I got a letter for our Drunken Hookup Failures last week from a dude named Matt. Now, Matt's hookup fail was fairly boring and didn't make the cut, but there was something at the end of his story that gave me pause, and it was this sentence:
I was consequently labeled as "sketchy" in two sororities.
If you go to a small school, or you travel in a relatively small social circle, you know that being labeled as "sketchy" is a virtual death sentence for your penis. Take it from the sketchiest man of all. NO HAND-CRAFTED OLD SOUTH COOLER FOR YOU! Just one tiny faux pas with a girl can be enough to send her running back to her friends and declaring you unfit for hooking up. You'll be a sexual outcast, banished to trolling local bingo parlors for elderly tail and risking even further sketchiness.
This is often a grossly unfair label to affix to a man, especially a young man who is virtually enslaved to the demands of his nether regions. You can be labeled sketchy or creepy by ladies for any number of reasons, not all of them justified. It can be something as simple as "OMG! THAT GUY TOTALLY WANTED TO HAVE SEX WITH ME!" In fact, girls almost always miss the mark on who should be branded as creepy and who shouldn't. I mean, I've seen some perfectly lovely women date some incredibly filthy shitbags, and yet THAT guy's sketchiness is never laid bare. No, no. It's YOU, Mr. "I think I heard him masturbating in Stacy's bathroom! GROSS!" that gets shunned. Just one slip-up. That's all it takes.
And there's no way of making up for it either. You can't undo the stigma. It's like herpes, which girls will assume you have because they think you're sketchy. You're never getting rid of it. That's the problem with branding a man as shady or sketchy or whatever. It presumes that other men are somehow less creepy WHEN THEY TOTALLY AREN'T. Every guy has a little bit of lech in him. Every guy will, on occasion (call it hourly), get drunk and warp directly into Fire-Breathing Sex Monster mode. Some guys are good at hiding this, remaining relatively friendly and charming while suppressing their obvious motives for fornication, while others are not. Other guys might have had one shot too many and spent the past hour saying nothing while drilling a hole in a sophomore's ass with his eyes. He's not a serial killer. He just happens to look like one at that particular moment.
If you have found yourself a victim of the dreaded sketchy label, fear not. For I have devised a handful of foolproof strategies to counter this involuntary pussy exile:
1. Expand Your Horizons.
It's so easy in high school or college to stay within a very small cluster of people. There's that ONE girl you wanted to hook up with, or one gaggle of ladies that you're friendly with that you think offer up a handful of decent girlfriend prospects. It's a classic young guy mistake. If you get branded as creepy by a bunch of girls you like, you're gonna have to do your best to never bother with them again. THEY'RE BURNT. And if your reputation has permeated across the entire school? NEW SCHOOL. Or date someone who doesn't go to school. Go to a party at the local JuCo. There's a 45-year-old divorcee with three kids eager for YOUR love.
This is why many people move to New York after college. You can make mistake after mistake after mistake with women in New York, and it never gets around because there are too many people. Unless you're Robert Chambers. Then it gets around.
2. Become Even Sketchier.
No point in fighting it. You're the school creep. May as well bask in the role. Start wearing blazers with no shirt. Deal meth. Lick your teeth at any girl who walks by. Soon, you'll be so slimy and repulsive that you will go through the looking glass and begin attracting girls who find your reptilian manner IRRESISTIBLE. There must be some good to you underneath that oily, disgusting exterior. Count on an insecure lass to try and find it only to fail!
3. Make Money.
Steal if need be. Money completely eradicates any female fear of sketchiness. You can be the shadiest dickbag on Earth. But if you have a lavish vacation house in Hilton Head, ladies are more than happy to overlook it. Look at that punk Jasper from "The Killing." Total piece of shit. But his parents have a bigass house with lots of big windows. Big windows are clutch. Don't be poor and sketchy.
4. Befriend Your Accuser.
You got the sketchy label likely because one girl started talking shit about you to all her friends. And while the first and justifiable instinct is to key that girl's car, you're probably better off mending fences. Be friendly. Be courteous. Be helpful. Convince your accuser that you're totally not the guy she thought you were. Then she'll go back to her friends and be like, "Actually, I got to know him, and he's not that bad." It could reverse the stigma. And then, YOU HIT THAT SHIT DOGGYSTYLE.
None of these techniques are guaranteed to work, of course, especially if you really are a repugnant creep with no redeeming qualities. Perhaps you work in Congress or something, and sketchiness is your foremost trait. But if you're just a regular guy, do know that you aren't alone in suffering from such tawdry labels, and that there are things you can do about it. And then… you can get right back to getting ladies drunk and trying to cop a feel in no time. Your sketchiness stories in the comments.