Author’s Note: This is installment four of our scenes from St. George’s (SGS). Part I is here, Part II is here, and Part III is here.
Mason Anderson Fails to Pick Up Chicks
Classes at St George’s were not so large; I think our class graduated around 28 or so. The school is a private school, and relatively expensive for Eastern Washington, but I don’t believe it was that expensive, so I wonder what the school’s budget was like. I bet it was tight. There were a handful of students, including J.T., Kelly, our friend S.C., his younger brother Ben, L.W., and a few others, who were there from lower school all the way through high school. Others, tragically including N.C., left, while others still joined later on.
One student who joined I think in 9th grade was Mason Anderson. Mason’s had a younger brother named Mark whom Mason called “Marky J. Muffin” for some reason. Mason and Marky J.’s parents were divorced and they lived with their mother who Mason called Robbie A. (A for Anderson.) My sense is that Robbie A. was working pretty hard to keep everything organized on the financial front. Mason’s dad was a big churcher, and I don’t think Mason saw him all that much. Sometimes Mason would report that his dad had given him some money, but overall I think his dad was too busy churching to provide much oversight. As a result of all of this, Mason was pretty much left to his own devices most of the time. Also, whatever the family situation, Mason didn’t do much to keep things together because although he’s a great guy and totally hysterical, he was, and still is, chronically lazy.
Lazy as he may have been, Mason actually had a job at a sports cards shop called Chalmer’s. I guess Chalmer’s was owned by some guy called Chalmer, and this dude thought it would be a good move to just leave the shop in Mason’s hand for extended periods of time so he could enjoy the sweet life of a successful businessman. This, however, was not a good move at all, because Mason stole all his baseball cards and all his money and Chalmer’s had to go out of business. Mason never stole from his classmates as far as I know, but he felt Chalmer was fair game.
As I mentioned, our class was pretty small and John Innes, who joined in middle school, and I got to know Mason pretty quickly. High school life can be a little repetitive and it’s good to break things up with a little humor. Mason may have been a lazy thief (or perhaps more charitably an indolent appropriator) but in the humor department he was a solid addition to the school. Mason had a particular way of speaking where he would add emphasis to certain words to make them funny, and he also loved the words “total” and “totally.” My own speech and writing has been totally influenced by this habit of Mason, an influence apparent on this blog. Mason also liked to abbreviate noun phrases.
All these quirks came together in Mason’s favorite term, which was “total babe,” or more commonly, “TB.” He would use this appellation dozens of times a day to describe various girls in our class and the classes above and below us. Although SGS classes were small, there were definitely some TBs running around, and some regular old Bs as well. My own tastes in this area were less for the TBs and more for the SBs (“sneaky babes”). I like sneaky anything, sneaky babes, sneaky favorites, sneaky staircases, the whole deal. Probably my theory was that TBs were already out of my league, and SBs were just more on my level. Also, I just thought SBs were cuter than TBs. I still think I’m right about this, but Mason disagreed. He was into the TBs, the totaller the better. Now one thing about TBs, obviously, is they can be super selective. Craig Finn says “boys go for looks/ and girls go for status.” I’ve found this to be pretty true, and TBs also like money as well as, I think, funny guys (or gals depending on a given TB’s particular orientation). Although he played on the baseball team, Mason was not exactly “high status,” whatever that consisted of back then, and although he had the Chalmer’s money he certainly wasn’t loaded. He was very funny, and should have leaned into this with the TBs, but for some reason his method for TB intriguing didn’t quite see him leaning into his strengths.
Mason’s interest in TBs was not limited to mere expressions of appreciation; instead he would work out elaborate TB seduction campaigns in his head, which he would describe to John Innes and me at great length. Mason was, for some unknown reason, a huge fan of the professional hockey team the Philadelphia Flyers and their goalie Ron Hextall, and he had one, or maybe several, Philadelphia Flyers pins that he would wear on the outside of his jacket. His TB pick-up plans always revolved around the Flyers’ pin and associated Flyers paraphernalia. I am not going to be able to do justice to the complexity of Mason’ campaign plans, however they would have gone something like this (I don’t believe he has taken the time to patent this method so I think this is fair use):
Step 1: Select a TB to approach.
As mentioned, Mason would choose one of the biggest TBs, a girl who was obviously completely out of his league, and start putting together a sequence of moves.
Step 2: Name the campaign.
Mason’s campaigns would be named after the first initial of the TB’s first name; thus if the TB was called “B…” the B campaign would just be “Plan B.”
Step 3: Pick a location to approach the TB.
Mason would specify a certain spot where he planned to initiate his campaign, say at the TB’s locker, while waiting for the bus before a basketball game, or when she first came in the door of the school in the morning.
(As a side note, John Innes also employed the locker move when in 9th grade he offered me 10 dollars to switch lockers with him so he could have the locker next to a certain TB called S. I agreed, but John Innes didn’t really have any money because his father had spent it all on his political aspirations, and I don’t think he ever paid me. That was a bad deal on my part; I should have stuck with the locker.)
Step 4: Lead with the Flyers’ pin.
Mason would design the first actual contact with the TB to center on the Flyers’ pin, as noted above. In John Innes’ and my opinion, this is where the plan started to wobble. Mason would specify exactly what he would say to the TB as an opening salvo. This would be something like:
“Hey there B, I couldn’t help but see you hanging out by your locker here. I wonder if you’ve seen my new Philadelphia Flyers pin?“
Now I don’t know a huge amount about hitting on women, but I know a little bit, and I’m just not sure this is the right first move. Guys who are really good at picking up women (I’m not referring to the super sus subculture of PUAs, but to individual guys who just happen to have a lot of game) usually start with something a little more open-ended, and also maybe focussed on some aspect of the girl, not one of their own accessories. I mean I don’t know, maybe this can work—can you picture a guy at a bar approaching a woman and saying something like:
“Hey there, I don’t know you but I just wanted to let you know I bought this new scarf today. Isn’t it something?”
The more I look at it the more I lean no. The Flyers’ pin opener was not, however, the biggest issue with Mason’s approach. The biggest issue was that he expected the TB to come back with a very specific, indeed exact, reply.
Step 5: Elicit a specific TB response.
After Mason had asked the TB to check out his Flyers’ pin, she was supposed to come back with the right answer, which is this case would be something like:
“Wow there Mason Anderson. I didn’t know you had a new Flyers pin. That’s a pretty sexy pin you got there.”
Now I respect the effort that Mason put into his plans, but I’m sorry, this is just all wrong. First of all, this is a pretty unlikely answer for a TB. I mean, something like this is theoretically possible; however there are a lot of other possibilities that Mason was not accounting for. You see, he needed the TB to stick pretty much exactly to the script in order to get to his next move. But the problem was, the TB didn’t have the script in advance. I mean imagine you’re a TB and some medium dorky guy comes up to you and flashes his new Flyers’ pin. I think you might respond in one of the following ways, ranging from more to less promising:
i) “I haven’t seen your pin. Where did you get it?”
ii) “Who are the Philadelphia Flyers?”
iii) “Why are you showing me this?”
iv) “What are you talking about?”
v) “You’re weird. Go away.”
My theory is that Mason really needed to be prepared for all of these possible responses, and many others. He needed, in other words, to build a little flexibility into his plan. And John Innes and I would tell him this.
“I don’t know Mason, I mean the Flyers’ pin is great and all, but I don’t think you can count on her telling you it’s sexy. She might come back with something else you know.”
“No,” Mason would reply. “She’ll come back with what I have planned. It’ll work.”
But she wasn’t going to come back with what he had planned. She just wasn’t. John Innes and I knew this, but there was no talking Mason out of it. Plan B was full steam ahead.
Step 6: Get to the end game.
After the TB came back with the right Flyer’s pin response, the next two items in the plan would be designed to get Mason to the close. This would go like something like this:
Mason: This is a sexy pin. But it’s not as sexy as you are.
TB: Oh my god, you’re so charming and funny.
Now, the dialogue is approximate, however the idea remained the same—the conversation had to go exactly this way. In military circles there is a saying that goes something like “no battle plan survives the first shot fired” or whatever. The point being, once a campaign kicks off there is no telling what the actual sequence of events is going to be. A good plan, in war, with TBs, or just in life in general, needs to be adjustable. Or, in NLP terms, the planner needs to understand that the map is not the territory. Mason had the map, but his map was not going to get him safely though the territory.
In any case, by this point Plan B would be pretty far advanced. It was time to seal the deal.
Step 7: Close.
This stage, obviously, was where Mason would throw down his final zinger and the TB would be won. The last part of Plan B would have Mason saying something like:
“I know I’m charming and funny. I guess I just can’t help it. Hey I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t you and me get together and call ourselves an institute?”
And the TB would swoon into his arms.
Now, we have already identified a number of holes in Mason Anderson’s Seven-Step Method for Picking Up Women. And these holes are significant. But the biggest hole in Plan B, or Plan C, and any of his other plans is that he never tried to implement any of them even once. All of this, the casual approach, the Flyers’ pin, the elaborate conversational sequencing, was entirely theoretical. Mason would talk about Plan B incessantly, workshop it with us, and generally refine and tinker with it, but he would never actually put in to the test. I don’t know why this was. Was it because Mason knew the TBs were out of his league and just enjoyed fantasizing about his campaigns? Or did he actually intend to put Plan B into practice sometime and just never had the nerve to try it? Or, perhaps, the plan was never totally good enough in his own eyes and just needed that last little tweak to get it perfect? I don’t know, but man were Plan B and Plan C entertaining.
Today Mason lives in the tri cities area of Washington State where he messes around with nuclear energy or something, believe it or not. In his free time he makes a lot of pizza and instagrams about it. I believe he has also had some success on the Tinder there—John Innes told me he was mixed up with at least one women of that ilk a few years back. I’ve never met any of Mason’s Tinder connections, and I don’t know if they are TBs or not, but I know one thing. Deep down Mason still wants to lead with that Flyer’s pin.