You’ll know them on sight.
There is not the easy camaraderie of a group of friends, nor its cousin, the polite fight for female attention that I grew up experiencing.
No, it’s somewhere between a field trip and a hunting expedition.
With a tutor who takes each group and encourages the students to approach women and work on their conversation skills.
That’s the platonic ideal, it allows for men to develop socialising skills in a direct environment and it’s good to see the philosophies in action.
Ben and his friends came with me because I felt responsible for them. Terry took the four best looking guys, forming them into extensions of his will. They all appeared dressed by his hand, and he had them making approaches as soon as we were in there.
I’d already connected with Ben. His friends were Freddy and Jimmy. They worked together at the same start up; they were building a photo app and had come here to network and improve their socialisation skills.
Even money wasn’t helping them meet women.
Freddy had been engaged, she’d left him for the building supervisor, so he’d been dumped and made homeless in the same decision.
The supervisor had been an extra in a shampoo commercial.
Freddy had been two days from making three million dollars.
His eyes shone when he spoke about her. The anger that was there. It seemed like something he thought he should have felt, but I leaned over and touched his forearm.
‘You will be ok.’
He smiled and nodded.
‘I know I am. It’s funny, I never played sports or anything, but today, it feels like I’m the fucking quarterback, you know?’
I nodded as the waiter took our order.
After that the conversation lightened again, until I felt Terry’s hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him.
‘There’s no energy in here. I want to get these guys sarging.’
I shut my eyes. I smiled and flexed my shoulders.
‘Okay mate. These guys are with me. Yeah?’
I made a point of looking to Freddy, who flashed a nervous smile and pointed at me.
‘Excellent,’ Terry said.
Terry went off. We went outside to pile into the minibus again.
I patted Ben on the shoulder, Freddy and Jimmy were behind us as I turned to them.
‘What did he tell you your frame for tonight was?’
Ben explained that we they meant us go with something goofy. An ice breaker that would then transition into a half kino, full audit body space. Hiding the cringe was easy.
My frown made Ben stop talking.
‘You need to forget all that.’
He looked at Freddy and Jimmy, then back at me. Jimmy cleared his throat before he spoke.
‘With the greatest of respect, you’re not the attendee here. I doubt you have any problems.’
I smiled at him and gave a quick gesture towards my face.
‘With this nose?.’
They looked shocked for a moment, then Ben burst out laughing.
‘It’s not that bad,’
I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head before squinting upwards.
‘It’s not so much a Roman nose as the whole fucking empire, mate.’
Freddy brayed and we all looked at him, then burst into a round of laughter. I let it die down before I stopped and turned. They mirrored me so we stood in a circle.
‘You need to detach yourselves. It might generate attraction, if you’re going after something frivolous.’
Jimmy shook his head.
‘I just want to get laid.’
I grimaced at him and shook my head.
‘It’s how you communicate that.’
He stood back, crossing his arms, retreating behind a front of bluster.
‘There’s nothing wrong with that,’
His voice had a sullen quality to it you could almost taste in the air.
‘Nothing wrong with what?’
I knew the answer, but wanted to hear him say it.
‘Women want men to make a move,’ he said.
‘And what does the act of approaching entitle you?’
He held my gaze for a moment before he looked away and exchanged uncomfortable looks with the others.
I thrust a finger out, pointing towards him.
‘Don’t be needy.’
‘Expect nothing from the interaction. Be present and talk to women with no expectation or sense of entitlement.’
Freddy sniggered and I asked him what was funny as we started walking again. He said I sounded like Yoda and I smiled.
‘The Frank Oz one, though. CGI appals me,’ I said. ‘Except for Gollum, the apes from that movie and Groot.’
Jimmy grabbed my elbow, stopping me and stared at me, aghast.
I shook my head, although I couldn’t keep the smirk from my face at his reaction.
‘They keep remaking my childhood, and it breaks my heart.’
He rolled his eyes, gesticulating towards me.
‘Yes, it’s better now. We got angel investment from a guy who did some post on one of those. You do not understand how much work goes into them.’
I stepped back, folding my arms across my chest as I smiled at him.
‘That’s it, right there.’
Jimmy looked at me, unsure of the point that I was trying to make.
‘You’ve got a point of view. Something you’re passionate about.’
I put my hand on his shoulder, squeezed it as I looked deep into his eyes.
‘You cannot give the gift of yourself and expect it received.’
‘So, I could crash and burn?.’
‘You only fail if you quit.’
They climbed into the taxi and I followed, smiling to myself as we set off to another club.