Mating Dances, Parries & Thrusts

Milan had an interesting post the other day about so-called  Pickup Artists (PUAs). As you may know, these are guys that take special PUA training courses  that supposedly teach them how manipulate, cajole, entice, maneuver and otherwise “trick” women into having sex with them.

The PUA industry is a thriving enterprise with online seminars  live workshops, forumsconferencesbooks, and websites.

Just Google PUA and you’ll get pages and pages of options. Pages and pages.

These “gurus of seduction” promise to teach any man how to get  women — no matter his age, income, looks or personality. They teach him how to dress, what to do with his hair, how to groom himself for maximum appeal. They teach him facial expressions that he has to practice for hours in the mirror. They teach him the minutiae of body language. They teach him how to approach a woman, where to approach her, what to say, how to say it, when to say what and how to stand and move when he says it.

PUAs even have their own language complete with acronyms and code words.

PUA instructors teach their eager students that women like masterful men. They teach them stuff like being slightly insulting to a woman when you first meet will force her to prove herself worthy. It’s all incredibly detailed and assumes that women will be robbed of their free will when all these tactics are employed.

Milan, and many others, feel this is all “exploitative and potentially unethical”.  There have even been discussions that PUAs could conceivably be charged with “rape by deception.

Personally, I find it all hugely absurd.

Absurd because these guys pay a big pile of money because they think they’re being imbued with magical powers when in reality they’re mainly just being taught how not to look like a schlub or a dork and how to make the most of their limited assets. But mainly it gives them the confidence to approach a female for once. Actually making an effort to seduce a woman, in and of itself, raises the odds of being successful, doesn’t it?

I also think it’s absurd because it assumes women have no interest in being seduced and need to be tricked into it. Women are as eager to be seduced as men are to seduce them. If women are trolling the bars (the PUAs hunting ground of choice) they are usually quite open to hooking up.

And if they’re not, there is little a guy can say or legally do that’s going to convince her.

Am I wrong?

Should we be worried about the PUA industry? Haven’t women been inundated for centuries with tricks and tips and careful instruction on how to attract a man, make him fall hopelessly in love and propose?

Remember The Rules?  That book spawned a whole movement of workshops, seminars, DVDs, dating coaches and appearances on Oprah. The Rules told women clever stuff like “respond once for every four of his emails” because that would make him want you more.

Paul Janka, one of the kings of the PUA industry says:

Women… have their ideal guy, their ideal date, and a whole bag of dirty tricks to get everything they want. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up paying for everything, getting nothing, and wasting your time before being pushed aside to make way for the next chump with a wallet.

Not only that, the average woman is far more adept at the dating game than men are. Think of all the time and money they spend on hair, makeup, clothes and maximizing their seduction value … to say nothing of the superior social intelligence of the average woman and the all the magazines they read full of relationship and sex advice.

Stepping into the dating game unarmed is like stepping into a pool full of piranhas.

I know most of you don’t care about any of this because you’re comfortably ensconced in your forever relationships and right now are saying, “Phew, I’m glad I’m not out there anymore.

But it’s still interesting stuff, isn’t it? And people have been getting help for ages with snagging the opposite sex from shadchanim,  to buying affections with gifts, to love potions to Spanish Fly  to good old fashioned booze.

So here are some questions for your consideration:


  1.  Do you feel you were ever in your life tricked into sex by some smooth operator?
  2. Have you ever employed a trick or tip from a magazine or other source to get a man to like you or do something he didn’t want to do?
  3. Do you resent that men are conspiring in this cold, clinical way to seduce women?
  4. Here’s an account by a journalist subjected to Paul Janka’s best seduction techniques. Do you think they’d actually work on any woman you know?  
  5. If you’d just spent the night with a guy and then found out he’d was heavily involved in the whole PUA thing, would you feel manipulated? “Raped by deception?”


  1.  Have you ever tricked a woman into having sex with you?
  2. Do you think PUA training is valuable or necessary?
  3. If you are or were single, would you ever consider enrolling in a PUA course?
  4. Here’s an account by a journalist subjected to Paul Janka’s best seduction techniques. Do you think they’d actually work for you?
  5. Do you feel you’ve ever been manipulated by a woman using tricks she learned from the media and/or at her mamma’s knee?

The Middle-Aged Cute

The other day, I had finally had the opportunity to meet XUP Jr.’s latest beau – the dreaded 19-year-old.

I’d been imagining a cocky, bearded frat boy/man with gold-festooned chest hair,  a pocket full of condoms, a Corvette and a pipe. Instead he was shy, slouchy and diffident; wore goofy neon sk8er shoes;  had a lot of hair on his head and in his eyes, but no hair visible anywhere else; arrived on the bus and looked about 16. Yay! Oh, and he was punctual, which earned him huge bonus points in my book.

Naturally, I think XUP Jr. is waaay out of his league, but she likes him for now and he seems harmless enough, so we can all relax. A little bit. Probably.

“Soooooo???? What did you think of him? What did you think of him? Isn’t he gorgeous?” she asks when she returns from the date.

“Well, he’s certainly a lot better than what I thought.”

“Why? What do you like about him?” she begged.

“Ummm….. He was on time…. He was polite….ummmm… he didn’t have chest hair?”

“WHAT? Why would he have chest hair? Is that all? Didn’t you like him?”

“I only saw him for three seconds, it’s hard to say, but he seemed okay.”

“OKAY? Just okay? I think he’s really nice and he was really sweet and he paid for everything and he wrote me a poem and he said he thought you were cute.”

Now, if this had been the first time someone had every called me “cute” he probably would never be allowed to darken my door again. However, a lot of people  before him (who don’t know me at all) have said I was “cute”.  And every single one of XUP Jr.’s other friends also seem to think I’m “cute”, so wasn’t as horrified as I might have been.

“Are you making this up?” I ask. “Seriously – again with the cute?” I said, frowning in a decidedly uncute manner.

“I know! It’s weird, eh? All my friends think you’re cute.” she replied.

 And then….

And then. She. Pinched. My. Cheeks. And said (with a scrunchy face), “You are cute, with those little dimples.”

And then she casually looked me up and down and said, “Am I taller than you yet?”

I think I’m quickly losing the whole “authority figure” vibe thing I had going on for the last 17  years or so. What do you think?

I don’t know. At my age – or at any age, actually – I never, ever aspired to be cute. Babies and toddlers are cute. Gap-toothed seven-year-olds are cute.  Puppies and kittens are cute. Apple-cheeked little old ladies with mountains of fluffy white hair twisted on top of their heads held in place with a pencil are cute.

I’m none of those things. Really, I’m not. I’d much rather XUP Jr.s friends think I’m scary and omniscient, yet available for food and problem-solving. Some of them have come to realize that over time, but really, it should be apparent right off the bat.

Oh well. I suppose if I think about it, there are some middle-aged women we all know that I might describe as cute. Sally Field, Julia-Louis Dreyfuss, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore (though I don’t know if she qualifies as middle-aged yet), Goldie Hawn, Ellen Degeneres….I’m sure there are more.  So, I guess it’s not that bad.

I reckon there are worse things XUP Jr.’s friends could call me. Maybe I should just surrender and go with the cute thing – start wearing dirndls and pig tails…take up tap dancing maybe.

A Conversation

Daughter: If I ask you a question will you promise to answer it without asking any follow-up questions?

Mother: No, because the question needs follow-up questions in order for me to answer it or you wouldn’t have asked me that.

Daughter: Fine! Nevermind!

Mother: No, go ahead ask the question.

Daughter: I don’t want to.

Mother: Yes, you do. You’re dying to ask me and it’s obviously about some boy you want to go out with that you think I won’t approve of.

Daughter: OH MY GOD! How do you know that? You’re soooooo weird.

Mother: Please. I know you better than you know yourself. It’s my motherly job. Ask the question.

Daughter: No!

Mother: Ask it.

 Daughter: Okay. Here’s the question. What’s the maximum age for someone you’ll let me go out with? And just answer it without asking me a bunch of stuff, pleeeease.

 Mother: 40.

 Daughter: What? Ewwwww! You’d let me go out with a 40-year-old man?

 Mother: See? You’re asking follow-up questions. Sometimes they’re important.

 Daughter: Very funny. How old, really?

 Mother: I don’t know – maybe 19. Depends on the guy and the circumstances. How old is this guy?

 Daughter: 19

 Mother: Where do you know a 19-year-old guy from?

 Daughter: Through my friend Shelley that I work with.

 Mother: When did you meet this guy?

 Daughter: I don’t know. I’ve talked to him lots of times.

 Mother: In real life or on chat?

 Daughter: In real life, too.

 Mother: And he’s not in high school anymore, right?

Daughter: No, he’s in university. Didn’t you ever go out with university guys when you were in high school?

 Mother: Yes, and I thought it was really cool at the time, but when I was in university I thought it was really creepy when a university guy went out with a high school girl.

 Daughter: Oh so I suppose it would be better if he’d flunked out a lot and was still in high school at 19?

 Mother: No, of course not.

 Daughter: Well, you said I could go out with a 19-year-old. What did you think he’d be doing?

Mother: Touché. I’ll change my answer to 18.

 Daughter: NOoooOOOooooo! You can’t do that!!

Mother: You should be sticking to guys your own age anyway.

 Daughter: I’ll be 18 in a couple of months

 Mother: You’ll be 18 in 8 months. You just turned 17.

Daughter: Whatever. It’s your own fault for sending me to an arts school where there are hardly any boys and the ones that are there are all gay.

Mother: You wanted to go there. I did warn you.

Daughter: How was I supposed to know they were going to be that gay? Anyway, can I go out with this guy or not?

 Mother: Where are you planning to go with this boy?

Daughter: I don’t know. For coffee, he said.

Mother: Oh, so just around the corner at Starbucks? And you’ll meet him there one afternoon like?

Daughter: I don’t know. We might go somewhere else. He has a car.

Mother: Ha ha ha ha ha HA! And you think I’m going to let you drive off in a car with some 19-year-old university guy I’ve never met?

Daughter: He can come in first so you can meet him.

Mother: No. I suggest you just meet him over at Starbucks the first time and see how it goes or go with Shelley and him and some other people. It’s never a good idea, no matter how old you are to drive off on a first date with someone you barely know.

Daughter: Fiiiiiiiiiiine!!!!!

Catch and Release

After the nasty, shallow, breaking-up post the other day, I thought it only fair that I do an equally nasty, shallow meeting-up post today. Amy mentioned in the comments of the breaking-up post that she once dated via personal ads and screened applicants through their grammar and spelling. Coincidentally, that same day, I got an email (and probably many of you got the same email) from some “Facebook-integrated dating site” (whatever that means) offering to let me write posts for them for free.

The stars were obviously aligned in favour of an internet/agency/personal ad (depending on your era) dating post.

I once joined a dating agency. For anyone under 30, this is what they used to have before LavaLife or Plentyoffish.  You had to leave your home and visit an office populated by human beings who would give you a questionnaire – on paper. Then they’d give you a pen, and you’d sit and write down — by hand — information about yourself. Then they’d take a photograph with a crazy old-timey gadget called a Polaroid camera that instantly produced blurry, greenish images, but with a nice wide border around the bottom. (The big bottom border was so you could write down a description of what was supposed to be depicted in the photograph in case it was too unrecognizable and green)

The really swanky dating agencies would take a blurry, greenish video of you instead. You’d get all dressed up; pretend you were talking to a potential date and say really stupid stuff about yourself.

I opted for the lower-tech, chicks-are-free option. In this agency, the Matchmaker Lady did all the work. She’d sort through the applications and Polaroids and match me up with people she thought would be compatible. Then she’d call me and tell me about some guy and give me his telephone number. I’d call him, we’d talk and then decide if we wanted to meet up. I’d call the Matchmaker Lady and tell her when the meet-up was. (I know, I know, she’s starting to sound like a pimp to me, too, all of a sudden) Anyway, after the initial meet-up I had to call the Matchmaker Lady again and let her know how it went. I guess if she didn’t get a call within a few days, she’d assume I’d been murdered and left in a ditch by the side of the road and she’d alert authorities.

Luckily that never happened.

She did send me a lot of desperate eligible men. It was quite a long time ago now, but I don’t believe anything memorable ever happened on any of the meet-ups I went to. I’m pretty sure I never went out on a second date, either. Matchmaker Lady got pissed off with me at some point and we more or less mutually agreed that I should gave up on the whole sorry experience.

I’ve never looked at LavaLife, but I have had a look at the Plentyoffish site — just to see what was going on in the zany world of dating these days. Nothing there made me jump up and say, “Whoa, stand aside and let me dive into this sea.”

I do realize that you’re all muttering to yourself that it’s not the fish in the sea that’s the problem here — it’s me. And you’re right. Matchmaker Lady said pretty much the same thing. I’m obviously not interested enough in dating to make the effort. If I happen to meet somebody I like enough to want to spend an evening or whatever with, that’s one thing. But pursuing a date, by electronic or other means is like making some sort of commitment to declaring yourself open to a relationship.

And if that’s what you really want, the deliberate mate-seeking option seems to work. I know quite a few people who met their spouses and/or significant others online and everyone seems happy. Even people, who didn’t purposely set out to meet a partner, ended up meeting someone incidentally because of Facebook, blogging or some other online-related activity.  

How about you? Have you ever dabbled in the world of internet, agency or personal ad dating? Was it a good, bad or indifferent experience? Did you meet your soul-mate, worst nightmare or cure for insomnia?

*** Also,  of all the Polaroid photographs that have been taken of or by you in the past, do any of them still have an actual image on them?

Blog Post Updates

Over the past months, all the lovely people who read and comment on this blog have given me a lot of excellent feedback on blog post issues that arise in and around my life. So, I thought it might be a nice to go back to some of these posts (in no particular order) and let you all know how they turned out.

I am a Pathetic Whiner:  YES! For anybody who hasn’t yet heard (like maybe Monah from Russia) The Ottawa transit strike is over as of about 5:30 pm on Thursday, January 29 (Day 51). Nobody won anything and almost everybody lost a lot.

What happened was the Feds finally got done with nap time and jumped into the strike playdate sandbox with the City kids and the OC Transpo kids who were all grumpy and pouting in corners because they missed their own naptimes and didn’t get enough juice boxes at snack time. But then when the big Feds came along everybody freaked out because they sure didn’t want them at their playdate. So they all got out of the sandbox and yelled “FINE!” And then they all went home mad and so now everybody’s Binding Arbitration Moms have to step in and figure out a way for everyone to play nice again.

Of course it’s going to be more than a week before any buses start rolling and months before they’re all back up and running.

The First Date: Was there ever a more exciting day at Chez XUP? Not that I can recall. The girl spent hours getting ready, all twittery. The boy was five minutes late, which didn’t impress me much and got the girl all worried. But he was cute as all get out when he did arrive. And ultra polite. And very, very nervous. He shook my hand and answered all my questions fully and thoroughly and even volunteered additional information. I put him out of his misery within about 2 minutes and off they went.

 He brought her home slightly before the appointed hour and while there didn’t seem to be any little hearts circling around her head, it sounded like the evening went well overall. And, there was a lot of smilingly mysterious texting going on just before bed.

The Naughty Molar:  I got the crown. There was an excruciating 2 hours of prep work involved during which I lost the almost 40-year-old filling; the dentist replaced it and then broke it while he was whittling down the tooth, to he had to do another filling. Then there was a 2-week wait and now I have a lovely, shiny new crown. No problems so far. (I know it dulls in comparison to the date story, doesn’t it?)

Help! Wanted! This is the one about the criminally insane pharmacy assistant – I switched to a slightly less insane pharmacy as per your recommendations.

Teens and Right to Privacy: The central character in this ongoing saga, my daughter’s friend Carly, was invited not to return to the school for second semester and will be attending a high school with a less arsty environment and with stricter enforcements in place. There were many tears (of sadness and relief) as the girls bid each other good-bye. We wish her well.

 Romancing the Undead:  The post where I despaired over my daughter’s new obsession with this crazy vampire series of books and movies – Twilight. She recently started reading the 3rd installment. We were both sitting quietly with our books the other day. After about an hour she throws her book down in disgust and says, “this book is stupid”.  I clapped for joy –silently in my head.

Meeting Bloggers:  From way back in November when a bunch of Ottawa bloggers got together for brunch. We had intended to have another brunch in January, but there have been some transportation issues within the city, so we’ll probably aim to try another one late February or early March and/or whenever all the transportation issues are finally resolved. We’ll keep  you posted. Meanwhile a few of the people who first met at the November brunch have gotten together in various small groups and bonded. Isn’t that sweet?

5 Mysteries of the Universe Explained: Not too long after I posted this I was in a mall near a Subway kiosk and overheard this conversation between 2 young women:

First Woman: “Eeewww, what’s that smell?”

Second Woman: It’s the Subway. It stinks like that because they make their bread from flour made from that black crud you find down on the subway rails.

First Woman: What? Really?

Second Woman: Rolls eyes.

She could only have gotten this idea from the blog, right? If anyone would like to confess to being Second Woman, that would be cool.

Meet My New Fiancé: Bazel and I snuck off to Reno and got married on New Year’s Eve. We are as much in love as we ever were and look forward to a good 10 years or so of wedded bliss. Oh sure, he has a few little annoying habits, like sometimes rolling a ball of poo out of his litter box and playing soccer with it all over the house when he has several perfectly good actual kitty soccer balls in his toy collection. But overall we understand and adore each other — although he never says it in so many words…  I know…