A while back, a good friend of mine was reading a book (which he usually does). He was so intrigued/enamored/fascinated with it that he borderline forced me to read it. It was Neil Strauss' The Game. I like social experiments as much as the next guy. Nickel and Dimed & Stiff are two of my faves. For those of you who don't know, The Game is about how Strauss finds this cult/club (actually, I think his editor found it) in which below average Joes are taught the "formula" for picking up women. There are a lot of glossary terms that I won't bore you with, but the idea is to teach socially awkward guys how approach women using various tactics. It basically reduces human relationships to a math problem. I got about 3/4 of the way through the book before getting bored. Yeah, yeah, I get it -- you learned a new trick in school and now you can date a Playboy model but yet for some reason you're still unhappy. Because -- revelation! -- after playing the game too much, it gets old. Anyone who's played Scrabulous could've told you that.

Fast forward to last night. Strauss made an appearance at Books and Books in Bal Harbour to promote his latest gem, The Rules of The Game. I only went because my friend was putting on the event and she was worried there wouldn't be a big crowd, and "this guy is used to big crowds," she informed me. When I arrived, it was apparent my presence was totally not necessary. The crowd spilled out of the store, and it was 98 percent men, most of whom were under the age of 25 and under 5'8". I could immediately feel the little robot gears in their little robot heads turning, thinking of possible "openers" and whatever else they've been programmed to regurgitate. Thirty minutes late, Strauss strolls in, a statuesque 5'2" and 100 pounds (we could share clothes), wearing baggy black leather pants, suspenders, a crimson-colored tie and grey cardigan sweater (and then proceeded, multiple times during his presentation, to complain that it was hot). He kind of looked like Harry Potter, had Harry joined the Hogwarts alternative rock band. Of course, behind him was his entourage, which included an Asian girl with extensions and blonde streaks and a non-Asian girl with a video camera attached to her eye (apparently someone is making a documentary about Strauss).

I won't bore you with the details of his reading. He showed some Jackass-type MySpace videos, read some emails from guys wondering how to get unfortunate stains out of their clothes and what to do when a 5-year-old girl calls them ugly, then took questions from the audience. How/when do you go in for the kiss on a date? Why don't high school (yes, there are boys in high school using Game tactics) girls respond to the Game formula? I didn't know whether to think it was cute or sad. Probably a little of both. What I do know is that most of these guys don't need complex strategies, they need some basic social skills. I knocked over a book on my way in to the store -- not one guy offered to pick it up. I carried an empty champagne glass for most of the night, not one guy offered to get me a refill. I was standing (as were several other women) in a packed house. Not one guy offered me their seat. Call me old fashioned, but it's these gestures, not the ones found in Strauss' book, that'll get me to pay attention to a guy. I don't want to resolve some debate with your buddy you made up to start a conversation, and no, your big belt buckle and black nail polish (peacocking accessories) don't make you stand out, they make you look tres Daughtry. In other words, they make you look like a douche. 'Nuff said.

-- miaeditor