THE BACK-UP PLAN: Grenade, hater, cock-blocker — call it what you will, guest columnist Anastasia Kim filters the losers, while wingman Paul Nakayama just tries not to say too much.
ISSUE: Spring 2011
DEPT: The Awful Truth
STORY: Paul Nakayama and Anastasia Kim
PHOTO: Audrey Cho
I really should charge by the hour for my wingwoman services. Actually, wingwoman doesn’t quite describe the role so much as “booty guard.”
I am not a “matchmaking” wingwoman, just so you know; you can sign up with eHarmony for that. I am what embittered folk call a “cock-blocker,” “hater” or, if they deem me unattractive enough, a “grenade.” (Hopefully this isn’t the case.)
It’s not easy being a good wingwoman. We have to think both instinctively and rationally, manipulate egos and juggle words, and come up with creative solutions on the spot. I don’t think most people understand what goes on in our heads when we take on this role or why we do what we do. You see, it’s our responsibility to enter the war zone first, scope the area for landmines, and make sure it’s safe for our allies to advance. In relationship-speak, we need to deflect the advances of undesir- ables and make sure they don’t impede our friends’ own efforts to snag a desirable. And oftentimes, we serve as an objective eye to friends who have really, really low standards.
Case in point: a few years ago at a bar, Ms. S spotted a man who, she believed, had the most amazing abs. I took one look at him and figured him to be of the “SituAsian” variety; his greasy hair complemented his disposition, and his tight, mesh T-shirt screamed, “LOOK AT ME!”
I turned to my friend and mouthed a deliberate “no.” “Maybe he has a great personality,” she mumbled, entranced by his now dancing pecs. It was vomit-inducing. I couldn’t believe she was going to Pollyanna out on me over a poor man’s Richard Simmons. I knew she wouldn’t budge so I told her I’d talk to him for her. After two minutes of excruciatingly boring and self-aggrandizing drivel, what hammered the nail in the coffin was his next question: “Are her tits real?” I answered dryly, “Are yours?” I spun on my heel and headed back towards my friend before he could answer. I was not about to let this smarmy, grease-bucket oil up her knobs no matter how hot she thought he was.
Being a good wingwoman for a male friend, however, is a whole other matter. At first, I tried the cock-blocking technique because it’s effective. I’d pretend to be my friend’s girlfriend, a jealous ex — you name it I was it. But most women love a good competition so they’d cling, or once plastered enough, my guy friends would succumb to their siren calls anyway.
So I decided to be a nice wingwoman. One night at a house party, I latched on to a few undesirables and made them my new best friends. I didn’t use cues such as “He’s taken,” “He’s single (and not looking),” or “He doesn’t have time for a girlfriend,” as these words tend to challenge, not deter, a woman. I didn’t say mean things to dissuade them either; sure I could’ve told them my friend is a vehicle for STD transport, but that could leave him dateless for years. Instead, I danced with them and introduced them to other, slightly more inebriated men, as these men didn’t seem to care who they were having a good time with. This way, my friend could focus on the girl he wanted without landmines getting in his way, I made new friends, and even our drunken compadres had someone to call their own for the night.
I’m all for getting my friends laid. But you see, wingwomen take a different tact than wingmen. You may think we’re all jealous cock-blockers, but most of us just want to help our friends. In the end, all wingwomen may not be created equal, but we do have one common goal: to ensure the health, confidence and happiness of those we love.
The music was ear-poppingly loud. The carpet smelled of old drinks. The stains on the seats looked like blended pizzas to me, and I worried that, in a way, I was right. And there we all were, looking for love or something like it. We were each other’s wingmen, but of course, the best laid (pun intended) plans go to sh—t when the plans rely upon liquid courage.
“Hey, meet my friend Bart,” I said to a pretty girl. “You’ll like him.” Bart waved sheepishly, and they began talking. That is, until our second wingman showed up. “You met Bart! Good!” he shouted drunkenly. “Did you know Bart’s a doctor? A leading expert on infectious diseases, in fact.” Her eyebrows raised a little. Intrigued. Good. “Paul here and I used to have herpes, but Dr. Bart cured us completely. Amazing right? He’s a catch.”
And with that, the girl was gone, a gust of wind in her wake. I later saw her whispering with her friends and pointing at me. “That’s him. That’s the guy with herpes.”
Following that incident and recalling a dozen more, I decided to document some basic rules on how to be a wingman. I don’t even mean a good wingman, just a passable one, because that’s the most you should hope for.
People pretty much believe that if things sound too good to be true, it probably is. That’s exactly why a wingman should never oversell his friend. Even if your friend has a doctorate from Harvard, saves puppies from burning buildings, has a penis the size of Florida and can cook a perfect Beef Wellington, don’t say all of it. In fact, leave out the penis part entirely. You might be selling the perfect man to an unsuspecting girl, but let her discover the wonderful truths for herself. It’s sort of like how men are drawn to the mystique of a good cocktail dress — what’s ticking under all that? Or if you really want to help, just shut up.
Being a wingman can be a substantial responsibility in that it’s much like being a bodyguard. It requires sobriety and attention. Your job is to eliminate all dangers outside of what your friend is focused on. A wingman should never agree to be one if they don’t have it in them. You can’t be a wingman and drink 10 shots of Patron. You can’t be a wingman and wander off after your own chase. It’s hard and sometimes boring to be a supporting cast member, so know that going in. There are many dangers in a social setting: jealous exes, ruthless rivals and just the general crazy that comes with clubs. If your friend wakes up the next morning having been duped into exploring his sexuality, that’s on you. Or, if you went nuts with the Patron, you were probably duped, too.
Since most travel with friends to clubs and bars, the biggest obstacle to meeting people are the “grenades,” which is the unfortunate term for the haters or the unattractive ones in the group. If they’re not having a good time, it’s game over. But, as a wingman, you can’t treat the grenade like a grenade. No one considers themselves the grenade nor do they mean to be one. It’s natural to want to leave if bored or outside the interaction. It’s the wingman’s job to keep them entertained, but not facetiously or disrespectfully. Oddly, the wingman’s true job is to just have fun. I’m not saying jump on the grenade by having sex with them. That’s one way to do it, I suppose. But I mean, talk to people, have a few drinks … you know, the stuff you’re supposed to do at a party?
And if you can avoid all of the above and not announce that your friends have herpes, then I think we should chalk that up to a victory.
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