Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Anatomy of the Perfect Red Pill Date: Phase V Dinner

Continued from Phase IV Music

Dinner, of course, was the centerpiece of the evening.

I chose the restaurant (code named Valabar's) because it has a national reputation for both cuisine and service, it's ridiculously difficult to get into without reservations months in advance, and its specialty was perfectly aged and prepared Angus beef.  I just got my teeth fixed -- it was time for a steak.  And even though the prices would ordinarily put me into a coma, I had the money to order whatever I wanted for a change and not worry about the price.  That, alone, gave me buckets of confidence.  Pep talks and creative visualizations are fine for developing Confidence, but try putting a fat roll of twenties in your pocket thicker than your dick and watch what happens to your attitude.

We were a little early, so I took the time to make out with Mrs. Ironwood in the car, and then wait until she fixed her makeup.  She was nearly purring.  I offered her my arm and we went inside to check in.

The place was packed, and it's a large place, and it was 9:30 at night.  But we only had to wait ten minutes.  My wife (of course) took the opportunity to freshen up, which proved challenging in her tight new skirt, which left me hanging around the hostess stand with a pager and a stupid expression on my face.

Luckily, Valabar's has a walk-in humidor -- yes, it's that kind of place.

Now, there are few things more inherently manly than the smell of cigar tobacco in a humidor.  It's right up there with Old Spice and jock straps when it comes to powerfully masculine aromas.  I slid the door back and walked into the humid, sweet-smelling air.

I'll be honest, I'm not a cigar smoker.  My experience is limited to bachelor parties and a few other special occasions.  But I grew up in tobacco country, and the nearly cloying aroma of cigars is nostalgic for me.  I surveyed the carefully-arrayed boxes, with phallic-shaped objects of conspicuous consumption laid out around me, and I felt compelled to indulge despite my ignorance.  I chose something short, fat, and bold, about $12 worth of cigar.  It was far from the most expensive cigar there, but it was far from the cheapest, either.  Just enough to give me the feeling and the flavor without making me reek like an old pool player all night.  And, of course, I reserved it for after the meal.  I didn't want to destroy my palate.

I had the clerk cut it and I was back on station before Mrs. Ironwood finally came out, looking relieved and put-together again -- and just in time for the pager to go off.

Valabar's is so large that we were handed off to three different hostesses until we got to our table.  But when we sat down, the noise of the other patrons faded around us as we indulged in the homey-yet-ridiculously-tasteful ambiance.  Our waiter appeared with bread, cheese, a pickle tray, and water, and we were off.

I wanted steak in the worst way.  While famous for their Prime Rib, I sprung for the fifteen ounce sirloin.

Mrs. Ironwood looked up.  "Why don't you order for me?" she asked.

My eyebrows shot up.  "Really?"  This was a departure.

"This is your show," she shrugged.  "And what you order is always better than what I order.  You're driving, you know what I like, you order for me."

I didn't argue.  If she was going to place the reins in my hand, I wasn't going to let go.  "All right," I said, surveying the menu.  I decided that if I got the steak and she didn't, she'd end up eating half of mine anyway.  She's right, I do order better than she does.  I cook, she doesn't.  I worked as a gourmet vendor for five years.  I'm a foodie.  I selected the same steak I got, only I had it done rare, with a glaze of balsamic vinegar and Roquefort cheese. Twice-baked potatoes on the side.  House salads before hand.  No appetizer, because I wanted to enjoy my steak and still leave room for the desserts for which the place was justly famed.

I also bought a bottle of wine, and spent more than I ever have before.  I know just a little more about wine than I do cigars, but you can't work the specialty food business without picking up a few things.  I found a California Zinfandel I'd heard about from someone, and asked the waiter about it.  He made a counter proposal, based on our meal, which actually was ten dollars cheaper than mine.  Never hesitate to ask the waiter's opinion, but don't be afraid to ask for options, either.  I was feeling affluent, not wealthy.

Now, how do you pull this off without looking like an utter cheapskate?

"What would you say the best valued wine to go with our meal would be?"

That "best value" is politely acceptable code for "don't rip me off and I'll be generous with the tip" in fine dining language.  Because I knew that the man was familiar with the wine options because you just don't get to walk in off the street and start waiting tables at Valabar's.  I'd even been to one of their employee information sessions, back when I was trying to sell them stuff.  The waiter knows that there are several equally outstanding options to go with any meal, and while he's more than happy to sell you a $100 bottle with your steak, if you ask him he'll be just as agreeable selling you a $50 bottle that's almost as good.  And since our palates just weren't developed enough to really appreciate the $50 difference, the extra would have been wasted on us.  A good fine dining waiter is far more interested in ensuring a perfect experience than he is padding the bill, if he's smart.  Ours was smart.

He brought the bottle out for my inspection, uncorked it with professional efficiency, and poured a splash in my glass.  This is the part where you can look like an idiot, if you don't know what to do.  As the gentleman in the party, it was up to me to approve the wine before it was served.  I truly enjoyed splashing it around to see its legs, inhaling the deep, spicy aroma of the red, and allowing a small aspirated sip to spray over my tongue before I let it was luxuriously around my mouth, gaming my taste buds with gay abandon.

It was the most expensive wine I'd ever bought . . . and it was worth every penny.

Wine is an expensive habit to get into.  When I ran a specialty coffee roastery, I noted that half of the people in high-end coffee are there because it's too expensive to play in high-end wines for most people.  So they get into coffee but hang out with their wine friends like they're ashamed of the Demon Bean.  At some levels, a wine habit is more expensive than a cocaine habit.  But I could see the allure.  If I am every ridiculously filthy rich, yeah, I'll waste my money on fine wine.  Life is short.

"That is exquisite," I told the waiter, and offered my glass to the Missus.  Her eyes shot open.  She isn't a wine aficionado either, but she comes from a long line of wealthy alcoholics, and she knew quality even if she couldn't appreciate it.  She nodded eagerly for the waiter to fill her glass.

We picked at the pickle tray and played footsie under the table.  There was a time when I had found good conversation difficult even when it was just my wife and I.  But "awkward" rarely gets you laid (and when it does, it usually proves problematic later) so I tried to forget the formalities of the occasion and plunged in with  casual confidence.

I made the rule at the beginning of the dinner: no discussing the children, our work, our respective to-do lists or our anxieties.  Conversation was limited to happy fun things, wickedly dirty dream vacation plans, gossip, and thinly-disguised innuendo that had us both well-aroused by the time our meals arrived.

I'm not going to describe the meal in detail, because words can't do it proper justice.  I will say that the balsamic vinegar/Roquefort glaze was fucking orgasmic, particularly with the wine.  And I was glad I got us each the 15 oz -- when you know you're going to end up taking some steak home from Valabar's, you do your best to ensure that you're taking a LOT of steak home from Valabar's.

We didn't say much while we were eating, because it was just that good.  I managed almost half of my steak, and she finished over a third of hers, but despite our efforts to pace ourselves, there was just no way.  I called for boxes and a dessert tray.

It was well past 10 pm at this point, but I was feeling just a hint of a buzz from the wine, and had a mood for something sweet before I proceeded toward seduction.  One reason why Valabar's is so popular is that they had nine different desserts on their tray, each one baked by magical elves and designed to make grown women leave slug-trails of lust in their wake, so rich are they.  When faced with such a momentous decision, my wife's eyes began to glaze over.  If I didn't intervene, it might be a long night.

"We'll take the double chocolate mousse cheesecake," I said, "and the strawberry sorbet for the lady.  Two coffees with cream."

Mrs. Ironwood was perplexed about my decision -- I hadn't consulted her in the slightest, which was a departure.  I shrugged.  "You told me to order for you.  I figured you meant dessert, too."

"All right," she said, doubtfully.  "But I wouldn't have chosen the sorbet."

"I know," I assured her.  "That's why I ordered it."  And it was.  After 20 years, my wife's food selections have become predictable.

When they came, I was vindicated.  As good as my chocolate mousse cheesecake was (and how could it have been bad?), her dessert was better.  The freshly made strawberry sorbet was complimented by diced candied orange peel, grated candied ginger, and a shot of Chambord lovingly poured over the top. Mint leaf for garnish.  She made cum noises the entire time she ate.

I only ate half of mine -- I knew we'd want the rest later, and I had plans for that cheesecake.  I finished off my coffee while the waiter brought me a box and the check.  I tossed my credit card out casually without looking at it.  I had a pretty good idea what it was supposed to be, and when he returned with my card and the slip, it was within a couple of bucks.  I added a 25% tip for outstanding service and then rose to help the Missus with her coat.

"I don't think I can walk," she moaned.

"Do you think you can dance?" I asked. She looked horrified.

"What?  What do you mean?"

"I mean, if you want to, I can arrange for there to be dancing," I said.  I had a contingency, a club on the other side of town that was hosting a Mardis Gras party and a Zydeco band that played until 1 am.  Mrs. Ironwood looked appalled at the thought.

"Jesus, Ian, I just ate half a cow!  And my feet hurt.  If you don't mind, I'd rather just go home."  We found out later that she had been nursing a broken heel, unbeknownst to her.  So it was probably a great idea we didn't go dancing.  I preferred her unspoken proposal.

"Home it is," I agreed.  I hadn't wanted to go dancing, either, but I wanted to have it as an option.  I also wanted her to be able to say " . . . and then he wanted to take me dancing, but I just had to have him instead!" to her best friends in the post-date post mortem.

On the way back out to the car I lit up the cigar.  Mrs. Ironwood leaned into it to inhale.  "It reminds me of my grandfather," she said, happily.  "Only once or twice a year, but usually at Christmas."  A good memory.  I enjoyed smoking it for five or ten minutes, and then when I stopped enjoying it I let it die.

"Damn, that thing stinks," she said, as we drove home.  "But I'm glad you did.  You earned a cigar for tonight!"

"So you had fun?" I asked.

"Did I have fun?  Best date ever!" she proclaimed.  "And now we get to the best part!"

It was late.  The highway was deserted.  No cops in sight.  I headed home at 70 mph.

NEXT: Phase VI Sex And Stuff

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anatomy of the Perfect Red Pill Date: Phase IV Music

When it comes to music on a date, conventional wisdom says that Classic Rock or edgy Hip-Hop is your best bet if your goal is damp panties.  Personally, I find both a bit played-out, particularly Rock.  While that sounds blasphemous, the fact is that rock music is overtly sexual, with the pelvis-motivating back-beat encouraging primal responses and suggestive lyrics that leave no doubt as to what, exactly, the artist meant.  But there's no mystery in the slightest.  No intrigue.  No romance.  Rock is as subtle as a submachine gun.  Going to Rock music as the sound track to a date is trite and unimaginative.  Hip-hop, likewise.  And I despise Country music, no offense meant.  But Rock?  That’s like buying a cherry-red Camero when you turn 40: it's effective but so clich├ęd it’s painful.

Instead I turned back the clock and chose a selection of Big Band and Swing tunes, mostly with playfully teasing lyrics or sweet romantic music.  Now, you might be thinking “Gosh, that dude is White,” and you would be correct; but regardless of skin-tone or cultural background, Swing music has a lot to recommend it.

I listen to Swing a lot, since I tote my kids around every day.  Instead of blaring “Kids Bop” indulgently, like Mrs. Ironwood does, or letting them listen to modern pop music as the Niece habitually does, I prefer Swing music because the lyrics are squeaky-clean and the subject matter is usually straightforward “boy meets girl” stuff without any of the “Baby Lick My Love Pump” you get from anything produced after 1975.  As a result, my kids now can sing “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” and a wide selection of Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby.

I’m sure it will come in handy for them one day.  Don't ask me how.

There is a danger to playing Swing on a date, in that it reminds some women of their grandparents, which is not exactly “sex positive”.  On the other hand, the low-fidelity sound and the full orchestrations can set a romantic mood better than candlelight and Quaaludes. Had we been going somewhere casual, I may have gone with Delta Blues, Latin, or even Funk, but for Valabar’s the evening called for something classy.

Side Note: For those who feel that video games contribute nothing to our greater culture, please note that my current fetish for Swing comes from playing a game called Fallout 2, back around 1999 or so.  One of the great all-time classic post-apocalyptic games ever made, it began with a Louis Armstrong tune and maintained a retro 1950’s feel throughout the game.  More recently I played its much-evolved descendent, Fallout 3, which features an in-game radio station which plays a small selection of classic Swing tunes.  Since it’s customizable, players quickly added downloadable mods to the game, one of which was a delightful list of 1940s Swing music, most of which I’d never been exposed to in my Rock-saturated youth. Since that time I have explored the universe of Swing and come to appreciate it in a way I never would have expected.  So credit videogames with at least one important contribution to Western culture.

My playlist was carefully selected to inspire the right mood without doing anything to disrupt it.  I needed to stay away from the Andrews Sisters (whom I love but Mrs. Ironwood hates), but apart from that I had a lot of leeway.  So here’s the list I came up with, some (but not all) culled from Fallout:

1. Jazzy Interlude – Billy Munn (Fallout 3, a Swingin’ instrumental with an impressive fanfare, great way to start an eventful evening)

2. A Kiss To Build A Dream On - Louis Armstrong (The original Fallout 2 theme song, as poignant and romantic a tune as you could ask for, sung by one of the most expressive voices ever)

3. Daddy - Julie London's version - the Entitlement Princess' themesong, played playfully to tease my ordinarily low-maintenance wife.  She's about as opposite to this song as you could ask.

4. Jump, Jive & Wail - Louis Prima version, although Brian Setzer's is perfectly fine.  A good, peppy sort of swing tune that makes you want to jitterbug.

5. Wonderful Guy - Tex Bernake & Margaret Whiting (Also from the Fallout 3 soundtrack, and before that from South Pacific.  The perfect paen for a woman enjoying her man.

6. Nothing's Too Good For My Baby - Louis Prima & Keely Smith  An outstanding, playful and romantic duet about how much fun it is to be married.  No, really.  

7. Way Back Home - Bob Crosby.  The master of nostalgia sings one of the most nostalgic songs in history.  Another fine Fallout tune.

8. Hey Girl - Louis Prima & Keely Smith Another playful, romantic duet.

9. Sing Sing Sing -Benny Goodman, sung by Louis Prima.  The classic Swing anthem.

10. Gone Fishin' - Bing Crosby & Louis Armstrong.  Another classic duet between two masters. And it perfectly described the escapist element of the evening.  

The soundtrack got the evening's mood set properly: elegant, sophisticated, classic.  The pre-feminist playlist helped get my woman's mind back to a mystical time when women were all demure and eager to be attractive and men were strong, quiet, and manly.  The Fedora Age.  It provided the appropriate level of phonic foreplay during our drive out to Valabar's.  

We talked about a lot of things, held hands, and made out at the occasional stop light.  And when we arrived, a few minutes before our reservation time, we had a chance to relax, smoke a cigarette, and listen to the kind of dreamy tunes that seduced our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, back when Nazis and Commies were the bad guys and divorces were as rare as jet planes.

It was nice, and Mrs. Ironwood made a point to compliment me on my excellent selections.  They were like a long playful tease the entire way there, coupled with stolen kisses and brazen innuendo.  When I got out and helped her back into her coat, we even danced a moment in the parking lot before I took her by the hand and pulled her towards the barn-like structure that smelled so good.

Seduction Buff: SR +1

Next: Phase V Dinner

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anatomy of the Perfect Red Pill Date: Phase III Power Shopping

Continued from Phase II Extraction

By the time we get to the mall, her mood has softened.  She’s accepted the fact that it’s going to be a fun, romantic night, and the unknown element is undeniably exciting.  I don’t bother opening the door for her – we’re still in “casual married people mode” but we do hold hands as we walk inside.

I lead her directly to the door of her favorite store.  I’ve done enough research to know which one in the mall was most likely to be able to have everything she needed.  She pulls me excitedly inside and starts to head for the clearance rack.  She worked several retail jobs in college and she always goes for the bargains first.

I didn’t budge, and when she tried to lead me away by the hand she came up short like a dog that’s run out of leash.  She looked at me, confused.  I dropped her hand and fished out my wallet.

“Here,” I said, handing over the card linked to my freelance account.  “I’m not going in with you.”

“Wha—?”  Her mouth is open.  Pricelessly adorable.

“You have exactly—” glance at watch “exactly ninety-four minutes to find and purchase attire suitable for going out to a five-star restaurant.”

“Huh?” she replied, eloquently.  Our conversation has attracted the attention of both of the store’s sales clerks, who wander close enough to overhear.

“Ninety minutes.  Five star restaurant.  I want you to look hot.

“But . . . but . . . where are we going?”

“It doesn’t matter if we’re going to McDonalds in the food court,” I assured her.  “I want you to go buy a complete outfit, down to your unmentionables, and be dressed and ready to go in . . . ninety-three minutes, now.”

“Are you fucking serious?” she asks, shocked as she realizes that yes, indeed, I am fucking serious.

“Try to keep it under $300.00,” I say, casually, as I kiss her on the cheek.  “And try to be punctual.”

Then I turn on my heel and walk out.  No further explanation required.

I stole one last peek before I disappeared around the corner, and saw Mrs. Ironwood excitedly explaining what her mission was.

You see, I hate shopping.  

So does she, but she also understands how shopping is not only a necessary aspect of professional womanhood (personal presentation is very important in her field) as well as an essential social requirement for female socialization.  She’s not a “power shopper” by any means.  She eschews jewelry altogether (her father was a jeweler, once-upon-a-time . . . daddy issues) and she’s got weird feet, so she isn’t as mad about shoes as some women.  That doesn't mean I don’t have two-dozen pairs of her shoes in the bottom of my closet, but after talking to some other men, I only have two-dozen pairs in the bottom of my closet.  If my wife has an accessory fetish, it’s purses and handbags. 

But she hates trying to buy clothes.  Like most women, she’ll try on a dozen things and usually settle on one of the first things she saw.  But the entire process can take several excruciating hours and is, from a male perspective, hopelessly inefficient.  This way she has a) a deadline b) a budget and c) a very specific mission, to get an outfit for a night out.  Better for me, I wasn’t subjected to said excruciating hours standing by in quiet Betatude, bearing her purse as a symbol of my subjugation.  I went shopping myself.

I have a lovely black suit, tailored, that I picked up at a going-out-of-business sale a few years ago.  Classic cut, clean lines, and it’s suitable for nearly any occasion.  But my dress shirts were abysmal.  Believe it or not, most porn companies don’t require suit-and-tie for everyday business (and no, they don’t require raw-silk shirts opened to the waist and a couple of gaudy gold chains peeking through your chest hair, either – I usually wear jeans and a t-shirt).  I hadn’t bought a new, nice shirt in ages.  No funerals or court dates lately, and the last wedding we went to I was performing the ceremony and wearing a clerical collar.

It only takes me moments to run out to the car and grab the garment bag with my suit and shoes in it.   I roll into Macy’s, feeling like John Travolta in the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever (minus the paint can).  You can almost hear the disco music as I strut.

Back to the Men’s Department – wouldn’t you know, they’re having a buy-one, get-one sale on shirts and ties.  It takes me all of ten minutes to find a white shirt and a light gray shirt in my size.  Another ten to find a belt and two ties – one blue and silver, one gray and silver.  I look longingly at a brown felt crushable fedora, but it not only doesn’t go with my outfit, it’s far too expensive.  I’d drop that kind of dough on a blocked black fedora in my size, perhaps.  I let my own hamster spin for a moment, and then shut it down when I look at my watch.  I’m on a Mission.

I pay for my stuff, spending about a hundred bucks, and then use the changing room to put on my suit.  I go with the gray shirt and tie, as it brings out the gray in my eyes and that tends to inspire more romance than the blue in my eyes.  More importantly, gray and black make me feel dangerous and sexy.  I come out a few moments later and get appreciative looks from the dumpy older saleswoman and the horny old queen at the register.  Admiration from both sides of the gender spectrum let me know I look good.

Self-Confidence Buff: Objective SR +1

If I went in as John Travolta, I come out as Frank Sinatra.  I own the joint.  I don’t try to disguise the even more confident strut in my step as I cross the mall.  I absorb a few more desiring glances along the way as I make my way into only bar in the mall.

Why a bar?  I was dressed and ready to go, but there was still more than forty-five minutes to her deadline.  I called to confirm our reservation while the bartender brought me a Jamesons on the rocks.  Only one drink, but the smoky taste of peat-fired Irish whiskey is like an instant shot of masculinity in my mouth. 

Side Note: Gentlemen, when approaching a bar to purchase a drink, know what you’re going to order from the moment your foot crosses the threshold.  There is no worse negative Beta presentation than standing in front of a bar with a perplexed look on your face while you mentally debate the merits of some chick beer with an orange in it or an apple-tini.  KNOW YOUR FUCKING POISON.

You enter a bar, you walk confidently to the bar, cash or card in hand, you take up as much space at the bar as you can to attract attention, you patiently wait while the patrons with bigger boobs than yours are served, and then you order your drink, decisively and resolutely.  Make it simple: a highball is about as complicated as you want to get.  For presentation’s sake, stick to a single liquor on the rocks or neat.  I usually recommend against beer on Date Night simply because of the awkward potential for gas.  “Jameson’s, Rocks,” and a self-assured toss of your head should be all the discussion with the bartender you need.  But it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you nail it and move on.

I nursed my drink for half an hour, checking with the sitter, checking email for the final time in the evening, and checking traffic on the way to the restaurant.  Gotta love a smartphone. 

At fifteen-minutes until deadline I finished my drink and went outside for a smoke.  I was relaxed, I looked good, I smelled good, dammit, I felt good.  I felt like James Bond in that suit.  I tried to nurse that vibe, incorporate it into my presentation.  Bond.  James Bond.

I arrived at the store ten minutes early, on the off-chance she was ready.  She wasn’t, of course, but I got to spend that last ten minutes bantering and flirting with the two salesladies while my wife got dressed.  They were positively gushing with how freakin’ romantic I was and how lucky she was to have me . . . with her overhearing every word in the dressing room not twelve feet away.

Preselection Buff: Relative SR +1

PLUS, she got the undivided attention of two salesladies who had elected themselves her honorary handmaidens that night.  She got to feel like a princess – a stressed, anxious princess trying to get her Spanx on before deadline, but a princess nonetheless.  The attention paid to her femininity by those two women helped inflate her own self-confidence, pushing up her own Sex Rank by at least a point.

When she got out . . . it was well worth the wait.  She looked gorgeous.  A pretty white top with large blue flowers and yellow highlights, something that suggested far more cleavage than she was showing (or even has).  Tight black skirt, knee-length, and black hose.  With her work shoes, which I think are the most attractive on her, and her hair and make-up fixed . . . she looked good enough to molest right there and then.  She had accomplished her Mission, and with three minutes to spare.

“Twirl for me,” I instructed, smiling, with just a little mocking in my voice.  Instead of a snappy retort she swallowed and turned around.  That skirt did amazing things for her ass.  “Outstanding,” I pronounced, “you look gorgeous!”

Blush.  I’ll take the point on that.  “Thank you,” she says, demurely.  “Oh my God, you changed into a suit?  Did you buy a suit?  Jesus, Ian, how much—”

“So much that you’re going to be feeling very grateful later,” I say, confidently.  She blushes.  The ladies behind the counter giggle girlishly.  

“Well, you look HOT,” she says, putting lusty emphasis on the last word.  I give the sales ladies a glance, and then strike an overly-dramatic GQ pose.

“What do you think, ladies?  Am I earning my hourly rate?”

They assure me that yes, they would indeed rip off my clothes and hump me until we’re all sore, in politely-worded feminine code.  Any doubt about the Preselection buff is gone.  Mrs. Ironwood’s eyes are flashing and she’s biting her lip.

 I’m about to hand them my credit card when I see a pile of panties towards the back.  I stride over and very quickly select three pairs (to qualify for the sale price) that I like, two black, one nude, and that I think will be both sexy and comfortable – and yes, I know the correct size.  I’ve done my research. 

“Add these,” I say, casually, and they do.  Total bill is just under $200.  Even with her padding it a little with a few hosiery items.  Mrs. Ironwood has done well.

“You’re buying me panties?” she asks, surprised.

I shrug.  “Who says they’re for you?” I quip, as I grab the bags.  I offer her my elbow, and she takes it.  She thanks the ladies profusely for their invaluable assistance.  She feels even more like a princess as we’re leaving.

“So you got me all dressed up to go to Ruby Tuesday’s?” she chuckles.  “That’s adorkably romantic!”

“Yes, it would be,” I say, as I lead her firmly past the mall restaurant and out into the parking lot.  “But I upgraded from ‘adorkable’ to ‘elegant’.  Hope you don’t mind.”

“Ian,” she says, suddenly back on unsure ground.  “If we’re not . . .where the hell are we going?”

“To dinner,” I say, as I open the passenger side door and help her in.  She needs help, too.  Between the Spanx and the skirt, she can barely walk, let alone mount a SUV.

“Are you going to blindfold me?” she jokes.

“We don’t have time,” I say, as I close the door.  “We have a 9:30 reservation.”

That’s got her attention.  Usually the only restaurants we go to where you have to make a reservation involve giant mechanical instrument-playing mice and really bad, over-priced kids' pizza.

“So where are we going?” she pleads, excitedly.  “And who the hell makes a 9:30 dinner reservation?”

“I do,” I say, smugly, as I slide into the driver’s seat.  “And you make that late a reservation when it’s Valabar’s.”

“We’re going to Valabar’s?” she asks, excitedly – and no, before you Google it, that’s a made-up name.  The name “Valabar’s” is from the classic Steven Brust Dragaera fantasy series, and it describes a restaurant of surpassing excellence.  I use it here to guard both my identity and its.  But when you hear “Valabar’s”, just imagine the swankiest joint in your town.  That’s the place.  “Well why didn’t you say so?” she asks, reverently. 

“Because that would have ruined the surprise,” I point out.

“Oh.”   She thinks for a moment, and then grabs my hand.  “Yeah, I guess it would.  We’re going to Valabar’s!” she says, excitedly, and giggles.  Yes, it’s that big a deal. 

“We’ve got twenty minutes before we get there,” I say, casually, as I crank the engine.  “Music?”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anatomy of the Perfect Red Pill Date: Phase II Extraction

Continued from Phase I Preselection

Within moments of sending the text, I got a call.

"What do you mean, put on makeup?  Niece just showed up and told me to jump in the shower!  Where are we going?"  Stress, a trace of exhaustion, irritation . . . she's a little put-off by the sudden developments, and she doesn't hesitate to tell me.  "You know I don't like surprises!" she lies.  I can tell by her voice that behind the anxiety there's excitement.

"We'll discuss it when I get home," I said, simply.

"Well, what should I wear?" she nearly demands.  As per usual, when faced with a potential crisis a woman's first refuge is her wardrobe.

"Those shoes you've been wearing to work will do.  They're comfortable enough, aren't they?"

"For what?  Rock climbing?  Or a movie?"

"The night is young," I say, mysteriously.  "No telling where we might end up."  That pisses her off just right. In point of fact, I know precisely where we'll end up.

"Well, what about my clothes?  What should I wear?" she repeats.

"I don't care.  I wouldn't recommend absolute nudity, but beyond that I'm pretty open."

"That is absolutely no help!" she accuses.  She paused.  "What about . . . underwear?"

"I trust your judgement."  She hates it when I say that.

"Ian, I need some direction!" she nearly pleads.  I chuckle.  Further confirmation of the efficacy of the Red Pill is not needed.  She just summed up our relationship dynamic in a nutshell.  Of course, she couldn't let me exercise that kind of power without trying to rein me in.  "You know, you're being kinda a dick about this."

"We're going on a date," I finally admit.  "That's all you get for now.  I'll see you in about half an hour.  We'll leave fifteen minutes after that."

"What about the kids?" she asks, forgetting that the Niece is there.

"We won't be bringing them.  They've had their fun for the day.  Their pizza will show up at 7:30.  I've already laid out their meds.  Niece has been fully empowered to administer beatings on an as-needed basis," I promised.  "Get your ass ready.  Love you."

"I think I love you too!" she says, annoyed, and hangs up.

"What did she say?" Daughter demands, impishly.  "Was she surprised?"

"Yes, she was surprised.  And she said pretty much exactly what I expected her to."

"She's gonna love it!" she beams, with a trace of jealousy.  It's mitigated by the fact that I've confided in her, and not her two brothers, about the Big Date.  They couldn't keep a secret from their mother if their lives depended on it.  She, on the other hand, had no compunctions about being sneaky about the other woman in my life.  Estrogen's not so bad, if you can play it off against itself.

We finish running a few preparatory errands before we get home.  Mrs. Ironwood has, at this point, changed four times, the Niece reveals to me in a private moment.  I find her in the bathroom working on outfit #4 -- something casual, jeans and a sweater.  She looks nice, MILFalicious, even, and she's "beaten her face" into submission as well.  It's not Wedding Makeup, but it's Dinner With The Vice President Makeup.  Perfect.

"Are we going to be having our picture taken?" she demands, nostrils flaring.

"That is one possibility," I concede.  I suddenly realize that I could have had us actually sit for a portrait at some point in the evening, a special Husband/Wife photo.  I file it away for future reference.  That's a High Beta move, but planning and executing it yourself would be a High Alpha move.  In most cases, it is the wife that arranges and organizes documentary portraits.  Knocking that responsibility off of her plate would be a huge SR buff.

"All right, I've had enough of this mysterious shit!" she says, whirling on her heel to face me, hairbrush held only inches under my nose and quivering dangerously.  Her nostrils are at about Level 3, now.  But she's biting her lip.  Upset and excited.  Just where I want her.  "I've dealt with Girl Scouts all morning and Cub Scouts all afternoon on my Saturday, and I'm exhausted!  I wanted to come home, crawl into bed, and pass out -- I was out in Nature today, building bird houses!" she complains.  She's not a fan of Nature, being highly allergic to it.  She takes drugs for it which allow her to function, but she and Nature have feuded all her life, and she actively resented being confronted with it.  "Where the hell are we going?" she demands. Borderline emotional explosion.  Proto Shit Test.  How I handle this will determine the outcome of our evening.

I don't shift my gaze.  I count to five in my head to let the silence fill the air.  Too many men rush into a response to a challenge like that, assuming that if they don't speak quickly, then their wife will thing she's caught him flatfooted.  This is different.  This is me preparing to Order the evening.

The power to Order -- that is, to set initial conditions and ultimate expectations, as well as proscribe the method and manner in which an action or event takes place -- is one of the fundamental Masculine powers.  I do not mean "order" in the sense of "to order (someone to do something)".  I mean it in the sense of "establishing order".  It's not an accident that the Captain of a ship's directives are called "orders" -- they "order" the ship.

One of the things about taking the Red Pill is that you have to accept -- nay, embrace -- that power, and when you recognize an opportunity to exercise it, you must do so decisively.  Which is why I waited.  I wanted just enough silence to let her know that what I was about to say was Important, and this little pause was a bit of showmanship to add credence and authority to my Order.

"Babe, you can go crawl into bed right now and I'll make sure you aren't disturbed until morning.  Or you can get your ass in the car in the next ten minutes and go with me.  But make up your mind and embrace your choice, because either way I don't want to hear any complaining about the evening, regardless of which one you decide upon.  Your choice."  That was it.

She could indulge her own body's need for rest (she was just finishing up antibiotics for her cold) or she could indulge her soul's need for diversion and entertainment.  Three weeks out of the month it could have gone either way.  This week she was ovulating, and I think that made a big difference.

She closed her mouth.  She bit her lip.  She let out a big sigh, and seemed to resign herself.  "I'll be ready," she promised, tossing her hair unconsciously.  I gave her a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the ass before I went to get ready myself.

Mission accomplished.  She had been presented with two -- and only two -- clear alternative endings for the evening.  One she was certain of.  One she was utterly uncertain of.  There were no details to discuss, no alternate suggestions, no other considerations . . . because she didn't have enough information, on purpose, to make them.

She had to either go to bed (alone) or she had to trust me and my ability to Order and Lead.  One thing or the other.  And once she was presented with those two, due to my manifestation of Order, she was able to select her choice and be content with it, for the moment.  Yes, there was still Mystery implicit in the evening (she didn't know where the hell she was going) but there was also Confidence in my ability to steer us, predicated entirely on the firm, decisive way in which I Ordered her evening.  So . . .

Activate Confidence In Leadership Buff: SR +1

"I still don't like surprises," she muttered as she finished her hair.

"Yes you do," I countered, cheerfully, and went to Order the kids around in preparation for the evening.

Then I got ready: modest amount of cologne, brush through my hair, toss the fedora, keep the scarf, nothing impressive.  I had "impressive" in a gym bag in the back of my car.  For all she knew, we were going to the mall for a Married People Budget Date Night.  We do that probably more than most couples with kids, but it had been a while.  She seemed to accept that's where we were going, relaxed into the idea of cheap pizza and beer on a Saturday night, and accepted it.  In fact, she looked a little smug as she kissed the kids good-bye and unnecessarily instructed Niece about bedtime procedure.

I interrupted.  "It's been handled," I assure her.  "Get in the car.  We're going to be late."  Calm, sure tones, kept low on purpose.  Inspires confidence.  Inspires obedience.

"Late for what?" she asks, confused.  How could we be late for beer-and-pizza? she's thinking.

"If we don't hurry, you'll never find out," I say, simply, and head for the car.  She follows.  She's back to "confused and irritated" again, but she accepted my leadership.  I'm not about to let her question it now.

We get into the car, buckle up, and the first question comes, as casually as a slow ball over the plate.  "So . . . are we going out to eat?"

"There is food in your future," I promised.


"About dinner time," I answer, unhelpfully.

"So where are we going now?  A bar?"


"A restaurant?"

"Not at the moment."

"A concert?"


Silence.  I can almost hear the wheels turning.  Of course, they're so focused on the evening's itinerary that she isn't paying attention to other details.  I'm kind of counting on that.  I head towards the mall.

"Oh!" she says, as if it's dawning on her.  "We're going to the Mall!"  Well, yeah.

"For a little while," I concede.  Of course, she thinks we're going to wander around, look at kids' clothes, sneer good-naturedly at the teenagers trying to look cool, before hitting Ruby Tuesday's on the way out.

"Good, Daughter needs new shoes."

"We're not buying kids' shoes."  I say it as flatly as I can.

"Then what are we doing?" she asks, irritated.  We're close enough, now.  Might as well tell her.

"We're going shopping.  For you."

"Shopping?" she asks.  She knows I hate shopping.  "Are you out of your fucking mind?  It's Saturday night and you're taking me shopping?"

"Yep," I assure her.  She looks at me like I'm crazy.

"Do we really have that in the budget?" she asks, hesitantly.  I handle the bills.  She knows that, and she knows that with three kids and a drive-by niece we have a lot of expenses.  She also knows that I won't spend on frivolities when there are expenses to pay.  And she doesn't know about my little freelance windfall.

"It's handled," I say, simply and confidently.  "We're going shopping.  For you."

"Oh," is all she can say after a few uneasy minutes.  "I guess that's okay, then."

"I'm so glad you approve," I say with just a hint of snark as we pull into the parking lot.  She's looking smug.  Like she's got it all figured out: Mall, clothes, Ruby's, home by nine.  It was seven-thirty now. What could possibly happen at the Mall?

NEXT: Phase 3 Power Shopping

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Anatomy of the Perfect Red Pill Date: Phase 1 Preselection

Continued from the Introduction.

Preselection, as most Red Pill dudes and Married Game aficionados know, is the tendency to find someone more attractive based on the fact that a third party finds them desirable.

I don't wear a wedding ring, for instance, because it makes me more attractive to single women because they figure SOMEONE thought I was worth a damn.  Similarly, when a man or woman wants to elicit a strong and passionate response in their partner, a little flirting with a member of the opposite sex in front of their SO -- or even overhearing a member of the opposite sex say flattering things about your spouse -- is often sufficient to inspire a passionate reaction.  Preselection is a power-up for your sex rank.

True Story: At a sci-fi event where I was promoting a book, Mrs. Ironwood chanced to be in the bathroom at the same time as two of my younger, prettier fans (I have old and ugly fans, too, BTW).  They had just met me, and I had been my usual charming self and flirted to the very boundaries of good taste -- Mrs. I wasn't around, no harm done.  But when she overheard them talking about hot hot I was (!) and wondering to each other if I was single, I suddenly had my usually only casually-interested wife glued to my side for the rest of the evening.  And minstrels will one day write epics about the humpage that evening.

But I digress.  My plan was to incite a Preselection buff through the simple and safe expedient of a date with my 10 year old daughter.  She's had a recent birthday, and I have been promising her a Daddy-Daughter date for a while.  The day before my date I had found out that the season opener for our local Roller Derby league was that afternoon, and I had grabbed tickets.  I surprised her with them that morning, and told her after she got back from Girl Scouts we would be on our way.

Mrs. Ironwood, of course, always loves to see me spend time with the kids (SR+1).  But she had spent all morning with a hundred screaming Girl Scouts, and had to take the boys to Cub Scouts now.

"Aren't you going to finish--" she began, as we waited in the driveway for the boys to emerge in uniform -- never a short process.

"Done," I answered simply, referring to any number of chores on my weekly list.

"Do you think it would fun for all of us to go?" she asked, expectantly.

"Yes . . . but we aren't all going.  This is about me and her." I was Firm.  Good Alpha stance, tone said my mind is made up and this is how it's going to be.

Nostrils flare.  "I spend all day with Girl Scouts and SHE gets a date?" she asks with a snort.  "When do I get a date?"

I shrugged nonchalantly.  "I'll see what I can do.  Consult your schedule.  Maybe if you play your cards right.  Besides, you and the boys have an activity.  This is our special time."

"Well, you and l'il Elektra have a blast!" she said, sarcastically, sticking her tongue out at my daughter.  She gave me a few more nostril flares for good measure and opened the hatch for the boys.  She looked me up and down -- I was looking GOOD.  Black jeans, black sweater, black wool coat, black fedora, long black scarf.  Just had my hair cut and my beard trimmed.  Shoes were shined.  I smelled good.  Real good.  She noticed.

"It's just not fair!" she grumbled one last time before giving me a peck, her daughter a jealous glance, and pulled away.

Preselection buff activated.  Relative SR+2.

Daughter and I had a blast by ourselves -- I let her sit in the front seat in flagrant violation of matronly directive, I bought her a MASSIVE bag of blue cotton candy, I asked her about school and boys and Scouts and other Daddy-Daughter bonding stuff.  She was eating up the attention.  And yes, she had TOTALLY caught how jealous Mommy was, and that was the coolest thing in the world.

Ran light Game on her through the ticketing and concession process, but she was on perfect behavior as we learned the intricacies of racing around a cement floor on wheels as an acceptable outlet for feminine aggression.  Daughter was enchanted.  We went through the program and studied the rules and the players.  By the end of the second bout, we kinda knew what we were talking about.

Meanwhile, I had to fend off the advances of several women.

I'm a decent looking guy in my 40s in nice clothes, no wedding ring, taking my daughter to a fun girl outing.  I heard "Oh, is it your weekend?" at least five times.  Older women, younger women, me sitting there with my arm around my little girl, looking all paternal, I felt like prime steak at a Weight Watchers meeting.

Interesting side note: Gentlemen, for a target-rich environment of women of all sorts -- but with PLENTY of the young-and-cute variety -- I cannot recommend Roller Derby bouts strongly enough.  Once you peel back the thick layer of lesbians, what remains is no less than fertile territory.  They serve beer, there are literally thousands of opportunities for approach, its a low-shield environment, and after a couple of active bouts most of these women had their blood up and would have humped any convenient leg.  Just thought I'd put that out there.  That is all.

Bought Daughter a highly-coveted T-shirt, got some free promotional stickers, took some pictures, saw some gruesome pictures of the various injuries sustained just last season (!), talked Daughter out of an expensive pair of skates by pointing out her feet were still growing.

But she was enchanted.  Girls hitting other girls.  Girls on skates hitting other girls . . . to the roar of the crowd.  Now, I call my daughter (half-mockingly) "Princess" sometimes, but the fact is that she's more the Xena type, despite her pretty looks.  My girl can take a hit.  She's got feet that would make a ballerina faint -- the Ironwood tootsies have been huge for generations.  But she'd make an outstanding Roller Derby girl . . . in eight years.  When she has her own insurance.

But she did pick out her Roller Derby stage name: Kitty Katfight.  That's hers, now.  She called dibs.  Don't cross her, either.

We had a great time coming back, covered in cotton candy, the sun fading towards the horizon, Mommy and the boys already home from their field trip.  My rank towards Daughter went up significantly, and then even more when I revealed the plan of The Big Date.  I gave her the details.  She thought they were impressive and said so.  She offered a few suggestions.  I took one, dismissed the rest, thanked her for her help.  I got a "Best Daddy EVER!" for my troubles.

On the way home, I texted my wife:


Next time: Phase 2 Extraction

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Anatomy of The Perfect Red Pill Date: Introduction

I’ve been taking the Red Pill for a while now, and successfully Gaming my wife for over two months to spectacular success.  A few days ago I decided to test myself: did I have what it takes to plan and execute a maneuver designed to up my SR (relative to my wife) dramatically?  Was I ready to pull out the Big Date?

That question was answered for me when I quite unexpectedly got some money I hadn’t counted on.

The life of a freelance writer is exciting, which means scary, which means poverty stricken.  That’s why I appreciate my day job so much, because then freelancing isn’t how I pay the rent, it’s how I pay for the luxuries and extras after the bills are paid.  One of the vagaries of the profession is how long it can take you to get paid for a job.  I just got some cash for one I did almost two years ago – so long, I’d forgotten I’d done it and was supposed to get paid.  It wasn’t an extravagant amount, but with our bills thankfully paid for once and no pressing need elsewhere, I had some capital to work with for a change.

So just how could I plan, plot, prepare and execute the Perfect Date with my wife without fumbling?  That was the question I decided to answer.  After all, I’ve been running Game for a couple of months, she’s responded admirably, and our relationship has never been better – why push it?

Well, I wouldn’t be Ian Ironwood if I didn’t push it.

No good experiment is valid unless you know up front what a positive conclusion will look like.  In this case, I was looking for five results:

1)      Increase just how attractive I was to my wife by increasing my sex rank to nearly overwhelming levels

2)      Do so with a powerful series of Alpha moves softened with Beta sophistications to keep things fun. 

3)      Have an incredibly good time myself

4)      Ensure she not only had a good time, but is so surprised and delighted by the wonderment I cause that she can’t shut up about how romantic I am.

5)      Get laid commiserate to the level of difficulty and resources consumed.

And of course all of this is designed to strengthen our bond, our relationship, our marriage, all that good stuff.

As experiments go, it was a worthy one.  And since I feel I have a duty to the Manosphere to share whatever successes and failures I have on the Red Pill path, I’m going to give you the play-by-play of the whole thing.  Learn from my mistakes, learn from what I did right.  And feel free to take credit for the latter your own self if you end up using my stuff – I don’t mind.


This is the fun part: just what do you want to treat your woman to?  What will entertain her and delight her and make her think of you in tingly terms?  In my case, I recently got my teeth fixed, and I can finally eat steak which we’ve avoided for over a year since my dental problems arose.  So for the dinner, I chose the finest steak house in the metro region – you know, the family owned one that’s been there for three generations and it’s almost impossible to get a reservation?

I called in a favor and got a reservation.  Luckily I still know plenty of people in the restaurant business.  It was a late one – 9:30 – but that actually worked to my favor.  Still, that reservation determined the course of the rest of the evening.  We had to be at the restaurant at 9:30 or give up our spot.

From there the rest got tricky.  A quick search of the local music sites showed that all the cool stuff that was playing in town in terms of live music would all be starting at 9:00 – which would conflict with dinner.  So live music was out.

While there was a Broadway show at the local performing arts center, tickets were sold out and my connections couldn’t help.  No show.

The movies that weekend sucked.  No movies.

I was rapidly running out of conventional “things for married people to do on a Saturday night” fare – but that simply inspired me.  I didn’t want just “dinner and a movie” – that wouldn’t inspire the kind of reaction I was looking for.  So I got creative.  An hour later, my creativity having failed me, I asked my 18 year old niece (lined up for babysitting for the occasion and sworn to secrecy) what she thought of as a perfect date.  She thought for all of five picoseconds, and then said “Shopping!”

Oh, dear Goddess . . .

And apparently the Goddess heard my prayer and sent me inspiration. I figured out how to incorporate shopping into our date without a) me waiting in silent frustration while she tried on a bunch of stuff she knew she wouldn’t like and b) holding a purse and rendering an opinion.  I liked the idea so much that I built the rest of the date around it.

But first, I had to set things up.  I stashed my suit in a garment bag in the back of my car.  I cleaned out my car and gassed it up.  Got a haircut.  I ensured the Niece was on call to babysit.  I knew that Mrs. Ironwood had a Girl Scout thing that morning, then a Cub Scout thing that afternoon.  I also knew that Preselection is a powerful tool that I rarely employ in my Game, at least not directly.  If I really wanted maximum impact for this date – and I wanted it to feel like an Atom Bomb of romantic lust – then using some unfamiliar elements would not only be more of a challenge, it had the possibility of amping up the rewards significantly.

So first things first: when my wife returned from Girl Scouts that afternoon, and prepared to take the boys to Cubs, I began my run.

I took my 10 year-old daughter to go see her first Roller Derby bout.  

Because if you really want to make your wife feel jealous, the safest way to do so is to take your daughter out, just the two of you.

Next Time: The Pre-Date Date 

Monday, February 20, 2012

No, It Wasn't In Your Head: Ms. Dustybox Really Was Out To Get You

Wonderful post over at The Private Man about this study showing that while male teachers tend to grade boys and girls fairly, female teachers do, indeed, grade boys more harshly and downgrade them more.

We had an old spinster teacher in Middle School we nick-named Ms. Dustybox for obvious reasons.  Very typical eager feminist-educating-young-minds-while-bitching-about-her-love-life sort of teacher.  We all suspected that she hated boys and punished their grades accordingly, while giving generous passes and better grades to girls.  She couldn't shut up about "equality", and it was her tired screeds in front of the classroom that first gave me the inkling that maybe feminist "equality" meant tearing boys down as much or more than building girls up.

So now we have this study that shows that, surprise surprise, female teachers grade boys more harshly.  I wonder what the feminist response to this will be?  HINT: It will involve blaming the men and the system, while absolving any women of any responsibility.  Just a prediction, folks.

But this should encourage every parent out there to double-check their sons' schoolwork, and examine their grades for signs of gender bias.  I know I felt discriminated against in High School and Middle School because of my gender, but I could never prove it.  This might help level the playing field a little.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Alpha Move: Iron Chef "The Kitchen is MY Domain"

I originally posted this as a comment on the venerable Badger's site, but I thought it bore re-posting here:

A commenter basically said that cooking was women's work.  I passionately disagree.  Here's why.

While cooking has traditionally been done by women in agricultural and tribal cultures due to the division of labor, there is nothing unmasculine or inherently and irredeemably beta about cooking.  Indeed, it can be an intensely profound exercise of male power.

Mrs. Ironwood can't cook.  At all.  Her brother and her male cousin were both adept professional chefs.  She and her mother . . . well, they couldn't cook their way out of a refugee camp with Paula Deen helping them.  My wife once washed pasta with soap.  Two weeks after moving in with her, I excused her from all future attempts and assumed the duties exclusively.  Indeed, I wrote into our marriage vows that I will "Feed her when she is hungry".  She's utterly abysmal, due in part to her training in science, which requires exact measurements and such. ("It's says 'brown the beef' . . . how brown?  What shade of brown?  AGHH!" -- actual quote).

I, on the other hand, have cooking as a part of my family culture, with a legacy cookbook and everything.  I've cooked professionally for years, and pursued it as a passionate hobby since my teens.  The skill certainly got me laid in college -- there is great Game in cooking, if you do it right.  The first time I cooked a full mean for Mrs. Ironwood, she dropped the fork, swallowed, and said "I want to have your babies."  I'm good.

So when we cohabitated, I cooked.  She didn't.  When we got married, I cooked, she didn't.  I do every meal, and I don't phone it in.  I have demanded that she learn how to respect the food even if she doesn't know how to prepare it, and I've introduced her to all sorts of cuisines she likely never would have tried.  My subtextual message was pretty loud: FOOD COMES THROUGH ME!  IF YOU WANT TO EAT WELL, KEEP ME HAPPY.

Even in my worst Beta years, I was always Alpha in the kitchen.  I could have a girlfriend in my kitchen and even assist, but if she started trying to take control, I'd throw a bitch out. MY DOMAIN.  And if she didn't like the food . . . well, sure sign of poor relationship material.

Mrs. Ironwood loves everything I put in front of her.  While her single girlfriends were eating Ramen noodles or "dating for dinner" or hitting McD's AGAIN, she was getting incredible meals every night.  Serious DHV.

So, now that I have kids, and I'm running a family in addition to a relationship, the kitchen and meal prep is an even more important extension of power and order in my household.  There's nothing beta in mandating when and what shall be consumed by the family, what is purchased at the grocery store and how much is spent.  In a post-industrial world where cleaning and supplying has been largely outsourced or simplified, cooking (and laundry) remain the key components of housework left.  Athol has spoken at length about the Game value of doing laundry, and I defer to his expertise on the matter.  But the Married Game value of cooking is at least as high, and can be much, much higher.

And now that I have kids, I use cooking to make sure they have the Ironwood gene for culinary arts intact, and teach them my rules and my perspective on food.  One child at a time is designated "kitchen elf" and acts as an apprentice and assistant.  Each meal they cook comes with a lecture on where the food came from, nutrient value, portions, preservation, native culture, method of cultivation, and important historical and cultural points related to the food.  All very nerdy, yes.

But my 7 year old can turn a pretty deft omelet.  My 10 year old makes her own pie crust.  My 12 year old can tell you far, far more than you wanted to know about all sorts of kitchen and food-related lore.  We have enshrined "rules of the kitchen", from Rule No. 1: Sharp things cut, hot things burn to The Ironwood Rule: In this house, we garnish!  My kids go to the grocery store and farmer's market with me, help with cleanup (with a little coercion) and are generally part of the cooking tradition.  Mrs. Ironwood has learned enough to be competent with very simple dishes, but I still like having one of the kids around to watch her, just in case.

Cooking is not exclusively a feminine province.  Consider the scene from <i>Goodfellas</i>, when the mobsters are conspiring to cook pasta in prison and pay loving attention  to each detail of the meal.  In the rugged Pyrenees the Euskandulak gentlemen's "supper clubs" are all-male social opportunities wherein the local leading men of the community take turns producing fabulous meals for each other (and then go on to discuss smuggling operations or furthering the goals of the Basque Separatist movement with guns and bombs).  In my own beloved South, there are teams of male barbecue enthusiasts who compete relentlessly for title and reputation.  Last weekend I had the fortune to be on a Scout backpacking trip during which I ate expertly prepared venison and squirrel by a man who knew how to use seasoning and preparation to bring out the full, rich flavor of the meat.

There is nothing at all unmanly about food prep.  Nor is it a demeaning or unhonorable task.  Indeed, the idea that "men don't cook" for years gave women power over the domestic homefront.  Now that division of labor is a lot less pronounced, there's no reason at all why a man can't be responsible for the food that goes in the mouths of his family.

It's a subtle Art, make no mistake.  The comfortable dependability of food provides plenty of positive Beta, and your craft -- and eventual mastery -- of turning ingredients into delicious food provides a powerful statement about your dedication and skill, knowledge and creativity, all of which are Alpha.

But then it comes to presentation, and that's where the real Alpha kicks in.  Anyone can cook, eventually.  But if you really want to get the most out of the experience then I suggest you cultivate a bit of showmanship and cunning about how you present your food to the people who eat it.  That doesn't necessarily mean that every meal has to be 5 star fare, but it does mean that you use attractive and appropriate settings to support your meals.

One advantage of living in a traditionally-oriented culture like the South is that there is a culture of appreciation around manners, etiquette, and the proper enjoyment of food.  My table is My Table, and I set the rules.  It's as much my arena as my bed or my desk, and I enforce those rules rigorously (though not always successfully) when we are eating.  The rules are not decided by mutual consensus, or a vote, or anything other than the fact that it is My Table, the Captain's Table, and I alone am the arbiter of the rules there.

If they don't like it, there's peanut butter and jelly in the pantry.

So don't dismiss this very valuable avenue of alpha/beta power as inherently feminine or demeaning.  That would be letting go of a potential masculine asset.

Besides, don't forget that far more women poison their husbands than vice versa.  No need to tempt her.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alpha Move: Stand Up Straight

A lot of guys in the first few days of taking the Red Pill are at a loss about how to begin.  They’re still coming out of the Blue Pill stupor, and the task in front of them seems daunting.  Some are so intimidated by it that they abandon it altogether.  Sure, they can work out, but that takes weeks to have any significant visible effect, so they feel trapped.  They want to see some instant results.  

What the novice Red Pill man needs to remember is that the goal of Game, Married or Single flavors, is not necessarily to become an Alpha male (most of us are simply not equipped to handle full Alpha – and the drawbacks are almost as severe as the advantages), it’s to present as an Alpha.  Big difference.  Even if you aren’t chiseled out of granite and endowed with a big, bulging trust fund, you can still use the subtextual cues of dominance associated with Alpha to improve your presentation.  One of the most subtle yet dramatic ways you can do this is through the simple expedient of standing up perfectly straight.

The customs associated with military life – our attempt to institutionalize the aggressive masculine Alpha – include standing at attention.  Why?  Because standing perfectly straight, balanced on both feet, makes you taller and more intimidating automatically.  Slouching is for Betas, Sigmas and Omegas.  Alphas have good posture.

Don’t underestimate the effect of this cue.  If you wish, try an experiment.  If you are learning Single Game ala Roissey and Roosh V, then try an approach with your shoulders slumped and with you leaning casually.  Then try another approach standing perfectly straight, shoulders back, head fixed firmly on one spot, with few if any extraneous movements.  I think you’ll find that there is a definite difference in result.

If you are learning Married Game, then make a slightly annoying, slightly unreasonable request of your wife or girlfriend slouched over, casual style.  Then wait an hour and try a different annoying, slightly unreasonable request standing straight up, balanced equally on both feet, shoulders squared and facing her directly.  Note the difference in reaction.

The secret to maintaining good posture is known to ballerinas and models the world over: you simply imagine a string pulling you skyward from the top of your head.  It requires a little effort at first to maintain that posture, but with time and practice it becomes automatic.  And you will notice a subtle but decided shift in how people treat you from this very simple change to your presentation.  Standing up straight makes you taller (DHV), take up more space, and it makes people literally look up to you (well, shorter people).  More, your willful attention to your own presentation will increase both your confidence and your focus – both of which are essential to Game, and hallmarks of a mature masculinity.

So stand up straight.  Smile confidently and have good posture.  No one else might be watching, but you always are – and if you can impress yourself, you’ll impress the ladies.  Besides, it don't cost nothin'.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alpha Move: Give her chocolate . . . the right way!

Okay, I know Athol and I and a whole bunch of other Manosphere guys are hardcore geeks and nerds (there is a difference, but only a geek would know it and only a nerd would argue about it).  That's off-putting to some folks who don't "get" sci-fi and think it's all a bunch of ray guns and rocket ships.  The fact is, the reason a lot of us geek out about sci-fi and comics and such is that they present more elegant and useful metaphors for the realities of our post-industrial existence.  "Using the Force", for instance, when you are closing your eyes driving through traffic on the interstate, or "entering the Neutral Zone" when undertaking activity of dubious legality.  The fact is, we use sci-fi metaphors because they are apt and elegant and they are a common point of reference for many of us who didn't do a lot of dating in High School.

That being said as preface, we come to the topic of today's post, the proper way to give your wife chocolate.

Mrs. Ironwood and I have been eagerly enjoying The Big Bang Theory, not only for it's witty nerdicissms but also for it's portrayal of a gang of misfit Betas, Sigmas, Deltas and Omegas attempt to overcome their terminal geekatude and find babes.  When one actually does, his roommate Sheldon, an anal-retentive OCD genius theoretical physicist, has a hard time dealing with her feminine idiosyncracies.  Instead of pitching a hissy fit, he handles the situation with masculine cunning.  Observe:

(Crap, they disabled embedding, the bastards.)

  I'll wait a moment while you first go watch this clip . . .

. . . and then this one:

Back yet?

When Mrs. Ironwood and I first watched this, we laughed so hard we almost peed.

And after that it became an inside joke.  I started carrying around a small bag of candy (Hershey's drops, but any kind of small, easily portable chocolate candy will do) and whenever she did something I approved of, say, initiate sex, talk dirty, or  verbally offer me respect for what I do, or some such, I'd whip out the bag and say "Chocolate?" and she'd laugh.  I'd laugh.  Funny.

But I kept doing it.  After a while, it stopped being funny in one way, and started being funny in another as she acknowledged my conscious attempts to take control of the relationship and modify her behavior.  Whenever I suddenly offered her a chocolate, it was a tangible and concrete sign of my approval, and a tacit rejection of the behavior she avoided.  In other words, it made her unconscious behaviors I disliked conscious, calling her out and holding her accountable, while rewarding her for her efforts to counter them -- even if they were accidental.  I tried to never do it ironically, always supportively.  And after a while, I didn't even need the chocolate.  I could just pantomime handing her one and asking, and she'd get the point.

Once again, little subtle, subtextual rituals can communicate volumes in a marriage.  I'm not trying to demean my wife, belittle her or insult her intelligence.  But I am making a point of letting her know that I am observing her behavior and such little things do not escape my notice or my memory (as she once thought they did).  And lastly I am making the point that I would much rather lovingly offer her chocolate for good behavior than, say, get into an argument over negative behavior.

Yeah, I can use it to be an asshole sometimes.  But she forgives me.  Hey, I give her chocolate. What's she going to say?