To put it rather very quaintly, I am not really a very fond admirer of what we today call hookup culture.
This short story is a mockery of this hookup culture and the seduction community of pickup artists, and how it, more often than not, thrives on deceiving people.
He entered the subway after a long day at work. For him, a ‘long day at work’ meant exchanging tricks with partners in crime at a secret lair in Manchester. Entering the London Underground, he waited for a train to arrive. One did, and he entered, pushing through the crowd of rush hour in the Tube, and strategically positioned himself on the far side of the train, near a door that doesn’t open – such that it commanded him a view of the entire coach.
As the doors closed with a hiss, the motors hummed and the train pulled out of the station. He had twenty minutes to kill until his station arrives. Hence, as always, he started what he was best at – searching for prey.
It wasn’t long before he met with success. Standing just two doors away, staring out into the tunnel through the window, was a woman – the epitome of a damsel. He looked for signs of engagement, but found none. To him, she was young, attractive and single – a textbook example of his perfect prey.
He slowly yet stealthily pushed through the crowd on the train, so as to not attract attention, and cleverly positioned himself such that she could catch a glimpse of her reflection in the glass window. And then, he gazed at her, and waited.
It is not in jest they say women have eyes on the back of their head. Sensing something off, and thereafter catching his reflection in the window, she turned around and caught him gazing. But he was a master at this art. Instead of looking away, he continued to maintain eye contact, gazing deep into her soul, never for once blinking; with that devilish glint in the eye and that lopsided smile which betrayed his intentions.
She looked away coyly, and then looked back at him again, still gazing at her. And then, she smiled that smile that made him sure she was game. He gave that half smirk-half smile he knew would melt the object of his ‘affections’, gave a quick little wink, and approached her.
He put on his devilish charm and initiated the conversation with a polite, conventional British greeting – “Hello, good evening! Mind if I talk to you?”
Of course she didn’t object, he knew she wouldn’t – he had already tested the waters.
He kept teasing her by dropping subtle yet sincere compliments laced with playful, degrading humour. He narrated anecdotes of how he would treat her, which only fuelled her fantasies. He focused his entire attention to her and only her, always gazing deep into her eyes that have butterflies in her stomach. He appeared to be calm and composed, confident, direct and playful – all of which he was aware are deal-makers in his line of profession.
As the conversation progressed, beneath the charming façade he put up, his cunning self was intently reading her body language. He noticed that glint in the eye and that smile. He realized she was completely absorbed. He occasionally caught her playing with her hair.
He made note that her head was slightly tilted to the side, that her pupils were dilated, that she wasn’t fidgeting and that her feet were pointed straight towards him, that she was slightly leaning in towards him, that she had slightly tilted her head back to expose her neck, and the so many other subtle, subconscious cues he had learnt to look out for as signs of attraction, thanks to year of experience and a network of partners in crime. He realised, he had succeeded in establishing rapport and gaining her trust.
He boldly moved ahead to close the deal. “Hey, do me a favour, give me your phone number so that we can meet up sometime this weekend.” Deep in his mind, he secretly smirked. He had transformed what should ordinarily have been two questions into a single imperative remark. It was one of the first things he had learnt about this art – one of the secrets that sets apart the successful from the underdog.
But this time, she hesitated. “Go on, say yes, you know you want to,” he said, while gently running his fingers down the side of her neck. That made his touch linger, which sent little shivers down her spine. That was the last straw, it was meant to be. He succeeded in his quest.
He continued the flow of the conversation for the few minutes hence until the train pulled up at his station. Then, excusing himself, about to exit, his last words were – “Hey, if I may suggest, maybe you too can start dreaming about the weekend already, you know.”
As the doors closed and the train started to pull out of the station, walking towards the escalator, he looked back, she still gazing at him through the train window, and sealed the deal with a final, devilish smile.
As he walked out of the station, he grasped what a spectacular success it had been. He had just charmed his prey into submission. Meanwhile, she was still almost swooning over that ‘tall, dark, handsome’ man – the epitome of Prince Charming, a perfect boy.
Little did she realise, he had repeated the exact same procedure in toto with three other women that very week. Left unsaid was that he was a Casanova. She was charmed into believing that he wanted a serious relationship, when all he really wanted were the perks of a relationship without investing in the exclusivity, effort and sacrifice one required.
It would all be over in a week, perhaps. Both of them smiled – one at her supposed ‘luck’, the other at his deception.