More Game With Feynman

Continuing with the theme of my last post, here’s some more examples from Feynman’s writings showing how to deal with women.

Game Principle 1: Don’t Answer Questions Directly

I remember the first dance that I went to. I hadn’t been dancing for three or four years while I was at Los Alamos; I hadn’t even been in society.

So I went to this dance and danced as best I could, which I thought was reasonably all right. You can usually tell somebody’s dancing with you and they feel pretty good about it.

As we danced I would talk with the girl a little bit; she would ask me some questions about myself, and I would ask some about her. But when I wanted to dance with a girl I had danced with before, I had to look for her.

“Would you like to dance again?”

“No, I’m sorry; I need some air.” Or, “Well, I have to go to the ladies’ room”–this and that excuse, from two or three girls in a row! What was the matter with me? Was my dancing lousy? Was my personality lousy?

I danced with another girl, and again came the usual questions: “Are you a student, or a graduate student?” (There were a lot of students who looked old then because they had been in the army.)

“No, I’m a professor.”

“Oh? A professor of what?”

“Theoretical physics.”

“I suppose you worked on the atomic bomb.”

“Yes, I was at Los Alamos during the war.”

She said, “You’re a damn liar!”–and walked off.

That relieved me a great deal. It explained everything. I had been telling all the girls the simple-minded, stupid truth, and I never knew what the trouble was. It was perfectly obvious that I was being shunned by one girl after another when I did everything perfectly nice and natural and was polite, and answered the questions. Everything would look very pleasant, and then thwoop –it wouldn’t work. I didn’t understand it until this woman fortunately called me a damn liar.

So then I tried to avoid all the questions, and it had the opposite effect:

“Are you a freshman?”

“Well, no.”

“Are you a graduate student?”


“What are you?”

“I don’t want to say.”

“Why won’t you tell us what you are?”

“I don’t want to . . . –and they’d keep talking to me!

I ended up with two girls over at my house and one of them told me that I really shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about being a freshman; there were plenty of guys my age who were starting out in college, and it was really all right. They were sophomores, and were being quite motherly, the two of them. They worked very hard on my psychology, but I didn’t want the situation to get so distorted and so misunderstood, so I let them know I was a professor. They were very upset that I had fooled them. I had a lot of trouble being a young professor at Cornell.

Game Principle 2: Don’t Leave It On the Vine

From a story about Feynman learning to draw:

Whenever I met a young woman who looked as if she would be interesting to draw, I would ask her to pose for me. It always ended up that I would draw her face, because I didn’t know exactly how to bring up the subject of posing nude.

Once when I was over at Jerry’s, I said to his wife Dabney, “I can never get the girls to pose nude: I don’t know how Jerry does it!”

“Well, did you ever ask them?”

“Oh! I never thought of that.”

The next girl I met that I wanted to pose for me was a Caltech student. I asked her if she would pose nude. “Certainly,” she said, and there we were! So it was easy. I guess there was so much in the back of my mind that I thought it was somehow wrong to ask.

Game Principle 3: The Neg

“See that woman over there?” he said. “She’s a really good lawyer. Come on, I’ll introduce you to her.”

John introduced us and excused himself to go to the restroom. He never came back. I think he wanted to get back with his “wife” and I was beginning to interfere.

I said, “Hi” to the woman and ordered a drink for myself (still playing this game of not being impressed and not being a gentleman).

“You know,” she said to me, “I’m one of the better lawyers here in Las Vegas.”

“Oh, no, you’re not,” I replied coolly. “You might be a lawyer during the day, but you know what you are right now? You’re just a barfly in a small bar in Vegas.”

She liked me, and we went to a few places dancing. She danced very well, and I love to dance, so we had a great time together.


About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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3 Responses to More Game With Feynman

  1. Marc says:

    Great stories. Which of Feynman’s books does this story (and the previous post) come from?

  2. Pechorin says:

    [Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman]

  3. Pingback: Feynman Meets Some Feminists | Pechorin

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