Mr. Magic’s website photo evinced the brooding essence of a young alpha-male — chiseled, manly and handsome. Beneath it appeared a heart-rending autobiographical missive I recognized as a standard tool of the modern-day dating coach.

Mr. Magic described his struggles in the world of dating — so futile were his attempts, he said, and so great his despondency, that suicide seemed the only recourse. He hung on, however, to devote himself full-time to mastering the ways of the pickup artist. In just two years, he dramatically turned his dating life around, to such a degree that he is now qualified to not only seduce any female within eyeshot, but also teach other men to do the same.

I was impressed. Like many men trying to crack the code of the New York City dating scene, I had attended numerous singles events with little success. Could Mr. Magic turn me into a dating machine, a pickup artist, a magnet to women? The claim that Mr. Magic had righted his dating life to a stupendous degree through his own boot-straps determination inspired me to email him immediately with the following plea (edited for brevity):

I am a 53 year-old man who moved to NYC about a year and a half ago. I have been attending Speed Dating and other events to meet women with a very low rate of success. In fact, I went to a Speed Dating event just last night (weekenddating.com), and found out this morning that I had 0 matches, which is par for the course. That’s what I usually get even when I pick almost half the women at the event!

What do I need to do to be successful at these dating events? Best wishes,
Tony

Mr. Magic soon contacted me for a free phone consultation. He said he would give me a quick once-over and with his intuitive understanding of New York women, teach me how to improve my ability to attract them. For this I would pay $350.

Not wanting to look back at my life many years hence regretting not having spent a measly $350 to rescue my romantic life from disastrous futility, I agreed to see him at his home in Huntington, Long Island. The looming specter of a lonely old age was a powerful motivator.

I arrived at the Huntington train station at 11 AM on a Saturday morning and was picked up (in the utilitarian sense) by the Mr. Magic seen in the manly-looking web photo. By his dress and body language, he modeled the very essence of the lady-killing man’s man he would later encourage me to become. A tight-fitting knit shirt did little to hide an athletic physique sculpted by many hours in the gym. He wore blue jeans and a pair of sandals with no socks. He lounged in his seat with legs splayed wide, talking casually and piloting the black Lexus as if driving were a mere afterthought. (This, I would later learn, is the physical expression of a dominant alpha male.)

Mr. Magic handed me a clipboard with an intake form on which to describe the presenting problem. I had already given him a two page autobiographical essay summarizing my life from childhood to adulthood and chronicling my relationship history, such as it was. What else could I say? My love life sucked.

As we arrived at his suburban apartment, he asked me if I was allergic to cats. Cats, I thought incredulously. I expected a pit bull or Doberman. But this alpha male had four felines.

We ascended the stairs to a second-floor studio with skylights covered with gray trash bags to darken the room. Mr. Magic offered me a cup of tea. Tea? After another moment of cognitive dissonance, I accepted.

“You’re friendly and sociable,” he said, as he went about making the tea. “And you have a boyish quality about you. But you have effeminate mannerisms. Are you bisexual?”

“Straight,” I said, somewhat defensively.

“You’re a passive beta male,” he pronounced. “A follower, not a leader. Women are more attracted to alpha males.”

My condition had something to do with hormones in the womb, he explained. Nothing I could really do about it.

Mr. Magic said that females are biologically predestined to find alpha males more attractive than “beta” males. It seems that women swoon instinctively for the dominant alpha male because his machismo is a surefire indicator that, should she be impregnated by him, the offspring will be strong enough to survive and prosper.

My chances of coupling with a desirable female, then, had been sabotaged at birth. I was no alpha male, therefore I did not possess the dominant genes craved by women. My second-rate genetic matter was headed for extinction, just as Darwin would have it.

I wondered for a moment how Mr. Magic would explain the existence of so many passive beta males in the general population when natural selection should have weeded them out by now. Some women are mating with these inferior excuses for masculinity, it seems, or the world would not be so cluttered with them.

Mr. Magic advised me to keep an open mind and listen to things I might not want to hear. “You are swimming in yourself,” he said. Meaning, I was drowning in all the erroneous ideas I had accumulated in my 53 years of experience with women. With the help of a white board and magic marker he would disabuse me of my misconceptions and point me in a new direction.

I was first subjected to a detailed review of my appearance, body language and dress. He deemed each sadly lacking in the all-important machismo factor. I was told that I had a priest-like aura that made me seem harmless and asexual. Only about 2–5% of womanhood found a man like me attractive, as opposed to the virile alpha male who can easily command the rapt attention of 80% of the world’s women. I was advised to “man up” and develop a more masculine image. It would be hard, Mr. Magic said, but if I made an adventure out of it and worked diligently, it could be done in a couple years or so. My own friends wouldn’t recognize me.

I felt concerned about the ethical implications of becoming a faux alpha male while actually possessing the inferior DNA of a beta male. Would it be right to deceive women that way? Would a mate forgive me when our progeny could not thrive in the rough and tumble world of aggressive alpha males? Clearly, dating and mating had moral dimensions I had never considered.

Mr. Magic followed his top-to-bottom critique with a description of the three-phase model of seduction devised by famous pickup artist Mystery — attraction-comfort-seduction. Mr. Magic drew it all out on the white board and explained each phase in detail. It seemed to make sense, except for the attraction phase, which remained elusive to me. No surprise. That’s why I was consulting Mr. Magic in the first place.

Throughout our three-hour consultation, which was supposed to last only two hours, I was impressed by Mr. Magic’s ardor and sincerity. He was no con artist, it seemed. He was genuinely interested in helping me. He referred repeatedly to his own struggles with dating and his issues with low self-esteem. He felt my pain.

When our session was done, he handed me several bootlegged DVD recordings of dating gurus giving advice. He also provided me a bibliography of recommended reading material, books with titles like “Alpha Male” and “Why Men Love Bitches.”

I considered the day’s lesson on the train back to Brooklyn. Uncertain of what to make of Mr. Magic’s emasculated view of my persona, I wondered what to do next. Should I give him the benefit of the doubt and do “field work” with him, which would involve approaching women in public places like cafes and bars? Or should I dismiss most of what he said as indicative of a hopelessly myopic view of women — and men?

I decided it was a moot point. At the age of 53, I could not refashion myself into a macho man, however helpful it might be to do so. I would have to return to the New York dating scene with my passive beta male character intact. And my conscience clear. With this beta male, what you see is what you get.

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Tony is a freelance technical writer and author of fiction, memoir, journalism and personal essays. You can visit his author website at tonygrocco.com.

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