Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Neg

In the height of the pick-up artist fad, I was negged at a bar in New York. Seated on a banquette with two girl friends, a guy who looked like a nice guy walked up and started talking to me.

I like nice guys and my friends aren't judge-y, so I smiled politely, made eye contact and tried to hear him over the loud music and other people talking. And then, he asked me how tall I was. It was an odd question--he was more or less average height himself-- but I thought maybe it was related to my 3" heels or something, so I said, "5'4"." And he replied, "No, you're not at all." And I thought that was extremely odd, the thought that I would lie about my height (particularly as I don't even lie about my weight). So, I stood up and said, "Yes, actually, I am."

And then, despite the fact that I was actually 5'7" in my heels, he continued to deny the obvious reality that I was as tall as I am, insisting repeatedly that I was no more than 5 feet tall. And I was bemusedly wondering as I sat down, annoyed, what sort of drugs the dude was on, what he'd been smoking or whether he was far drunker than he seemed when I realized: he was trying to neg me. He was trying to make me interested in him by insulting me with the purpose of making me feel so desperate to be liked that I'd do whatever.

The entirely stupid thing was is that if he'd just walked up to me and been nice and polite, he probably would've gotten at least my phone number. Instead, by trying out some technique designed to force me into feeling so desperate for his approval (a bad tactic to try on me, generally speaking) that I would do anything, he failed to get even another word out of me, despite continuing to stand in front of me for a good 30 minutes. When we got up to leave, he gave his sad, disappointed you're-not-leaving face and I said, "Why would you be disappointed? I lie about my height."

All of this is to say: Amanda Marcotte is the queen of the neg, and I bow to her.
But I’ve found that insulting someone, especially by using a back-handed compliment, is a really great way to run off a guy that’s hitting on you in the most douchebaggy way. I recently told a guy who came up and dropped a really stupid line on me that I was surprised he had the nerve to approach me, because I’d imagine a guy like him would usually be intimidated by someone like me. I think that fit all the neg rules---there was a back-handed compliment buried in there, I established that I had a right to cast judgment, established my social dominance, and implied that he should feel insecure, which pick-up artists promise will make the neg receiver try to prove their worth. Instead, it threw him for a loop, and he didn’t like it, and therefore wasn’t even remotely interested in stalling me as I made my escape.


sarahbeth.510 said...

Megan, this is totally off topic, but I just wanted to say congrats on your segment last night on Rachel Maddow's show. You were really informative and your hair looked amazing! Hope to see you on there more.

Sarah said...

"I'm surprised you had the nerve to approach me. Guys like you are usually intimidated by women like me."

Pure genius. I am so stealing this line.