One night, I was sitting in a nightclub – maybe the first or second time I’d ever done so. I was just a puppy – eighteen, I think, for we could drink in those days. Anyway, it was a strange room: mostly concentric circles of dark tables arranged around a center, but the center wasn’t a dance floor – that was off to the side. The middle of the room was just much better lit – almost like an auto showroom.

And right there in the center, in a small pool of light, sat a woman in a white dress, all alone. Calling her “beautiful” is like calling Yosemite “scenic.” She was stunning. Grace Kelly beautiful. Catherine Deneuve beautiful. Plato wrote about how a chair was really just a dim shadow on the cave wall cast by the ideal of a chair. Well, this woman was the Real Deal. And there she sat, all alone, lighting up that room, maybe ten feet away from where my three buddies and I burrowed behind a dark table, nothing showing but our little red eyes darting back and forth like the terrified little weasels I thought we all were at the time.

I was about to learn a very powerful lesson. Wait, I want to rephrase that: I was about to be given a very powerful lesson. I didn’t actually learn it for another ten or fifteen years. But the next ten minutes were nothing if not an education…

As I sat there, nursing my watery Screwdriver, I watched an absolutely endless progression of guys make that walk across that little patch of open space, sidle up next to her, and start talking. They never got past the first sentence. They didn’t get shot down. They got nuked. Vaporized. One second they were there, the next there was nothing but a greasy stain on the floor where they had been.

And these guys were real smooth, too. Real Rico Suave. They had the wide lapels and the platform shoes and the qiana shirts (and may 1977 Miami burn in hell forever). These were not bumpkins like myself. These were operators.

Now most of you are old and wise enough to remember how the adolescent mind works, because the more she turned these guys down the more beautiful she became to me. It was like that old Twilight Zone shot where the corridor expands away from you as you run towards the door at the end. Remote. Unattainable. Ahhhhhhhh.

I could just barely hear her, too.

Would you like to Dance?

No, I wouldn’t. Please go away, you’re bothering me.


…often followed by a mumbled what a bitch as they slinked back in shame to face their friends. I thought, she’s just here to break hearts is all. She’s not here to dance, or to have fun. She’s just here to crush people.

At that moment, I can say with confidence that I would rather have gone over the top at Gallipoli then walk across that ten foot expanse of lighted floor.

But I had a friend who was watching too, and he wasn’t getting intimidated. He was getting angry. He was, like me, young, kinda dorky, and dressed, shall we say, more conventionally than the rest of the peacocks in the room. But as my eyes were glazing over in teenage awe, his were narrowing to slits as the Endless Parade of the Doomed walked into the meat grinder.

Finally, he had had enough. How did I divine this? Well, he shot to his feet, and muttered “That’s enough!” through clenched teeth. That was my clue.

He threw down his napkin, took a belt of his drink, and worked his way around our table heading straight for fluffy wittle bunny wabbit with the Sharp. Pointy. Teeth. I remember I damn near grabbed at his legs, like a wounded Confederate begging a comrade not to advance on the withering fire coming down from Cemetery Ridge. No Jim, don’t do it! I was thinking. No one can take that hill. It’s death to try!

He walked up behind her, and so help me, he tapped her on the shoulder. I covered my face with my hand. She took a good long moment to turn around, too. She stared at him, the white wine in her hand just about the same color as her hair, and those cold blue eyes slowly looking up from his crappy shoes, past the rumpled pants to the okay shirt and finally right into Jim’s eyes. She didn’t say a word.

“Would you like to dance?”

Instantly: “No, I would not like to dance. I would like for you to go away.” She turned back around without another word and took a sip of her wine. I heard a few people chuckle behind me.

Jim started walking, but instead of coming back to the Loser’s Circle, he went around to the front of her small cocktail table. No, Jim! Nooooooo! And then he leaned forward, so he was a few inches from her face. And then he said something that burned itself so deep into my addled brain that I never forgot it, and never will. And he said it loud enough so that everyone could hear him, too. He said:

“Listen Princess, I just got off the phone. Turns out Prince Charming’s horse just threw a shoe, so he’s gonna be a little late tonight. Now why don’t you stop showing everyone how miserable you are, put down that drink and come dance with me?”

She stared at him for a moment. And then she smiled. And then that’s exactly what she did.

The three of us left about an hour later. Jim and The Vision had strolled out together after about ten minutes on the dance floor. Nothing much to stay for after a show like that.

– Bill Whittle, Confidence

Why does this work?

  1. The opener is the perfect neg : complimenting her on her princess status, acknowledging implicitly her beauty. yet mildly patronizing her on her little-girl prince-charming fantasies.

  2. Now let me ask you this. Put yourself in her shoes. Try to imagine you’re a hot, beautiful young girl. You’ve got options. You can basically have sex with whoever you want. So, given all that, would you accept courtship from the first guy that came to you? No indeed. You’d need some way to filter those guys. You could just walk around and give them questionaires to fill. Or, you could do exactly what she did: shit test. Sit around and apparently wait for guys to come over and ask you for a dance, while coming over and asking you for a dance is the wrong answer. To pass the shit test, you’ll want them to do something bold, unexpected, something that shows they
    1. Got balls (you are looking for a man, after all),
    2. Are able to think out of the box,
    3. Differ from the pack.