o lord,
grant me

so that i still want
what i want
once i have it

so that i want to still want
what i want
once i have it

grant me these, o lord
so that i can build something
i won’t be compelled
to destroy

if that is too much, o lord

if it is my fate
to destroy
whatever i build

deliver me, o lord
from the discontent
that drives me to build
what i must inevitably destroy

so that i want
nothing but

to want
to rapture
to see
to chase

to hunt
to capture
to free
to erase

my teenage years were, by any red-blooded adolescent standard, blessed — flush with success, whether with girls, money, drugs, fights, or whatever else my little id might have desired.

but, all that success led to the inevitable devaluation of the currency of success.

first, like most people, i found that satisfaction was homeostatic.
no matter what i achieved — and no matter the intense, though brief, heights of euphoria i derived from those achievements — i found that i would soon regress to my historical levels of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction (or, more accurately, lack thereof).

second, though, and more insidiously, the joy of pursuing success began to fade along with the joy of success itself.
life and liberty i still had, but material and social success had begun to come so fast and so easy that not just happiness, but even the pursuit of happiness, had begun to lose its luster.

the thrill of victory had given way to the expectation of victory,
the thrill of the chase had given way to the numbing ennui of a daily commute.
i found myself climbing the steps of a shepard scale, restlessly anticipating the next peak, without stopping to enjoy the climb; inevitably, once i’d reached a higher step, i’d ultimately find it indistinguishable from the previous step.

discontent is a useful mechanism for driving men to achieve their goals.
but what good is discontent when the goals themselves have succumbed to hyperinflation?

i wrote the prayer above at the wise old age of 15, after cracking a book on buddhism and attempting to make sense of the concept of nirvana.

in the sources i read, nirvana was portrayed as total freedom from craving, desire, anger, and other such states of discontent — a total freedom that would extinguish the fires of human suffering described vividly in genesis 3.
this notion provided only cold comfort for me, though, for i saw such “freedom”, such detachment, as the death of the soul itself.
the mathematician paul erdös referred to colleagues who had stopped doing pure mathematics, whether by stopping altogether or even by switching to applied math, as “dead”; i felt the same way about my own drives — if i stopped chasing them in their pure form, whether by losing them altogether (nirvana) or by settling into a more practical routine, i’d be “dead”.
the idea of nirvana resonated with some.
to me, nirvana would be death.

hence, the prayer above.
it’s possible that i’m too much of a horizontal integrator to make things last once i’ve built them. whether this is by natural temperament or by the numbing effect of too much success, too fast, too soon, with too little effort, i’ll never know, but i’ve been keenly aware of it since even before the wise old age of fifteen.

my nirvana, then, would be a return to the pure enjoyment of the chase — and of the explosive satisfaction of capturing elusive prey — without the accompanying, specious desire to break and domesticate that prey, only to release it back into the wild once it has come to depend on me for its survival.

is there such a thing as too much success, too soon, too fast?
in order to feel successful, and to remain motivated to chase success, do we need a certain lack of success in our lives?

if we graph happiness versus actual degree of success, do we get a laffer curve?

**at the time of writing this prayer, i had never heard of the “principle of commitment and consistency” as (later?) popularized by robert cialdini.


in this post and this post i laid out a basic framework for a set of traits that approximate the idea of “alpha”, as pertaining to long-term relationships, graded from -10 to 10. as some readers pointed out, however, the term “alpha” has been bandied about so much that it inevitably causes confusion — so here’s another way to think about it: the idea of “alpha”, as proposed in this series, is strongly correlated with the notion of “yang” in the yin/yang dynamic, as articulated in chinese philosophy.

here are the eight such traits that have already been discussed.
alpha/yang trait 1: sexual dominance
alpha/yang trait 2: sexual aggression
alpha/yang trait 3: control the conversation
alpha/yang trait 4: all interaction is sexually charged
alpha/yang trait 5: authority
alpha/yang trait 6: independence
alpha/yang trait 7: dismissiveness
alpha/yang trait 8: comfort in own skin / ability to cause others to adapt

…and below i’ll discuss one more:
-10 = in the event that other women are in sight, his every movement and gesture is an exaggerated, purposeful effort to look away from them — even if his woman is hundreds of miles away
-5 = completely ignores the sexual presence of other women if his own woman is present, as if neutered; can’t or won’t flirt or return flirtation, even completely innocently
0 = glances appreciatively at other women, but won’t interact with them, if his woman is present; may flirt briefly and innocently with other women in his woman’s absence, but with no intention of following through or progressing to the point of non-negligible sexual tension
+5 = engages and flirts playfully with other women, and has little shame about returning their flirtations, in his woman’s presence; normally keeps the tension playful and brief, but may occasionally escalate to the point where his woman feels disregarded or even purposely snubbed (a feeling that usually dissipates somewhat quickly). flirts aggressively with other women in her absence; normally able to control himself in such situations; never drives the final steps of an extracurricular dalliance himself, but may occasionally fall into the web of a particularly seductive interloper if their flirtation escalates too far
+10 = in social situations where other desirable women are present, uses his own woman almost solely a prop to attract more playmates, whether she’s ultimately to be included in those activities or not; in her absence, continues to seduce women as usual, mentioning his own woman/women only in order to evoke preselection and stir up other women’s jealous desires; brings other women home regularly, even if he lives with his woman/women, with no apology — just an invitation to join, or a harsh temporary dismissal — if she walks in on them in flagrante

and then there were nine.

what so often goes unnoticed, especially in discussions about shorter-term pickups (for which cutting one’s losses is hardly a big deal), is the notion that all yang and no yin makes jack a sociopathic boy. a successful relationship requires a viable balance of alpha (yang) and beta (yin) traits.

notice: “balance”.
the use of this word is not an accident. in fact, a greater degree of alpha (yang) should be paired with a likewise GREATER degree of beta (yin), and vice versa, in almost direct contravention of just about everything else that is stated in this little corner of the knowledge jungle.

to this end, then, a brief and slipshod attempt to define a few of the key beta (yin) traits.

-10 = he doesn’t ever want to touch her with his own hands, look her in the face, or sit/stand directly facing her
-5 = he occasionally takes her hand, gives her small kisses, or touches her, usually at times dictated by standards of manners or decorum; no spontaneous displays of affection in public; very little eye contact, always brief when it does occur
0 = some spontaneous displays of affection in public, but usually in tritely “romantic” situations; any amorous gestures outside of such contexts occur only after several units of alcohol; more common, but still brief, eye contact
+5 = frequent bursts of public affection, often completely unexpected (and often unexpectedly passionate); prolonged eye contact on a regular basis; frequent touching in almost all situations that are not physically/situationally awkward
+10 = constant public displays of affection, regardless of whether she telegraphs awkwardness; staring into her eyes almost constantly, like a hungry dog latching onto a guest at a cookout; hands and/or arms in almost constant contact with her, even when physically or situationally awkward

note that “eye contact”, in the above, refers to the tender, loving form of eye contact — not to be confused with the “sexual predator stare” or with the stare of an angry disciplinarian / disappointed master

-10 = he won’t give her a red cent (note that this is NOT the same as “he takes from her”)
-5 = he grudgingly pays the bare minimum
0 = he pays for things in accordance with his means, and well within his comfort zone; he doesn’t splurge on her unless HE also wants whatever he’s splurging on (e.g. plastic surgery, lingerie, slutty clothes, vacations that HE wants to go on)
+5 = he pays for her things slightly beyond his normal comfort zone — as much, or more than, for any of his previous women — but still well within his means
+10 = he buys her not only everything she wants, but also everything she says she wants and everything he thinks she might want, spending well above his actual means

two VERY important considerations for this slider.
note that the above criteria are relative, not absolute, in two ways: (a) relative to the man’s means, and (b) relative to his comfort zone.
both of these are crucial.
the first is obvious — a weekend getaway in a $300/night hotel suite is clearly different to a middle-class man than to a rich man — but the second is underappreciated, especially in the PUA community.
specifically, if a man is dropping sizable amounts of cash, there’s a world of difference between doing so in an aloof, casual, unconcerned way, such that he is obviously calling the shots and her role as the beneficiary is almost incidental, and doing so in a conscious effort to please her or buy her affection. when men spend money on women, it should be mostly in the former way: she should not be the primary focus — even, ironically, when he’s buying things for her. if this sounds like a contradiction in terms — and i know it will, to any of you PUA types out there who follow ironclad rules and firm spending ceilings — consider the way in which a successful pimp or drug lord might pay for breast implants for one of his women. even though she’s clearly the recipient, she’s not the focus. he’s the focus, and she’s well aware that, if she weren’t there, he’d do the same for another, equally desirable woman without a second thought.
see the difference?
the meaning of “splurge”, “bare minimum”, etc. is highly dependent upon the couple’s income disparity and/or living situation. the “bare minimum” for a sole breadwinner husband would be well within the range of “splurging” for a man who makes less than the woman does.

the next two traits generally sum up “empathy”, in terms of what is perceptible to the woman (since that’s all that matters here).

-10 = he never acts on her opinions/desires in any way; he favors his own random instincts even in matters he couldn’t care less about, or in her specialties about which he knows nothing
-5 = he rarely acts on her opinions/desires — almost never, excepting areas that are critically important to her and/or about which she has superior specialized knowledge; when he does, he does so at least somewhat grudgingly, and “keeps a scorecard”
0 = he normally acts according to whichever of their desires/opinions is stronger regarding the matter at hand; two equally strong opinions lead to endless dialogue/deliberation
+5 = he lets her guide most mundane decisions, but still takes the lead in matters about which he feels very strongly (note that this latter category intersects, but is not quite the same as, “matters he thinks are important”)
+10 = “yes, dear, whatever you say”; can hardly dress himself or choose menu items without her input; calls or texts for her constant input in the most mundane, unimportant matters

-10 = completely oblivious to everything coming out of her mouth (note this is NOT the same as ignoring everything, which is a more stereotypically alpha trait)
-5 = sorry, what was that again?
0 = same level of acknowledgment that he’d give to same-status peers/friends
+5 = visibly interested in what she says, to a greater degree than with his same-status peers/friends, especially if she telegraphs via body language and intonation that it’s important to her
+10 = waits with bated breath on her every word, as though he were a goody-two-shoes grade-school student trying to earn a 100% participation grade

notice that neither of the above traits is equivalent to understanding her point of view, which is neither an alpha (yang) trait nor a beta (yin) trait. it all depends on what you do with that understanding.

-10 = won’t even touch her with his own bare flesh (including his hands and unprotected cock); zero foreplay of any type (even verbal); won’t fuck her in face-to-face positions
-5 = sexes her mechanically, distantly, in a way roughly equivalent to how a prostitute would “service” a client (a run-of-the-mill prostitute, not one of the gifted dissimulators who can out-earn her looks fivefold by effectively faking passion and involvement); gets his rocks off and gets it over with; little or no eye contact
0 = kisses her, but not too deeply; touches her enough not to be a robot, but not really into emotional territory; too handsy/attentive for a woman who’s not in the mood, but would seem distant if she’s turned on; intermittent and brief eye contact
+5 = hands all over her body, including places neglected by most or all of her previous lovers; frequent deep kisses; prolonged eye contact, especially during orgasms
+10 = constant, cloyingly sweet eye contact; almost continuous attempts at kissing, even when extremely physically awkward; hands conducting relentless exhaustive searches of her body, treating even neutral zones like elbows and shins as though they were ultimate erogenous zones

-10 = familiarity has bred utter contempt; any feedback he gives her, ever, is wholly derisive and critical; he tells her she’s worthless deadweight, a constant force of friction slowing him down
-5 = he criticizes her more than he praises her; most of his compliments appear to come through clenched teeth, sounding insincere (in the “i don’t really mean it” way, not the cloying/overwrought way) or just rubbing her the wrong way; he comes off as resentful and passive-aggressive; negative comments come out of his mouth with a palpable “tip of the iceberg” feeling, as though he’s holding it all back to be civil
0 = balance of positive and negative feedback; occasional heartfelt compliments, though most positive feedback is somewhat mechanical, objective, and/or qualified; most negative feedback is objective and constructive, though he’ll occasionally get snippy with her in heated arguments or say something that comes off much worse than he’d intended
+5 = he follows the schoolteacher’s recipe of 3-5 positives for every one negative/constructive comment; his compliments are heartfelt and are decently well aimed at her feminine sensibilities; he occasionally gives honest criticism, but frames such criticism in extremely euphemistic, sugarcoated terms; takes the high road in arguments, never hitting below the belt unless she has seriously wronged him
+10 = he worships her as though she were a goddess, with total deference; no negative comments ever cross his lips; he apologizes and accepts blame for her wrongs, even her cold-blooded betrayals, reasoning that he just wasn’t being a good enough boy for her

note the fact — revolutionary to some — that this trait is not the opposite of dismissiveness (alpha trait 7). it’s perfectly possible follow the above schoolteacher’s recipe while remaining imperious and dismissive, but that takes a master’s touch.

-10 = he’ll go on a violent, uncontrolled rampage at the mere thought that she might look at another man — just look, even as just people-watching
-5 = he’s uncomfortable with her having any sort of contact, however brief, with other men, whether socially or professionally, even in large groups; if she has male friends, even harmless, neutered, sexually undesirable ones, he’s worried when she’s in their company
0 = he wouldn’t stand for her socializing with ex-boyfriends or ex-lovers under any circumstances, or with other high-status men one-on-one; if she has a night out with her girlfriends, he’ll check in with her and will be mildly distrustful; otherwise he trusts her around miscellaneous male company. he will accept. though grudgingly, a limited amount of her playful flirting with other men, but will call her on it if it is excessive, seems to be leading somewhere, or is blatantly dismissive of him
+5 = he has no problems with her socializing with other men, except those with whom he knows she’s had memorable sexual experiences; he doesn’t mind, and may even enjoy, her playful flirtation with other men, even when it’s somewhat sexually charged; he may forgive her cheating, once, provided she is never the sexual aggressor and has done nothing to engineer the situation
+10 = he encourages her to flirt with, fuck, and even have relationships with other men, on her own and of her own volition, sometimes right in front of his face

BETA/YIN TRAIT 8: EXPRESSIONS OF APPRECIATION (note that this is not the same thing as trait 6)
-10 = never utters a single word of appreciation, even if she saves his life or bails him out of jail
-5 = forced, trite, insincere mumblings of “i love you” at the conclusion of telephone calls or in other such rote situations, often with the same sort of internally seething resentment experienced by a seventh-grader whose mother insists on kissing him goodbye at the dropoff point on the first day of school
0 = mostly genuine expressions of “i love you”, “you look beautiful”, etc., but mostly in conventionally scripted situations (“you look beautiful” before sex, “i love you” after sex, either/both at formal events together, etc.); other forms of appreciation as immediate feedback (“i really like the way you _________ just now”)
+5 = “i love you” meaningfully and spontaneously, often at completely unexpected times and/or amid bustling public backdrops; “you’re hot” / “you look beautiful” / etc. whether she’s dressed to the nines or just to the one-thirds, mostly out of genuine appreciation but sometimes to lift her spirits on her bad days, but never to cloying excess; occasional spontaneous forms of random appreciation (“you know what i like about you? _________”)
+10 = “i love you”, “i’d kill myself without you”, “i’m nothing without you”, etc., frequently, randomly, and awkwardly, to extreme excess in both repetition and dramatic intensity; “you’re a goddess”, “you’re beautiful”, etc., to equivalent excess, even if she’s gotten disgustingly fat, slovenly, or skeletally skinny; cloying appreciation of other personality traits that she doesn’t even actually have (“you’re so good with the kids” when you had to pull them out of the pool, narrowly preventing them from drowning, because her drugs knocked her out)

-10 = he’s never done anything nice for anyone in his life
-5 = he’ll do ostensibly nice things for people, but only when he calculates (or miscalculates) that he’ll achieve some sort of personal gain in return, either as quid pro quo or by ingratiating himself to them — and sometimes not even then
0 = he’ll occasionally do things for his woman, and for close family and friends, without expecting equal reciprocation, but won’t inconvenience himself too much unless the situation is practically a matter of life and death; he’ll notice if there’s too much quid and not enough pro quo, and will cut ties with people who are all take and no give
+5 = he’ll consistently go out of his way for his woman, sometimes (but not usually) more than would be merited by the situation; he’ll give the shirt off his back for his best friends, and can be counted on for help by other friends in a bind; he’ll occasionally perform good turns for random strangers
+10 = he’s publicly demonstrative about doing “favors” for anyone and everyone in sight, whether they actually want/need his help or not, and regardless of their relationship, if any, with him; ironically, he is so helpful to random strangers that he diminishes the apparent value of his actually heartfelt favors to friends, family, and woman/women

there they are.
nine alpha/yang traits.
nine beta/yin traits.

and now, here’s the formula for a successful ltr, which is surprisingly and elegantly simple.

* calibrate the degree of alpha (yang) that your woman requires.
for high-drama, high-estrogen BPD sexual-dynamo femmes fatales, this number may be as high as +10.
for soft-spoken, modest, retiring church mice, this number may be as low as +4.
underestimate at your own risk.

* be as consistent as possible across the nine alpha (yang) traits.
as mentioned in previous postings, this rule will have exceptions in the cases of women for whom traumatic (or otherwise momentous) life events have knocked one or two of them off caliber.

* set the yin/beta traits at approximately 3/5 of the alpha/yang levels.
there’s the formula.
that simple ratio expresses the essence of “contrast game” in three keystrokes.
it explains why the good deeds of alpha assholes count for so much more than the good doings of do-gooders.
it explains why overwrought, poetic expressions of breathless love are the stuff of women’s fantasies when they come from otherwise impassive, guarded, stoic, dominant sociopaths, and why the same words, spoken in the same way, become stalker nightmares from the mouth of a milquetoast.
it explains the resonance frequency of the push/pull dynamic.
it explains how you can make her feel, deep in her heart of hearts, that you know her better than she herself could, and that you satisfy her every urge, but still that she doesn’t control you in the least.

for the aforementioned high-drama, high-estrogen BPD sexual-dynamo femmes fatales, that’s +10 and +6 — welcome to bipolar manic-depressive high-drama highlowhighlowhighlowrollercoasterheavenhell.
for some of us, that’s the only thing that makes us feel alive. most such drama feeders are women; the lucky few men who can harness the storm, and who thrive on doing so, will have control of an endless parade of women who ruin more “stable” men’s lives for kicks.

for women who are traditional marriage material, it’s more like +5 and +3.


as for money, status, worldly power, economic inequities, and fame, those are neither alpha nor beta traits, neither yin nor yang; they are simply wild cards that will allow relationships to survive longer with improperly tuned sliders. more on that later.

finally, the alpha traits should mostly be consistent, but the beta traits should not be consistent.
you should briefly tweak the beta traits in the negative direction, sometimes sharply (here the mixing board is an excellent literal analogy, in terms of throwing sliders to mix beats), to throw a little bit of syncopation into the relationship.
tweaking alpha sliders sharply in the positive direction can provide the same sort of syncopated beat, but most guys couldn’t much pull that off.


in this previous post i took out the scalpel of common sense, tempered by diverse experiences, and began a reckless attempt at debridement of the deeply scarred tissue of modern long-term relationships.
in that post, i introduced the following ideas:

* alpha and beta are not opposites, nor are they negative spaces, like yin and yang. they are entirely separate clusters of behavioral traits. (in extremely compressed timeframes they can take on some aspects of opposition, which is why the PUA community is so obsessed with contrasting them, but in longer timeframes it’s ridiculous to continue the charade of contrast.)

* the traits are not binary; each can be represented by a continuum, to which i’ve arbitrarily put the numbers -10 to 10. (if you really hate negative numbers, then add ten, divide the result by two, and, hey presto, you have an 0-10 scale. i’m nothing if not helpful.)

* i introduced scales for the following alpha traits:
alpha trait 3: control the conversation
alpha trait 4: all interaction is sexually charged
alpha trait 5: authority
alpha trait 6: independence
yes, #1 and #2 are missing; see below.

* i discussed the meaning of such terms, as widely bandied about as they are vague, as “congruent”, “just be yourself”, and “better relationship game”.

coming attractions:
in this post, i will describe a few more of the alpha traits, giving a more complete picture of “alpha”. in a few days, i’ll post a pretty comprehensive discussion of the beta traits (which are, more or less, completely orthogonal to these alpha traits).
then, i’ll attempt to sketch an outline of the optimal relationship between the two, upon which the genesis of such previously mysterious facts as “alphas get sooooo much more credit for random acts of kindness!” will suddenly become crystal clear.
stay tuned.

back to your regularly scheduled programming.
remember the warning in the first edition of “to whatever self be true”: you will be treated as a fraud, a hollow, fake alpha, if you do not have reasonably consistent values on ALL of these scales.
this statement has possible exceptions in terms of scales #1 and #2 below, which may be strongly skewed by a woman’s prior experience with molestation, sexual abuse, and other such permanent beshitment. otherwise, if you’re looking to “improve your game”, you’re looking at the intimidating, but not insurmountable, task of moving all of these sliders very slowly up the board, so that no two of them are more than a couple of points out of sync.

-10 = he doesn’t make a move without her explicit approval, and even then is still walking on eggshells, thinking nothing of his own pleasure amid his fear of displeasing his mistress
-5 = he has some sexual agency and will take some sexual initiative, but is still relentlessly concerned with “technique” and “how to please her”, as though these two things were purely biomechanical functions; he will literally take direction from her, or, in the absence of such direction, will pester her, explicitly or implicitly, with “does that feel good?”; he won’t initate sexual contact, except in contexts where it’s traditionally expected (e.g. after a candlelit dinner or a large purchase) or at her urging
0 = he likes to get his rocks off, and will thus occasionally initiate bouts of frenzied, strangely energetic fucking in a mostly vain attempt to simulate the intense friction of his tightly closed hand; he’s above literally having to take instruction from her, but he’s still the sexual equivalent of a supplicating sycophant, overly concerned with trying to elicit “her pleasure” in a forced, mechanical way that doesn’t take account of her psychological need for dominance; he often gets her decently close to orgasm with the frenzied ersatz-masturbation-fucking, but then ruins the vibe completely by switching back into “pleaser” mode; he’s still not spontaneous in initating sex, although liquid courage, PUA materials, and friends’ prodding now push him to occasional sexual spontaneity (inevitably with hilariously awkward results with which she can later regale her girlfriends)
+5 = he takes control in the bedroom, clearly dominating her both physically and psychologically; however, he is still concerned with such things as giving her orgasms; any degrading dirty talk of his, however intense, is still mostly rooted in fantasy and restricted to the bedroom
+10 = he views the woman as just another inanimate, non-sentient aid in the process of masturbation (although a particularly effective, addictive, and alluring one), and will gladly tell her so, whether during sex or not; rather than assuming that her pleasure will correlate with his, he simply doesn’t care about her pleasure — or, more probably, the thought of “her pleasure” has never occurred to him at all, as anything other than a mythical abstraction

-10 = he has internalized dworkin’s portrayal of sex, in which even the act of thrusting itself is unacceptable male hegemony; he is only comfortable as the passive partner in a sexual relationship
-5 = he doesn’t like to “fuck” so much as he likes to “make love”; he can be very passionate in his lovemaking, but channels this passion in the same way one might channel a passion for painting and handling fabergé eggs
0 = occasional physically aggressive sex, but which is manifested in the awkward, unconvincing way seen in the “domination” genre of mainstream porn (not niche porn, in which there’s sometimes genuine brutality); he’s testing her (and his) limits, but is clearly not much in character while doing so
+5 = handles her the way one would handle a rebellious animal, with lots of spanking, hair-pulling, and general roughness; he generally draws the line at face-slapping, bruising, or gagging, although he may fantasize about doing all these things to her; if he does cross these lines — especially at her explicit or implicit urging — he is deeply ambivalent about doing so
+10 = he can’t even stay hard unless he’s physically hurting her in some way; whether it’s choking her, backhanding her, throwing her around, or just bruising her cervix, the pure catharsis of thrashing and subduing her is the only sexual pleasure that remains alive for him

the above are #1 and #2 because they are the two from which all else flows, in male-female relationships. more on this later.

-10 = he responds very seriously and literally to everything she says, as though answering questions on a very demanding professor’s final exam — even when she is being very obviously sarcastic, lighthearted, ironic, or irrationally emotional
-5 = he responds very seriously and literally to almost everything she says, but, if she is very clearly telegraphing sarcasm/lightheartedness/irony, he’ll sometimes fire back an unexpected volley of his own attempted humor; many of these attempts come off the wrong way, making her feel insulted and destroying the vibe
0 = he’s playfully dismissive/ironic/kidding about as often as she is, sometimes unintentionally mirroring her own humor to a jarring extent; he jokes with her often but in a guarded way, always watching his mouth in the same way he would when joking around with the politically correct HR folks in the office
+5 = the classic PUA “cocky/funny” angle; he’s arrogant and dismissive to an extent that would be unacceptable if he were deadpan and straight-faced, but, when tempered by well-timed humor, is pleasantly disarming; he’s not arrogant enough to be generally known as a jerk, except by people who have an axe to grind against him
+10 = he responds to her only with condescending, degrading (although often hilarious, to others at least) nonsense answers, when he deigns to give such answers at all; he treats her as he’d treat an annoying gadfly, regardless of what she’s saying or doing

-10 = has no identity of his own; is a sycophantic suck-up yes-man in absolutely any social or professional circle; is afraid to disagree with any expressed opinions, no matter how ridiculous, preferring to nod vigorously in agreement with absolutely everything (even baldfaced contradictions); adapts every aspect of his behavior, speech, comportment, clothing, decorum, and possessions to keep up with the joneses, smiths, browns, ochoas, jenkinses, chus, wangs, nguyens, puyols, kowalskis, chukwus, panganibans, and thundercloudsittingbulls; at home / in relationships, has no opinions or thoughts other than those downloaded from his woman
-5 = has at least some base identity and base set of beliefs, at any one given point; does not, however, generate such identity/beliefs from within, or from empirical experience or emotional identification. instead, simply follows the prevailing trend of whatever social milieu he finds himself in. he may have some degree of contrast or complexity to his character or identity, but only in ways that have long since achieved the imprimatur of the mainstream; his behavior, speech, comportment, clothing, decorum, and possessions are largely a function of his social milieu, although he will exhibit interesting quirks; will largely act on his woman’s belief and value systems, even when he feels ambivalent about doing so
0 = his identity and beliefs are still very visibly shaped by his environment/social milieu/woman, but he has enough interesting contrasts and quirks to no longer be instantly forgettable as an individual; he is comfortable enough to violate community norms, in mostly minor, nonthreatening ways, but only once he has built up some level of status/”cred” in the community; will still conform his behavior to his surrounding environment, except in narrow niches in which he is clearly superior to those around him
+5 = his core personality, belief system, behavior, comportment, clothing, decorum, and possessions are mostly invariant even upon radical changes in his surroundings, social circle, or professional milieu; he is at least circumspect enough to avoid standing out enough to be a target (whether of physical violence, censure, or social ridicule), but, past that, is not afraid to stand out, and so usually does; often ignores major unwritten rules as well as minor formal rules, trying to “beat the system”
+10 = he is absolutely unaware of, or completely unconcerned with, the strictures, customs, or taboos of any milieu, circle, or environment, no matter how treacherous; he is absolutely himself, all the time, even when that makes him the obvious target of violence, ridicule, or ostracism; he’s exactly the same person in the biker bar, in church, at the office, and at grandma’s hospice, and so doesn’t fit in terribly well at any of these; he doesn’t believe in any notion of external rules, whether unwritten, formal, legal, or otherwise, and so can only be restrained by physical force; he doesn’t change any aspect of his speech, behavior, clothing, possessions, or comportment, no matter what the cost; le monde, c’est lui

and now you’ve got eight of them.

this list is still not comprehensive, nor is it supposed to be; readers, if i’ve missed anything — i wrote this post very quickly, and without any chemical inspiration — feel free to fill in the holes.

next up, the beta part of the equation.


some of the boys twist the old, battered doorknob violently, as though they were breaking the neck of an intruder.
others’ hands begin to shake, slightly, imperceptibly, then audibly, betraying the hollowness of the bravado that sustains them on the street.
their ways of opening the door are as colorful and revelatory as they are varied, each slightly exaggerated in the way so characteristic of teenagers.
every day they try on new identities, new comportments, new ways of apprehending the world, with all the grace and aplomb of a teenager stepping on the gas for the first time.
the cocky one torques the doorknob just as he’ll slam on the pedal in a couple of years, pressing his passengers into the seats and mistaking their trepidatious bewilderment for awe.
the hesitant one tries to twist the doorknob softly, hoping to slink unnoticed into the gym, but the rusty old knob and plate announce his presence in their unmistakable basso profundo — just as the car will jump and buck under his unsteady foot three years hence.

they are as energetic and dynamic as they are errant and unschooled.
they are full of piss and vinegar, but the piss is, more often than not, splattered all over the toilet seat, sprayed across the walls, and trickling onto the floor.

i was one of them, once, not long ago.
unlike many of my peers who view them with suspicious eyes, i have not forgotten.
and so i am here.

gentlemen, meet our newest fighter.

the bright california sunshine is no match for the dank, musty air of the gym, and is swallowed into a thick and impenetrable veil of darkness — a darkness so thick that it can be felt.
with it are swallowed pretentions, pretexts, bluffs, and fronts.
as the boy’s eyes adjust to the relative darkness, he finds that he has left flash, sound, and fury outside, and that this is it.


the boy snaps to attention with a mixture of respect and angst. by using his surname, i evoke in his mind’s eye vivid images of both the coaches and teachers who have helped him grow, more often than not against his will, and the officers, judges, and bailiffs that have shoved him through california’s one-size-fits-none juvenile legal system.

go stand in the doorway.
one foot in, one foot out.

even god only helps those who help themselves. and i am certainly no god.

if you are willing to be knocked down, defeated, bested, broken, and beaten, and you will keep getting up and fighting, then step inside.
if you step inside, you’re family.
if you find yourself with nowhere to go, and nowhere to turn, you have a new home.

if you would rather not be knocked down, defeated, bested, broken, or beaten, then step back outside, and close the door.

which way are you going to step?

the boy stares me down, waiting, testing me, looking for the punch line.

i wait.

our eyes linger on each other. were i his age, even half this much direct eye contact, with neither side deferring even momentarily, would already have instigated a fight.

never taking his burning gaze from my eyes, he gathers up the last bits of his bravado, takes a slow, deliberate step inside the doorway, grasps the battered old handle from the inside, and shoves the door shut.

i reach out and grasp his hand. coming from a world where straight handshakes are often laced with straight razors, the boy is hesitant at first — he breaks the stare, a gesture of deference i’ve no need to point out explicitly — but then he slams on the proverbial pedal, meeting my eyes with renewed vigor as he clasps my hand and wrist in an overwrought, but gentlemantly, grip.


for the next two years, neither boxing nor life was good to the boy; both dealt him countless numbers of knockouts.
once, he decided he was just done; he threw his gloves into the floor, tears streaming down his cheeks, and stormed to within inches of the door.
and then he stopped.
and looked at the door.
which way are you going to step?

he turned around.

he met the stares of the other boys, who had all once been in his place.
some dared him.
some encouraged him.
some dismissed him.
some scowled at him like disappointed fathers.

he picked up his gloves.
and his heart.

one more round.

what keeps us coming back, in situations when our rational calculus tells us that the costs have begun to outweigh the benefits?
what keeps us fighting through fatigue, ennui, conflict, injury, heartbreak, disillusionment, anomie, and betrayal?

many things, to be sure.
but, often, rites of passage — symbols of commitment, which in times of trouble can pull more weight than can commitment itself — are the carbon-steel rebar that keeps the whole structure from crashing down around us.

for those men who deserve to be called men, word is bond.
and actions speak even louder than words, so ritual actions are superglue.
when words and actions are combined to create ritual, men become bonded for life.

which way are you going to step?
with these words, the door comes alive with persuasive force that few boys can resist, no matter how intractable they are in other areas of life.
they won’t leave, unless they are bloodied, beaten, disillusioned and broken. and, often, not even then.

do you promise to be to her a loving and loyal husband, to cherish and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, to be faithful only to her as long as you both shall live?
with these vows, the man’s wedding band comes alive, with the same persuasive force.
he won’t leave unless his life is sucked out in its entirety. and, often, not even then.

and so it is, too, with women — put through, and schooled with, the proper symbols and rites of passage, they will cleave to their relationships with intense ardor.

the fatal mistake, though, is to attribute to women the same degree of agency so often shown by men who take vows and undergo rituals — to assume that women’s minds will construct the same schema of loyalty, devotion, and duty around those rituals as will men.
ain’t gonna happen.
as with so much else in matters of love, it’s best when men lead, and women follow — when men move women, and women are moved by men.

the same is true for rites of passage.
women can be as compelled by ritual to stay in their relationships as can men, but they won’t by themselves transmute word into bond, or actions into superglue. that has to be done for them, by their man.

take the wedding bands again.
to a man, the wedding band speaks in its own voice, animated by the matrimonial ritual; he internalizes the symbolic significance, and therefore transmutes word into bond all by himself. hence why he doesn’t need to be reminded, and why constant “reminders” from his woman are at best nagging, at worst domineering behavior, and always pernicious in their effects on the relationship.
to a woman, the wedding band doesn’t have a voice of its own — it will only speak in her man’s voice. its symbolic power will only be actuated if he instills it in her, if he transmutes word into bond for her, as though leading her through the steps of a dance.
it’s his job, when he grasps her left hand, to meet her eyes, stare her down, and tell her, this ring means that you’re mine.
i own you. you’re my property.
over and over.
again and again.
until he has successfully transmuted word into bond, without her even noticing, and she now hears his voice emanating from that ring.
you’re mine.

and you don’t need a wife, or wedding bands, to make this work.
any symbol will do.
a cheap bracelet or ring that you bought her at the beach.
a necklace or bracelet that claims her as yours, which you can lock onto her body and keep the key if necessary.
a tattoo that she gets for you, in a location that others may or may not see.
the way you look into her eyes, making both of your jaded hearts burn with passion, with love, when you fuck her.

women end relationships more often than men do, but only because men don’t bother to ignite them.

the following was promised here, and is an outgrowth of some discussion on the sibling of daedalus blog.

the notion that purity, or chastity, is among the best cards a woman can hold when she’s on the make is as old as the corresponding notion of monogamy itself. put bluntly, the operative principle is that women should hold themselves out as virginal madonnas** — an idea that has been shaped and cultivated by religious tradition, but that stems from the realities of paternity and is thus probably as old as human biology itself.

however, like all other simple models, this one is an oversimplification.
it attempts to model all pegs, however round or square, as round — i.e., it describes apparent purity as the best possible image for any woman searching for a long-term relationship.

more to the point of the current discussion, though, the model also attempts to model all holes as round — i.e., it assumes that all men would prefer sexual purity over “sluttiness” in a long-term partner, an assumption that is simply not true. so, in the interest of clarification, as well as to stimulate discussion, i propose the following visual model:
imagine an x-y coordinate system.
the x-axis is the man’s desire for control over a woman; the y-axis is the man’s ideal on the madonna/whore axis.
let’s arbitrarily designate
negative x = men who, either by design or by inability to do otherwise, allow the woman and her desires to control the relationship (approximately, roissy’s betas)
positive x = men with both the desire and the ability to control women (approximately, roissy’s alphas)
negative y = men whose ideal woman is a perfect madonna (very sexually inhibited)
positive y = men whose ideal woman is a perfect slut (very sexually uninhibited)

the definitions on the y-axis (the madonna/whore axis) are somewhat simplistic, in that they conflate a woman’s public and private behavior. in particular, many men will object to this axis altogether, claiming that their ideal woman is a perfect madonna in the street and a perfect slut — magically, only for them, never for any other man — in the bedroom.
while i agree that a single axis is a bit on the simple side, i don’t buy this objection, for at least two reasons.
first, it’s quixotic to deny the strong correlation between public and private behavior. most highly sexual women — whether available or happily committed (or, in certain arrangements, both) — constantly radiate their sensuality to every observant eye and ear, to such an extent that their every movement, utterance, and gesture is irresistibly, drivingly provocative. conversely, women known for their public modesty, retiring personalities, and aversion to the spotlight are unlikely to be tigresses whose stripes are, curiously, visible only within the confines of their (long-term partner’s) bedroom. put another way, it’s easy to identify a slut — and you don’t even need long checklists. you just need your eyes, your ears, and your ability to read between the lines. the above holds true even for previously cold fish who have become “sluttier” within the context of a single long-term relationship; the differences are palpable, and redound to every dusty corner of their actions, attitudes, and body language in the presence of the opposite sex.
second, the objection is simply a cop-out, a knee-jerk response designed to avoid difficult, realistic, and unpleasantly honest consideration of certain tradeoffs. most men would like to relax with a boyish insouciance in their imaginary world, in which they’ll one day find the aforementioned public madonna/private slut/unicorn, but that attitude is as naïve and starry-eyed as that of the woman who hopes to land a suave, sexually dominant alpha with beta eyes that focus exclusively on her. the reality is that You Can’t Have It Both Ways; the y-axis is a nice, uncomplicated way of modeling this sobering fact.

most PUA types will do everything in their power to convince themselves and the world that they are in the fourth quadrant.
according to some chapters of the roissysphere canon, a woman’s value — even the remaining fraction of her very soul — decreases in direct relation to her sexual experience. also, the stated preference (note the significance of the word “stated”) for “good girls” is deeply entrenched in upper- and upper-middle-class culture, another obstacle in the path of honesty for men in the first and second quadrants.

almost no second-quadrant men will report their preference honestly; likewise, many men who belong in the first quadrant — especially those from the upper social classes, unless they are uncommonly introspective, self-aware, and unshackled by class shibboleths — will mistakenly place themselves in the fourth.
the problem here — a problem that is very underappreciated indeed, given men’s oft-undeserved reputation for frankness in this area — is that most men simply aren’t terribly aware of their preferences along the y-axis.
with a few exceptions for those truly to the left on the bell curve of self-awareness, both men and women are generally aware of their physical preferences in the opposite sex, although both also routinely underappreciate the role played by social conditioning in the same. however — and this is a big “however” — when it comes to the alpha/beta and madonna/whore dichotomies, the score is quite different: most men are absolutely clueless in regard to their true preferences along the madonna/whore continuum.
this difference, which is obvious and universal, tends to be explained — incorrectly — as a special case of “women’s intuition”. occam’s razor begs to differ, though: it’s simply a matter of experience. to wit, almost all decently desirable women are approached (though perhaps not boldly, in the case of less obviously sexual women) by various and sundry men, with a frequency unattainable by any man short of mtv’s latest darling. from the overall data produced by these approaches (and from whatever intercourse results), the women — even the ones with lower-than-average self-awareness — will eventually construct some sort of first-order approximation of their alpha/beta preferences. the vast majority of men, though, have a sample size so small that they simply can’t build up enough direct experience to suss out their own madonna/whore preferences, a situation rife with tragicomedy when these men choose long-term exclusive partners. worse yet, what works in fantasy often fails spectacularly in reality, so men who have constructed their preferences hypothetically rather than empirically are often in for some rude surprises when their perfect madonna leads them to perfect ennui, or when their perfect slut leads them to uncontrollable jealousy.
imagine a porn-drenched virgin asked about his favorite sexual positions. he would almost certainly just list the positions in his favorite adult distractions, in decreasing order of the frequency with which they appear in the films; he couldn’t be expected to know what will actually feel good firsthand (heh, hand). it’s just as ridiculous to expect most men to have any sort of honest understanding of their preferences along the madonna/whore continuum. as if that weren’t bad enough, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that almost all men who are “natural alphas” are also extremely low in self-awareness, as there is an inveterate correlation among reckless confidence, social dominance, and lack of introspection. so, in an irony worthy of kierkegaard, the few men blessed with large sample sizes tend to be the very same men who are least equipped to analyze those samples.

so, men, which quadrant are you in?
if you’ve had enough women, you’re probably in the first quadrant by now, or at least closer to it than you’d like to think.

**with a lowercase “m”, since a certain performance artist has sullied the capitalized version.

in this post, we deconstruct the what and how of the phrase “just be yourself”, and draw some powerful conclusions about relationship game.

the WHAT:
this is quite simple.
when women tell a man “just be yourself”, what they mean is “just be congruent.”
yep. that’s it.
that’s all they mean.

now, the HOW:
this is where we’re going to need another analogy.
so far we’ve got the elastic band, which represents the sum of a woman’s experience. however, it would be inapposite to try to incorporate the man’s personality into the same image.
while there is certainly a correlation in most normal relationships — i.e., men who are more objectively “alpha” tend to stretch the woman’s experience to a greater extent — the two are not the same. much more importantly, we need an analogy that quantifies the idea of congruence.

not true to its own selfi thought really hard for a long time — almost thirty seconds — and came up with the notion of using a mixing board, with various sliders that can be pushed anywhere from -10 to 10, to represent the male personality.

here’s the way it works:
* there are alpha traits, and there are beta traits. a beta trait is NOT just the inverse of an alpha trait.
note the final sentence above: yes, kids, that’s right, alpha and beta are actually two separate concepts. in the context of a long-term relationship, as we will soon see, it’s quite possible for a man to be both an alpha and a beta. (most PUA sites are justified in ignoring this distinction, since alpha and beta traits become mutually exclusive if the timeframe is short enough.)

* there are no binaries. each trait lies on a continuum.
this one is a mindfuck for lots and lots and lots and lots of people.
in particular, most people think of these things in terms of binaries — one/zero, on/off, etc. — because binaries are soft, warm, fuzzy, and easy to understand. this is the reason why children’s literature never develops characters beyond good guys and bad guys, and it’s also the reason why kids are taught the words hot and cold before learning more finely differentiated terms, such as tepid, warm, cool, and frigid.
note, however, the terms “children’s literature” and “kids” in the above sentence. these terms are not an accident; they are there because, when it comes to human personality traits, binary thinking is juvenile thinking.

here are a few examples of alpha sliders, with approximate reference points.

-10 = he doesn’t talk until she lets him
-5 = she interrupts him regularly; he doesn’t interrupt her unless he’s being unusually emotional, in which case he feels apologetic for interrupting
0 = symmetric conversational pattern
+5 = he interrupts her regularly; she rarely interrupts him, in which case he will simply finish his thought anyway, ignoring what she says until he’s done talking
+10 = she doesn’t talk until he lets her

-10 = she won’t even let him get near her
-5 = she only feels amorous on special occasions; he occasionally attempts to initiate, but will immediately back off if she rebuffs him
0 = somewhat regular sex, but almost never before “more important things” are taken care of; the couple’s general vibe when they are doing random things together is “platonic” or “playfully affectionate”
+5 = frequent sex that occasionally overtakes “more important things”; he will start to ignore her if she doesn’t give him enough physical attention
+10 = he completely ignores her unless he’s fucking her

-10 = he does whatever she tells him, whenever she tells him, sometimes even before she tells him
-5 = she clearly runs the show, but he is occasionally in charge of things she doesn’t really understand
0 = fifty-fifty equalist relationship
+5 = he clearly runs the show, but she is occasionally in charge of things he doesn’t care about or doesn’t feel like doing
+10 = he runs everything; she has no say in anything

-10 = she sets, controls, and enforces his schedule
-5 = he regularly lets her know where he is and what he’s doing, even when he’s doing relatively unimportant things, and will inconvenience himself to accommodate her schedule
0 = he doesn’t bore her with details, but lets her know his general schedule, any important events, and any significant changes; he is willing to adjust his timeline if he thinks her stuff is important enough
+5 = she only has a general idea of what he’s doing, unless she is directly involved; he isn’t willing to change his schedule for her unless the matter is extremely urgent
+10 = she never has any idea where he is, unless he’s standing directly in front of her; he makes plans as though she doesn’t even exist

those are four of them. note that these traits and scales are, for all practical purposes, universal; they are largely the same in any imaginable situation.

there are also beta sliders — for instance, affection, material provision, and attention. these are more complicated than the alpha sliders, because they are context-dependent.
for instance, the “material provision” scale is drastically different for a married man whose wife is mostly or exclusively home with their three small children than it is for a swinging single guy who’s dating one of his colleagues.
so, we’ll leave the discussion of those for later.

i’ve got good news and bad news.

the bad news is that there are lots of sliders, a situation that is completely as expected; no one ever said human personalities were supposed to be simple.

the good news is that a full understanding of the sliders, and an understanding of how to tweak them, will make it really easy to understand and manipulate certain aspects of your relationship.

here’s the key:

you are CONGRUENT, in women’s eyes, if all of the alpha sliders are set to the same number.

do the following exercise:

* read ALL the rows marked -10, and form an image of the type of man who would earn such scores.
this guy would obviously be a pathetic shell of a man.
but he would be consistent, through and through — i.e., he would “be himself”.

* now do the same for the rows marked -5, 0, +5, and +10.
check for consistency.
these men are all “being themselves”.

women have no ability to detect whether the sliders are at their default settings, so “be yourself” DOES NOT mean that you have to be who you have always been.

women are only capable of telling whether the sliders are set to the same value AS EACH OTHER. if they are, then you are “being yourself”.
even if this self differs from previous selves.

and now we will answer three questions, just to demonstrate the power of this sort of approach.

1. what does “just be yourself” mean?

answer: this means that women will freak the fuck out if you have vastly differing scores on any two of the alpha sliders. (remember that there are a lot more than four of them!)

2. what is “better relationship game”?

the answer to this is really simple: better relationship game means moving ALL of the alpha sliders up, by the same amount, at the same time.
notice what i said: the ANSWER is simple. i did not say that the PROCESS was simple; there are a shitload of sliders, and you have to push all of them up at the same time.

go back and read all the 0’s again.
now read all the +5’s.
now imagine a man going gradually from all 0’s to all +5’s.
that, folks, is “better relationship game”.

3. why are most men so bad at improving their relationship game?
the answer to this one is also really simple: most men think that a large positive change in one of the alpha traits is equivalent to a set of small changes in several of them — e.g., that upping just one of the sliders by, say, 5 points will produce the same result as will upping five of them by 1 point each.
this reasoning is eminently understandable, but completely incorrect.
in fact, if you adjust only one of the sliders at a time, by a massive enough amount, you will sacrifice that all-important quality of CONGRUENCE.
and then, women will freak the fuck out.

go read all the 0’s again, and imagine a man with those traits.

now imagine the following:
wifey/gf says “you’re being really rude lately” –> what this really means: dude pushed the “control the conversation” slider up to +5, but left all the others at 0
wifey/gf says “you’re too much of a horndog” –> what this really means: dude pushed the “all interaction is sexual” slider up to +5, but left all the others at 0
wifey/gf says “you’re being too bossy, i don’t like it” –> what this really means: dude pushed the authority slider up to +5, but left all the others at 0
wifey/gf says “you’re too distant” –> what this really means: dude pushed the independence slider up to +5, but left all the others at 0

finally, i’ll leave you with some shit that will shake your understanding of relationships to its very core:
now, make all four of the foregoing changes at once.
dude is now a rude, bossy horndog who is too distant…
…and wifey/gf loves every minute of it.

trailer for future program:
note that the optimal settings are not +10/+10/+10/+10.
it is quite possible to be too alpha.

this program has been a production of narciso enterprises.

my great-uncle stood just inches away from the old wooden radio console, his head craned toward its one remaining functional speaker as the game crackled over the AM airwaves. his beloved louisville cardinals, trailing heavily favored ohio state by only seven points, had steadily and systematically driven from deep within their own territory to within two yards of the goal line; the remaining time had ticked down to less than a minute.
my restless brain noted the eerie mirroring of his grizzled face — brought ever closer to the speaker with an almost menacing glare, as if to intimidate the announcer’s excited staccato into bringing good news — by the fresher, smoother face of the dog staring respectfully into the horn on the radio’s lovingly restored brand plate, eternally awaiting its master’s voice.
i opened my mouth, intent on breaking the tense vibe by pointing out this parallelism. as i began to deliver the quip, i fixed my gaze on his face, both wizened and wisened by a life of hard labor.
i never delivered the quip. my words were just gone, as if they had been ripped directly from the myelin express lanes leading from my brain to my mouth.
at that moment i felt the sheer magnitude of what i had always taken for granted — the passion in the hearts of men.
the passion that, when provoked, emerges from its slumber with the sound, fury, and heat of a welder’s torch, its emotional acetylene creating bonds that last a lifetime.
the passion that makes tragedy and loss saturate every molecule of a man’s body, but at the same time infuses objectively frivolous pursuits with the elixir of life to overcome such tragedies.

“all right boys.”
louisville had broken into the endzone with half a minute remaining, bringing the score to within one point. still, he managed these words of encouragement only sotto voce, as if trying not to lull his team into complacency.

two and a half years earlier, he had taken his beloved wife to the dealership to take delivery of the new pickup that was her birthday present. though normally the type to insist on driving when they were together, he had handed her the keys for the ceremonial first drive.
she never made it home.

a commercial break ensued.
despite the touchdown, which had capped an impressive scoring drive, my great-uncle marched toward the bathroom with no hint of joy or hope piercing his characteristic impassive scowl. he strode past the old, slightly cockeyed screen door, which had gradually drifted wide open on its freshly oiled hinges, and slammed it shut with unusually vigorous derision.
“fucking door.”
he was a man of few words.

he had slammed the door so hard that it vibrated lazily on the hinges, preventing its lip from securely entering the strike plate. the two danced momentarily, the door attempting a clumsy seduction, but they just didn’t click.

they had been broadsided by a drunk driver’s four-ton lifted truck, whose front grille had gone directly through the driver’s door, taking his wife’s life in a mercifully short instant. whether out of love, sadism, or both, though, the gods had saved my uncle from so much as a scrape.
he had stormed out of the new truck’s completely unscathed passenger door, the blinding white flame of his passion burning away all of his moral checks and balances. within seconds, my great-uncle had smashed through the drunk driver’s door, yanked the lock open, dragged the stuporous driver from the seat onto the hard, unforgiving pavement, and beaten him to within an inch of his life.
the driver needed only a few hours in the emergency room to go one more inch.

the jury acquitted my great-uncle of all charges after less than twenty minutes of deliberation.

“no… fuck, no.”
louisville had decided to be gutsy and try the two-point conversion, going for the big upset rather than settling for the tie. ohio state’s defense had correctly anticipated a pass play and had sent a heavy rush, forcing the louisville quarterback to float a desperation toss that glided tantalizingly out of reach above the intended receiver’s head.
ohio state 20, louisville 19.

the door, which was in plain view, had begun to drift back open into the still, humid air of west louisville.
silently, inexorably, at a steady angular velocity too slow to be perceptible, the door drifted back open, releasing some of my uncle’s pent-up passion into the dank, darkly aromatic, eerily silent night. a cloud of moths, clustered around the flickering yellow light outside, took this as an invitation.

my great-uncle’s otherwise unbearably monotone, gritty, tragedy-wracked life was animated by only three things: his faith, his family, and the louisville cardinals.
the saying that ardent fans live and die with their teams is usually meant metaphorically, but it became a literal truth in the year my great-uncle lost his wife.

his family was slowly dwindling, taken by accidents, cancer, violence, and disease.
his God had answered his faith by sparing him from the accident, but, with all the other things He had to attend to, had callously forgotten to do the same for his wife.

that year the oft-maligned cardinals posted their best season in school history, destroyed alabama on new year’s day, and very possibly saved my great-uncle’s life.
the following year, once my great-uncle had learned to handle the grief to the point where he no longer needed them, the cardinals reverted to their usual form, again losing more games than they won.

he stared at the old radio with visible shock.
louisville had successfully converted an onside kick and had run the ball all the way to the red zone — but the play was nullified, since the ball had traveled just shy of the requisite ten yards before being touched by a louisville player.

by this point, the door had drifted fully perpendicular to the frame, allowing the moths the run of the house.

final score, ohio state 20, louisville 19.
my great-uncle collapsed back onto the couch, despondent. “we shouldn’t have gone for the win. too greedy, you get nothing.”
one-and-a-half sentences. i was impressed with his verbosity.



“i forgot to shut the door.”

i sat there, sharing his burden as i best could.
in years past his wife would have sat next to him, wordless, putting her arms around him until it was time for him to go to the bathroom yet again.
but now it was just him.
and family like me, who would make the trip to visit when we could.
and the louisville cardinals.

the questions i haven’t been able to answer:

is it better to love deeply, never knowing when that love might be ripped away, or not to love at all?

is it a gift, or a tragedy, that i’ve come to see women as so alike that i will probably never feel that sort of love, no matter how i might want to?

if i learn exactly how to bond a woman to me, how to bond myself to her, and how to continually strengthen that bond — and i do so, consciously — can that still be called love?

the other thing i figured out that night:

the door opened so silently, slowly, and smoothly that its opening had become imperceptible.
so imperceptible, in fact, that my great-uncle had entirely forgotten the initial state — his having shut the door, even with such sound and fury — and had transferred the responsibility onto himself.

the key to successfully transforming your woman is to be like the brand-new oil in those door hinges.
be the lubricant that allows her to change, and the gravity that forces her to change, in the ways that will keep her enthralled.

if you transform her slowly, smoothly, implicitly, and skilfully enough, she’ll wake up one day and realize that she is your slut, yours to do anything you want with, for as long as you want — or at least for as long as you keep pushing.
and she won’t know how she got there.
she won’t even realize that it was your conscious (wo)manipulation.

it just happened. … because you made it happen.
we know how women love when things just happen.

we grew closer. … because you’ve created everything she has become.
i respect him. … because you own her.
i trust him. … because you know her better than she knows herself.

he makes me feel like a woman.

i can be myself around him.

i forgot to shut the door.

the most powerful forces are those that we don’t see, don’t feel, and don’t notice, until they have transformed us.