30 Aug 2013

Sex-Deprived Strangers in Paris

OK so I know this title is a little bit promiscuous, but I'm struggling to come up with another way to describe their irrational behaviour. I mean, maybe "strange" men on this side of the channel are just far more forward than their British frenemies, but despite spending nearly 12 months here (eek!), their unrequited desire to be my lover me still fuureeeaks me out. Let me explain.

There are a few places where I believe it is unacceptable, and I mean unacceptable to chat up a woman. This info is clearly not ingrained in some people.

1) Public transport. I've already decided that I won't be meeting my future husband on an underground train/metro/subway/tube...or whatever you call it where you come from. This is the actual antithesis of romantic and anyone who thinks they stand a chance is shooting themselves in the foot. It's obvious that all you're looking for is a quickie in the disabled toilet of a skanky tube station, so GET OUT of my face. Exactly the same with buses or night buses. Tapping someone on the knee to ask if they're day-dreaming (best chat-up line ever?) is a no-go too; and tapping someone on the knee to ask if they're Irish (more about this one later), is at the top of the cringe list.  Do you really think a sweaty metro journey against a graffited door and piss-stained seats is the time or place for idle flirting?! Yea, me neither.

2) In the street. You see it in the movies; two people glancing across at each other on a crowded street and they fall in love. Earth to mankind: this is fiction. So for Pete's sake, don't come up to me and ask if I prefer strawberries or raspberries and then proceed to ask me out for a drink at a smoothie bar. It's not going to happen. And don't you dare randomly get out of your car, only to run after me and tell me you like the spirit of my walk. Spirit? Really? It's not going to get you a coffee date, or a phone number. So 4get about it. And pulling your motorbike up to the curb to try to stroke my face and dribble on me is also out of the question. In case there were any doubts. And for the love of Bob, stop calling me "charmante". It's not going to happen.

3) When you're a waiter in a restaurant. Yes, I'm surprised as much as you are. From asking for my Facebook deets on a receipt, giving me overly-generous discounts, asking me out for salsa dancing, inviting me over for a free glass of Champagne, to following me out of the restaurant to my office...I've had it all.

And I wish I could say that the reason behind all "this" is because I look like a modern day Marilyn. Not quite. The truth of the matter is that I am female, and that seems to be a good enough reason to be bombarded with attention. Although I do seem to have particularly rotten luck with attracting the creeps of this world. So women of this world: when a strange man tries to coax you into a cup of coffee, tells you he can show you what a "real French kiss feels like", or starts silent orgasming in the corner while staring intensely at you… RUN AWAY. 

8 Aug 2013

Le Bal du Moulin Rouge!

As an avid supporter of the 2001 film of the same name starring my Scottish heartthrob Ewan McGregor and Australian beauty Nicole Kidman, it only seemed natural to be drawn to its namesake and take in the glam and glitz such a place has to offer. You got it! It’s off to the cabaret old chum...!

Located in the heart of Montmartre (the red-light district of Paris) amidst sex shops selling erotic memorabilia and raunchy attire, the Moulin Rouge (quite literally, the "red fan") is as spectacular as it is iconic. We arrived, 109€ (each) the poorer to a queue which ran its course down the Boulevard de Clichy, lit up with street lamps and the buzz of a crowd slightly stifled by the overbearing heat.

Once the queue started moving we were up and away and flapping our tickets at the door to suited waiters who scoured the room momentarily, decked with oblong tables of four to eight people. The majority of the seats were on the ground floor but I noticed that a cluster of tables had also been arranged on a balcony above. The ground floor surrounded a huge T shaped stage and there was no set seating per se; it really was all down to the attendants to choose where to place you. 

I had wanted to dress to the nines for the special occasion; each lick of mascara and stroke of eye shadow had been delicately placed with precision. I was wearing a white dress with a bandeau adorned with golden sequins. The night was all about opulence and extravagance and I was going to be part of it. I was only lacking in long silk gloves and a feather in my hair.

The waiter smiled at me and my suitor and I gleamed back at him with a needy elegance, as if to ask with the bat of an eyelash to be placed in the most superior of seats. He swung us past various different tables, some empty, some full, before arriving at a half-empty table at the front of the stage. He called me Madame and pulled back my chair. We'd done it! We'd been seated like royals, with a view matched by none.  It wasn't long before our Champagne arrived and the cool liquid was bubbling through my veins. Bliss.

The music started and the singers appeared with beads and faux diamonds hanging vivaciously over their slender frames. Each one of them a vision. The costumes were spell-binding; the lavishness, the colours, the feathers and the eccentricity. Each song or dance showcased a new magical ensemble as the troupe of the world's finest dancers performed in bewitching unison against the exotic backdrop. Their bodies moved like sculptures, chiselled and refined by the hands of an esteemed artist. From birds of paradise to peacocks, the dancers flaunted their costumes in glorious array, much to the excitement of the audience.

Perhaps the biggest highlights of the show were the acrobatic acts in the interludes. The sheer physical strength of the dancers was one thing, but the danger they placed themselves in was what made it even more provoking.  The ability to balance their bodies on each other in such a manner that one slight twitch could prove to be fatal meant it was both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. The control and skill possessed by these select performers was inspiring to say the least. We also witnessed a woman diving into a pool of snakes and watched in horror as she coiled the snakes around her body as she danced amongst them. 

I couldn't say that I was aware of a narrative in the cabaret, but the show was not void of humour or character (the ponies being a definite favourite!) My one criticism would be the slightly 'cheesy' French songs and the fact that the singers were miming to a soundtrack which was noticeable given that we were touching distance from the stage.  The proximity was fabulous though: the tiniest mole, scar or wink between the dancers didn't go unnoticed. 

One thing which the Moulin Rouge was not was vulgar. Yes, breasts were sometimes on display, but a naked form in itself is not vulgar. It's how you choose to present it. This was art, not profanity.

Next stop (hopefully!): the Paris Opera!

6 Aug 2013

A Phoney's Survival Guide to Dating

Him or the idea of him?

Whenever I fancied someone in the past and had my heart torn in two, I tormented myself with the following question: Do I really like a) him or b) the idea of him? Both can result in tears of frustration; the former results in genuine tears because you are pining after a man who can't be yours/ broke your heart/ doesn't know how ardently you adore him, while the latter tears are because you loved the fact that you had a shoulder to cry on, someone to hang out with when you had nothing better to do, someone to tell you you're beautiful even when you look like you've been pulled through a bush backwards...and now this has been shattered. You're so desperate to be in a relationship that you find yourself loving the idea of the happy couple more than loving your significant other. Essentially, you might have loved the way he made you feel, but you didn't actually love him.
Some women have a habit of falling for people who are just no good for them; too old, too young, too much of a bachelor, too noncommittal, too arse-hole-ish, too wannabe John Mayer or Tiger Woods. I know full well when he's all wrong for me, when I'm treading in deep waters, when I'm only throwing myself into a messy war of runny noses and hysterical comments like "I just feel so empty". You ask yourself how he ever managed to imprison and capture you in what can only be described as a vicious circle of mental turmoil. Him wanting you is the best feeling in the world but sometimes you ask yourself what it is or was about him that made you fall so hard.  Do you love him or the idea of him?

I'm reminded of one of my favourite novels: The Great Gatsby.  If you've only ever seen the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I urge you to go pick F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece off the bookshelf this second. The question we forever ask ourselves throughout the novel (fuelled by narrator Nick Carraway) is the following: does Gatsby actually love Daisy, or does he merely want to recapture the idea of himself which went into loving Daisy? There's no denying (in my opinion) that he did truly love Daisy at one point or another, but over time this love turned into nothing more than a concept.

Are you falling for someone for what they represent rather than for who they are? Do you love their soul (as cliched as it sounds) or merely the fact that they fulfill a part of your life which needs fulfilling?

The time-bomb of ticking boxes

It's funny - I've been on dates where guys have asked me what I look for in a man. The awkward question which results in you lying slyly because a) you don't want to hurt his feelings by describing the polar opposite of him, and b) you don't want to accidentally describe him in case he thinks you're making a move on him. I usually say something along the line of "great sense of humour", "confident but not too full of himself", "down to earth"...I try to steer away from describing looks because while a certain appearance may appeal to me more than others, I'd much rather fall for a man in his entirety than only because he had piercing blue eyes, blonde curls and a strong jaw. I personally wouldn't want to be with someone who was that picky because it's a far cry from the "down to earth" nature which so appeals to me. I'd only be a hypocrite.

And as the subheading suggests, ticking boxes really grates on me. I know we can all dream up our perfect guy - how he'd look, his personality, his talents, his hobbies - and of course I'm not denying that certain traits may be important, if not intrinsic for a happy relationship, but that doesn't automatically mean that a man who ticks all the right boxes is going to be right for you, nor does it mean that you'll fall in love with him.

And searching for the ticking-all-the-right-boxes sorta fella may take forever. In fact, maybe the guy doesn't even exist. So quit worrying about how he's brunette rather than blond, 5'11" instead of 6'2" or doesn't have a stomach so chiseled that he could make chocolate bars melt on it. You can't pull up a list of pros and cons for someone - they're not objects. I mean, imagine a world where human beings were rated, just like products on Amazon. In fact, don't!

Call to Action

So stop your wasting time in a relationship where you feel miserable or serial dating losers who only want to pop your cherry.  And for Pete's sake: Don't date someone just because they're nice and possess all the qualities of a perfect boyfriend. His "perfection" will only end up getting on your nerves. If you can't find someone right for you right now, enjoy being single and relish your ability to be a little bit selfish. I know I am.
"You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love... I love... I love you." (Darcy, Pride and Prejudice). Now that, ladies, is true love.
So there you have it. A phoney's survival guide to dating. Or maybe, a phoney's survival guide to singledom?