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This Cringey Pickup Artist Scenario Is Opening Up a Whole New Meme

You should not, under any circumstances, neg a woman in the chips aisle

Has any self-described “pickup artistactually shown a talent for seduction? In my experience, a man who excels at attracting women doesn’t turn it into a whole lifestyle brand — he’s far too busy in the bedroom for that. Particularly on the internet, where so many pretend to be what they’re not, the gurus of game exaggerate their conquests and develop a mindless faith in unproven methods, so that they often sound like they’ve rarely ventured into society at all.

For as long as they’ve been a community, pickup artists have obsessed over the “opener,” or what in the old days they would’ve called a “pickup line.” (Contemporary PUAs rebrand a lot of basic ideas in order to cash in on an audience that imagines they’re absorbing new information.) In short, it’s how you meet and introduce yourself to a woman you’ve spotted in a public setting, whether it’s conducive to flirtation (party, event, bar) or not (supermarket, doctor’s office, crowded subway car). The philosophy of this entrance is critical because, pickup artistry being a brute numbers game, it’s often as far as the man will get before the woman brushes him off.

Everyone has different boundaries and expectations while moving about in the world. When I go to the supermarket, for example, a shorter person might ask for help reaching an item on the top shelf, and I think nothing of assisting a stranger this way. I do not, however, imagine myself accosted in the chip aisle by someone who noticed me “from behind” and hopes to hook up after negging me for buying Doritos. Nor, in my opinion, should anyone have to accept such a possibility. More to the point: There is no way this has ever worked. It’s not that people can’t hit it off and trade digits after a chance encounter, it’s that the PUAs are so invested in their simulations and scenarios, they’ve lost all touch with the rhythm of genuine communication.  

These “how do you open” posts, currently on a viral streak thanks to copious dunks and wisecracking answers, are closer to the setup of a porn video than anything you’d experience at a local retailer. They are premised on a reality in which the entire population is as hyper focused on sexual fulfillment as the pickup artist looking for opportunity around every corner. The truth is, if we’re at the laundromat, it’s to do laundry, and if we’re at the gym, it’s to exercise — while pursuing normal routines and errands, we temporarily put aside the desire to nut. Which makes it incredibly jarring if a creep then drifts into your personal space with the intent to strut his stuff. Dudes attempting this will either A) soon realize their folly, or B) rationalize continued failure.

Or we can prevent that behavior in the first place by spoofing it into oblivion.

The meme takes will inevitably drown out the PUA originals, and that’s a huge relief. One hopes, too, that they establish how ridiculous it is to treat other humans as manipulable characters in a video game, or as prizes to be unlocked with the right combination of specialized moves. There isn’t any hack to relational chemistry, and if there were, it wouldn’t be “surprising, inconveniencing and probably offending a woman while she shops.” In that situation, it’s indeed far better to regard her as a large monitor lizard — she’s doing what she does, and you can stay far the hell away. What could you say to impress such a reptile? Exactly. Move along, then.

Yes, we all went through a lot in the various rounds of pandemic isolation, and I understand the resolve to be outgoing now that we have the vaccine, with most restrictions lifted. Timing and a dose of tact go a long way, however, and your dating life shouldn’t begin with the challenge of detaining busy people you first laid eyes on 15 seconds before. The recurring joke that PUAs seem not to recognize in their theories and strategies of “opening” is that they believe there’s an advantage to soliciting the women most closed off and unreceptive to their sleazy overtures. 

For them, it’s always a matter of breaking this exterior shell, never any question of why it might be there, or how exhausting it is to be targeted with a stock approach when you’re just trying to take care of your needs. Weird as it may sound, fellas, women are capable of looking for sex and love themselves, and won’t hesitate to signal that interest. Forcing your way into her life only keeps you at a chilly distance. Besides, you have your own grocery list to handle.