Sunday, March 23, 2008

Long Live the Foreign Man: Some Lessons Learned

Having recently returned from a fantastic European vacation, I've finally shaken post-vacation depression and am ready to share my experience. For those of you who don't know me, that experience doesn't mean tales of passing under the Pont Neuf while boating down the Seine, but primarily tales of men met along the way. ( I certainly do appreciate historical sites and the beauty of the foreign land and such, but please. You can't get to know foreign men by reading about them in a history book with artfully composed photos. N'est-ce pas?)

These men are just so charming. There's no way around it. Tell me until you're blue in the face that French men are rude, Germans don't bathe, the Swiss have personalities similar to well-functioning clocks, but all you'll get is a blue face. Let's cite some specifics, shall we?

The kissing thing. Mon dieu. Why haven't American men picked up on this? Every man I met at the various social functions gave the requisite cheek kisses, usually with an explanation for the foreigner . . . I'm Parisian, you get four or I'm Swiss, we give three. Even if you don't speak again for the remainder of the evening, for three long seconds those kisses say, "You, my dear, are the most beautiful, most endearing, most important woman in the room." (Note to Americans: if you really wish women would shut up about it and stop wondering aloud if their butts are too big, pick up the kissing thing. A totally effortless act that makes a woman feel beautiful.) And think of the upside for the Euros: you may have to kiss some undesirables, but you also get to smooch the babes -- and the babes totally dig it when men are kind to all. I personally can't think of a better ice breaker.

At several events I attended, my escort had duties to perform as a host. I'm not necessarily the foxiest woman around, but all it took was my date to leave my side for a minute and a man would move in: "How could a woman as beautiful as yourself be all alone on a night like this?" or "What kind of date you have to leave you all alone?" (Don't you just love the liberties they take with our language?) or "What beautiful part of the world are you from?" or... OK, you get the point. Here's the advantage of this tactic, very similar to the kissing thing -- either you get to talk to the woman of your dreams, or the woman of the dreams will perhaps witness what a gentleman you are: you just couldn't allow that poor woman without company suffer through an awkward moment alone. I'm telling you guys, it works.

Next, let's look at the camaraderie among the Euro men that charmed me so. After a dinner party at a beautiful French Chateau, a crowd of about 10 took a lovely stroll along the moat. It was dark, we were slightly tipsy (read: dancing-on-the-bar drunk) and it was late -- we were working on getting our second wind to make the on-on until breakfast. One of our party lost footing and fell right into the moat. We're talking stagnant water that had been there since the 17th century and was breeding an ecological system rivaling that of the rain forest. I picture my American friends busting a gut at the scene and concocting a nickname that outdoes the one from 5th grade that still makes you cry. But this was no laughing matter for our brave escorts. If one of your own embarrasses himself that badly, there's only one thing to do: dinner jackets off, and everyone into the moat. If he's willing to do that for one of his buddies, just imagine the lengths he'd go for you! Quite a romantic scene indeed, except for the part where our dates were soaking wet for the rest of the evening (and smelled pretty gamey, too).

Now, before you American men get all huffy-n-puffy about my praises of your foreign brothers, let's get one thing straight: American men rock the casbah. American women dream of marriage and children with a home-grown man for so many valid reasons I can't name them all here. But that doesn't mean you American men don't still have a thing or two to learn. For practice, remember you too can be the foreigner -- it's a whole lot of fun. Find yourself a foreign woman in this fine land of ours and woo her to the point of gentle nausea (not the drunken kind, but the thrilling roller coaster kind). Send her home with illusions of stereotype that surpass those of Budweiser beer, white sneakers, and pick-up trucks. Show her the true America -- the one with sunrises over the Atlantic, picnic concerts in the park, parades down Main Street. Her appreciation of it all will intoxicate you.

And when she departs for her own country, your next girlfriend -- the American one who will benefit from your newly honed dating skills -- will never ever stray to a foreign man again.

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