Game On, Part 3: The Timeless Art of the Kiss


This week, NYU senior Jesse VanDusen is describing what happened when he pitted the dating advice of a 16th century courtier against today’s pricey pick-up artists. In today’s third episode, fluids are exchanged! (Go here for episode 1 and episode 2.)

By Jesse VanDusen

I Kiss by the Book

Confident in Castiglione’s oft-forgotten precepts of love, I eagerly anticipated my date at a West Village wine bar with the girl from McSorley’s. But when that night came and we began exchanging interests beneath the dim lighting of the cavernous space, something changed. Having already met the girl, now was the time, according to Castiglione, to slowly reveal my passions and talents. But as I started rattling out my favorite contemporary literature and strange fascination for pop music, her face went blank.

Castiglione says the perfect woman must have “an understanding of all things belonging to the Courtier.” My date could care less. The evening ended with one of those baby-burping style hugs a girl gives when she just wants to save face and get the hell out there.

Despondent, I met Luna student Chad Richardson at the Astor Place Starbucks in hopes of further teasing out his methods of success.

Dressed identically to Luna’s standard garb of skin-tight top and True Religion jeans, Richardson bombarded me with alien terms like ‘turn’ and ‘set.’ My unfamiliarity with the lingo didn’t seem to hamper Richardson’s seemingly genuine concern for my dating failures.

I often get lost in the jargon of the seduction community. I also have some trouble getting through the 16th century dialect of Castiglione’s text, but I’m comforted by one of the ancient courting master’s bits of advice. What is admirable for a man is “To speak and write the language that is most in use among the common people, without inventing new words, inkhorn terms or strange phrases.” In other words, jargon should be a dead-end.

Still, Richardson insisted I act out one “inkhorn term” — “DHV,” or demonstrating higher social value, something that meant more than just wearing funny clothes. It meant being physically assertive. It meant, if you wanted a kiss, pointing to your cheek and motioning for her lay one on you.

That weekend I found myself in a frustrating conversation with three NYU seniors at a party in a friend’s East Village apartment. In a moment of both revelation and desperation, I tried out Chad’s strange phrase. I screamed to the crowd of the party that what we needed was dancing. I paused the Animal Collective riffs in favor of some down and dirty Lady Gaga beats. Then, as I began dancing, I took what I wanted. I motioned to one of the girls who had been reluctant to speak with me earlier and grabbed her arm.

When she busted out grinding dance moves, I knew my plan had worked. When she pulled me to the side of the room and kissed me, I knew my plan had really worked. There was an empty exhilaration in literally being able to snatch up what I wanted. I felt like a kid at a candy store stuffing five-cent taffy into my white plastic bag.

My sloppy drunken tonguing with the eager party-girl would have disgusted Castiglione. For him, kissing is a balancing act between body and soul. Let your lustful passions get the best of you, and you wind up in morally suspect territory. Instead, what is commendable is to long for a kiss which will allow your soul and the soul of your partner to intersect and become one. (Big partiers, those Renaissance guys.)

Puritanical protestant undertones aside, the man had a point — animalistically groping a girl at a party doesn’t exactly scream personal connection. Chances are I was running the risk of having as little in common with my latest conquest as I did with my last.

Then I thought back to the remainder of my conversation with Richardson. He insisted that he had more cell-numbers from model-strength beauties than he could keep a handle on because Luna’s method worked. But he also said he rarely called those bombshells.

“The more people I get in my life,” Richardson said, “the more I realize how many people I just don’t like.” He had already found his soul mate: a long-time friend who loved travel. She’s a homebody and requires a lot less “energy” to “keep up with.” As he spoke of this wonder woman, his voice became softer, and his eyes blinked (a nervous habit, which rarely revealed itself otherwise).

“I love the way she laughs,” he said, almost stuttering now. “I could listen to her laugh forever. But she’s married.”

My concerns about that evening of ruthless grabbing at the party grew. Sure, I had danced the night away with as many girls as I wanted, but we barely spoke. Even the girl I kissed disappeared into the abyss of the frenzied fete after a while. Maybe I was attracting the wrong girls and scarier yet, maybe by the time I came to my senses the girl of my dreams would be taken. I needed to reconsider my approach.

The seduction artists had taken Round 2, but with greasy fingers.

Tomorrow in the concluding Part 4: Getting musical!


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