“I need a drink,” were her first words after I introduced myself.
It was a rainy Thursday evening as we hurried into a lounge in Midtown Manhattan.
I met Julia through a mutual friend a week before. We were both immigrants to the USA, born in the same part of the world and emigrating around the same time. I viewed our similar backgrounds with great optimism since I wouldn’t be meeting a stranger but someone who’d I be able to relate with, and vice-versa.
Julia, 25, 5’5″, 100lbs, wearing black business clothes and black stilettos was the first to sit on a small cushion-like chair opposite of me.
We made ourselves comfortable, and right away I knew it was going to be “one of those dates.” I knew I’d have to do most of the talking, and that I’d have to work to make her feel comfortable with me.
I began by telling her about me. I told her I like traveling, that I’ve lived abroad for many years in various exotic locales, met various people — some interesting, some boring, some who’ve changed my life. Even picked up a few languages along the way. Basically qualifying myself as someone remotely interesting and perhaps even making it worthwhile for her to be spending her precious time with me.
It got uncomfortable a few times. There’s only so much talking and flirting I can do before it becomes forced. When I listened, she kept circling back to her work and how it makes her happy. Her eyes lit up when she recounted how she was given more responsibility due to the absence of her co-worker who was on maternity leave.
That was pretty much the only time her eyes glowed.
What becomes apparent very quickly with American women is that the most important thing to them is how how they feel. Maybe it’s an artifact of the cut-through capitalism or a severe lack of emotional intelligence, but it is always the self that reigns supreme. Her emotional and physical state are what must be tended to at all times.
She’s not trying to get you to like her. She’s not relying on you for emotional support. She’s not relying on you for financial support. She’s using you as a vehicle for her own validation and empowerment.
Thanks to the feminist revolution and the battle against the “oppressive” males, she’s is, for better or worse, your equal, and your job is to somehow make yourself useful — namely by delivering that validation and empowerment.
We moved over to share a couch with the hope that she’d feel more comfortable and loosen up a bit. She sat at the farthest end possible while I sat comfortably in the middle facing her.
In Brazil, you usually get physical with a girl quickly (usually within an hour of meeting her, sometimes even quicker). Kiss just comes so naturally, like a handshake and is no big deal.
While Brazil is definitely at the extreme, things are not radically different in other parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe, while a kiss is a bigger deal, comfort is built much, much smoother and quicker. Maybe its the constant scare-mongering in the US media that makes people more isolated and less eager to connect.
In Ukraine, we’re usually best friends within an hour, enjoying our company, making future plans, etc.
In America, things are more like chess game. Each “opponent” waits the other’s calculated move. And each move has to have a perfect balance of aggressiveness and aloofness.
Making plans for a second date on the first? Too desperate. Not going for a kiss at the right time? Not aggressive enough.
I invited her for some Spanish tapas the next weekend. My idea was to take her to an environment where I can break through her shield and see the real her, hopefully getting her to open up a bit more.
I told her about my multiple visits to Spain and the kind of tapas they have there. I told her that I have a good friend living in Barcelona whom I’ve visited few times, and how beautiful the city really is. I also told her how funny Spanish accent from Spain sounds and how people make fun of it in Latin America. She seemed interested but couldn’t relate; she has never traveled outside the US since coming here twelve years ago.
As we sat down she told me that she has duly researched the restaurant the night before and checked all the reviews. She even had ideas as to what to order. I asked her if she’d ever go into some hole next door without checking out the reviews before hand. She said she’d never do it at the risk at that place having awful food.
After the restaurant, I invited her to a Cuban bar in the East Village. We sat at the bar and ordered mojitos.
I sat next to her, facing her with our knees and legs touching. She was still holding back, playing it cool, and acting like a prize feeding on my flirting and innuendos.
Another thing you quickly learn about American women is their complete mastery of sarcastic expressions. Julia’s favorite was adding a disclaimer of “just don’t get too excited” every time she uttered anything remotely sexual.
Maybe it was the third mojito, but I admit she looked sexy that night. She carried herself with that black skirt and stilettos that even at some point she was worth the asking price in terms of all those games she was making me put up with just for me to get closer. Maybe reading “The Rules” and all those magazines were paying off for her, and that even a moderately attractive girl like her can become several points more desirable just by applying few techniques in flirting and body language.
As the night progressed, she was getting more flirty, smiling, playfully touching me and asking me more personal questions.
I continued flirting and then just looked into her eyes and paused. She gave the usual sarcastic reply, trivially downplaying my slowly escalating flirting, but started to grow uncomfortable. I didn’t say a word and kept looking, our eyes fully locked, waiting for her reaction, like a predator carefully stalking their prey.
She grew more uncomfortable even starting to ask me logical questions, a common technique to throw off any escalation — a complete one eighty degree turn from her previous flirtation self.
I didn’t flinch.
Feeling the tension rise, she began to feel self-conscious, lost in the interaction, unsure and unable to counter my advances.
And just like that it was gone. I took my eyes off her and stared outside to the right, towards the window. Like on cue, she began to re-compose herself, slowly regaining her artistic ability to crack witty questions and sarcastic remarks.
But it was all over. It was just façade; the empress had no clothes after all.
Then it all made sense, and I knew exactly with whom I was dealing with.
The harsh reality is that there can be only one Madonna, Lady Gaga, Shakira, or that slutty girl from Sex and The City, but because they’re such huge brands, there’re millions of women trying to emulate them with the understanding that that’s how women should behave. Maybe there’s a market of men who love to be with a girl who carries herself like she just walked off the set of a popular sitcom. (In fact there has to be some demand otherwise they’d be a lot of lonely, depressed and disappointed women.)
Personally, I don’t settle for anything less than the real thing, and thankfully, I’m usually pretty good at judging who is and isn’t.
It was all over. There’s nothing she could’ve said or done that could’ve changed it. This time it was me that gave her a window of opportunity but like a deer caught in the headlights she fumbled and fell exposing her lack of social and emotional intelligence.
I reluctantly made plans with her the following weekend and not the one to cancel, agreed to see her again. Instead of meeting in Manhattan, she offered to pick me up, with a proclamation that “on weekends, I drive.”
Her generous act of offering to pick me up felt less than something nice one does for another but more of her declaration of independence validating her womanly role in modern society.
She picked me up, and asked where we are going. Feeling completely uninspired, I told her it was her choice. So, like a good American girl, she suggested the movies.
That right there is why I travel. To learn other cultures, talk to other people, and get other perspectives on life. I want to know that there’s something more this world can offer me than going to see some mass produced product in some generic mass produced franchised venue with some generic person shaped by mass produced popular culture.
In Brazil, the most gorgeous girl I met in my life begged me to spend the night with her on the beach the night we met. She enjoyed meeting me and didn’t want the night to end. We fooled around on the sands of one of the most well-known beaches in the world laughing, smiling, kissing all while trying to communicate in any way possible.
A French girl invited me to check out a museum for a gallery she was curious about. She was the stereotypical French girl of how you imagine French girls: snobbish yet sophisticated. I loved that about her. She told me that Paris was too snobbish and that I should go to Toulouse or Bordeaux instead.
A Colombian girl took me to her favorite bar in a working-class neighborhood where I was the only foreigner. She ordered for me, introduced me to her friends, and made sure I had a good time.
A Czech girl showed me Prague like few tourists get to experience, ending in a local bar with the best beer I’ve ever had.
The American girl suggested we go see a movie.
After the movie, while we were having Sushi, she told me she wanted to ask me some questions. When I thought my night can’t get any worse, she duly pulled out her blackberry and began asking me a series of well thought-out questions that she designed to satisfy her great curiosity about me:
“What are your strengths?”
“What are your weaknesses?”
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years”
She viewed our interaction as job interview, explaining that like in job interviews our ultimate goal is to sell ourselves, and that’s what I should be doing.
So what you’re saying is that you don’t have enough emotional intelligence to satisfy those questions via other means and therefore must resort to explicitly asking me such questions with the hope that my answers would help you come to certain conclusions about me?
Interesting. All I knew that there’s no way I’d buy anything she’s selling because there would be absolutely no value in it whatsoever.
Sure, I could’ve thought of some clever answers to seem more desirable in her eyes, but why bother. I long began to view myself as an observer, perhaps as a marketing researcher, psychologist or a social scientist who was experimenting with some newly found human specie – Woman Americanus.
I was no longer in seduction mode but more interested in satisfying my curiosity by reverse engineering her behavior and see why and how it all came about.
Surely she was normal once?
When you meet an American girl, what you’re really meeting is the walking and talking brand represented by thousands of hours that were spent marketing, advertising and selling to her and her demographic. That girl who sits next to you on the B train in Manhattan wearing skinny jeans, a nice fitting leather jacket, high heels, and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag is a live advertisement representing a handful of corporations that have won the battle for her heart and mind.
Furthermore it’s not only her tastes in fashion that were carefully constructed and molded, but more importantly her mind as well.
What’s left is a shell of her former self. She learns how to interact with men through magazines, mass media and relationship websites. She dates online, flirting and rejecting candidates from the comfort and security of her laptop.
She reads articles that explain everything from when to return a guy’s call to when is the right time to sleep with a guy.
She thinks that being overly sarcastic is sexy, and that being distant and unattainable drives men wild.
She’s a workaholic, trying to progress career-wise in the face of continuing “male oppression.” She also has a chip on her shoulder, using any opportunity to prove that she’s in control by whipping out the credit card as soon as the bill comes and doing anything she can to prevent you from paying.
If there’s one thing I love more than women is seducing them.
I love seducing Mexican, Brazilian, Colombian, Russian, Lithuanian and Argentinian women.
But that smooth game of seduction just doesn’t work the same with American women.
After getting home, the first thing I did was devise a plan of yet again leaving this country for far greener and inspiring lands.
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