41: Lose the hair or lose your head

“What superhero? You have no superpower!” Antonio yelled.

“Neither does Batman!” Ben replied.

“Batman’s superpower is money!”

“You’re more like villains! You’re killing my business! Get away!!!” The hot dog vendor at the side shouted. Their yelling cleared out all the people nearby. Ben and Antonio returned to walking on the city street, happy to get away from the smoky smell of the hot dog cart.

Antonio said, “Man, the purpose of the baby in a burning building line was to get that chick’s attention. There’s no way she wouldn’t respond just to know about that, but the point is now you’ve reframed it from her flaking on you to you flaking on her! You’ve regained the power!”

Ben squeezed his fist and stared at it. He felt the power coursing through his veins!

“Keep in mind she didn’t know you were waitin’ in the restaurant for her for 2 hours. So why not make it you were the one who flaked? Even though that ain’t true, you already won. If she responds to you with ‘Oh no, actually I forgot,’ it’ll sound like she’s being defensive and lying in desperation. Chicks are very aware of how things sound. So she wouldn’t say that. Your checkers move trapped her, feel me? You always gotta keep control of the perception like that.”

Ben made energetic nods over and over like a 5 year old listening to his hero.

“Remember this–you’re like a marketing spin doctor. Everything needs to end with you in control, having the upper hand. That means you leave first, you hang up first, and if you think the chick’s gonna flake, you flake first. Keep yourself in the position of power. If not, the chick will since it’s a part of her natural psychology…There’s no avoiding this game so you might as well win it.”

“Got it. Got it. So what now? Set up another date?”

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Antonio shook his head. “Watch this.”

He took Ben’s phone and sent another text: “can’t. busy now. talk later.”

He asked Ben, “You see what I did there?”

“Ruined my love life?” Ben frowned. “Wasn’t Katie just offering to reschedule? Why not agree?”

“That’s chump bait. Often when you jump on the first invite like that, chicks lose interest. How about now? Now you’re the busy one. YOU say when you can meet. Chicks are flaky right? But it ain’t cause they’re busy. Most of the time, chicks aren’t doing sh*t! They’re just busy to the 95% of dudes they flake on…”

The loud siren of a passing police car interrupted Antonio’s words.

“For those top 5% of guys, chicks will make themselves available as long as they think you’re busier than them. So with this chick, put her on ice for a few days. You wanna reinforce you’re busy saving babies and all that. Later, she’ll be much more receptive.”

Ben stared at his cousin with curiosity. When they approached girls in person, Antonio didn’t seem much more advanced than him, but in text messaging, he was a virtuoso! “All right, thanks man!”

“No prob! Ok, forget about all that. We’ve got bigger weeds to whack. Here’s why I brought you out here.” Antonio pointed to a shop to their side.

“A barbershop?” Ben asked.

Antonio nodded and began stretching his legs. Why? Because he had foresight.

That’s when Ben sprinted away.


“Cuz, it’s just a haircut!” Antonio yelled as he bear-hugged Ben.

“Why do I need one?!?” Ben shouted.

“You look like Colin Kaepernick if he dropped NFL to play professional Madden!

“He’s rich!”

“Esports pros don’t make sh*t!”


A few minutes later, a frowning Ben was in a barbershop chair with Antonio sitting down and flipping through magazines nearby.

It’s not that Ben loved his hairstyle, but that he hated getting haircuts. He’d watched a mafia movie once of a mobster getting his throat slit by a barber, and since then, he didn’t trust a stranger to come near his head with sharp objects. His father always cut his hair for him, and Ben had to vet that guy for over a decade…

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The metallic buzz of the clippers. The cold metal of scissors on his skin. Moist spray from the barber treating him as a plant…

All these things made Ben uncomfortable. Still, he knew a haircut might improve his looks, and in 7 days, the system would give him a bowl-shaped cut at his neck anyway, relieving him of the burden of having a head…

Antonio glanced upwards when the barber came out. “Carlos, see what you can do for him.”

The old barber with a goatee examined Ben from all angles, before turning to Antonio. “I’m sorry. There’s not much I can do for him.”

“Am I here for a haircut or to cure stage 4 cancer?” Ben’s face fell.

The barber said, “Nino, you look like Bob Ross…Your hair is curlier than bigfoot’s pubes.”

Ben responded. “If I’m Bob Ross, are you Jeff Ross? What’s with the impromptu roast?!?”

If this haircut didn’t have a chance to improve his looks, Ben would’ve stormed out already!

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