By Neil Strauss

The only reason you go out, The only objective in mind, A glimpse of a familiar pair Of legs on a busy street or A squeeze from a female who You can only call your friend.

A scoreless night fosters hostility'. A scoreless weekend breeds animosity. Through red eyes all the world is seen, Angry at friends and family for no Reason that they can perceive. Only you know why you are so mad.

There is the 'justfriends' one who you've Known for so long, who respects you So much that you can't do what you want. And she no longer bothers to put on her False personality and flirt because she thinks You like her for who she is when what you Liked about her was her flirtatiousness.

When your own hand becomes your best lover, When your life-giving fertilizer is wasted In a Kleenex and flushed down the toilet You wonder when you are going to stop Thinking about what could have happened That night when you almost got somewhere.

There is the coy one who smiles And looks like she wants to meet you, But you can't work up the nerve to talk. So instead she will become one of your nighttime Fantasies, where you could have but didn't. Your hand will be substituted for hers.

When you neglect work and meaningful activities, When you neglect the ones who really love you, For a shot at a target that you rarely hit. Does everyone get lucky with women but you, Or do females just not want it as bad as you do?

In the decade since I'd written that poem, nothing had changed. I still couldn't write poetry. And, more important, I still felt the same way. Perhaps signing up for Mystery's workshop had been an intelligent decision. After all, I was doing something proactive about my lameness. Even the wise man dwells in the fool's paradise.

Chapi&k

On the last night of the workshop, Mystery and Sin took us to a bar called the Saddle Ranch, a country-themed meat market on the Sunset Strip. I'd been there before—not to pick up women, but to ride the mechanical bull. One of my goals in Los Angeles was to master the machine at its fastest setting. But not today. After three consecutive nights of going out until 2:00 A.M. and then breaking down approaches with Mystery and the other students far beyond the allotted half-hour, I was wiped out.

Within minutes, however, our tireless professor of pickup was at the bar, making out with a loud, tipsy girl who kept trying to steal his scarf. Watching Mystery work, I noticed that he used the exact same openers, routines, and lines—and got a phone number or a tonguedown nearly every time, even if the woman was with a boyfriend. I'd never seen anything like it. Sometimes a woman he was talking to was even moved to tears.

As I walked toward the mechanical bull ring, feeling foolish in a red cowboy hat Mystery had insisted I wear, I saw a girl with long black hair, a formfitting sweater, and tan legs sticking out of a ruffled skirt. She was talking animatedly to two guys, bouncing around them like a cartoon character.

One second. Two seconds. Three.

"Hey, looks like the party's over here." I spoke to the guys, then turned to face the girl. I stuttered for a moment. I knew the next line—Mystery had been pushing it on me all weekend—but I'd been dreading using it.

"If... if I wasn't gay, you'd be so mine."

A huge smile spread across her face. "I like your hat," she screeched, grabbing the brim.

I guess peacocking did work. "Hey, now," I told her, repeating a line I had heard Mystery use earlier. "Hands off the merchandise."

She responded by throwing her arms around me and telling me I was fun. Every ounce of fear evaporated with her acceptance. The secret to meeting women, I realized, is simply knowing what to say, and when and how to say it.

"How do you all know each other?" I asked.

"I just met them," she said. "My name is Elonova." She curtseyed clumsily.

I took that as an IOI.

I showed Elonova an ESP trick Mystery had taught me earlier that ever ning, in which I guessed a number she was thinking between one and ten (hint: it's almost always seven), and she clapped her hands together gleefully. The guys, in the presence of my superior game, wandered off.

When the bar closed, Elonova and I moved outside. Every AFC we walked past gave me the thumbs up and said, "She's hot" or "You lucky bastard." What idiots. They were fucking up my game—that is, if I could figure out a way to tell Elonova I was straight. Hopefully, she'd figured it out on her own by now.

I remembered Sin telling me to kino, so I put my arm around her. This time, however, she backed away. That was definitely not an IOI. As I took a step toward her to try again, one of the guys she'd been with in the bar arrived. She flirted with him as I stood there stupidly. When she turned back to me a few minutes later, I told her we should hang out sometime. She agreed, and we exchanged numbers.

Mystery, Sin, and the boys were all in the limo, watching the whole exchange go down. I climbed inside, thinking I was hot shit for number-closing in front of them all. But Mystery wasn't impressed.

"You got that number-close," he said, "because you forced yourself on her. You let her play with you."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Have I ever told you about cat string theory?"

"Listen. Have you ever seen a cat play with a string? Well, when the string is dangling above its head, just out of reach, the cat goes crazy trying to get it. It leaps in the air, dances around, and chases it all over the room. But as soon as you let go of the string and it drops right between the cat's paws, it just looks at the string for a second and then walks away. It's bored. It doesn't want it anymore."

"So that girl moved away from you when you put your arm around her. And you ran right back to her like a puppy dog. You should have punished her—turned away and talked to someone else. Let her work to get your attention back. After that, she made you wait while she talked to that dork."

"What should I have done?"

"You should have said, Til let you two be alone,' and started to walk away, as if you were giving her to him—even though you knew she liked you more. You have to act like you are the prize."

I smiled. I think I really understood.

"Yeah," he said. "Be the dancing string."

I grew silent and thought about it, kicking my legs up against the bar counter of the limousine and slouching into the seat. Mystery turned to Sin, and they talked amongst themselves for several minutes. It felt like they were discussing me.

I tried not to make eye contact with them. I wondered if they were going to tell me that I'd held the workshop up, that I wasn't yet ready for it, that I should study for another six months and then take it again.

Suddenly, Mystery and Sin ended their huddle. Mystery broke into a wide smile and looked straight at me.

"You're one of us," he said. "You're going to be a superstar."

Ckapiah

MSN GROUP: Mystery's Lounge SUBJECT: Sex Magic AUHOR Mystery

My Mystery Method workshop in Los Angeles kicked ass. I've decided to teach several impressive ways to demonstrate mind power through magic at my next workshop. After all, some of you need something with which to convey your charming personalities. If you are going in without an edge—like if you say, "Hi, I'm an accountant"—you will not capture your target's attention and curiosity.

So, since the workshop, I've retired the FMAC model and broken down the approach to thirteen detailed steps. Here is the basic format to all approaches:

1. Smile when you walk into a room. See the group with the target and follow the three-second rule. Do not hesitate—approach instantly.

2. Recite a memorized opener, if not two or three in a row.

3. The opener should open the group, not just the target. When talking, ignore the target for the most part. If there are men in the group, focus your attention on the men.

4. Neg the target with one of the slew of negs we've come up with. Tell her, "Its so cute. Your nose wiggles when you laugh." Then get her friends to notice and laugh about it.

5. Convey personality to the entire group. Do this by using stories, magic, anecdotes, and humor. Pay particular attention to the men and the less attractive women. During this time, the target will notice that you are the center of atten-

Hon. You may perform various memorized pieces like the photo routine,2 but only for the obstacles.

6. Neg the target again if appropriate. If she wants to look at the pictures, for example, say, "Oh my god, she's so grabby. How do you roll with her?"

7. Ask the group, "So, how does everyone know each other?" If the target is with one of the guys, find out how long they've been together. If its a serious relationship, eject politely by saying, "Pleasure meeting you."

8. If she is not spoken for, say to the group, "I've sort of been alienating your friend. Is it all right if I speak to her for a couple of minutes?" They always say, "Uh, sure. If its okay with her." If you've executed the preceding steps correctly, she will agree.

9. Isolate her from the group by telling her you want to show her something cool. Take her to sit with you nearby. As you lead her through the crowd, do a kino test by holding her hand. If she squeezes back, its on. Start looking for other IOIs.

10. Sit with her and perform a rune reading, an ESP test, or any other demonstration that will fascinate and intrigue her.

11. Tell her, "Beauty is common but what's rare is a great energy and outlook on life. Tell me, what do you have inside that would make me want to know you as more than a mere face in the crowd?" If she begins to list qualities, this is a positive IOI.

12. Stop talking. Does she reinitiate the chat with a question that begins with the word "So?" If she does, you've now seen three IOIs and can . . .

2 The photo routine involves carrying an envelope of photos in a jacket pocket, as if they've just been developed. Each photo, however, is pre-selected to convey a different aspect of the PUA's personality, such as images of the PUA with beautiful women, with children, with pets, with celebrities, goofing off with friends, and doing something active like roller-blading or skydiving. The PUA should also have a short, witty story to accompany each photo.

13. Kiss close. Say, out of the blue, "Would you like to kiss me?" If the setting or circumstances aren't conducive to physical intimacy, then give yourself a time constraint by saying, "I have to go, but we should continue this." Then get her number and leave.

—Mystery

— Is that a wig?Oh..well it looks nice anyway.

— I think your hair would look better (up/down).

—What do you call that hairstyle, the waffle? *smile*

How cute... your nose wiggles when you talk! Say something again. *smile*

- Nice nails... are they real? Oh... well they look nice anyway.

- I like that skirt. Those are really popular these days.

- I like that skirt. l just saw a girl wearing it a few minutes ago.

—You have eye crusties. No, don't rub them. l *like* eye crusties :-)

You have beautiful eyes. Can I touch them?

You have beautiful eyes. Can I touch them?

- Nice nails... are they real? Oh... well they look nice anyway.

- I like that skirt. Those are really popular these days.

- I like that skirt. l just saw a girl wearing it a few minutes ago.

— Those shoes look really comfortable.

The Mystery Method course handout

Chafdsh

Sure, there is Ovid, the Roman poet who wrote The Art of Love; Don Juan, the mythical womanizer based on the exploits of various Spanish noblemen; the Duke de Lauzun, the legendary French rake who died on the guillotine; and Casanova, who detailed his hundred-plus conquests in four thousand pages of memoirs. But the undisputed father of modern seduction is Ross Jeffries, a tall, skinny, porous-faced self-proclaimed nerd from Marina Del Rey, California. Guru, cult leader, and social gadfly, he commands an army sixty thousand horny men strong, including top government officials, intelligence officers, and cryptographers.

His weapon is his voice. After years of studying everyone from master hypnotists to Hawaiian Kahunas, he claims to have found the technology— and make no mistake about it, that's what it is—that will turn any responsive woman into a libidinous puddle. Jeffries, who claims to be the inspiration for Tom Cruise's character in Magnolia, calls it Speed Seduction.

Jeffries developed Speed Seduction in 1988, after ending a five-year streak of sexlessness with the help of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a controversial fusion of hypnosis and psychology that emerged from the personal development boom of the 1970s and led to the rise of self-help gurus like Anthony Robbins. The fundamental precept of NLP is that one's thoughts, feelings, and behavior—and the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of others—can be manipulated through words, suggestions, and physical gestures designed to influence the subconscious. The potential of NLP to revolutionize the art of seduction was obvious to Jeffries.

Over the years, Jeffries has either outlasted, sued, or crushed any competitor in the field of pickup to make his school, Speed Seduction, the dominant model for getting a woman's lips to touch a man's—that is, until Mystery came along and started teaching workshops.

Thus, the clamor online for an eyewitness account of Mystery's first workshop was overwhelming. Mystery's admirers wanted to know if the class was worthwhile; his enemies, particularly Jeffries and his disciples, wanted to tear him apart. So I obliged, posting a detailed description of my experiences.

At the end of my review, I issued a call for wings in Los Angeles, asking only that they be somewhat confident, intelligent, and socially comfortable. I knew that in order to become a pickup artist myself, I would somehow have to internalize everything I had seen Mystery do. This would happen only through practice—through hitting the bars and clubs every night until I became a natural like Dustin, or even an unnatural like Mystery.

The day my report on the workshop hit the Internet, I received an e-mail from someone in Encino nicknamed Grimble, who identified himself as a Ross Jeffries student. He wanted to "sarge" with me, as he put it. Sarging is pickup artistjargon for going out to meet women; the term evidently has its origin in the name of one of Ross Jeffries's cats, Sargy.

An hour after I sent him my phone number, Grimble called. More than Mystery, it was Grimble who would initiate me into what could only be described as a secret society.

"Hey, man," he said, in a conspiratorial hiss. "So what do you think of Mystery's game?"

I gave him my assessment.

"Wow, I like it," he said. "But you have to hang out with Twotimer and me some time. We've been sarging with Ross Jeffries a lot."

"Really? I'd love to meet him."

"Listen. Can you keep a secret?"

"Sure."

"How much technology do you use in your sarges?"

"Technology?"

"You know, how much is technique and how much is just talking?"

"I guess fifty-fifty," I said.

"What?"

"Yeah, I use a canned opener, then I elicit her values and find out her trance words. And then I go into one of the secret patterns. Do you know the October Man sequence?"

"Never heard of it, unless Arnold Schwarzenegger was in it."

"Oh, man. I had a girl over here last week, and I gave her a whole new identity. I did a sexual value elicitation, and then changed her whole timeline and internal reality. Then I brushed my finger along her face, telling her to notice"—and here he switched to a slow, hypnotic voice—"how wherever I touch ... it leaves a trail of energy moving through you ... and wherever you can feel this energy spreading ... the deeper you want to allow yourself. .. to feel these sensations ... becoming even more ... intense."

"And then what?"

"I brushed my finger along her lips, and she started sucking it," he exclaimed triumphantly. "Full-close!"

I had no idea what he was talking about. But I wanted this technology. I thought back to all the times I'd taken women to my house, sat on the bed next to them, leaned in for the kiss, and been deflected with the "let's just be friends" speech. In fact, this rejection is such a universal experience that Ross Jeffries invented not just an acronym for it, LJBF, but a litany of responses as well.3

I talked to Grimble for two hours. He seemed to know everybody— from legends like Steve P., who supposedly had a cult of women paying cash for the privilege of sexually servicing him, to guys like Rick H., Ross's most famous student, thanks to an incident that involved him, a hot tub, and five women.

Grimble would make a perfect wing.

3 One such response from Jeffries is, "I don't promise any such thing. Friends don't put each other into boxes like that. The only thing I'll promise is never to do anything unless you and I both feel totally comfortable, willing, and ready."

Chapisih

I drove to Grimble's house in Encino the following night to go sarging. This would be my first time in the field since Mystery's workshop. It would also be my first time hanging out one-on-one with a stranger I'd met online. All I really knew about him was that he was a college student and he liked girls.

When I pulled up, Grimble strode outside and flashed a big smile that I didn't quite trust. He didn't seem dangerous or mean. He just seemed slippery, like a politician or a salesman or, I suppose, a seducer. He had the complexion of barley tea, though he was actually German. In fact, he claimed to be a descendent of Otto von Bismarck. He wore a brown leather jacket over a silver floral-print shirt, which was unbuttoned to reveal an eerily hairless chest thrust out further than his nose. In his hands was a plastic bag full of videotapes, which he dumped into the back of my car. He reminded me of a mongoose.

"These are some of Ross's seminars," he said. "You'll really like the DC seminar, because he gets into synesthesia there. The other tapes are from Kim and Tom"—Ross's ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. "It's their New York seminar, Advanced Anchoring and Other Sneaky Stuff"

"What's anchoring?" I asked.

"My wing Twotimer will show you when you meet him. Ever experienced condiment anchoring before?"

I had so much to learn. Men generally don't communicate to one air other with the same level of emotional depth and intimate detail as most women. Women discuss everything. When a man sees his friends after getting laid, they ask, "How'd it go?" And in return, he gives them either a thumbs up or a thumbs down. That's how it's done. To discuss the experience in detail would mean giving your friends mental images they don't really want to have. It is a taboo among men to picture their best friends naked or having sex, because then they might find themselves aroused—and we all know what that means.

So, ever since I'd first started harboring lustful thoughts in sixth grade, I'd assumed that sex was something that just happened to guys if they went out a lot and exposed themselves to chance—after all, that's why they called it getting lucky. The only tool they had in their belt was persistence. Of course, there were some men who were sexually comfortable around women, who would tease them mercilessly until they had them eating out of their hands. But that wasn't me. It took all of my courage to simply ask a woman for the time or where Melrose Avenue was. I didn't know anything about anchoring, eliciting values, rinding trance words, or these other things Grimble kept talking about.

How did I ever get laid without all this technology?

It was a quiet Tuesday night in the Valley, and the only place Grimble knew to go was the local T.G.I. Friday's. In the car, we warmed up—listening to cassette tapes of sarges by Rick H., practicing openers, faking smiles, and dancing in our seats to get energetic. It was one of the most ridiculous things I'd ever done, but I was entering a new world now, with its own rules of behavior.

We walked in the door of the restaurant—confident, smiling, alpha. Unfortunately, no one noticed. There were two guys at the bar watching a baseball game on television, a group of businesspeople at a corner table, and a mostly male bar staff We strutted to the balcony. As we pushed the door open, a woman appeared. Time to put what I'd learned to the test.

"Hey," I said to her. "Let me get your opinion on something."

She stopped and listened. She was about four foot ten, with short, frizzy hair and a marshmallow body, but she had a nice smile; she would be good practice. I decided to use the Maury Povich opener.

"My friend Grimble there just got a call today from the Maury Povich show," I began. "And it seems they're doing a segment on secret admirers. Evidently, someone has a little crush on him. Do you think he should go on the show or not?"

"Sure," she answered. "Why not?"

"But what if his secret admirer is a man?" I asked. "Talk shows always need to put an unexpected twist on everything. Or what if it's a relative?"

It's not lying; it's flirting.

She laughed. Perfect. "Would you do the show?" I asked.

"Probably not," she answered.

Suddenly, Grimble stepped in. "So you would make me go on the show, but you wouldn't do it yourself," he teased her. "You're not adventurous at all, are you?" It was great to watch him work. Where I would have let the conversation wane into small talk, he was already leading her somewhere sexual.

"I am," she protested.

"Then prove it to me," he said, smiling. "Let's try a little exercise. It's called synesthesia." He took a step closer to her. "Have you ever heard of synesthesia? It will enable you to find all kinds of resources to accomplish and feel the things you want in life."

Synesthesia is the nerve gas in the arsenal of the speed seducer. Literally, it is an overlapping of the senses. In the context of seduction, however, synesthesia refers to a type of waking hypnosis in which a woman is put into a heightened state of awareness and told to imagine pleasurable imp ages and sensations growing in intensity. The goal: to make her uncontrollably aroused.

She agreed and closed her eyes. I was finally going to get to hear one of Ross's secret patterns. But as soon as Grimble began, a stocky, red-faced jock wearing a pocket undershirt marched up to him.

"What are you doing?" he asked Grimble.

"I was showing her a self-improvement exercise called synesthesia."

I had forgotten to check for a wedding ring, though I doubted minor inconveniences like marriage mattered to Grimble.

"Go disarm the guy," Grimble turned to me and hissed, "while I work on the girl."

I had no idea how to disarm him. He didn't seem quite as laid-back as Scott Baio. "He can show you the exercise, too," I said wanly. "It's really cool."

"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about," the guy said. "What is this thing supposed to do to me?" He took a step closer and leaned his face into mine. He smelled like whiskey and onion rings.

"It tells you whether... whether..." I stammered. "Never mind."

The guy lifted his hands and pushed me backward. Though I tell girls I'm five feet and eight inches, I'm actually five foot six. The top of my head just reached his shoulders.

"Stop it," his wife, our former sarge, said. She turned to us. "He's drunk. He gets like this."

"Like what?" I asked. "Violent?"

She smiled sadly.

"You seem like a great couple," I said. My attempt to disarm him had clearly failed, because he was about to disarm me. His red drunken face was two inches from mine and yelling about ripping something.

"Pleasure meeting you both," I squeaked, slowly backing away.

"Remind me," Grimble said as we retreated to the car, "to teach you how to handle the AMOG."

"The AMOG?"

"Yes, the alpha male of the group."

Chaphtk

Four days later, as I sat at home alone on a Saturday afternoon watching the videos Grimble had given me, he called with good news. He and his wing, Twotimer, were going to meet Ross Jeffries at California Pizza Kitchen for an expedition to the Getty Museum, and I was invited.

I arrived fifteen minutes early, selected a booth, and read through printouts of seduction board posts until Ross, Grimble, and Twotimer arrived. Twotimer had black hair gelled to the texture of a licorice vine, a matching leather jacket, and a snake-like quality. With his round, babyish face, he looked like a Grimble clone who'd been inflated by a bicycle pump.

As I stood up to introduce myself, Ross cut me off. He was not the most polite person I'd ever met. He wore a long wool overcoat, which flowed loosely around his legs when he walked. He was thin and gawky with gray stubble and greasy skin. His hairline was a receding mop of short, unkempt, ash-colored curls, and the hook in his nose was so pronounced he could have hung his overcoat on it.

"So what did you learn from Mystery?" Ross asked with a sneer.

"Like what?"

"Well, one of my sticking points was knowing when a girl was attracted to me. Now I know."

"And how do you know?" he asked.

"When I get three indicators of interest."

"Name them."

"Let's see. When she asks you what your name is."

"When you take her hands in yours and squeeze them, and she squeezes back."

"And, uh, I can't remember the rest right now."

"Aha." He leapt to his feet. "Then he's not a very good teacher, is he?"

"No, he was a great teacher," I protested.

"Then name the third indicator of interest."

"I can't think of it right now." I felt like an animal backed into a corner.

"Case closed," he said. He was good.

A short waitress with blue nails, a touch of baby fat, and sandy brown hair arrived to take our order. Ross looked at her, and then winked at me. "These are my students," he told her. "I'm their guru."

"Really?" she asked, feigning interest.

"What would you say if I told you that I teach people how to use mind control to attract any person they desire?"

"Get out of here."

"Yes, it's true. I could make you fall in love with any person at this table."

"And how's that? With mind control?" She was skeptical, but bordering on curious.

"Let me ask you something. When you're really attracted to somebody, how do you know? In other words, what signals do you get from yourself, inside, that allow you to realize"—and here he lowered his voice, slowly pronouncing each word—"you're ... really... attracted... to ... this guy?"

The purpose of the question, I would find out later, was to make the waitress feel the emotion of attraction in his presence, and thus associate those feelings with his face.

She thought about it for a moment. "Well, I guess I get a funny feeling in my stomach, like butterflies."

Ross put his hand, palm up, in front of his stomach. "Yes, and I bet that the more attracted you become, the more those butterflies rise up from your stomach"—he began slowly raising his hand to the level of his heart— "until your face begins to flush ... like it is right now."

Twotimer leaned over and whispered: "That's anchoring. It's when you associate a feeling—like attraction—with a touch or a gesture. Now, every time Ross raises his hand like that, she gets attracted to him."

After a few more minutes of Ross's flirtatious hypnospeak, the waitress's eyes began to glaze over. Ross seized the opportunity to toy with her mercilessly. He raised his hands like an elevator from his stomach to his face every few seconds, smiling as it made her blush every time. The dishes she was carrying were forgotten, balancing precariously on her weakening arm.

"With your boyfriend," Ross continued, "were you attracted right away?" He snapped, freeing her from her trance. "Or did it take time?"

"Well, we broke up," she said. "But it took a while. We were friends first."

"Isn't it so much better, though, when you just feel that sense of attraction"—he moved his hand up like an elevator and her eyes began to glaze again—"right away for someone." He pointed to himself, which I assumed was another NLP trick to make her think he was that someone. "It's incredible, isn't it?"

"Yes," she agreed, completely oblivious to her other tables.

"What was wrong with your boyfriend?"

"He was too immature."

Ross seized the opportunity. "Well, you should date more mature men."

"I was just thinking that, about you, as we were talking." She giggled.

"I bet that when you first came to the table, I was the last person you thought you'd be attracted to."

"It's strange," she said, "because you're not my usual type."

Ross suggested they get together for coffee when she wasn't working, and she jumped at the opportunity to give him her phone number. His technique was so different than Mystery's, but he seemed to be the real deal too.

Ross let out a loud, victorious laugh. "Well, your other customers are probably getting angry. But before you go, I'll tell you what. Why don't we take all those good feelings you're having right now"—raising his hands again—"and put them into this pack of sugar"—he picked up a sugar pack and rubbed his raised hand on it—"so that you can carry them around with you all day."

He handed her the sugar pack. She put it in her apron and walked away, still beet red.

"That," Twotimer hissed, "is condiment anchoring. After he's gone, the sugar pack will remind her of the positive emotions she felt with him."

As we left the restaurant, Ross ran the exact same routine on the hostess and collected her number. Both women were in their twenties; Ross was in his forties. I was floored.

We pressed into Ross's Saab and headed to the Getty. "Anything you want from a woman—attraction, lust, fascination—is just an internal process that she runs through her body and her brain," he explained as he drove. "And all you need to evoke that process are questions that make her go into her body and brain and actually experience it in order to answer you. Then she will link those feelings of attraction to you."

Sitting in the back seat with me, Twotimer scanned my face for a reaction. "What do you think?" he asked.

"Amazing," I said.

"Evil," he corrected, letting a thin smile creep over his lips.

When we arrived at the Getty, Twotimer turned his attention to Ross. "I wanted to ask you about the October Man sequence," he prodded. "I've been switching around a few of the steps."

Ross turned to him. "You understand that these things are very bad?" As he spoke, Ross wagged a finger at Twotimer's chest, over his heart. He was anchoring again, trying to associate the notion of badness with the forbidden pattern. "There's a reason I don't teach them at my seminars."

"Why is that?" Twotimer asked.

"Because," Ross answered, "it's like giving dynamite to children."

Twotimer smiled again. I could tell exactly what he was thinking— because, in my mind, the word evil was anchored to that smile.

"Darwin talked about survival of the fittest," Twotimer explained to me as we walked through the museum's collection of pre-twentieth century art. "In earlier times, this meant that the strong survived. But strength doesn't help one get ahead in society today. Women breed with seducers, who understand how to trigger, through words and touch, the fantasy parts of the female brain." There was something artificial and rehearsed about the way he spoke, the way he moved, the way he looked at me. It felt as if he were sucking my soul into his eyes. "So the whole idea of survival of the fittest is an anachronism. As players, we stand at the gate of a new era: the survival of the smoothest."

I liked the idea, though unfortunately I was no smoother than I was strong. My voice was fast and choppy, my movements effete, my body language awkward. For me, survival was going to take work.

"Casanova was one of us," Twotimer went on. "But we live a better lifestyle."

"Well, it probably took a lot more work to seduce a woman back then because of the morals of the day," I said, trying to contribute something useful.

"And we have the technology."

"You mean NLP?"

"Not just that. He had to work alone." He grinned as his gaze bore deeper into my eyes. "We have each other."

We lurked through the galleries, gazing at the people gazing at paintings. I watched as Grimble and Twotimer talked to various women. But I was far too scared to approach in front of Ross: It felt like trying to play the cello in front of Yo-Yo Ma. I was afraid he'd criticize everything I did or get upset that I wasn't using enough of his technology. On the other hand, this was a guy who advised students to get over their fear of approaching by walking up to random women and saying, "Hi, I'm Manny the Martian. What's your favorite flavor of bowling ball?" So I really didn't have to worry about looking foolish in front of him. He created fools.

At the end of the day, Ross had three numbers. Twotimer and Grimble had two each. And I had nothing.

As we took the train downhill to the museum parking lot, Ross slid into the seat next to me. "Listen," he said. "I have a seminar coming up in a few months. And I will let you sit in and take it for free."

"Thanks," I said.

"I am going to be your guru. Not Mystery. You'll see that what I am teaching is a hundred times more powerful."

I wasn't sure how to respond. They were competing over me—an AFC.

"And one more thing," Ross said. "In exchange, I want you to take me to five—no, six—Hollywood parties, with super-hot babes. I need to widen my horizons."

He smiled and asked, "Do we have a deal?" as he rubbed his thumb on his chin. I was sure he was anchoring me.

Continue reading here: Demonstrate

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