Once I talked to a really cute girl at a grocery store. She was my checker, and I had a lot of items, a random assortment of truly odd things I was buying. I was buying them for an unusual project, and I joked with her and teased her a bit trying to make her guess what it was. Eventually I told her and she had the “Wow you get paid to do that?” reaction I was going for. What a sweet, pretty girl.
Thing is, I was just visiting that town, and was in fact on my way out of town. I wasn’t even thinking of getting her number. I was just enjoying a fun conversation with a pretty, young woman. (If you don’t already live your life this way, incidentally, my question to you is: why not?)
This girl made quite an impression on me, though I didn’t realize it at the time. It was her eyes, I think. Anyway, a few days later I was working on a story, and this girl’s face came to my mind as clear as day, as the face of the female character in the story. So as I wrote, I kept picturing, and then describing in detail, her face. And not just that, but the way she moved, the way she laughed… and I made up all kinds of details about her, of course. She became a character, and the character I created was charming, and beautiful. I wrote about her day after day, and even described sex scenes between her and the male protagonist.
Much to my surprise — back at my day job — I found myself back in the same town, back at the same store, a month and a half later. I certainly remembered the girl that worked there. I spied her when I was headed to the check out counter. She must have spied me too, because she was acting as the floating bagger, moving from register to register according to perceived need, and she was definitely at my register when I came to the front of the line.
I joked around with the old guy who was ringing me up as she stood there and put things in my bag. (Never underestimate the power of letting a girl do things for you, whether it’s her job or not.) After a few moments I locked eyes with her. “Aren’t you that guy who [does that one weird job]?” she asked me. “I remember you.”
I smiled and chatted her up a little as she finished bagging my things. She left the register before I was done paying and when I walked to the exit, she followed me pushing a stack of carts. I turned around and intercepted her at the parking lot, and asked her out for a drink. She said yes and I asked for her number.
“Oh that’s a problem. I don’t just give my number out.”
What should Master Dogen have done?
A) Given her my number instead.
B) Told her that was too bad, and walked off.
C) Told her maybe I’d see her around then.
D) Told her I don’t give my number out either, and that we were at an impasse, and smiled.
The correct answer is D). Or if you have a better idea, leave it in the comments. I should have said I didn’t give my number out either. Or I should have said, “Oh you aren’t giving it out. You’re giving it to me.” And then smiled like a cocky son of a bitch.
The worst thing that can happen is that it backfires on you and she refuses to give you her number. Big deal. It’s just a girl.
But I said, “Alright” and gave her my number instead. And trying to think of something cocky to say, as I walked off, I gave her a shit-eating grin and said, “Don’t forget now.”
Ugh. Not an epic fail, but a fail nonetheless. I was actually trying, at that point, and I’m sure it came through. Letting her shoot me down and then giving her my number as soon as she asked was very beta. And then adding that needy “Don’t forget!” just made it worse.
Why did I act like that? I had a sneaking fear of losing that girl. I forgot she was just a girl. Some part of myself was convinced she was really important. You see, I’d built up this girl in my mind, the same as if I had been pining over her as an actual potential serious girlfriend.
That way lies beta, my friends.
It goes to show how powerful your own mind can be over … well, over your own mind. Even though I was just writing a story about some imagined character, using this girl’s face as a template to help me imagine the character, I was subconsciously building her up in my mind. I had no conscious desire to long for this woman, but my mind didn’t care. The power of imagining it was enough to train my brain into adopting a lovelorn, beta posture with her.
I know my transgression doesn’t sound that bad, and indeed it really wasn’t that bad. At least I chatted her up. At least I asked her out. But I was pretty disappointed in myself afterwards when I reflected on it. I don’t make those kinds of basic mistakes very often. It was almost a trick of fate that it happened, but I’m glad it did because it reminded me how strong mind-conditioning can be.
I can’t really endorse the Think and Grow Rich method of positive self-reinforcement. Only because the only reinforcement people feel if they read aloud to themselves some list of goals is the reinforcement of seeing themselves as weird, desperate, pathetic people who have to resort to tricks like that.
But I don’t doubt that it has worked for some people. And I absolutely believe that “fake it till you make it” is a powerful philosophy. I’ve made it work for me not only with women, but in business, in speaking foreign languages, hell, even in playing chess. If you train yourself to believe you can do something, you will find that belief coming true very often.
On the other hand, negative training can be equally powerful. If you mope, if you pine after a certain girl, if you convince yourself you are a loser in some way or another, guess what? It comes true even faster. Nothing is more self-defeating.