E9

computer, I wrote down all the patterns and routines I would use to combat her LMR. Now that I knew she liked me, I had the confidence to push this thing to the end.

If she still resisted, then she clearly had intimacy issues and I'd have to be the one to LJBF her.

Her flight was scheduled to arrive at 6:30 P.M. As Herbal drove the limo past the Delta terminal looking for her, I mixed Cosmopolitans at the bar in the back of the car.

When the flight arrived, however, she wasn't on it.

I was confused, but not disappointed—yet. A PUA must be willing to change or abandon any plan when confronted with the chaos and chance of reality. So Herbal drove me home, and I left a message for Lisa.

When she didn't call back, I left another message and then waited all night in vain to hear from her.

At five o'clock that morning, I was awakened by my cell phone ringing.

"Sorry to wake you up, but I need to talk to someone." The voice on the other end was a man's. The accent was Australian. It was Sweater.

Since I'd last seen Sweater, he had left the community and gotten married. I thought about him often. Every time someone asked if guys in the community were learning these skills just to have sex with as many women as possible, I pointed to Sweater as an example of someone who had gotten into the game for all the right reasons.

"I tried to kill myself today," he said.

"What happened?"

"My wife is expecting our first baby in ten days, and I'm miserable. I do everything for her, but it's not enough. She's driven me away from my friends. My business partner is leaving me. She spends all my money and all she does is complain." He paused to choke back his tears. "And now that she's having this baby, I'm trapped."

"But you were in love with her. How can she just change?" "No. The problem is that I changed. It was too hard to be that person who Mystery and David DeAngelo taught us to be. That person wasn't a good guy. And that's not the kind of person I wanted to be. I like doing nice things for people. So I got her whatever she wanted. I sent her flowers three times a week. I tried it her way, but it didn't work."

I'd never heard grown men cry as much as I had in the last two years. "I sat in the garage today with the motor running and the windows up," he continued. "I haven't thought of suicide since 1986. But I just got to the point where I was like, 'Fuck.' I didn't see any purpose in living."

Sweater didn't need to be saved. He just wanted a friend to talk to. He had pretended to be someone he wasn't just to seduce a woman, and now he was suffering the consequences.

"When I first got in the community, I wrote down everything I wanted," he said. "And now I'm living the life I imagined. I have the money, the big house, and the beautiful girl. But I wasn't specific enough about the beautiful girl. I never wrote that she had to treat me with respect and kindness."

Later that morning, Courtney returned to the house. I could hear her screaming at Gabby in the living room.

I walked downstairs to discover Courtney carrying Cabby's bags out of the house, and I found myself saying the same three words that seemed to come out of my mouth every time I entered the living room: "What's going on?"

"Gabby got into a fight with Mystery, and she's moving out," Courtney said. "So I'm helping her."

Courtney could barely conceal her smile.

"Did the rest of the band get back from Atlanta yet?" I asked, trying to sound casual.

"Yeah. They came home on an earlier flight."

I turned away quickly. I knew if I said anything in response, my voice would betray my disappointment.

After Gabby left, Courtney threw a bundle of sage on the coffee table. "Let's clear the air in here," she said. Then she skipped off to the kitchen, explaining, "We need some rice for good fortune."

Unable to locate any rice, she returned with a package of jambalaya mix and a bowl of water. She poured the jambalaya mix into the water, planted the sage in the middle of it, and then ran to her room. She emerged carrying a blue-and-white-checkered flannel shirt.

"This will work," she said. "It's one of Kurt's shirts. I only have three of them left."

She carefully arranged the shirt underneath the table, safe from harm, so that it could bring good energy to the house. After lighting the sage, she sat Mystery, Herbal, and me down next to her makeshift altar, and we joined hands. Her grip was bone-crushing.

"Thank you God for this day and all that you have given us," she prayed. "We ask that you clear the energy of this house of all evil. Please bring peace and harmony and friendship under this roof. No more tears! And help me win my court case in New York and help clear up all my other problems. I will work with you, God. I really will. Give me strength. Amen."

"Amen," we repeated.

The next day, a driver came and whisked Courtney to the airport to go to New York. There, her prayers for herself would eventually be answered, but the atmosphere in the house would only grow darker in her absence. Courtney and Gabby, it soon became clear, weren't the cause of any problems: They had merely been the symptoms of something much larger that was eating away at our lives.

That afternoon, Lisa left me a short voice mail. "Hi, it's Lisa. I'm back. We took an earlier flight." That was it. No apology, no tenderness, no mention of the plans she had completely blown off.

I called her back, but she didn't answer. "I'm leaving town in a few hours to go to Miami with Vision," I told her voice mail. "I would really love to talk to you before I leave." It was an AFC message, and I never heard back from her. I checked my voice mail every day while I was away. Nothing.

I wasn't a plower, like Tyler Durden. If she were interested, she would have called. I'd been blown off. And by the first woman I had felt something for in a while. I figured she'd probably started dating someone else, someone who had been able to break through her LMR.

First I was angry at her, then I was angry at myself, and then I was just sad.

The PUAs had always advised that the best way to get over a one-itis is to fuck a dozen other girls. So I went on a rampage.

I didn't want to end up like Sweater, anyway. I had almost let myself get caught.

I went sarging every night in Miami, with more fire, drive, and success than I'd ever had. I've never been a fan of one-night stands. Once you've gotten that close to someone, why throw it away afterward? I'm more a fan of ten-night stands: ten nights of great sex, each one getting steamier, wilder, and more experimental as two people grow more comfortable together and learn what turns each other on. So after I slept with each woman, I mixed and matched them like jellybeans.

It was my reality.

The girls I was most looking forward to getting together were Jessica, a tattoo-covered twenty-one-year-old I'd slept with a few times in Los Angeles, and another Jessica, who I'd met at Crobar. She was also twenty-one, but the exact opposite of Jessica I. She was innocent looking, with a touch of baby fat. I knew they both liked porn, so I thought things might get interesting.

After a drink at the hotel bar, I brought them up to my room for a rune reading and then left them alone for a few minutes to get acquainted. When I returned, I showed them home movies on my laptop and then began the trusty dual-induction massage. It was all just a routine now, like the jealous girlfriend opener or the best friends test. And it worked just as consistently.

Once the girls' lips touched, they transformed from strangers to lovers. It shocked me every time to see two women get intimate so quickly in such an unusual situation.

The night was as nasty as I'd anticipated. We tried every position we could twist into, some more successfully than others. When Jessica I asked me to come in her mouth, I obliged. She spit the wad into Jessica II's mouth, and they started making out passionately. It was the sexiest moment of my entire life.

But afterward I felt empty and alone. I didn't care about them. All I really had was a memory and a story. Every girl in my life could disappear and never call me again, and I wouldn't have cared.

All the ten-night stands and threesomes in the world wouldn't be enough to get me over my one-itis.

The PUAs were wrong.

Cluxpi&h

Male sexuality may seem on the surface like it runs rampant in society— there are strip clubs, porn websites, Maxim-style magazines, and titillating advertisements everywhere. But, despite all this, true male desire is often kept repressed.

Men think about sex more than they will ever let women, or even each other, know. Teachers think about fucking their students, fathers think about fucking their daughter's friends, doctors think about fucking their patients. And right now, for every woman with even an iota of sex appeal, there's probably a man somewhere in the world who's touching himself and thinking about what it would be like to fuck her. She may not even know him: He may be that businessman who walked past her in the street or the college student who sat across from her on the subway. And any man who tells a woman otherwise is most likely doing so because he's trying to get in her pants, or the pants of someone else within earshot. The great lie of modern dating is that in order to sleep with a woman, a man must pretend initially as if he doesn't want to.

Most appalling to women is the male obsession with strippers, porn stars, and teenage girls. It is abhorrent because it threatens a woman's reality. If all men really desire a woman like that, then where does that leave her marriage and happily-ever-after fantasies? She's doomed to live them with a man who really wants that Victoria's Secret model or the neighbor's daughter or that dominatrix in the videos he hides in his closet. As a woman ages, an eighteen-year-old girl will always be eighteen. Love is dashed on the rocks in the face of the possibility that a man doesn't want a person but a body.

Fortunately, this is not the entire story. Men are visual thinkers; thus we're often deceived by our eyes. But the truth is that the fantasy is often better than the reality. I had just learned that lesson. Most men eventually learn that lesson. Mystery may have thought he wanted to live with two girls who love each other as much as they love him, but chances are they'd get on his nerves, team up against him, and eventually make him just as miserable as he'd been with Katya.

Men are not dogs. We merely think we are and, on occasion, act as if we are. But, by believing in our nobler nature, women have the amazing power to inspire us to live up to it. This is the one reason why men tend to fear commitment—and sometimes, as in Mystery's case, even rebel against it by endeavoring to bring out the worst in a woman.

While I was in Miami, Katya returned.

I dreaded the day and the terror it would unleash in the house. But Mystery was looking forward to it like a birthday. He had it all planned out.

Because I was away, I have reconstructed the story of the disaster that ensued from the accounts of those involved.

Project Hollywood had reached a new nadir.

MYSTERY: I met a nineteen-year-old hottie named Jen at an afterparty at the house. I full-montied her, and it was amazing, like the shower scene in 9 1/2 Weeks. She had the softest, purest skin and the best ass I'd ever been with. And I was standing there just looking at that ass and that skin thinking, "I deserve this."

KATYA: Mystery called me every other day while I was in New Orleans, trying to sweet-talk me. He said, "I have this beautiful nineteen-year-old girl that you'll love." I asked him if he was giving her to me. He said, "No, we're sharing."

MYSTERY: The idea wasn't for Katya to be my girlfriend again, but to be a playtoy for Jen and me. My plan was to pick her up from the airport in the limo, grab some food at the Farmer's Market, and then go back to the house and do the dual-induction massage.

HERBAL: I ignored Katya for almost the entire month and a half she was gone, even though she kept sending me text messages. Mystery spent the whole time bragging about how he was going to get a threesome with her, which was like a knife being twisted in my heart. I told Mystery repeatedly just to ignore her and not let her back in the house to avoid problems. But he wouldn't do it.

KATYA: I flew into Los Angeles the day before, which Mystery doesn't know, to rent a studio apartment and hang out with some friends from New Orleans. I stayed in a hotel and called Herbal to talk, because at that point I really wanted to start dating him. The next morning, I just showed up at the house and told Mystery my plane got in early so I took a taxi.

HERBAL: When I came home from doing errands and saw Katya's suitcase, I went into my room to mind my own business. However, Mystery and Katya came in and started talking to me. Then we went to Mystery's bathroom and Katya painted our nails. She disappeared into Mystery's walk-in closet to get a sweater, then Mystery went in. After five minutes, they were still in the closet.

MYSTERY: She called me into the closet and said, '7 want to date

Herbal." I don't think she said it because she truly wanted to be with him. She just said it to bug me. I was being too kissy-kissy with Jen, and I believe that triggered jealousy in her. So I called Herbal into the closet and told Katya, "Why don't you say it to him?"

KATYA: I really liked Herbal. We talked on the phone throughout my entire visit to New Orleans, and I enjoyed his personality. He was so easygoing, and he never disagreed with anything.

MYSTERY: Herbal and Katya were hanging out, hugging and kind of awkward, so I said, "Why don't you two kiss and get it over with?" They did, and it instantly made me haywire. I didn't expect that to happen after so much time had passed. But, as David DeAngelo says, attraction is not a choice.

HERBAL: That night, we went on a double date. Mystery asked Twyla to drive us in the limo to the Santa Monica Pier. I guess I was naive, but I really thought everything would be fine.

TWYLA: I couldn't believe Mystery had the gumption to ask me to drive, to shove it in my face. He thought he was this grand manipulator. And it made me disgusted with myself for even liking this person.

MYSTERY: Jen and Katya ended up making out with each other in the limo that night. I have pictures of them sucking each other's tits in a phone booth at the pier. But it was getting complex. The moment Katya became Herbal's girlfriend, the threesome was off and I didn't want Jen touching Katya anymore. However, Katya was attracted to Jen, so she started talking trash about me to her.

KATYA: Mystery kept saying he really liked Jen and not to make him look like an asshole in front of her. I told him, "You guys are great. If anyone's going to put up with your shit, it's that girl." I was glad he had someone because I wanted Herbal.

MYSTERY: Jen went home to San Diego for a week after that, and Katya called her every day. One night while Jen was gone, I had a six-foot-tall model in bed with me and was dealing with last-minute resistance. I was fingering her and getting jacked off, but I couldn't get any further. So during a freeze-out, I went to the kitchen to get a Sprite. And I heard Katya having sex with Herbal again. The moaning triggered feelings of jealousy, and I started crying. I couldn't stop, even though I had a girl in my bed. I went back to my room and told the model how fucked up my life was. So she said she wanted to go home. I was going to drive her, but then Twyla started laughing at me.

TWYLA I was sleeping in the pillow pit and Mystery walked by, upset. I kind of giggled a little bit because I was quite entertained by it all. At that point, I had to take it with humor, because if I didn't, I was going to end up hurt again. Then he flew off the handle and fired me. The girl he was with had to call a taxi home.

KATYA: The next week, Mystery wanted to use my car to pick up Jen from San Diego. On the way back to the house, Jen and I were chitchatting and having fun. Mystery felt left out so he started negging me.

MYSTERY: I felt that Katya was trying to steal Jen from me and share her with Herbal. So I got pissed at Katya in the car, and we had a blow-up. Jen saw this and said, "Just take me home." After that, she asked me never to call her again.

MYSTERY [Posted in Mystery's Lounge]: Be on the lookout for Herbal, Katya, and Jen. If anyone sees Herbal (easy to spot as he frequently peacocks) or his girlfriend Katya (a bi Russian 9.5, easy to spot) with Jen (a nineteen-year-old Mexican 9.5, also easy to spot), please call Mystery so I may administer punishment to Herbal without warning.

KATYA: He thought I was trying to turn Jen against him. But after that car ride, she didn't want anything to do with me either. She thought I was lying by saying all that good stuff about Mystery. It made me look like an ass.

MYSTERY: Herbal and I still had a business relationship. So we went to Chicago together for a workshop. Because I'm fascinated by the mind, I'd explain to him the jealousy I was feeling and we'd draw various boundaries on his relationship with my ex-girlfriend.

HERBAL: On the last day of the Chicago workshop, Mystery and I went to get food together. Mystery opened a four-set of girls next to us. During the sarge, he said, "Can you believe it? This guy actually took my ex-girlfriend."

He told them the whole story. I'd occasionally give my perspective, and he started getting really angry. He said, out of nowhere, "Katya is not allowed in my house ever again."

I said, "It's my house too. You created this situation." He said, "If I see her in the house again, I will end you." And I told him, "Do what you have to do."

MYSTERY: When we came back, Twyla had moved out of Project Hollywood, quit being my personal assistant, and moved in with Katya.

TWYLA: Katya and I became friends. We bonded over talking about what kind of a person Mystery was. She asked me if I wanted to be her roommate. So I said, "Right on."

HERBAL: Eventually, Mystery and I compromised. I said that Katya wouldn't spend more than half the week at the house. We shook hands and had an agreement.

When I came back from Chicago, I had a week in Los Angeles before going to Boston for a family reunion. I stayed at Katya's apartment the entire week, just to be cool.

KATYA: While Herbal was gone, I was helping Papa with his workshops. We finished late on Friday night, went to Mel's, and then came home and sat in the hot tub. I had to be up in the afternoon and look pretty. So he told me to sleep in Herbal's room. When I woke up, I saw Mystery.

He asked me what I was doing in the house and I said, "Papa and I were hanging out last night. We had fun."

Then I said, "I met one of your friends two nights ago."

He said, "Who did you meet?"

And he freaked out.

MYSTERY: When Katya told me in a very glib way that she had hung out with my ex-girlfriend from Toronto, I was furious. I lost Jen because of her; I lost Twyla because of her; and now she was about to steal Sima, who was still an option.

KATYA: He ran past me and kicked Herbal's door off the hinges and said, "Where's Herbal?" Then he ran back to his room, grabbed a framed photograph of Sima, and threw it at the wall over Herbal's bed. He said, "I don't want you in this house when your boyfriend's not here."

MYSTERY: I knew I couldn't reason with Katya and I couldn't touch her, so I decided to frighten her. I kicked the door and told her I wanted her out of the house. She said, "This isn't your house." And I told her, "I pay rent. I live here. You're a guest, and your host is not here. This is not acceptable."

KATYA Mystery started threatening that if he saw me in the house again, Herbal would get hurt. He threw candles around; he flipped

Herbal's mattress off the bed; he threw a flowerpot against the wall; and then he opened Herbal's balcony door and started throwing my stuff into the driveway. He busted my bottle of Kama Sutra oil. I was so pissed.

MYSTERY: I said, "Don't come back here or else!"

She said back to me, "Or else what? Are you going to kill me?"

And I said, "No. I love you. I will punish your boyfriend if you come back. Tell him to control his girl."

KATYA I went upstairs to look for Papa, but he wasn't there. So I got in my car and drove to my apartment. Five minutes later, Papa called. He said, "It's not Mystery's house. My name is on the lease, and you're my guest. I'm going to pick you up right now." So he snuck me back into the house.

MYSTERY: Papa was breaking a cardinal rule. He was hiring my ex-girlfriend, who I trained, to be in his workshops, which was an idea he'd stolen from me.

HERBAL (to Mystery, via e-mail): I have been told that my bedroom and personal belongings have been "destroyed" because Katya was at the house. I don't know exactly what destroyed means, but now I do not feel safe in my own house. You seem to believe that the world revolves around you and that everyone else should bend to your wishes.

MYSTERY (to Herbal, via e-mail): I don't want Katya here and that is so final that there will be no need for you to reply to this e-mail in any way. Nor bring up the subject again, for it will arouse my anger so deeply that you will be thrown through glass. There will be no further warning. If she comes around when you return, I will instantly pound you—it will be fast, hard, unexpected, merciless, and repetitive. If you come by and she isn't around, then we can safely live in peace under the same roof. Either way, our business relationship is, obviously, finished.

TYLER DURDEN (via e-mail, to Mystery): You lost Katya for many reasons, but to me it appeared as though you emotionally leeched off of her. You are needy and like a black hole sucking in attention. You can't handle not being the center of attention for even one minute. That is your tragic flaw. Don't offer your girls to your friends. Don't try to make a party girl into your girlfriend. And don't underestimate the consequences of bringing recently converted AFCs into our lifestyle.

Chapiak

My phone rang every day while I was in Miami. I'd pick it up, and it would be Mystery or Herbal or Katya or Twyla or Tyler Durden. I even received phone calls about Project Austin, which was also falling apart: The gas and electricity had been shut off because the bills hadn't been paid, and the bedrooms were cluttered with candles, dirty clothing, and pornography. But the only person I really wanted to hear from was Lisa.

When I returned to Project Hollywood, Herbal's room was in tatters. There were holes in his wall; his door was propped up precariously against its hinges; his mattress lay over his television set; and glass and dirt were strewn across the hardwood floor.

From the perspective of a pickup artist, all Mystery was doing was strengthening Katya and Herbal's relationship by creating drama and a common enemy. But Mystery wasn't thinking like a pickup artist. He was unable to control himself.

That night, the doorbell rang. When Mystery answered it, he found a well-muscled man in his twenties standing in the rain with an angry look on his face. Katya's car was parked in front of the house.

"I'm Katya's brother," the man told Mystery.

"I don't think so. I know her brother."

"Well," he said, stepping past Mystery and into the house. "I heard you threatened to kill her. And that's not going to happen."

"I never threatened Katya." Mystery sized Katya's friend up. He was shorter than him but definitely stronger. "I threatened Herbal."

"Well, if you do anything to her, I will personally crack your skull wide open."

Mystery never responded well to provocation. Just like during our argument in the car at the Trans-Dniester border, Mystery snapped. The veins in his neck leaped to attention; his face ripened; he grew an inch.

"You want to go?" Mystery yelled. "Let's go then, because I'm ready to take this thing all the way."

"Fine," Katya's friend said. "Then step outside. I don't want to get blood on the carpet."

"No, let's do it right here. I want blood on the floor. I want something to remember you by."

In the periphery of his vision, Mystery spotted a cluster of large rocks he'd brought back from the beach and painted into runestones. He reached for one, prepared to smash his adversary's head in, then quickly changed his mind. He took three giant strides to Herbal's already-decimated door and kicked it to the ground again.

"Come on then," Mystery yelled. "I'm not making any apologies for what I'm about to do."

He grabbed a bookshelf and pulled it over.

Katya's friend saw the gleam of madness in Mystery's eyes—and in a fight the insane generally have a competitive edge. "You don't have to kick doors down and shit," he said, backing off. "All I want is the dog, man. Katya sent me to get her dog."

The guy scooped Lily into his arms, and Mystery paused and looked at him. The threat was gone. The Cortisol, the adrenaline, the testosterone—all those hormones that were rushing through his body—began to ebb. His brain returned to logical mode. "Why didn't you say that in the first place instead of threatening me in my own home?"

The guy stood next to the door, befuddled, with Lily cradled in his arms.

"Do you need food for Lily?" Mystery asked.

Mystery walked to the kitchen, grabbed Lily's bag of dry food and several cans of wet food, and gave them to his would-be attacker.

On the way out, the guy dropped some cans on the steps. Mystery bent down, picked them up, handed them to him, and then patted him on the back.

"Respect," he told Katya's friend, using the line we'd appropriated from Ali G to use in the field.

I walked upstairs, collapsed on my bed, and stared at the ceiling.

Why was I here? It wasn't just about my envy of Dustin anymore. Along the way, I had gotten caught up in the social network and bonding rituals of the community—in the idea that we were the supermen of the future, the smoothest who would inherit the earth from the strong, the sole owners of the skeleton key to the female mind. I had moved in with these guys because I thought we had all the answers. I imagined working together to bring all the other areas of our lives up to a new plateau, beyond just women. I hoped we would be greater than the than the sum of our parts.

But rathter than creating a mutual support system, we had created Lord of the Flies.

Something had to be done to resolve this. My faith in these guy—and this community—was hanging by a thread.

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