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Authors: Aaron Karo

Galgorithm

BOOK: Galgorithm
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For Mom and Dad

Patron Saints of Patience

1

THE KEY TO A GIRL'S
heart is through her eyelashes.

That's what I tell all the guys who come to me for advice. If you don't know what to say to a girl, if you're talking to a girl and start to panic—hell, if you accidentally hit a girl with your car and are cradling her in your arms until the paramedics arrive—the next words out of your mouth should always be a compliment about her eyelashes.

“I really like your eyelashes.”

“Your eyelashes are pretty.”

“Wow, your eyelashes are so long.”

Honestly, it doesn't matter what you actually say. As long as you look in the general vicinity of her face, speak in an upbeat, positive tone, and manage to get out the word “eyelashes,” you're on your way.

Upon hearing this advice, a lot of guys respond, “That's a weird thing to say. I've never even
noticed
a girl's eyelashes before.”

To which I reply:
“Exactly.”

According to my calculations, at Kingsview High School a girl is hit on approximately three to seven times per day. There are many ways to get her attention: The jocks are flexing their muscles. The hipsters are sending her music. The preps are liking her Insta.

But not a single guy is complimenting her eyelashes.

The fact that you even
acknowledged
her eyelashes, that you had the guts to utter this praise out loud,
to her
, will immediately make you stand out.

Because, let's face it: You're not a jock. You're not a hipster. You're not a prep. If you've come to me for help, you're a nobody. Just another anonymous and involuntarily celibate teenage guy who could use some guidance.

You may have heard my name, Shane Chambliss, whispered in the desolate, sexless hallways between AP ­Microeconomics and AP Physics and thought my services were a myth. But I can assure you that if I decide to take your case—and only the most desperate qualify—I will be your savior.

Because while in most respects I'm a totally normal high school senior, one thing sets me apart: I know girls. I know how they think. I know what they want. And though they may seem like baffling creatures who speak another language, I
will help you engage with them genuinely and thoughtfully.

Acquiring this expertise took time. I've spent the last few years carefully logging and codifying every interaction I've observed between guys and girls. Myself, my classmates, strangers in the mall—they all became my test subjects; their responses, my data. Every pickup line and rejection has been cataloged and quantified. Every tip and move has been stress-tested and tweaked.

And after all this research and painstaking fine-tuning, I have finally developed a proprietary formula that will help you approach, woo, and win over the girl of your dreams. I call it the Galgorithm.

If I take you on as a client, you will gain access to my knowledge and the laws of attraction outlined in the ­Galgorithm. It will help you cultivate a deep, personal connection with the girl you've been pining after. It is your map on the road to a fulfilling relationship.

I don't charge. After all, helping the romantically challenged isn't a job to me; it's a calling. In exchange for my services, I only ask one thing: Keep my methods and my role as your mentor a secret at all costs.

Some of the lessons I impart to you may seem silly or obvious. But I can assure you that they have worked on sorrier cases than yours.

The first set of tasks is the simplest but can also be the most daunting:

• Be different.

• Notice her.

• Tell her.

The first one shouldn't be difficult. You
are
different. You're weird as hell. That's why girls don't talk to you in the first place. But don't think of it as a disadvantage. Think of it as an advantage. Leverage your weirdness to stand out.

Next: Notice her. I mean
really
notice her—and I don't mean her body. I'm sure you've more than noticed that already. I'm sure you've noticed it alone in your bedroom late at night. But that's amateur hour. I need you to take her in: her smell, her clothes, her presence. Every girl is unique, but you need to discover what is unique about
her
.

And, finally, tell her. All the moves in the Galgorithm won't help you a lick if you never actually use them. At some point, this girl, this fellow human being you've held up on a pedestal for so long—well, buddy, you're eventually gonna have to go right up to her and say something.

Be different. Notice her. Tell her.

That's where it all begins.

And if nothing else works, you always have your fail-safe, your watchword, your mantra . . .

Eyelashes.

2

ONE DAY REED WANAMAKER COULD
be president of the United States. He could own a yacht. He could host a beauty pageant. He could do all those things if he only saw the potential in himself that I see in him. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Right now Reed Wanamaker is pathetic.

I'm currently sitting with him in the high school cafeteria. While we enjoy our lunch, an eager squirrel does the same ten feet away—but that's not strange at all. Kingsview is a leafy suburb of Los Angeles, and here the notions of “inside” and “outside” are totally blurred. Yes, Reed and I are inside the school . . . but we're also outside. Some of the hallways have no ceiling. The cafeteria has an awning but no walls.

Reed is extremely skinny—like past the point of scrawniness and into awkward
Is he okay?
territory. I know it's not
because he doesn't eat—he's already polishing off his second grilled cheese. Reed simply lost the genetic lottery and was born with the skeletal structure of a paper clip. He also has ears like open car doors and stick-straight light brown hair that seems to have not one but two parts. I still believe in him.

“So where are we with Marisol?” I ask.

“You're not gonna believe this,” Reed says. “She accepted my friend request! Huzzah!”

“What did you just say?”

“She accepted my friend request!”

“No, after that.”

“Huzzah?”

“Yeah.”

“You know, ‘huzzah!' Like ‘hooray!'”

“Reed, remember how I never steer you wrong?”

“Yeah . . .”

“Here's a tip: Never say ‘huzzah' ever again. Or ‘hooray,' for that matter.”

Reed considers this. “Noted.”

When Reed says “noted,” he means
noted
. He jots down my admonition in the little notebook he carries with him everywhere. I'm not sure if he's absorbed anything I've taught him so far, but at least he's noted it.

“So what's next?” I ask.

The object of Reed's affections is Marisol Cuéllar, who, as it turns out, is standing across the cafeteria from us, chatting with
some friends. Marisol's looks are severe: midnight-black hair pulled back tight into a ponytail, dark eyebrows that zag instead of curve away from the bridge of her angular nose, and a pair of razor-sharp elbows. She and Reed are both juniors. It may be tough, but I think I can make this work.

“What do you mean, what's next?” Reed says, flustered.

“I'm just kidding,” I say. “But it's been a little while since we caught up.”

We've recently returned to school from “winter” break—winter in quotation marks because it was seventy degrees and sunny almost every day. Incidentally, our return to school also marks the beginning of the home stretch of my senior year. Six months from now I'll be wearing a royal blue cap and gown. I'm deep in the throes of denial, but that's a sentiment for another time.

“Take me back to the beginning,” I say.

“Well,” he says, “at first, Marisol didn't even know I existed.”

“Reed.”

“Right, right, sorry.”

“Reed!”

“Right . . . right,
not
sorry.”

Two more tips I offer new clients: Be positive as much as possible, and apologize as little as possible.

For instance, Reed claims Marisol didn't even know he existed. Even if that were true in a class of only about two
hundred fifty kids, there's no use dwelling on it because she definitely knows who he is
now
.

Reed also needs to shed his habit of saying he's sorry all the time. Only apologize when it's warranted; otherwise it seems like you're apologizing for being yourself.

“Anyway,” Reed continues, “me and Marisol had never even spoken until I hit her with a tennis ball during gym.”

That was Reed's idea. Phys ed is the only class he and ­Marisol share, and he felt it would be a more “organic” approach if, during tennis instruction, he hit her with a ball. I knew Reed's puny arms could never generate enough force to leave a mark on Marisol. Hell, I'm impressed he could even hold a racket, let alone swing one. But sure as Cupid's arrow, he hit his target, albeit meekly in the thigh. It was an odd move for sure, but that's why I admired his moxie.

“So you hit her with a tennis ball . . . ,” I say.

“Right, and then I went up to her to ask if she was okay.” Reed pauses for dramatic effect. “And that's when
I
got pegged in the face by Harrison.”

Harrison Fisk, a senior like me, is the starting pitcher for the baseball team and a full-time troublemaker in the off-season. He spotted Reed on the court during phys ed and for unknown reasons took the opportunity to fire a tennis ball at him from close range.

“I got a bloody nose and had to go to the nurse.”

“I love this story,” I say.

It's true. I
do
love this story. Because Reed, with a little unsolicited help from Harrison, followed to a tee my first guideline: Be different. Over the course of her life, Marisol will receive flowers from more suitors than she'll be able to keep track of. But she'll never forget the beanpole who tagged her with a tennis ball and then got whacked in the face while checking on her. Mission: accomplished.

“What happened next?” I ask.

“You said to send her a friend request within thirty-six hours.”

The Galgorithm dictates that the optimal window for establishing social media contact after a first encounter is more than a day, so as not to seem eager, but less than two days, so as to still be top of mind.

“How long did it take her to accept your request?” I ask.

Reed consults his notebook. “Six hours. Just before we went on break.”

“Wow,” I say. “That's quick.”

“Really?” Reed says. He's pumped up and can barely contain his excitement. And that pumps me up as well. To me, there's nothing better than a happy nerd. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning.

“Are you ready for the next step?” I ask.

“Shane, I've been ready for the next step since I hit puberty.”

I look him up and down. Puberty couldn't have been that long ago.

We both spy Marisol across the cafeteria. Maybe fifty feet away from us. It's not a huge distance in physical terms. But romantically, she might as well be living on Jupiter.

It's my job to help Reed get to Jupiter.

3

IN MY OPINION, THERE IS
a spectrum of best friendship. At one end is “just met and totally hit it off.” At the other end is “known each other for so long that we have a baby picture in the bathtub together.” The latter describes me and Jak. Our mothers are best friends, so from the time we were born, we've been inseparable. The coed baths have stopped, but we're still just as close.

She came into the world as Jennifer Annabelle Kalkland, but everyone calls her by her initials:
JAK
.

Having been raised in the orbit of car-crazy Los Angeles, we stopped walking and started driving everywhere as soon as we were old enough to get our licenses. That all changed over winter break, though, when Jak got us both Fitbit fitness trackers as Christmas gifts. Currently she's making us walk
home from school in an effort to maximize our total steps for the day. I welcome the competition, but only because it gives us more time to dish on the latest gossip in Kingsview.

“Remember that party I was telling you about, with all the baseball players?” Jak asks.

“Yup,” I say.

“I heard that Harrison and Rebecca Larabie hooked up. It's real DL.”

Harrison is the aforementioned jock who bloodied Reed's nose. Rebecca is also a senior and your classic overachiever: AP everything, school president. The girl has her own business cards.

“No way,” I say.

“Yes way,” Jak replies.

“I don't believe they hooked up.”

“Shane, why would I make something like that up?”

“Because you have a vivid imagination and a lot of time on your hands.”

Jak takes umbrage at this. “I do not have a lot of time on my hands!” She wags her finger aggressively in my face. “That's totally bogus!” She continues pointing at me, almost touching my nose.

“Wait a minute,” I say. “I know what you're doing!” I grab her arm and attempt to halt the finger wagging. “You're trying to run up your Fitbit score!” We both glance at the lime-green electronic bracelet on her wrist. She wriggles out of my grasp.

“No I'm not!”

“Jak, it doesn't work like that. It won't count as a step if you just wave your wrist around. Otherwise I'd—”

“Otherwise you'd what? Rack up two miles every night around eleven thirty?”

We both grin. Touché.

“Anyway,” I say, returning to the point, “Harrison and Rebecca? Seems like a weird combo.”

I would never expect a straight shooter like Rebecca to go for a loose cannon like Harrison. Which just goes to show: Even if you've spent years studying them, the inner workings of girls' hearts are still mysterious.

“Agreed,” Jak says. “I don't see it.”

Jak knows I help a few clueless guys at school talk to girls and score dates, but she has no idea about the extent of my endeavors. I've never told her anything about the Galgorithm. I guess there was just never the right time or place to clue her in . . . and I'm also a little scared she'd judge me for it. Jak does not pull punches.

“How do you think they got together?” I ask, referring to Harrison and Rebecca.

“Alcohol, most likely,” Jak says.

“Ah. Alcohol. I should have thought of that.”

“Oh yeah,” Jak continues, “it's the ultimate social lubricant.”

“Gross.”

Jak ignores me and instead begins to shuffle her feet, taking one step back for every two steps forward and slowing our pace down to a crawl. I shake my head.

“Jak, you can't fool the Fitbit. You're never gonna beat me.”

“That's what they told Beyoncé and the Wright Brothers.”

Jak cracks me up. She soon abandons the shuffle and resumes walking normally, which means she now covers more ground than me. It's those long legs of hers, which are poured into her usual skintight jeans and filthy white low-top Chucks.

“Are you looking at my legs?”

I snap out of it. “What? No.”

Jak grins. “I need to tweet: ‘Just caught Shane Chambliss looking at my legs. #busted.'”

“I was not looking at your legs!”

Jak laughs. She loves to push my buttons.

“Go easy, Chambliss. I'm just messin' with you.”

“I know, I know,” I say with a smile.

Jak pulls her hair in front of her face in order to inspect it. She prides herself on not having cut her mess of black hair in years. It's gone from full-on Afro to dreadlocks to a style that could now only be described as curly chaos.

“Who's gonna walk you home in the fall when we're away at school?” she asks suddenly.

Bit of an odd question. Jak usually doesn't like to talk about Life After High School. We both got into college Early
Decision last month, otherwise joyous accomplishments marred by the fact that we'll be a thousand miles away from each other. We've tried to avoid the topic ever since.

“First of all, don't you mean who is gonna walk
you
home from school?”

“Let's be clear,” Jak says. “I'm walking
you
, not the other way around. America.”

I laugh. “Huh?”

“You know.” Jak smirks. “We're progressive.”

“Whatever you say.”

I try to tell myself it's not that big a deal to be apart for the first time from the best friend I've had since our days in Jak's bathtub. Between the half dozen video-messaging apps we have on our phones already, I'll probably see her more often than I do now. I've almost got myself convinced.

We reach the corner where we go our separate ways to get home. Our neighborhood is full of quiet streets and sidewalks like this one, lined with hulking trees. Jak faces me to offer her customary high five. Her pupils and irises are nearly the same color, giving her eyes a freaky, piercing quality. I high-five her in return. Her dark skin contrasts sharply with my perpetually pale complexion.

“How about this,” I say. “When we're away at college, you can call me every day on your walk home and we'll chat just like we're doing now.”

“But it won't be the same,” Jak says.

“It'll be pretty close.”

Jak is about my height, but we once compared belly buttons and hers is two inches higher—those long legs again. Still, I probably outweigh her by about fifty pounds.

“I won't be able to do
this
,” she says, as she manages to playfully nudge me off the sidewalk, onto the grass, and almost into the conspicuous tree on the corner.

I recover. “Honestly,” I say, “that's what I'm looking forward to the
most
: you not being able to do that.”

“You love it,” she says.

I probably won't miss
all
her antics when we go away to school, but I'll definitely miss her
Jak
ness—her quick draw with a joke, her oddly endearing anxieties, her energy. At least I'll always have access to her steady stream of nonsensical yet encouraging tweets: “Shane is the Mane!”

Before we part ways for home, Jak asks, “Do you think we should try to be more social before we graduate? You know, maybe go to one of these parties, drink a lot, and make poor decisions? Instead of being antisocial and hanging out by ourselves, I mean.”

I consider this. “Meh,” I answer.

“Yeah. That's exactly what I was thinking,” Jak says. “Meh.”

BOOK: Galgorithm
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