Spread the word: Pick-up lines suck

“The word of the day is ‘legs.’ Let’s get together and spread the word.” Chances are, if you’ve heard this, you’ve smacked someone. Pick-up lines... do they actually work? No. If you’ve had success with a line, your target was either drunk or inanimate. Most lines you hear are one step up from vocal pornography, and that’s not cool with the ladies (or gentlemen). In fact, I think there is a category called “vocal pornography,” but you’re not Ron Jeremy, and your target is not Anna Nicole Smith.

Over the past week, investigative journalists Justin Brown and Michelle Bova (your intrepid authors) have gone in the field for you, the reader. We have found what works and, more often than that, what does not work. Here we’ll share some highlights (like the magazine for little kids).


Art boy, in one of my writing classes, wearing the Ninja Turtles T-shirt. I jump on the opportunity to guide him to Baker basement for coffee when he asks our professor where he can get a cup of joe. He’s a nice boy. Black hair. Scruffy. This is how I like my men. But just as I’m about to try to launch into some line about how I love the way form works as an expression of feeling — or some crap like that — his arty (female) friend comes running over. First of all, she’s blonde. Second of all, she’s arty. Isn’t it always obvious? She not only runs over, but hugs him as well. Why are they hugging? Have they, like, not seen each other since the last time they drew cubes together in studio? I figure my chances are blown, but then Michelangelo comes scurrying behind me in Baker. I want to — I try to — come up with something original. I settle for absent-mindedly brushing his arm as we chat. I try to smile at him in class. Come on — a line, my kingdom for a line! No. He smiles back sometimes; a cute scruff forms around his lips as they curve. But I lose all nerve. Class is over; I’ve struck out. Mudville cries.


Cute Asian girl in my math class. After staring at her awkwardly for a while, I tell her my limit as sex approaches infinity is her. She stabs me in the eye with her pencil. I cry blood.

As you can see, even attempting to use a line will end in crying. But there is hope — we’ve got some sweet tips for you to get some this weekend.

We’ve seen conversation starters work with a lot more success than actual “pick-up lines.” While they can still be awkward, they are less likely to offend the other person. If you want to imply more without speaking it, you can use “body innuendo” to get your point across. It’s sometimes a touch creepy (no pun intended), but so are most folks at Carnegie Mellon, so cut your losses.

View the difference in a simple exchange pre- and post-body language:

Pre-Body Language: “Hey Samantha, are you having trouble with your Calc homework? Yeah? So am I! You wanna work on it together sometime? Yeah? Great!”

Post-Body Language: “Hey Samantha,” (lean in conspiratorially) “are you having trouble with your Calc homework? Yeah?” (touch shoulder sympathetically) “So am I! You wanna work on it together sometime?” (hand on wrist, on the word “together”) “Yeah? Great!” (smile big, maybe if she seems into it you should try another small touch, like at the shoulder again).

See, now the girl gets the point. We’re not talking differential equations, we’re talking chemical reactions. Pheromones, baby. Just make sure you don’t smell bad.

Another hint: Be more direct without using a line. If you’re trying to pick up a girl or a guy and they seem into it, don’t mince words. After this body language exchange, if Samantha kicks up the flirt-o-meter you should slip her an even more obvious hint at your calculus meeting. Why not tell her how kind she is for helping you with a problem? Sometimes your target won’t catch a hint. You might want to ask if she’s seeing anyone. You have to be brave. No one likes a man without action. And, of course, women traditionally have an easier time getting a guy to pay attention to them, but women often need to be more forthright. You won’t get the attention from the right guys if you don’t take the initiative. Do you really want to spend your whole life with a guy named Bubba?

No pick-up lines. Remember, practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And again. A few pencils in the eye, a few arty erection deflections, and you’ll get the hang of it. Just try to seem as sincere as possible, even if you don’t mean it. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find that you’ll get what you need. And what you need is love. I mean sex. I mean... you get it. Happy Valentine’s Day. Now go get ‘em, tiger.