Feynman Had Game

Richard Feynman is hero worshiped to a disgusting degree by young physics students, but hey, the guy was remarkable. Not only was he a great scientist, he was pretty good with women. The fact that Feynman was able to learn game shows the essentially empirical nature of game: it’s about what works in practice, in our current society. Feynman was more inclined to respect new and surprising data than most people, even most scientists, so he learned game very easily.

Feynman shows his knowledge of women in several places in his writings, but the most sustained exposition is his story “You Just Ask Them?” He’s talking to a couple at a bar.

Eventually I told them that I was struck by something: “I’m fairly intelligent,” I said, “but probably only about physics. But in that bar there are lots of intelligent guys–oil guys, mineral guys, important businessmen, and so forth– and all the time they’re buying the girls drinks, and they get nothin’ for it!” (By this time I had decided that nobody else was getting anything out of all those drinks either.) “How is it possible,” I asked, “that an ‘intelligent’ guy can be such a goddamn fool when he gets into a bar?”

The master said, “This I know all about. I know exactly how it all works. I will give you lessons, so that hereafter you can get something from a girl in a bar like this. But before I give you the lessons, I must demonstrate that I really know what I’m talking about. So to do that, Gloria will get a man to buy you a champagne cocktail.”

After the demonstration, he gets an explanation of how women can manipulate a man at a bar.

“The whole principle is this: The guy wants to be a gentleman. He doesn’t want to be thought of as impolite, crude, or especially a cheapskate. As long as the girl knows the guy’s motives so well, it’s easy to steer him in the direction she wants him to go.

“Therefore,” he continued, “under no circumstances be a gentleman! You must disrespect the girls. Furthermore, the very first rule is, don’t buy a girl anything–not even a package of cigarettes–until you’ve asked her if she’ll sleep with you, and you’re convinced that she will, and that she’s not lying.”

“Uh . . . you mean . . . you don’t . . . uh . . . you just ask them?”

“OK,” he says, “I know this is your first lesson, and it may be hard for you to be so blunt. So you might buy her one thing–just one little something–before you ask. But on the other hand, it will only make it more difficult.”

He takes a while to internalize the mindset:

All during the next day I built up my psychology differently: I adopted the attitude that those bar girls are all bitches, that they aren’t worth anything, and all they’re in there for is to get you to buy them a drink, and they’re not going to give you a goddamn thing; I’m not going to be a gentleman to such worthless bitches, and so on. I learned it till it was automatic.

That night he tries it out at a bar, and gets to see the effect of his new attitude in action.

Then that night I was ready to try it out. I go into the bar as usual, and right away my friend says, “Hey, Dick! Wait’ll you see the girl I got tonight! She had to go change her clothes, but she’s coming right back.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say, unimpressed, and I sit at another table to watch the show. My friend’s girl comes in just as the show starts, and I’m thinking, “I don’t give a damn how pretty she is; all she’s doing is getting him to buy her drinks, and she’s going to give him nothing!”

After the first act my friend says, “Hey, Dick! I want you to meet Ann. Ann, this is a good friend of mine, Dick Feynman.”

I say “Hi” and keep looking at the show.

A few moments later Ann says to me, “Why don’t you come and sit at the table here with us?”

I think to myself, “Typical bitch: he’s buying her drinks, and she’s inviting somebody else to the table.” I say, “I can see fine from here.”

A little while later a lieutenant from the military base nearby comes in, dressed in a nice uniform. It isn’t long before we notice that Ann is sitting over on the other side of the bar with the lieutenant!

Later that evening I’m sitting at the bar, Ann is dancing with the lieutenant, and when the lieutenant’s back is toward me and she’s facing me, she smiles very pleasantly to me. I think again, “Some bitch! Now she’s doing this trick on the lieutenant even!”

Then I get a good idea: I don’t look at her until the lieutenant can also see me, and then I smile back at her, so the lieutenant will know what’s going on. So her trick didn’t work for long.

A few minutes later she’s not with the lieutenant any more, but asking the bartender for her coat and handbag, saying in a loud, obvious voice, “I’d like to go for a walk. Does anybody want to go for a walk with me?”

I think to myself, “You can keep saying no and pushing them off, but you can’t do it permanently, or you won’t get anywhere. There comes a time when you have to go along.” So I say coolly, “I’ll walk with you.” So we go out. We walk down the street a few blocks and see a café, and she says, “I’ve got an idea–let’s get some coffee and sandwiches, and go over to my place and eat them.”

The idea sounds pretty good, so we go into the café and she orders three coffees and three sandwiches and I pay for them.

As we’re going out of the café, I think to myself, “Something’s wrong: too many sandwiches!”

On the way to her motel she says, “You know, I won’t have time to eat these sandwiches with you, because a lieutenant is coming over..

I think to myself, “See, I flunked. The master gave me a lesson on what to do, and I flunked. I bought her $1.10 worth of sandwiches, and hadn’t asked her anything, and now I know I’m gonna get nothing! I have to recover, if only for the pride of my teacher.”

I stop suddenly and I say to her, “You . . . are worse than a WHORE!”

“Whaddya mean?”

“You got me to buy these sandwiches, and what am I going to get for it? Nothing!”

“Well, you cheapskate!” she says. “If that’s the way you feel, I’ll pay you back for the sandwiches!”

I called her bluff: “Pay me back, then.”

She was astonished. She reached into her pocketbook, took out the little bit of money that she had and gave it to me. I took my sandwich and coffee and went off.

After I was through eating, I went back to the bar to report to the master. I explained everything, and told him I was sorry that I flunked, but I tried to recover.

He said very calmly, “It’s OK, Dick; it’s all right. Since you ended up not buying her anything, she’s gonna sleep with you tonight.”

“What? ”

“That’s right,” he said confidently; “she’s gonna sleep with you. I know that.”

“But she isn’t even here! She’s at her place with the lieu–”

“It’s all right.”

Two o’clock comes around, the bar closes, and Ann hasn’t appeared. I ask the master and his wife if I can come over to their place again. They say sure.

Just as we’re coming out of the bar, here comes Ann, running across Route 66 toward me. She puts her arm in mine, and says, “Come on, let’s go over to my place.

The master was right. So the lesson was terrific!

Feynman goes deeper in the postscript:

When I was back at Cornell in the fall, I was dancing with the sister of a grad student, who was visiting from Virginia. She was very nice, and suddenly I got this idea: “Let’s go to a bar and have a drink,” I said.

On the way to the bar I was working up nerve to try the master’s lesson on an ordinary girl. After all, you don’t feel so bad disrespecting a bar girl who’s trying to get you to buy her drinks–but a nice, ordinary, Southern girl?

We went into the bar, and before I sat down, I said, “Listen, before I buy you a drink, I want to know one thing: Will you sleep with me tonight?”

“Yes.”

So it worked even with an ordinary girl! But no matter how effective the lesson was, I never really used it after that. I didn’t enjoy doing it that way. But it was interesting to know that things worked much differently from how I was brought up.

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About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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2 Responses to Feynman Had Game

  1. Pingback: More Game With Feynman | pechorin2

  2. Pingback: Feynman Meets Some Feminists | Pechorin

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