The women are a diverse mix of ages and ethnicities; some are in the smooth-skinned prime of their early 20s, while others are well into their worldly wise 30s, 40s and even 50s. For all the party atmosphere, however, the crowd seems oddly dispirited. That exhaustion may account for the carb-loading—the sandwich-snarfing and cheese-and-cracker eating—that I see all around me. Hussey appears to a hooting standing ovation. His presence has an immediate leavening affect on the crowd. One of his first pronouncements sends a delighted ripple through the audience.
It really is the worst thing ever. The advice most women are given when it comes to love and sex, he says. Make the first move. The idea that confidence is attractive sounds pretty familiar—the kind of thing my mother and grandmother drilled into me as a child.
The only novelty seems to be that the old chestnut is coming out of the mouth of a cute British guy in a stylish jacket, which he later removes, along with his tie, to howls of approval.
Hussey eats it up. Fifty-three minutes into our eight-hour journey, Hussey lets another secret fly—this one is a doozy. There will be no breaks for lunch or anything today, Hussey declares. I swallow an expletive. Perhaps to soften the blow, he cues the DJ to pump up the music and commands the audience to stand up and dance. I bolt for the bathroom. Eight hours without a break?
Hussey may proclaim to know a lot about the male mind, but his knowledge of the female bladder is sorely lacking. The seminar is loosely organized around the idea of being confident and being a more competent dater. One of the event staff scowls disapprovingly. Hussey has two volunteers onstage. For all the theatrics and touchy-feely stuff, the advice is pretty standard.
I feel like my grandmother could co-author his next book. An hour later… Now Hussey gets really specific about how to chat up a guy. He offers what he perceives to be foolproof scripts: It looks so good. The audience is in thrall. Eventually Hussey offers his advanced flirty patter, which is downright peculiar. Stay away from me. I head for the bathroom again. Hussey breaks down the four components of attraction, an hour or two of patter that could be summed up in the following directions: The greatest compliment a man can receive, according to Hussey, and a veritable jockey-remover, is: I feel like we covered this a lot earlier.
Fuck it, I dance. Not because Hussey and his foot soldiers want me to, but because my butt is numb and I love this song! Most powerful insight I glean from the day: I need to dance more. My attention is waning, but Hussey is just getting into the nitty-gritty of his program. He wants women to stop taking shit from jerks and to be more sensible in love. I wobble in my heavy winter boots unconvincingly.
Even the dancing starts to feel redundant. A woman next to me fans herself with her notepad. I notice that the notepad is blank. After the emotional climax and the dance and more personal anecdotes about how he turned failure into confidence, Hussey cues up a video.
The price tag for the retreat: The video ends and Hussey goes into sales pitch mode. This course is amazing, he says. He even shows us a picture of her and her husband and children to prove it. Sincere or not, it feels like a manipulation. I swallow a few more expletives.