One Taste might be able to teach them something, but I was sure I was way too cool to learn anything here.
Orientation began with an introduction exercise. A man asked each of us to say our name and tell the group a problem we have with women. The first person wondered why he could never please women even though he spent so much time doing things they claimed to want, like buying dinner and opening doors. The next wondered why women seem to want to be taken care of but often become ornery when you treat them like children.
As I listened, my confidence began to evaporate. I didn't know the answers to any of these questions either, and new ones were popping up. Why does my girlfriend give me that weird look when I talk about articles I read in Vice magazine? Why does she always say she feels like she doesn't know me? This group confessional was making me worry about my relationship. It also bonded me to these other men, all utterly confused and ready to figure shit out.
And then the women arrived.
The energy in the room grew tense as the women, ranging from 22 to 55 years old, filed in with Halpern at their helm. One by one the girls took off their jackets, adjusted their skirts, and joined our circle, engaging as many men as possible in suggestive eye contact. The room was dead silent until Halpern clapped her hands and said, "Welcome to the Man Course!"
The next hour involved more introductions. The women stated their names and gave a brief description of their personal games coyness, deliberately confusing eye play, and false flirtatiousness were among the most popular and the men were asked to explore their own shortcomings. "Hi," a student named John said. "I feel like I'm trapped in a nice-guy shell and that women think I'm boring."
"Well," Halpern said. "Today we're gonna get dirty. We're gonna get you out of that box and get really messy. Can you handle that? Are you ready to get messy?"
John said he was ready. "Then let's see you do something messy right now," Halpern said. John grinned and got up, pumped his pelvis in the air, and said, "Yeah, baby, let's get mess-say!" The girls giggled.
The other men and I went through a similar deal. We confessed to a particular problem and were then asked to directly address it. The shy guys were asked to speak more, the mean guys were asked to be nice, and I was asked to drop my cool-guy act. In exchange the women promised to stop playing their games. No bitchy auras, pouty mouths, or condescending giggling from the women, and no false bravado, competitiveness, or calculated detachment from the guys. We were just a bunch of humans now, willing participants in a sexually charged science lab. It was both scary and liberating.
We spent the rest of the afternoon doing one-on-one vulnerability exercises, such as making judgments based on appearance, pointing out flaws, and even asking a girl on a date, risking rejection. The most intense exercise, though, was one in which the women shared their fantasies.
The girl I was paired with, a blue-eyed fresh-out-of-college type, had a mouth like a sailor and the mind of a teenage boy. "I want to go out with a stranger and then leave early to lick his balls," the girl said. "I want to suck his cock and stick my tongue in his asshole." Like all of the other exercises, this one suggested that although women may seem very different from men, they're really just as horny and perverted and as confused, embarrassed, and shy about it as we are.
The rest of the day was similarly enlightening. There were touch exercises that included dancing and massage, more talking exercises, and even a mock date.