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The first rule of flirt club is: flirt.

The second rule of flirt club is: flirt outrageously!

Last night saw the culmination of season one of geeks talk sexy with the flirting workshop. Geeks talk sexy has been a series of events designed to talk about geeks, sex, sexuality and how they all come together.

The sessions had all been mainly theoretical, that was until now…

I will confess now that I am an incorrigible flirt, in fact at times I can be a downright tart. No, really, ask anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in my company. However, I wanted to attend to see if my technique was any good, and also to see what new tricks and tips I could learn.

My fellow geeks turned out to be a mixed bunch, mostly IT types, mostly male and mostly telling the same story. A desire to be able to comfortably interact with folk, to flirt and be complimentary and to overcome the fear of being rejected or looking foolish; common laments from folk who interact with machines and code and sometimes miss the opportunity to interact face to face. Mind you, we did have two cheeky women whose desire was to learn new tricks!

The evening was to be split into two parts. Part the First was presented by Nicole Mathison who helped create; this was to cover the art of the flirt. Part the Second covered the pickup, a different approach entirely, and one that was counter, in some ways, to the flirt.

Nicole’s session was really very good, and also very common sense based. Flirting to her is not a skill perpetually linked to finding a romantic partner; instead it is a set of skills designed to make you approachable and boost the self esteem of the people you’re dealing with. Flirting can be used with your boss, your bank manager and with anyone with whom you want to have a better interaction. The key is stepping outside your comfort zone and forgetting your ego, focus on other people and take the risk of being rejected. The worst that can happen is…scratch that, that phrase is what got me into trouble last night.

This is why this blog is called the tales of the Gentleman MISadventurer. If everything I did went smoothly and to plan, I’d be an adventurer. I shall draw a veil over the specifics and leave you with these thoughts:

  1. The Northern Quarter isn’t always as friendly as you think; making eye contact and winking at strangers can yield odd results
  2. Do not offer to step in and buy wine for the students you’ve just been flirting with
  3. Do not, I repeat DO NOT mess with the security guard in the Co-op in the Northern Quarter, else Greater Manchester’s finest will get involved

This is what happens when you get 12 people to wander through the Northern Quarter flirting with strangers and wandering around the supermarket to practise their new-found skills.

Post near-encounter with the GMP, we moved on to the second part of the evening: the art of the pickup.

Part two was presented by Simon Lumb and his co-game player and wingman Ian. Simon was a toned, tanned, designer-shirt-wearing guy, as was his co-presenter Ian. Whereas Nicole came across as genuine, working in technology and ever so slightly geeky, Simon and Ian came across as suave polished self-salesmen.

The pickup artists use Neil Strauss’s “The Game”, a book containing a set of rules that allegedly guarantee the user success if they use them to the letter. The Game has attracted controversy, and whilst none of the group would admit to having read it, the book had a bad reputation nonetheless.

The second part was less practical and had no roleplay or discussion. It revolved around Simon quickly recapping The Game, introducing some of the terminology (the neg, the pattern, the approach) and filling the session with anecdotal tales of how The Game had helped him and Ian. Simon defended The Game by describing it as “self help for men”, the pitch being that you “fake it until you make it”. By following the rules of The Game, you can act as if you’re a super confident alpha male until one day you realise that you have made it, that the confidence is no longer an act and you are a super confident alpha male.

I would have had more sympathy for Simon and Ian if I had any sense they were, or had been geeks. They both struck me as very self confident people anyway, helped by the fact they were naturally handsome, with the look of people who know how the gym works.

The interesting comparison for me was the difference in approach. Flirting is all about building the recipient up and making them feel better after the flirt. The pickup serves to subtly challenge the recipient; in some cases ignore and slightly insult them to make them work to come to you. Flirting as a skill is not explicitly about achieving anything apart from the flirt itself. The pickup serves to lure someone in to your web and to get their contact details.

So what did I learn? I learned I am a natural flirt, and a talented one it seems. The things I do intuitively seem on the mark, and I bought into the idea that flirting is a skill that can be used anywhere and in almost any interaction you have with another person. I also found that I also use some aspects of the pickup instinctively. This came as a shock to me but on reflection “The Game” came from somewhere, and that somewhere is human behaviour after all.

Am I now going to read The Game? I admit that yes, I am. I am intrigued by what Style/Neil Strauss has to say. I can’t say I’m eager to go out and start using the techniques; however I want to see what on earth the fuss is about. You can expect a full and frank entry soon once I’ve *cough* obtained a copy.

Will I be going out and being even more of a flirt than I am already? Tell you what, how about we talk about that over drinks, I’ll get the first bottle of wine in…

Photos courtesy of Ian Forrester/@cubicgarden, borrowed under creative commons.

Written by Simon Carter, thank you!