Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pick-up lines

It's just a day late, but what can I do? I just saw it on Marginal Revolution. The 'it' in the previous sentence, of course, would be an academic paper that reports on which pick-up lines work well (and speculates on why they work). 'It' also forms a part of my general grouse about how social scientists get to have all the fun [and worse, they get paid, too!].

Openings involving jokes, empty compliments and sexual references received poor ratings. Those revealing, e.g., helpfulness, generosity, athleticism, ‘culture’ and wealth, were highly rated.

Intrigued by the scare quotes around 'culture'? Heck, I certainly was. Here's an example of a pick-up line (actually, a conversation) that exudes 'culture' (more available in the paper):

q32 (Culture) There is an elegant society dinner in a large country house. A man and woman, who have just met for the first time, are standing having drinks before the meal. The man turns to the woman and points out the large grand piano occupying a corner of the room.

M: It’s a fine instrument wouldn’t you say? A Steinway concert grand if I’m not mistaken.

W: Oh really... do you play then?

M: Just a little, for myself. I’m not really good enough to perform... unless, that is, you would like me to...

W: Well, I wouldn’t want to force you into it... but I’ve always loved Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata...

M: Ah... yes, the Moonlight Sonata or to give it it’s true name Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia. A fittingly beautiful piece for a beautiful lady. I will try, but I can only hope that my attempt will do justice to you.

On the other hand, look at what Anita Jain (in an old -- but hilarious -- piece in New York magazine) has said to an Indian man on their first date:

When I go out on a first date with an Indian man, I find myself saying things I would never utter to an American. Like, “I would expect my husband to fully share domestic chores.”