By contributing writer Vaughan Ramsey

Every time I wake up with a headache the size of Burkina Faso’s trade deficit and a something warm, soft and female beside me, I know I’m appreciative of that someone special. This is not the (most likely less-than) lovely creature next to me, but whoever filled the role of wingman the night before.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term wingman (Brad Pitt?), he’s basically the guy that goes to lengths to help you get laid, sometimes out of generosity, but more likely because he wants you to help him score that cutie in Psych 101 later that week. The wingman is the guy that you can compare notes with and, with your combined knowledge, actually piece together 30% of the night before. The wingman can sometimes play “Great Balls of Fire” on the piano and will make witty jokes about Iceman. It’s pretty much certain that the only guy more helpful for a hookup is Jack Daniels.

Like most things in the world, there are two types of wingmen, good and bad. A good wingman is like your favorite pair of flip-flops: indispensable and prepared to get stepped on, while a bad wingman is like computer studies: a curse on your sex life. It is a wingman’s responsibility to achieve any or all of the following; the more of these he does, the greater his abilities and the less likely you’ll be to crash and burn.

“If all else fails, give her a thumb in the ass. I call it the Ace in the Hole.”

Reconnaissance missions are the most basic form of wingmanship. This includes the unrequited provision of knowledge on the lady in question. He will know or find out as much as he can about the girl, including things like what her course is and whether or not she has a curable STD.

Women are like hyenas, they travel in packs. A wingman will help you approach this pack so you aren’t flying solo in enemy territory. It is also his duty to remove you if you have no chance, preferably before the less attractive members of the pack feed on you, tearing your street cred apart like the flesh of a wounded buffalo. Bonus points if he does it by dueting “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Doobie Brothers.

A good wingman will give accurate progress reports such as “Man, it might seem like good advertising, but do up your zipper,” and “Dude when she said, ‘This is my linebacker boyfriend’ it was time to find a different girl.” If he ever says, “I think you should switch to water/soda/non-alcoholic-beverages,” slap him and then translate that to “You’re wasted. Quick, get her drunk too before she notices.”

“Jumping on the grenade” or “Taking one for the team.” Possibly the strongest skill of any good wingman is the ability to take out bogeys. The wingman will take out that jackass who’s cock-blocking or, more likely, the wingman will use any means necessary to distract the sidekick girl(s) of a hottie. Ideally his tactics won’t be limited by morals or ethics, and an excellent wingman may even take home the undesirables. By no means are you banned from humiliating him for doing this, no matter how good his wingman skills were.

The wingman gives you precedence. Especially necessary when hitting on law students, a good back-up story is the backbone of your success. Good ones include “Oh you study law? Me and my friend here were gonna do that but chose pre-med instead.” Bad ones include “We’re only out because it’s my turn to score after I jumped on a grenade last week for this kid.” Furthermore, the wingman will have all the necessary details down to back your story up and will provide an alibi when the likely “Hey weren’t you that guy that hooked up with my roommate (while nodding in the direction of the grenade)?” question arises.

There is nothing worse than a bad wingman. Cutting more grass than a lawn mower, this guy will unintentionally hit on the hottie and steal the limelight, leaving you balls deep behind enemy lines. It doesn’t matter how well he’s doing or whether he’s gonna score the babe and ride off into the sunset, it is no less than your duty to ruin his chances in a mission of scorched earth. Good anti-mowing tactics include walking up to him and exclaiming loudly, “HEY, HOW IS THAT RASH ON YOUR BALLS CLEARING UP?”

A good wingman is an asset and while he may not have the tax benefits of your college trust fund, it is just as necessary to a successful college life. Take notes and hand them out to your boys. You'll thank them later.