The Pick-up Artist

by Leandra Medine
February 22, 2013
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We still don’t get it.

“Have you ever been on a roof top in Paris? Danced until 7am when the metro re-opened? Been shown this city by a real French man?”

My eyes slung open wide, bewildered by his precision and the efficient way in which he zeroed in on the naive desires I hoped my semester in Paris would hold.

“No, no, and no. PLEASE TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.” (Really, I said it in capital letters).

I had only 4 weeks left in Paris and finally accepted that my experience abroad would not live up to the fantasy I had conjured in which my academic language capabilities would miraculously translate into flawless conversational skills complete with an immaculate accent. In my fantasy, I would assume the role of Chic American that the French adore but in reality, I quickly realized this was a role I could never play, if only because it does not exist in the Parisian social realm.

Paris had been wonderful and gratifying–just not in the cinematic way I had imagined. I didn’t even know there were roof tops in Paris. But with so little time left, it seemed my moment had finally come. I still don’t know how the mysterious trench coat-clad man sidled up next to me and smoothly began our conversation (his English was not very good) but it felt like magic. Maybe it was the effortless grace he exhaled in his interjection of the closed conversation I was having with my devastatingly American friend? Maybe it was his accent? I was enchanted by the foreign environment.

As our conversation flowed, he pleasantly surprised me. “I left the corporate world to start my own venture and the now the quality of my life is excellent,” he told me in agreement with my perspective regarding the value of a liberal arts education versus that of training for a particular occupation. He was perfect.

“So what do you do?” I bluntly interrupted.

“I think if you are smart you can start your own thing and be much happier,” He cooly responded.

So, what do you do?” I asked again, insistent on an answer.

He continued to babble until he finally said,”I don’t like to bring this up in these situations, but I teach men to talk to girls.”

Not sure I properly understood, I rephrased in terms I could digest.

“You’re a pick up artist?”

He nodded and began to elaborate on his dual identity but to be quite honest, I had kind of stopped listening as my brain perpetually refreshed with new questions. It all made sense. His sly approach, smooth conversational skills–had I been played? Were one of his “students” lurking near the doorway taking notes? It felt…dirty.

But my acute curiosity outweighed disgust. He tried to assure me that he had approached me on the merit of genuine interest, even using his real name (which he never did) and so candidly making me aware of his true occupation. To him, the pick-up artist persona was a fictional hat he put on to perpetuate his business, and on this random Saturday night he had innocently come out, hat off, to have a few drinks.

He asked for my number and I left it with no intention of seeing him again. It didn’t matter after all, this was a fantastic story to share in the moment with my roommate and forever with anyone unlucky enough to have never lived in Paris.

Through my brilliant internet stalking abilities, I found his website. Yes, he was a pick-up artist. The site even included tutorial videos. One hidden camera video showed him chatting with an English speaking girl coincidentally named Charlotte. Her face was blurred out. I began to have heart palpitations. Would I wind up in one of these videos? I re-played our conversation in my head and realized it would have made a pretty blase cinematic scene. He had used his real name and we spoke primarily of the American educational system. Comfortable in knowing that I may have been the exception, I said yes when he texted me to invite me out two days later.

My roommate had dubbed him the “French Hitch,” and assured me that he was likely not a serial killer. And though this opportunity presented prime social experimentation, I was not wholly convinced that this man did not suffer from at very least, split-personality disorder.

Our dates consisted of a generously sized portion of my scrutinizing his every move, trying to comprehend his psychological motivations, carefully chosen words, and subtle but biting body language.  He told me the focus of his work was on how to escape the “creepy dude” stereotype rather than on directly how to pick up a girl.  He said he had found that creepiness is the fundamental problem with a man’s natural “game.” And then I realized that what drew me to him did in fact spawn from his lack of, well, creepiness.  He never did anything cringe-worthy in my book, which floored me as I am unnecessarily critical in these situations. He told me that a lot of his coaching centered around body language and the physical manner of approaching a girl. “She should never feel physically trapped,” he told me.

You think?

As he scientifically broke down the methodology, my previous conceptions of the mystique surrounding French romance shattered.  The fact that he could create a successful business in Paris meant enough insecure Parisian men existed to sign up for his workshops.  These men may have possessed a foreign appeal to me, but clearly their game was no better than the prototypically American, “hey baby, are you from Tennessee?”

I couldn’t help but think: has human to human communication become so antiquated that we need to pay money to learn it from someone else?  Has male to female communication become so calculated that acting on sheer impulse no longer warrants the proper  response? Hearkening back to Leandra’s What is Dating?, I really do have to wonder: if even the French can’t get it right, are we doomed?

In my last few weeks in Paris, we continued to date. He never seemed pushy, he acted politely, kept our conversations intelligent and his presence was so easygoing, I forgot on more than one occasion that I may or may not have had been acting as an accessory to his teachings. I’d even convinced myself that his vocation was simple and standard, when in effect what it was, was calculated, scientific and rare.

French Hitch certainly provided a unique Parisian (mis)adventure of sorts and while we never did dance until the metros re-opened at 7AM, he bestowed new found social knowledge upon me. Sure, it resulted in a sense of disillusionment but this was a story I could harbor forever better than any of the Waltz-variety.

When I finally left Paris, I felt somewhat defeated as I cringed at the thought of dating American men again. Does it actually take a self-proclaimed professional to provide a seemingly normal dating experience in this day and age? Why was it that the only man I could connect with was effectively a professional dater?

When he came to New York three months later, I realized that he was only cool on his own, French turf. In Manhattan, he seemed lost and confused and unable to grasp the English language. Had the relationship been simply a manifestation of inflated, self-inflicted French ideals? What did the quick emotional turn around say about me? My moral standards? That about settled it, no more pick-up artists for me.

Story by Charlotte Fassler, edited by Leandra Medine

REPLIES
  • http://twitter.com/LocalAndOpulent Lesley O.

    Hilarious! All women dream of a magic night in Paris don’t they? Then you realize they don’t really exist. Inevitably you end up at a McDonalds at 4am. Or at least, so went my own (mis)adventure in Paris!

    New post is up on Local & Opulent. I stopped by a jewellery pop up event and tried on every ring in the house.

    http://localandopulent.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/the-jewellery-local/

    • Cassie Dny

      At least they have those cafe sections in French McDonalds! I was amazed the first time I went. (I was amazed by cultural stuff too, don’t worry.)

  • Lauren

    I love how this short story points out our human frailties! We are creatures who feel the craving of flattery; being infatuated by the exotic; feel vulnerable and non-trusting; and have the hardest time grasping the fact that life is not always a never-ending dinner date at “the french laundry” but more like “MacDonalds at 4:00 am!

    (=’.’=)

    -Lauren at adorn la femme

  • http://twitter.com/souledstyle souled style.

    The real world can be a real bitch, huh? ; ) HAHA I love when you share these little stories.

    Carly J

    souledstyle.com

  • Chandler Mills

    That was excellent! Perfect. Thank you for sharing. Now I feel that it is probably important to go back and write about all my encounters with the opposite sex. Could be enlightening.

  • info

    I can say with all certainty that I not only had a couple of the torrid exciting love affairs that we all dream about when thinking of French men but I also ended up marrying one. The mere thought about being with a (yawn) North American man after having experienced the range and passion of the sexy Frenchman turns my stomach.

  • Noell E.

    Leandra, j’adore le blog de ManRepeller. Do you still read the comments of entries that are not by you?

    • Leandra Medine

      Of course! The conversation down here is arguably more interesting than the ones we have.

  • http://twitter.com/amilli0naire Ameezy Deezy

    wait. charlotte. you dated will smith?

  • http://bellaconscience.blogspot.com/ bellaconsience

    oh how i can related to this story… my parisian love affair was not too far different

    http://bellaconscience.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/Jackie_GS_ ♫ Jackie Jay ♫

    Omg! There’s a whole book about so many men in his line of work! It’s called ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss. Great read! Scary concept! Lol the men are getting harder to repel!

    • Ramona Hux

      At the time when ‘The Game’ was released, it seemed every male friend I had, had read that book. Oh, how I cringed when they tried The Game’s ‘tried and tested’ methods.

  • a.n.a.l.u

    I love this. I am pretty busy right now but i couldn´t help but read it all! You caught my complete attention! I am very happy to read this kind of posts, even when i love the fashion related ones, this is pure content.

    LAZYCATSTYLE

  • Carmen Weaire-Gil

    I LOVE THE MAN REPELLER!!!

  • Anna

    If french Hitch teaches men how to date, what happens when they get in a relationship? Will they become a different person? Will they know how to act or are we in for a big surprise? Maybe there should be some follow up classes!

  • http://www.fripperyvintage.com/ Frippery Vintage

    Great story. Love your blog!
    http://www.FripperyVintage.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/aniaguseva Anna Guseva

    Ridiculous!Keep in !

    http://affecteepar.wordpress.com/

  • http://twitter.com/JenessaCCole Jenna Cole

    I am so ridiculously excited for your book of essays, Leandra. Will you feature other writers in that like you do on your blog?

    • Leandra Medine

      Not in this one, but who knows? Maybe the next one?

  • http://twitter.com/IchraqBS IchraqB&S

    oh god that seems to weird, i would have been frightened but surely intreged as well! well there you go, a great story to tell family and friends and you sure made me laugh buckets!

  • Sarah Oweida

    I have personally had a few (failed) Parisian romances. They were not even romances… merely my friend (the one who invited me to Paris in the first place) feeling the need to throw me (the way you throw raw meat to a hungry, lazy tiger) at random strangers, in order to help me overcome my timidity. Needless to say the poor guys ran away, much to my embarrassment (and perhaps my despair and further loss of self-esteem?)

    All of that to say that Parisian encounters, (however bizarre and awkward), are the best. (I still dream about the ones I had, a little too hopeful sometimes.)

    And I liked the article. This perfect mix of wit and fashion that you have on your blog in general is great. (I am nobody but) keep up the great work.

  • Ivana Džidić

    Does it actually take a self-proclaimed professional to provide a seemingly normal dating experience in this day and age? ……a great question and let’s hope the answer is : not!

  • http://www.tokyoup.com/ Tokyo UP

    i kinda feel bad for the poor old guy. that he’s in the business of professional dating almost mirrors my personal obsession with self-help (as an introvert, i’m sure the world sees me as lost, confused and unable to grasp the English language). i think we owe this dude a little more compassion…

  • KZ

    I studied abroad at Oxford — where people from all over the world flock not only to study but to learn the English language — and I had the same romanticized vision of European men. I felt like the cute British guys that I courted could get away with lacking the typical intellect that I yearn for in a man if only because I loved the way my name sounded when they said it with their perfect accents. The same for the Italian men in perfect buttery leather jackets and APC denim. But a month or so into my life as an American in Oxford, I realized that romanticized romance (read: dating a foreign guy with a sexy accent) was nothing more than that…romanticized.

    The best part of studying abroad? Amidst vowing to spend my studies single and in a constant rotation of fun dates on the English countryside, Friday nights in London nightclubs, and weekends visiting the U.K’s must-see sites, was that I fell in love with an American boy interning in London. And you know what? The most romantic part of my life in England was exploring it on the arm of someone from the motherland.

  • Lauren Riots

    I have also been picked up by a professional pick up artist, he was no where near as smooth as your french man and ‘the game’ by Neil Strauss was his bible. He also taught it and gave workshops with other men. It was a truly creepy experience, upon first meeting he kept trying to touch me (like on arm or shoulder) and had all these other guys that he later pointed out were all watching us to see his ‘method’. ergh.

  • http://ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com/ Lydia Teo

    OMG, this is so creepy, I’d have ran as fast as I could once I learnt he is a pick up artist…but hey, great story to tell you future children/grandchildren right?

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/contentnet contentnet

    Please, someone, elucidate the “pro” in professional pick-up artist.

  • http://twitter.com/ZouBahar Zou Bahar

    i can totally relate how a lot things abt this guy may have intrigued you, the primary one being the fact that he’s french and quite possibly spoke english in that sexy french way only a french guy could. In my opinion, that was probably the best thing abt him. Loving all things french and all things relating to language, if i had a french guy come up to me and start talking and showing a bit of interest, i would be more than flattered.

    But in the end, I think guys are no different no matter where they are from. The french man i think, in general is a bit more intense, on every level and they do like their complaining. (i do not understand why its the english who are labeled: winging poms).

    It is a nice story. I’m glad you had the experience. But I do pray I never meet any professional pick-up artists or another french man, by accident, ever.

  • Reem S.

    Who knew that Paris had so many surprises? Great story!

  • Alice

    Well, if a professional dater is what we need to not hear the same old, trite pick up catch phrases, I’m all for it! After all, women have to put a lot of effort into dating (shaving, if only) so men going to classes kinda re-equilibrates the whole dating business.

  • http://twitter.com/lilmsprim Rachelle San Pedro

    What a fantastic read!

    I’m going to Paris next weekend and this kind of excites and warns against giving in to notions of what Paris is…

    “Has male to female communication become so calculated that acting on sheer impulse no longer warrants the proper response?” A real food for thought.

    Regards,
    Rachelle
    http://lilmissprimbutnotproper.com

  • maesie

    The reiteration of how ‘cringe worthy’ and ‘creepy’ men can be is so perfectly timed for today, I feel like you’ve read my mind. Had to block someone on facebook, instagram and all his calls. If only he were French I could have dealt with it.

    At any rate, I will, now, always be on the look out for men who are to suave to be true.

  • rafaellomyles

    Leandra I loved this post so much. I love you blog.
    Much love from Angola ;)
    -Rafaello
    http://blackanismo.blogspot.com/

  • annie

    Hi!

    I just found your blog through random surfing on the internet, and the title Pick-up artist really hooked me. I recently watched a tv show called The Pick-up artist, you shoudl check that out. It was hilarious at least to me. There are “player” guys who teach socially ” awkward” men into picking up women, the show was made in good spirit, and it is quite educational, even though it sounds horrible. And then French men, never been to France, but have known many french men outside of France, i just wouldnt trust them, all the ones i’ve met are quite untrustworthy shall i say..

  • Velvet jar

    Brilliant

  • Frédérique B.

    I love your blog, your writing style is like candy for the mind! On a lighter note, les Européens sont les plus romantiques et, pour ma part, je préfère les Italiens!

  • Lisa

    I too had an experience with a Pick-up Artist. Someone who made his way on http://www.pick-up-artist.com. I blindly fell for his subtle moves and direct way of speaking to me. It was refreshing and rather rare. Weeks later it turned out that he had used some psychological games on me: Daniel Rose, the Man Sequence, NLP. How I know? He told me in a heart-to-heart (it’s a long story). As I am a intern-junkie, I look/surfed/read for days on the internet and found everything he used to win me over. It is weird how a boy can make your heart jump and I was ashamed that I fell for his games. Now I don’t feel like that anymore, I’m just glad that I know and can recognize the ‘day game’ and the ‘night game’. So if you’re bored: read about Daniel Rose, the Man Sequence and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). You might actually learn something from it ;-)

  • MGF

    Hahaha ! I ‘m French, and I ‘m laughing out loud reading this story. Your man was probably a serial teacher wearing a hat nearby St Michel, non ? The thing is that one accessorize is supposed catch your eyes and to launch the conversation (a hat, a special scarf, a canne, anything to catch your attention ;))
    Maybe one more French paradox :)

  • EM M

    I was a victim! I met this guy who learnt how to talk to girls with the help of a pick-up artist. I found out because he was weird so I googled him and found a testimonial. Creepy. And this happened in New York.

  • Concerned Asshole

    Centered on*. Think about it.

  • Felicity

    I think that the blossoming of the social internet age has sort of dulled our ability to communicate with each other – I swear men have got less competent when it comes to “hitting on” girls (no Chris Brown). I know so many people who internet date – but all they’re really interested in in the wham bam and not even a thank you ma’am. It’s perplexing to be single nowadays. So I can understand the whole idea of the pick up artist (the creepy factor really is a thing), but it does sadden me quite a lot.
    On another note, it must have been really weird to date a man with such a clinical approach to dating. I guess there’s no winning situation here!
    that-bird.blogspot.co.uk

  • guy

    Women blame men for their lack of game but tbh when they are attracted to a guy what they do is far more lacking. They will at best say “hi, i’m …..” or just use subtle body language which all men are supposed to instantly grasp

  • kikaysikat

    (Uncrackedballs.com) I actually written something, sort of dissecting pickup artistry and what happens next..

    The
    less desperate one is, the more attractive they are. Instead of staying
    in a world that tends to perpetuate that desperation, isn’t it better
    to live a life that’s your own.

    How does pick-up
    work? PUAs (pickup artists) sometimes work their trade during the day,
    usually at the mall—this is called “day game” —but the classic location
    for seduction is the trendy club or bar. For the most part the pickup
    artist operates, in pairs with a wingman for support or sometimes they
    go in packs. They choose their victim
    and she must be approached within three seconds—this is the
    “three-second rule,” If a man looks for too long at his target, she
    might begin to think he is creepy ; and second, he might hesitate to
    make a move.. One must convey confidence to be effective. Pickup-artist
    closes. Number closing is getting a number from a girl; k-closing is
    short for kiss-closing; and f-closing for.. well..

    Pick Up Artist – An Antithesis

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