It took me a minute to find him because of all the loud music and the angry hostility with which both men and women glared at me as I pushed through the dance floor to reach the table.
“Casper here is a flight instructor,” Dom introduced me, standing up as I walked over. He looked awkward getting up from the stool, his belly hanging over his dark pants, protruding against the buttons of his suit. It looked like there was sweat gathering at the spindly junctures of his mustache and goatee from the effort. I shook his hand concernedly.
“Ah, another protege?” asked the man sitting with him. “Looking to consistently pull more beautiful women? A new master for our method?”
“No,” I said a little too quickly, implying the idea horrified me, and then thought about feeling bad. I gave the other man a quizzical smile in apology, my brow furrowed. He was shorter than Dom and thinner, his pale skin glowing in the dim light of the lamps over the table, his dark hair slicked back with a rigid sheen – Dom introduced him as Rick. He was wearing a shirt that looked expensive with really stiff collars.
I was only wearing my usual khakis, a simple shirt, and AOPA Association cap, but they looked way more ill-at-ease than I did.
“You will be by the end of the night, my brother,” Rick told me. “You will be begging for the Method. We’re running through some basics right now.”
“Basics?” I asked, to be polite.
“Of the B.O.S.S. Method,” said Dom.
“Rule One,” said Rick. “Own the premises.”
“The premises?” I asked, looking over the list of drinks on the table. They all had a paragraph description of different fruit juices and fruit-juice-flavored liqueurs, and I knew my night just got a whole lot worse. “You mean, like, this bar? I should own this bar? I don’t own this bar.”
“It’s a club,” Dom corrected.
“Not own it,” Rick told me with a smile. “Own it. I own it.”
“You own it?” I asked. “Can you get a good IPA on the menu or something? I think you should.”
He looked like he was deciding whether I was joking or an idiot, then gave me the benefit of the doubt and continued to explain. “I don’t literally own the place. When I walked in here, I gave Ross a 20 dollar bill. Why did I do that?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know who Ross is.”
“That’s exactly the point,” said Rick. “Ross is the guy at the door. He checked your ID on the way in. You’ve got to know all the staff, you’ve got to give them handshakes when you walk in the door, be greeted by your name. Everyone here should know you – the bartender, the waitresses, the bouncers. You own the premises.”
“Basically, you make your whole social life revolve around the service industry,” I agreed readily.
“See that girl over there?” Rick said.
I looked. There was a blonde woman in a black dress and heels sitting at the bar, sipping a drink in a conical glass. I never know what those are called.
“I’ve talked to her before,” said Rick, “but this could be step one, for instruction purposes.”
“I thought step one was buying the bar,” I reminded him.
“Club,” said Dom, and I patted him on the shoulder.
“That’s prep-work,” said Rick. “You should have established a persona.”
“’Friend of Ross,’” I defined his persona.
“Step One is Isolate the Target,” said Rick.
“She looks pretty isolated to me.”
“I mean, as in picking one out,” Rick clarified, up close in a stage whisper like it was between him and me.
“Then shouldn’t you say ‘Select the Target’?” I asked. “Wait a minute, are you killing this woman?”
“The B.O.S.S. Method calls it Isolate the Target,” Dom put in.
“Once you Isolate the Target, then you can move forward with the Landing Pattern,” explained Rick. “After I engage with her in conversation, that’s the crosswind level.”
“That’s not what that means,” I said.
“I’m a flight instructor,” I told Rick. “You are not using those terms correctly.”
“You’ll learn the terms with experience,” Dom tried to assure me.
“Even on the metaphorical level,” I explained, “those are incorrect.”
“Dommy, you explain what I’m doing for our new student,” Rick said, standing to walk over to the woman. “I’m gonna execute the pull.”
“Execute,” I mouthed. I whispered to Dom, “Is he going to kill that woman? Tell me right now.”
“Watch and learn!” Dom told me.
“I only came because I blew you off for 15-cent-wing night at the other place,” I told him. “The good place. And why has no one come to take my order? What’s up with that?”
“It’s a plus that she’s by the speaker, where it’s loud,” Dom told me as we watched Rick talk to this other woman. “After he’s engaged into the Upwind phase and ratcheted the side-toss…”
“They’re going to side-toss right here?” I asked, aghast.
“It means you compliment a woman, but you toss in a little comment on the side that makes her insecure. Like, oh your hair looks really good over one side like that, I almost can’t tell your eyes are close together.”
“That should get you slapped,” I said.
“It piques the bogey’s interest.”
“It makes them kind of nervous about how they look, and puts you in a position of power. If they act a little mad, that’s even better, because you’ve got their arousal up and then you can make some jokes about-”
“About how close together their eyes are? At what point do you need the ice pack?”
“Here they come,” said Dom, nodding with his head at Rick who was walking with the woman over towards a table a few away from ours. “Since she was standing by the loud speaker, he could tell her after a bit, oh, I want to go somewhere I can hear you better, and then not only does he get her into a space he led her to, but she feels listened to.”
“Without actually being listened to?” I asked.
“Classic B.O.S.S. Method.”
“Listen, I’m not saying I’m some high-and-mighty Mr. Sensitive or whatever,” I said, “but this you’re describing – this sounds exhausting. You’re expending so much energy trying to exude some learned image of yourself, and deploying all these practiced little tactics, and I can imagine most guys doing this just look like idiots because their personalities don’t naturally mesh with what they’re trying to convey, and the ones who are good at it, and go out on dates with these women – are they having fun? I mean, are they enjoying the dates they go on? Besides the sex, if they get that far, they have to spend all their time with these women pretending to be something they’re not, always calculating these stupid techniques – how is that having a good time? I mean, just on the lazy that’s too much work level, wouldn’t you rather just hang out with people you like? Wouldn’t you rather just chill and be liked for who you are?”
Dom was intent on watching the other table. “See how his body language projects that he’s the master of his space? Women pick up on that. Like dogs and territory.”
“You’re not a good person,” I said.
I stayed because a waitress arrived to take my order, and I changed the subject with Dom to things we usually talked about, like family and friends and movies we had watched. After about an hour when we were ready to go, Rick passed us on the way to the bathroom and whispered over to Dom, “Classic up-sell on the base leg to land this target” with a smile.
“That doesn’t mean at all,” I said to Dom, “anything.”
“She agreed to go somewhere else with him,” Dom translated. “The up-sell is you tell her some special reason to go with you to a place you know, like, oh they have the best appetizers, or you have to hear the music there, or my friend so and so works there and will hook us up or whatever.”
“Girls follow appetizers.”
“Now you understand.”
I walked over to the other table while Rick was gone. “Excuse me, hi,” I said to the woman with a friendly smile, “I’m Casper; I’m one of Rick’s friends” – I decided calling him a friend was a harmless lie.
“Hi, I’m Kristina.”
“Why do you like Rick so much?” I asked, with a grin, making it seem like it was a little joke, a tongue-in-cheek dig at my friend to make conversation.
“He gives me a lot of money,” Kristina said. “Whenever I ask to borrow any, and he pays for stuff.”
I nodded. “That’s really shitty.”
“Shitty is as shitty does,” Kristina shrugged cutely.
I couldn’t argue with that, and politely excused myself.
“So do you want to meet at the wings place instead next time?” Dom asked on our way out.
“I think that would be better.”