieve a glowing recommendation a man we will call Chuck (his real name having been forgotten).
Soon Chuck arrived to begin the work. Chuck was very young and very handsome, which caused Ann to realize with concern that the recommendation she had accepted came from a young, single teacher who lived in an apartment. Her concerns were justified as it turned out that Chuck was dumber than a sack of hammers and, while he may have been skilled with a tool, it wasn't one you could buy at Sears.
While Chuck remembered to turn the water off before rerouting the pipes for the kitchen sink, he didn't realized that the pipes would still contain water until after beginning his first cut, which resulted in a shower of wet plaster barely missing the computer in Ann's downstairs office.
This upset Ann a great deal, but she still had hopes of showing George up. These hopes were dashed the next day when she smelled smoke. Chuck, it seems, was unaware of how to operate a brazing torch and had set his to produce the largest possible flame before setting the house on fire. One empty fire extinguisher later, Ann found herself in the garage apologizing to George and asking him to please keep an eye on the brainless wonder she had hired before they both found themselves homeless.
George expected this. In fact he had planned for it, although setting he house on fire was a more dramatic touch he had hoped for. George's first response had been to ask for her budget to see if it was adequate for hiring a competent contractor. Once he knew that it wasn't, failure was virtually ensured, so his next step was to visit the local salvage yard and launch the post retirement hobby he had been putting off: buying totaled, but repariable cars for a few dollars, repairing them and selling them for a few hundred. This meant that when Ann went to look for him he was hard at work, forcing her to apologize for interrupting instead of getting angry that he was sitting around while the house got destroyed. It also meant that his garage became a gathering place for the other retired gearheads in which their neighborhood was particularly rich, removing his dependency on his wife's conversation.
The story ended happily. Chuck recieved much much valuable instruction from George (which he was happy to recieve, although it's questionable how much he understood), Ann got a new kitchen and George regained the respect of his wife. George and Ann subsequently moved and, although he is now pushing 80, he has remodeled their new house and is currently redoing the landscaping.
They will soon be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and are, incidentally, my parents.