Confession: When it comes to meeting men, I’m not a bar person. I find most of my dates through setups from friends and have been known to be a repeat offender on dating apps.

Then came this assignment: Spend a few nights out on the town and come back with the best—and most hideous— approaches men use to pick up women for a night on the tiles. So I dressed in uniform—skin, makeup, curves, black dress, boots, more skin—and headed out on three separate nights to a steak house, a hotel bar, and a neighborhood watering hole.

Men, I learned many things.

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The “What the hell?

Opener 1: “How old are you?” asked a drunk Brit within 11 seconds of my arrival at the steak house.

  • My reaction: Ew. If you want to be attractive to a woman, say she’s pretty, not old.
  • Outcome: He was so handsy the bartender ran interference.

Opener 2: “Why do men die before women? ‘Cause they want to,” said a bro at the bar.

  • My reaction: Misogyny won’t make a woman swoon.
  • Outcome: I never took my eyes off my Bordeaux. He went back to his seat.

Opener 3: “If you are what you eat, I could be you by morning,” said a hotel bar guy.

  • My reaction: Unappetizing to say the least, but better than “How much for an hour of half-and-half?” since most of the other women here were, well, pros who frequent the place.
  • Outcome: I drained my drink next to my new favorite bar prop, a copy of Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, because hookers don’t read Hitler histories.
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The “Meh”

Opener 1: “Mind if I take this seat?” asked a divorced banker who proceeded to talk about his job, his dead mom, his athlete’s foot…

  • My reaction: Cute guy, good start, didn’t stick the landing.
  • Outcome: He expensed my drink—a fair exchange. If he’d asked any questions about me, I might even have seen him again.

Opener 2: “Know what this shirt’s made of? Boyfriend material.”

  • My reaction: I admit, I love a good line, but I’ve heard this one a hundred times before.
  • Outcome: A no-go. Avoid prefab, plagiarized patter or be ready to watch her eyes roll.


“If you are what you eat, I could be you by morning.”

Opener 3: “Are you an alien? ‘Cause your ass is out of this world,” asked a dude in a popped-up collar.

  • My reaction: I’m a sucker for space puns, but not this one.
  • Outcome: Just assume women will be put off by sexual objectification from strangers. It’s creepy. Why risk coming across as a stuck-up, half-witted nerf herder? Stick to basics, guys (and put down that collar).

The “That’s a Wrap!”

Opener 1: “Let me get this round?” asked collar guy’s dot-com buddy.

  • My reaction: Lightning bolts. How, I wondered, had we never met before?
  • Outcome: We had a real conversation about my job—aka getting picked up in bars for this magazine. “The best lines are basic: Where are you from? What do you do? What do you think about the weather? And the ever popular, Can I buy you a drink?” he said, handing me a martini I didn’t ask for but gratefully accepted. I have a new favorite bar.
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