Friday, October 1, 2010

nix the neg

Last Friday I was meeting a friend at Gansevoort Park Avenue. She was running late so I decided to grab a martini across the street at Les Halles while I waited for her. I sat there alone for a while, only me and one other patron at the bar, when a man approached me. He said to me, "Is that a headband?" pointing to my forehead (see first photo above).

"Yes?" I answered, unsure as to whether there was also a parrot sitting on my head.

"Why are you wearing it," he asked, "does it soak up sweat?"

Instantly annoyed by this drunken d-bag, I answered, "I'm sure it could." Right then my friend arrived.

He continued, "Ask your friend if she understands the headband."

"I'll ask her and I'll get back to you," I told him and turned my back to him.

He left for a few minutes and then, luckily for me, he returned. "You look like Rambo," he said.

"Did you come over here just to insult me?" I asked.

"No, no," he answered, "I love Rambo. All guys idolize Rambo. So, like, we love girls that look like Rambo. Can I buy you a drink?"

"That means you're gonna stay and talk which is not the desired outcome right now."

So the guy finally scurried away and the bartender came up to me and asked me what the guy said to me. I said I couldn't believe it, "He literally came over here to both insult me and hit on me."

The bartender said, "I thought that's what he did. You know, there's actually a term for his pick up technique."

"That was a technique?" I asked.

"Yes," he answered, "it's called Negging, where a guy approaches you and picks on an insecurity, making you vulnerable, and then hits on you."

My girlfriend and I were so shocked we couldn't stop laughing. We had never heard of this technique, let alone, known that there's a coined term for it.

"It doesn't really work on smart girls," said the bartender. Damn right.

We finished our drinks and headed over to Gansevoort. After a few minutes there, another guy approached us. We chatted for a few minutes when he brought up the subject of Thailand. My friend said, "Oh! Nina is from Thailand."

"Oh really?" He asked and we started talking about how much we love it there.

"It's funny," he said, "there are so many beautiful women in Thailand, but they really don't export there women do they?" I cocked my head, I was a little bit drunk, and needed to process what he just said. "You never see any beautiful Thai women outside of Thailand," he added.

I had no words for this comment but my friend pointed to him and said, "You're negging aren't you!"

It was a night of meeting complete d-bags. I couldn't believe some of the stuff the men were saying. When I got home I decided to google the term, negging, and couldn't believe all the links that came up. Urban dictionary defines it as:

It's a way to pick up girls. How it works is you use remarks to tap into female insecurity; Shake their confidence. Neg is a negative remark wrapped in a back-handed compliment. So your neg will confuse and intrigue them and maybe even shake their confidence a little bit, but only enough for them to fall from the clouds and be interested in talking to you. Its way to get through their defenses at bars and such.

I'll admit, the one thing that my girlfriends and I most often say is lacking after a sparkless date is the banter. I have a very sarcastic sense of humor and I love someone who can give it back to me. Women also want someone to challenge them. We don't want a spineless guy who says, "Whatever you want, Dear." If I'm wrong, I want you to tell me I'm wrong. If I just made the lamest joke ever, feel free to call me out on it.

But this negging thing is something else completely from the banter we crave. Unless these losers, who need to refer to a Neil Strauss book to pick up a girl, are executing the technique all wrong. I think there was some confusion when they read the book. There is a huge difference between flirting and insulting, yet it also lies very closely on opposite sides of a fine line. If that makes any sense. I can see how negging could work, if done correctly. Saying, "Oh my god, did you just say cool beans? Who says that?" That is acceptable. Because it's something stupid that I sometimes say and I have no idea why and I should be called out on it. Saying, "Why are you wearing that headband? You look like Rambo." This, this does not work. Ever.

So until you guys have perfected the technique, I'd say play it safe and stick with the flattery. Or, of course, the tried and true, "Can I buy you a drink?"

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