It certainly isn't a new phenomenon but for some reason the WaPo decided to run an article about the "Art of the Wingman." The article is very light (and amusing) as it follows around four graduating GW seniors while they scam on women at various DC nightspots. As a complete piece of fluff it should not be taken too seriously but I thought I would chime in since, to me, it painted the role of the wingman as someone who mainly helps his buddies get laid. Not necessarily true. While there are scads of guys using wingmen to score some casual sex (we're all living in glass houses when it comes to that), that is not the ONLY thing a good wingman can or should be used for.
A wingman can also be utilized for less lascivious ends such as simply meeting an interesting female and helping to break the ice. For those of us living in the DC area you can be guaranteed that two subjects will always come up when meeting someone for the first time; where you went to school and what you do for a living. I've lived here for 19 years and I don't know why but this will come up in casual conversation and if you are not blessed with the gift gab and have only these two things to talk about, your job had better be interesting. I would be screwed if I didn't have the ability to ramble incessantly about anything because my job is wholly uninteresting to anyone not in the industry. Remember the scene in Office Space when one of the middling managers is desperately trying to rationalize his position? "I have people skills, dammit!" That's not my job but the sentiment is completely applicable. So if I meet a nice gal and she asks me about what I do for a living, I have to get off the subject within 30 seconds or else her eyes will glaze over and she may go into some kind of unrecoverable coma. I am usually able to talk my way out of a situation like that, but what about the guy that isn't so lucky?
Imagine a scneario where a guy is out drinking with his friends and maybe trying to meet some girl to talk to. (Now I'm not talking about a bar like Adams Mill or the Clarendon Ballroom where your flashy shirt and high B.A.L are all the conversation skills you need but rather a more casual watering hole.) He's a little nervous in this scenario so when he serendipitously bumps into (literally) the girl he's been eyeing all night and attempts to small-talk her, after making apologies for being so clumsy, he very quickly finds himself in the "so what do you do?" portion of the conversation. Now our hero is a little shy so he doesn't really know how to talk his way out of an awkward conversational pause so he keeps going to the well again and again with the "job talk." Compounding matters, this poor bastard has the lamest job in the world like selling fishing bobs or office manager for a car rental agency or anything having to do with AOL. No woman in her right mind wants to listen to that shit for more than a minute or two so if he can't pull the trigger on something a little more interesting, then he is cooked. And that's where the wingman comes in.
The wingman has nothing to lose so he can completely embarass himself by being the Random Conversation Piece in order to help out his buddy. If there's a lull in the conversation and a wingman sees his buddy stalling out he can sweep in and completely turn it around by throwing out a humiliating factoid about himself or positing one of those random questions like, "Who would you rather punch in the face..." It's a little jumpstart that can keep things flowing for a while until the prospective couple find their conversational groove. Now whatever happens next happens, but the point is that the wingman isn't always just there to ward off the fugly friend in order for his buddy to squire away some girl to his shadey apartment. The wingman's task is not always insidious.
Tacking back around, I guess I just wanted to point out that there is a certain nobility to the wingman's craft that the aforementioned article did not touch upon. He plays a crucial role (especially in a town like this) and shouldn't automatically be lumped in with the finger-banging frat boy crowd.