The Not So Beautiful Game, Step 11 and Last: In Which Our Narrator Dispenses Parting Cliches
As this, “Manage Expectations,” is the final step, one might be tempted to think that a great denouement might loom. Some things do actually change, but most things don’t. We open with the various denizens of the mansion in Hollywood holding a housemeeting to mediate between Herbal and Mystery with regard to Katya, Mystery’s ex-wife who is now dating Herbal. Mystery is angry about the possibility of Katya continuing to live in the mansion, and Herbal doesn’t want Katya to not live there and is furthermore angry about Mystery breaking down a door in one of his rages over Katya. Papa, who actually holds the lease to the mansion, is refusing to live with Mystery now. Style is just happy that he is told that he is house leader and everyone looks up to him and will trust his decision. Why this is so is unclear, but Style has not ever lost a chance to inform the reader how awesome everyone thinks he is. Comparing himself then to Solomon, Style decrees that Katya is banned from the house for two months, during which Mystery must either demonstrate that he has himself under control, with no violent outbursts, or he will be banned permanently. Mystery responds with anger then tears, announces that he is leaving the house, and lists his bed for sale online, advertising it with a list of the women he has had sex with upon it. Knowing about other people’s sexual activities on a piece of furniture would inspire me to definitely not buy it, but what do I know?
Style, meanwhile, has the headache as a result of exercising his Solomon-like wisdom, and goes for a walk. He runs into Lisa and is invited to spend time with her and some friends. However, he quickly feels uncomfortable and abandons them to go to a bar and attempt to seduce women. (And he wonders why Lisa is not overly impressed with him.) But wait! Instead of seduction working as he expects, it turns out that all the women at the bar have heard all his standard lines before and are bored with them! Even in a city as a large as Los Angeles, it does seem inevitable that people who frequent bars in close proximity to a house full of libertines and their students would indeed soon be used to standard libertine opening lines. Here again, it would be more helpful for Style to engage in critical thought rather than memorized routines. He returns to the mansion feeling depressed.
Mystery is dealing with his issues by meeting a woman online and getting her to agree to become his next wife. It sounds a little like a mail-order bride. His family also flies in from Toronto to try to convince him to do something mentally healthy with his life. However, after some discussion about how Mystery is giving himself permission to act just like his father after father’s demise, he is sent off with the conclusion that he should fly free to pursue his dreams (which are of finding two women that qualify in his system of ranking attractiveness as 10 that are into each other as much as they are into him) regardless of the crashes that will inevitably ensue. That is the end of Mystery’s story arc. Apparently we just don’t care that he has been demonstrating more and more violent tendencies and he is all fine now? I’m confused.
Style, meanwhile, asks Lisa out on a date, she accepts, and they spend a long time talking honestly. He thinks this makes him an “average frustrated chump” but at least he accepts her correction that him being “cocky funny” over the phone is him being rude. So he suddenly seems to be completely fixed and capable of a perfectly lovely relationship with Lisa including tediously related awesome sex.
Courtney Love makes a cameo appearance to demonstrate that she too is completely fixed after rehab. She wishes Style well and leaves again.
The fly in the ointment here is that all the libertines that Style likes leave the house and all the rest stop talking to him. He finally gets an explanation that Tyler Durden has been trying to freeze him out because he (Style) is too threateningly good at what he does as evidenced by being able to “get” Lisa. Also Tyler Durden is still mad about Style sleeping with a woman that Tyler felt belonged to him.
Style then utters many trite cliches including “to win the game was to leave it” and considers himself equivalent to Dorothy in that he had the tools he needed to “get” Lisa all along. He does remark that he needed the seduction community in order allow them to meet but basically concludes that the seduction community isn’t all that great. He bolsters this with a visit to another famous(?) person who wrote a book entitled How to Pick Up Girls.” This famous(?) person informs Style that seduction doesn’t help with existential despair. Style runs with this and concludes that all the nasty people he knows just have psychological wounds and the driving force behind the seduction community is unhappiness. After reading Parsifal (at least it’s not Ulysses), Style concludes:
I suppose we were all searching for someone to teach us the moves we needed to win at life, the knightly code of conduct, the ways of the alpha-male. That’s why we found each other. But a sequence of maneuvers and a system of behavior would never fix what was broken inside. Nothing would fix what was broken inside. All we could do was embrace the damage.
Sweeping generalizations are sweeping generalizations, and frankly I think concluding that people are suffering psychological woulds is a little condescending, at best. But I’m too tired of him to care much anymore. He finally ends his story by moving out of the house concluding he doesn’t need to be a libertine anymore and “Real Life beckoned.” I’m so happy to be done I’m only a little annoyed that he too is one of those people who seems to believe that there is one way of life which is Real and all else can be looked down upon.
We are done with The Game! It’s been an unpleasant but mostly boring experience. At least now I understand how certain unpleasant and misogynistic men of my acquaintance can talk about women being like cats with string and actually mean it without thinking of themselves as misogynistic. I also learned of the existence of Trans-Dniester. So there’s that. If there’s anything else you would like me to read for you, let me know.