Tonight, I'll see the band Broken Social Scene, of whom about twelve other bands from Montreal are subsets.
Larger even than the total population of Montreal, though, is the number of women slept with every week by each practitioner of Pick-Up Artistry (PUA), or so they claim when they aren't criticizing me for denouncing one of my own exes on C-SPAN2 a few months ago. There's less than a month until Valentine's Day, though, fellas, and my real concern is whether you'll find true love.
(Next month here at ToddSeavey.com, to balance out the current "Month of Haters," will be my "Month of Lovers," each day bringing a poem about a different ex of mine. No names. And in a few minutes, I'll post Todd Seavey joke Personal Ad #2, for those wearied by the length or duration, so to speak, of my old one, which yet lives in the Archives of this site.)
One reason to be wary of the wide-net approach taken by the PUA types is, of course, the ever-present danger of sleeping with a crazy chick. And there are crazy chicks out there. Take, for example, this description of last week's reading at the swell and lit-friendly bar the Half King, which I have taken the trouble of filling with ellipses, since we've all heard this tiresome story in 6,000 different forms from 6,000 different crazy chicks (I suggest saying "Yadda yadda yadda" aloud at each ellipsis). All together now:
In...Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl[, Stacy] Pershall chronicles her lifelong struggle with mental illness. Like Susanna Kaysen's Girl Interrupted and Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation...unique, heartbreaking, but ultimately redemptive...woman who is "different"...grew up in Prairie Grove, Arkansas...(population: 1,000)...prevailing wisdom was that Jesus healed all. Deeply sensitive and intelligent...Bullying by her peers and a bad boyfriend...rapid downward spiral...In her mind, there was one person at fault for her suffering, one person who deserved to be punished again and again: herself. From starving herself for days to forcing herself to sleep in her closet because she wasn't "worthy" of the comfort of a bed...self-loathing...anorexia...Alternately diagnosed with bulimia, major depression, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, anorexia, and borderline personality disorder...studied theater, fell in love...moved to new cities...mental illness that followed her wherever she went or whatever she achieved.
Pretty good bet she likes Oscar Wilde, astrology, and/or Breakfast at Tiffany's, I'm guessing (I recall a woman I knew back in 1992 whose dad had been an abusive rural cult leader but who managed to make it to an Ivy League school and then end up thinner, pale, bi, impatient, chain-smoking, Wilde-citing, lying, and music-savvy -- that sort of combo apparently being an aspiration of crazy chicks). And I worry that more than a few of these banal stories involve New York City -- a.k.a. Crazytown, USA -- in the aforementioned role of "new cities."
NYC offers crazy people the anonymity of crowds and generous social services, making it ideal for both your functional and your dysfunctional loon, or for people still mulling which option to pick. I saw a color-coded map once of rates of mental illness in the U.S., and
basically the whole country is fine except for a colossal red dot on New York City.
On the bright side, we've got creative types, and indeed a very cute professional singer inhabitant of my own apartment building -- tiny but walking her immense dog at the time -- stopped me shortly after the C-SPAN2 appearance to say with a smile that she had greatly enjoyed it. Her opinion matters more than those of all the PUA guys in the world. As would her dog's.
Speaking of singers: my lovely, diminutive, terrorist-tracking, conservative, singin' friend Hannah Meyers related a date story before one of her recent performances that is much more after my own heart than the PUA guys' tales of conquest. After she explained philosopher Isaiah Berlin's dichotomy between "hedgehogs" (focused on one thing) and "foxes" (clever but roving over numerous areas of expertise) while on a date, Hannah's fella realized, "You're a fox!" That story sort of makes me wish I'd simply married a philosophy professor. No regrets, though. Well, few.
Another model of success that impresses me more than the PUA guys is that offered by Lloyd Alexander, creator of very good fantasy novels about the land of Prydain. He also wrote a lot of novels about cats and, more to the point, wrote a book about his French wife, who he married at age twenty-two in 1946 while living in Paris and went on to be married to for sixty-one years, passing away two weeks after her -- and mere months after correctly announcing that his final novel would be his last, released in 2007. (And by gum, he was an American, despite Prydain basically being ancient Wales.)
PUA diversity-seeking, conquest-making, and trickery is, like so much else, born of fear, I think. Courage yields the strength to be a good and stable man -- or woman -- with stable commitments. Think like a cad and you're liable to end up, often unwittingly, moving among women with morals as loose as your own, I'd predict. To the best of my knowledge, only one of the women I've dated ever cheated on me. The others, with perhaps one exception, were good people, the sort who would no more want to do that sort of thing than I would want to string women along. Good has psychological rewards so vast that the evil can scarcely imagine them, though in their fear they pick the seemingly-safest and quickest routes to personal advantage. Patience, patience.
This is not to say that I want men to become unmanly, by any means. Indeed, tomorrow let us praise Greg Gutfeld.