A man walks into a bar. He looks at the voluptuous blonde seated next to him and asks innocently, "Why don't you sit on my lap, and we'll talk about the first thing that pops up?" She giggles delightedly, and they go home together.
Yeah, that might happen.
Pickup lines can be one of the cheesiest elements of the American social scene. Skanky men approach tube-topped nightclub sluts and ask them if their father stole the stars out of the sky or if they are an angel fallen from heaven. In maybe one out of a thousand cases, the woman actually takes the bait and offers a dance — or maybe more. But more often than not, super-obvious lines just don't work.
"Pick-up lines are a big turnoff," says Sarah Tierney, a junior at the George Washington University. "Guys say stuff like 'What's your name? Can I take a shower with you?' It's so gross. The worst part is that you know he's tried that same line on half the girls in the place."
"Why do people think that pick-up lines are sexy?" asks Elizabeth Hoeffner, a senior at Dartmouth College. "Guys use these gross, worn out lines."
Guys aren't the only ones on the lookout for a mate, however; women often approach guys in the hope of kindling a quick romance, or maybe just for some flirting entertainment. Women twirl their hair and reveal some leg then offer subtle, innocuous questions like, "Do you come here often?" or "Didn't I see you once in a college soccer game?" to lure men in.
Forth Bagley, a junior at Yale University, says girls use more subtle techniques to express interest. "The other day a girl in my apartment building knocked on the door, and when I answered she giggled at me and asked if I had a Bruce Springsteen CD she could borrow. It was kind of lame."
There are a few distinct types of pick-up lines. The outrageously forward ("Nice shoes, wanna fuck?") works in some cases, whereas a more clever line ("Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?") gets a laugh and may make you look mildly sweet. Sometimes a bizarre comment works best, like "You're so hot you melt the plastic in my underwear." Then there are disgustingly graphic lines best suited for the extremely drunk: "You have over 200 bones in your body. Want another?"
"A line I like to use," says Chris Hawkins of California State University, Chico, "is 'Would you like to see my pickle?' It could mean a multitude of shit, but it breaks the ice, and loosens girls up. Most chicks are intimidated by the penis, so by talking about it up front, it seems to relax them, and let the conversation begin."
Of course, not all pick-up lines have to be obvious. An innocent query often does the trick, like "Hey, can I join you?" or "Have you tried the margaritas here?" More forward types can "accidentally" bump into someone, and "inadvertently" grab a part of his or her body to keep from falling — but this could get you slapped or sued if you grab the wrong part. Be careful, and make sure that a biker resembling The Rock isn't also pursing the target of your affections.
Toni Konkoly, a junior at Macalester College, bartends during the summer and hears more than her share of drunken pickup lines. "People who seriously try to use pickup lines are definitely major losers," she says. The worst lines she's ever heard are "Do you come here often?" and "Wanna get a six-pack and fuck?" She says that when lines fail, guys often try to send drinks to women; the girls like the drinks, but the ploy rarely succeeds.
She also finds that guys ask about her eyebrow ring, like if it hurts or if she has any other piercings. They then proceed to tell her how sexy the piercing is, as if that is going to arouse her. Konkoly says that guys usually use pick-up lines as a lead-in to asking for a phone number or name — or making a move.
Nobody admits to using pick-up lines, but everyone's guilty of trying them at some point. Whether they're subtle or comically blatant, at least they make for good stories. So the next time someone says to you, "Hey, what's your sign?" don't get annoyed. Instead, tell 'em, "It's a stop sign, and you better slow down."