Ms. Neon Ninja

There is something that you all should know about me: I am a child of the 80s.

Therefore…

I love neon.

I love legwarmers.

(I also love 80s-style film montages set to horrendous/wonderful 80s tunes.  But more on that in a later post perhaps…)

During my expat years in Paris, I couldn’t exactly indulge this side of my personality, since it is harder to get away with being and looking like a complete 80s dork in a culture that has been inculcating their spawn with the hipster-chic aesthetic from the womb long before Williamsburg started doing it.

But now that I am back in America, I am going full-steam ahead with my dorkitude.  I am in my home country now, and I am also old enough to have the confidence and the fuck-it attitude to indulge all my outré tendencies again.

Let’s face it, we all know that the 80s were awesome.  Horrible.  But awesome.  You all secretly love it; don’t you dare try to pretend that you don’t.

Granted, there is a time and a place for 80s dorkitude.  Themed parties, of course.  The privacy of your own home.  And, in my case, my rock climbing life.

I know that some of you ladies, possibly even most of you, view the climbing scene as a great way to meet men.

I will not argue with you.

I am proud to say that I have met some of the best people of my life at the climbing gym, and I say that without any cynicism.  (Yes, long-time readers, believe it.  NO CYNICISM.)

And how did I meet them?

I have my legwarmers to thank for that.

Yes, that’s right, ladies, peacocking works.  Why should that be the exclusive domain of the male members of our species?

Don’t misread me.  I’m not saying that I initially started dorking it up at the gym in order to meet people.  (I actually just like having an outlet for dressing like a 80s weirdo.)  Nor am I saying that you should all start wearing neon legwarmers.

But what I am saying is that wearing something a wee bit noticeable is a good icebreaker and a good way for people, male or female, to strike up random conversations with you without feeling or being creepy.

In my case, I grew to be recognizable “Legwarmers Girl” at the climbing gym, and that’s how I began to make new friends: by chatting about my blatant love of neon and garish legwear.  I also firmly believe that it makes me absolutely non-threatening as potential competition for the ladies at the gym who actually want to attract a mate.  (I do look ridiculously unsexy, trust me.)

www.nataliedee.comWhy would I want to do that, you ask?

Because you don’t want to be “that girl”.  Ultimately, I’d like to think that looking like an idiot makes you the most formidable man-magnet around.  But secretly.  Subversively.  Stealthily.

LIKE A NINJA.

I’m absolute crap at advice, mostly because my own life is a complete shitshow, but allow me to opine for a moment here.

I believe that what you put out there is what you shall receive.

I am neon, inside and out.

And I believe that any potential partner-in-crime would be attracted to me both because of and in spite of my hideous legwarmers.

Therefore I encourage you ladies to express yourself through your clothing choices, exaggeratedly so, if possible.  Really.  It sounds cliché, but I mean it.  It works.  It will bring you good fortune, good friends, and ultimately, potential “special friends”, as my mother says.

It’s a cutthroat meat market out there, and, let’s face it, in this virtual age, in which we are all overwhelmed by choice, it’s all about the marketing — the packaging, if you will.  So get your game on, ladies.  Look good.  FEEL good.

And some saucy lingerie couldn’t hurt either.

You know what to do.

Go forth and man-shop, ladies.

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Ms. Broken…Armed

I have been nursing a broken arm lately, and just because one has a broken arm, it does not mean that one has lost all man-shopping mojo.

It may seem difficult to believe, but I would like to argue that having a broken arm can actually up my man-shopping game:

  • It gives me an excuse to wear everything off the shoulder.  Granted, the injured shoulder, but still.  That’s kind of hot, right?
  • Because a broken arm is painful and more than a bit of a hassle, it’s an excuse not to get dressed most of the time if I can help it.  Lounging around and playing video games clad only in lacy knickers?  What man wouldn’t love that?  Totally sexy.
  • In the event that I were to set my sights on someone with a fetish about women in medical apparatuses, oh man, I would be SO IN THERE.
  • I can BE the damsel in distress instead of PLAYING AT being one.  These are two distinctly different things.  “Could you open this for me?” can be pathetic if I am actually capable of doing it because I’d just playing games and pretending to let the man be the man, but when I’ve shattered my humerus, this request is totally legitimate… and poignant.

Oh yes.  I am so hot right now.

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Ms. Motel Beach Love

When my brazilian friends learned about my blog, they all immediately insisted that I write up the brazilian motel as a man-shopping topic about which my readers should be informed.  At first I was confused.  Motel?  What could possibly be so culturally significant about motels, I thought to myself.

As it turns out, understanding the motel is key.  Ladies and gentlemen, according to what I am told, don’t even thinking about man-shopping or lady-shopping in Brazil without knowing your motel options.

Apparently, everybody lives with their families and/or parental units, including adult singletons.  When privacy is needed for amorous activities, it’s obviously uncomfortable of the couple when families are living on top of each other, so brazilians need a neutral location where they can cavort freely.

Hence… the motel.

They are geared specifically for sex and are not meant to be stand-alone accommodations like hotels.  Rooms are rented only by the hour, and depending on the establishment, customers usually choose from rental options ranging from two-hour to four-hour chunks, although overnight and lunchtime deals including meals can also be found.  You can order room service, you can order whatever you want, apparently.  What really tickled me pink was the fact that, in addition to the minibar, sex toys are made available for purchase, and porn is often provided for free.  How convenient!

In Brazil, everybody uses motels.  They are not roadside lodgings that are found exclusively off desolate stretches of highway, as I, as an American, tend to think of them.  They are a way of life in Brazil.

While there are, of course, seedier love motels, I was also told tales about fancy multi-level love motel rooms, about expansive skylights, plush velvet wonderlands…

Whether you opt for a dilapidated little establishment on the side of the road or whether you decide to splurge for the Disneyland of love motels, there is apparently something for everybody here in this sexually liberated country.

What is this strange world?  A bizarre alternate reality in which puritanical values do not demand that people hide their need and desire for sex?

Oh, this would never happen in America…

Thank you, Marina, Marta, Milena, Camila, Nicole, Wagner, Mario, Elliot, and Gabu for enlightening me about your wondrous country.  Next time I promise to actually visit a love motel instead of just being lame and writing about it months afterward…

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Ms. Drunk at a Club… in Brazil

I know how you all love it when I get drunk at a club.  So this time, I’ve a special treat for you!

I got drunk at a club again…

But this time, the club was in Brazil.  On an island in Angra dos Reis.  On a beach.

I know, it’s a tough life wearing nothing bikinis all day, drinking passionfruit caipirinhas on the water, and writing off lifting coolers full of beer as the only activity that remotely resembles “work”.

But caipirinhas and champagne were likely behind much of the malarkey that transpired during my stay in Brazil.

And that clubbing night, there was some obligatory cachaça, certainly, but there was also a shitfuckton of vodka involved.  Oh lord.

What follows is the chain of events leading up to my arrival at the night club… (the times are approximate, as I am recounting all this after being in quite a state of intoxication)

9 p.m. – The group decides to go clubbing but, on my part, I decide that I was too tuckered to go out and that I should conserve my energy for New Year’s Eve festivities the following evening.

10 p.m. – Even though I’ve no intention to go out with my people, I still pour myself a *stiff* cachaça drink.  Naturally.  As a night cap.

11 p.m. – I pour myself another, possibly stiffer, drink while people make travel arrangements to get to and from the club.

12 a.m. – Third drink.  The ladies are primping.

1 a.m. – Fourth drink.  I decide that going clubbing is now a good decision.  The ladies are still primping.  The gentlemen are still in swim trunks.

1:05 a.m. – Slutty dress is on and some eyeliner is applied.

1:10 a.m. – The gentlemen have swapped swim trunks out for trousers.

1:15 a.m. – Shots.  (Not my idea.  But it was a brilliant one all the same.)

1:30 a.m. – Three sober(ish)  people drive the group to the a neighboring town’s boat docks.

2:00 a.m. – While a designated haggler is tasked to negotiate carriage fees with the boat drivers, the rest of us stand around and drink more vodka. (No open container laws here!)

2:30 a.m. – I discover that getting into and out of a rocking boat whilst wearing sky high heels and a slutty dress, it’s a skill that I’d never needed until that moment.  And considering how drunk I was, it’s a wonder I didn’t just fall into the ocean.  Brazilian women, I tell you, they are warriors.

Here’s the thing, kids.  I am too old to go clubbing.  I really am.  The average age of the revelers that night was 19.  Maximum.  At some point I tripped over a boy and girl sucking each other’s faces off, and when they came up for air, it occurred to me that even if you added up their ages, there was a decent probability that the resulting number would only barely exceed my own age.

But as we all watched the sun rise over the water from our beach club paradise, none of that mattered.

23 mosquito bites later, it was worth it.

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Ms. New Year’s Eve… in Brazil

I spent New Year’s Eve in Angra with friends and neighbors, and I can safely say that it was the best New Year’s Eve bash to which I’ve had the privilege of being invited.

Instead of dropping a truckload of money on a big (crappy) party at a nightclub, we opted to go in with our neighbors at the shared “club” here.

This, my friends, is the way to go.  We all chipped in with homemade food, a DJ was hired, and some protective awning was put up in the event of tropical rain.  We ladies put ourselves to work in the kitchen, while the lads were given a big box of decorations and were charged with decorating the club.  (Surprisingly, this turned out NOT to be a mistake.  I can’t believe it still, since they attempted to use drapes as tablecloths at first, but they made the place look stunning.  I suspect that they may have lassoed one of the female neighbors into supervising the effort.)

I will say this: In this country, they sure know how to party.

They.

Throw.

DOWN.

Everyone dressed in white, convivial atmosphere, lots of food, and a seemingly endless supply of champagne…

Discoveries

  1. It doesn’t matter what color underwear you wear under white; fear of its visibility becomes moot when you jump in the pool.  Or when somebody throws you in.
  2. Regardless of the party, Brazilians will start a conga line.  Count on it.
  3. Barnacles are sharp.  Don’t touch them.

NYE highlights : Man-shopper goes wild

  1. At some juncture, I took off my dress.  I’m not sure when or why exactly I made this decision, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter now, does it?  The point remains, I took off my dress.
  2. I fell off the dock into the ocean.  No, really.  I literally took a long walk off a short pier.
  3. After enough champagne, I’m sure I thought that I was the best dancer in the world, and I’m sure that this was not a pretty sight.  I’m sorry, everyone.
  4. At the end of the night, I passed out, on my back, dressed only in lacy knickers, on top of my covers.  I suppose I should mention that I was sharing the room with three men, who also told me later that I was snoring like a wild beast.
  5. One of my roommates purportedly brought home a girl, next to whom I apparently slept all night, but I was so zonked out that I had absolutely no idea.  She probably didn’t appreciate my snoring.  Or my nakedness, for that matter.

New Year’s Resolution #1: Drink less.

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Mr. Sandwich Artist

Like my friend, Ryan, my favorite food genre is the sandwich.  To me, a deli is a sacred place.  It is a place where a multitude of glorious ingredients come together to form a wondrous harmonious concoction that quickly finds its way into my tummy… and my heart.  When I say, “I love that sandwich so much, I’d marry it,” I actually mean it.  I truly do.

But one day, my faith in the all-healing powers of sandwichery was shaken.

Badly.

I popped into a nearby deli to find some lunch in the form of a pastrami sandwich, and I noticed that the sandwich artist on duty kept shooting me strange looks.  I didn’t think much of it at first, but eventually he broke the silence by asking me a very pointed question.

Sandwich Artist : “How old are you?”

I was so taken aback by his directness that I answered truthfully without thinking.

Sandwich Artist : “Are you married?  Any kids?”

I just shook my head at him; quite frankly, I was in a daze.  I just wasn’t expecting this kind of interrogation, and he caught me completely off guard.

His eyes widened, and he gasped.  Loud enough to be rude, I think.

Sandwich Artist : “OH MY GOODNESS, YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.”

Man-shopper : “Erm.  What?”

Sandwich Artist : “YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME LEFT!  YOU HAVE TO HURRY!”

There were no mirrors at the time to confirm this, but I suspect that the look on my face was some mixture of shock, horror, and complete confusion.  I remember thinking to myself, “What is happening here?  WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

The rest of our (thankfully) brief conversation went something like this:

Man-shopper : “Hurry?  Why?  I’m still so young!”

Sandwich Artist : “No, you’re not.  You’re running out of time.  If you don’t hurry up, you will die alone.”

Man-shopper : “Whoa, hang on.  That’s a bit dramatic.”

Sandwich Artist : “Not really.  Why don’t you want to be married?”

Man-shopper : “Who said I don’t want to be married?  What if I’m just not ready to settle down yet?”

Sandwich Artist : “At your age, if you’re not married, you don’t want to be married, right?”

Man-shopper : “This conversation is over.  Could I pay for my sandwich now please?”

I did not leave him a tip.

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Ms. Fountain of Youth

There are many reasons why pulling at the gym is a risky and ill-advised endeavor.  Included among these reasons is the fact that it’s an environment in which everyone is presumably wearing athletic clothing, the construction standards for which are fairly uniform.  Without the normal cues provided by personal style (e.g. dressing up vs. dressing like a skanky ho) and social context (e.g. being at a wine bar on a Thursday evening vs. being at the Dairy Queen on a Thursday evening), it’s very difficult to get an accurate read on a young to youngish person’s age.

I had never considered this to be a major problem until I started training regularly at a climbing gym just outside of DC.

But before I continue, let me first make one thing very clear.

I don’t go to the gym or undertake athletic activities for the sole purpose of meeting men.  In fact, I would prefer that all romantical expectations to be removed from the equation entirely, especially whilst doing relatively serious things like attempting to cling to a deep overhang with only a rope, a belayer, and a dusting of chalk preventing me from decking 40 feet and breaking my back.

And I would like to think that my fellow climbers have similar mindsets.

However, I didn’t expect that so many youths under the age of 18 frequent my climbing gym.

I’d also forgotten that teenagers are nothing more than heaving bags of hormones.

And it never occurred to me that, when I’m dressed in lycra and leg warmers and when I’ve pulled my hair back into a ponytail, I could possibly look anywhere in between the ages of 15 and 35.

So, one day, much to my dismay, a (very) young-looking man who approached me with an absurdly exaggerated swagger, leered non-menacingly (as only a youth can do) down at me, and opened with:

“Soooooooo….. What grade are you in?”

I was appalled.

I was mortified.

I was speechless.

As I sat there and furiously blinked up at him, another (also quite) young-looking man barged in, ostensibly to my rescue.

“Listen, man, you’re too young for her.  Back off.”

As the young boy (of sixteen-ish? maybe??) slunk away in defeat, I felt relief wash over me about the fact that I would no longer have to respond to the inevitable follow-up question about which local high school (or even middle school??) I attended.

This respite was short-lived, since my knight in shining armor then turned to me in order to say:

“Sooooooo…. Do you go to college around here too?  I’m a sophomore.  What about you?  When do you graduate?”

At this point, I just got up and beat a hasty retreat to the ladies locker room.

I really need to lay off the anti-wrinkle cream.

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Mr. Class Ring

“I’m a woman, Mary.  I can be as contrary as I choose.”

~ Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by the illustrious Maggie Smith

I actually don’t believe in dealbreakers.  This may surprise you, since I can be pretty brutal on this blog, but, let’s face it, in reality, when I truly fancy someone, he can do no wrong.  He could sleep in a bunny suit and worship a clay statue of a muppet as the one true god, and it’s highly likely that I’d find it endearing if I like the guy enough.

What can I say?  I’m a big softy at heart.

However, that being said, if I DON’T fancy the poor hapless thing, there’s no saving him from my ridicule and scorn.

And unfortunately for you unlucky many, whom I don’t fancy in the least, there are is a long list of things that would preclude you from seeing me naked — no matter how much alcohol you pour into me.

This list includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Class ring – This is speaks to a unique form of bro-douchery.  Just… don’t.
  • Puka shell necklace – Do I really need to explain this one?
  • Big diamondy balls of bling in the ears – This is a girl’s domain.  Back the eff off.
  • Longer nails than me – That’s just icky.
  • Higher heels than me – Yes, this has happened to me before.  I’d rather not talk about it.
  • He tells me that I’m fat – You’d be surprised how often this happens.
  • Matching tracksuit – This is doubly repulsive if the tracksuit is white.  (Yes, Joey, I’m talking to YOU.)
  • Gold chain necklaces – I shudder at the thought.
  • Flat-bill baseball caps – I’m a bit of a baseball cap snob.  I once dated a guy just because I liked his perfectly worn, fitted baseball cap.  I never let him take it off.  Ever.
  • The deep V-neck – Call me old-fashioned, but I find it more than a little disconcerting when a man sports more cleavage and a more plunging neckline than myself.  My barely-there-boobies really take it personally.

A significant portion of my dealbreakers consists of items related to man-jewelry.  I can safely say that I am generally opposed to almost all forms of man-jewelry.  Accessorize cautiously, lads.  Very very cautiously.

Merci buckets to Julia, who is the inspiration for this post/rant.  She is a phenomenal lady who manages to bring all the boys to the yard while dressed in a fabulous shiny flame-retardant lizard suit, and I admire her greatly.

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Ms. Queen of the Bumble Bees

Ah…. Halloween.  Up there with Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, in my mind, it vies for the top dog spot as THE quintessential American holiday.

NOBODY does Halloween like America.

I challenge you to provide an example of an equivalent occasion in another country on which you can get oodles of adults together in one place for fancy dress and find essentially ONE HUNDRED PERCENT participation.

France doesn’t “get it”.  And it never will.  The French seem to believe that le Halloween à la américaine means slapping on some fake blood and devil’s horns and saying, “Ils sont fous, les américains” while sipping pretentiously on some wine.

Oh no.  They could never understand the epic scale of our Halloween spirit.  Parisians especially, who appear to have been born without the following characteristics that are essential to celebrating le Halloween à la américaine:

  • the ability to not take themselves seriously
  • the ability to embrace the concept of fancy dress
  • the ability to unabashedly slut it up at the slightest provocation, but particularly for special occasions
  • the ability to search for excuses to drink heavily and do stupid shit under the influence just for the fun of it

It has been eons since I was last able to participate in Halloween festivities on American soil and, I have been super excited to dress up this Halloween and party like there’s no tomorrow while looking silly and possibly a little slutty.

This year, I dressed as a bumble bee.  But not just any bumble bee.  I was the QUEEN bee.  (I accomplished this by slapping a child’s tiara on my head and attaching my otherwise run-of-the-mill fuzzy antennae onto it.)

As for the rest of the costume, picture this:

  • yellow and black striped dress with yellow and black layered tutu
  • yellow glitter wings
  • black stinger
  • black opera gloves
  • yellow evil-queen pop-up collar
  • and the pièce de résistance… yellow and black striped extra fuzzy leg warmers!

Silly?  Check.

Colorful?  Check.

Slutty?  CHECK.

I had an amazing time.  A labyrinthine club packed with enthusiastically costumed party-goers?  HELL YEAH.  Who needs posh masked balls in historic venues when you can get a bunch of people drunk at a nightclub in the Midwest?  Not this bumble bee, I tell you.

And the best part?  Every time I saw another bumble bee costume, I would demand that they pay homage to me, as their queen.

Nobody seemed to complain under the yoke of my absolute rule.

And if that didn’t work, all I’d need to do in order to get my way is draw attention to the lacy tops of my stockings peeking out from under my tutu.

For the record, wearing a flounced tutu skirt definitely fills one with the urge to wiggle one’s booty at the slightest provocation.

And by “at the slightest provocation”, I actually mean “all the time”.

I love Halloween.

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Ms. Reformed Catholic Schoolgirl

I recently wrote a little something for this month’s theme of sex and religion at Metanotherfrog, and since I haven’t been in and out of town lately, I have been lax in talking them up over here at Man-shopping.  Many apologies to Elizabeth Rose, Sam Sharpe and Skye Blue for my absence, and without further ado, I’d like to encourage you, dear readers, to get your butts over to Metanotherfrog to check out their work!

Here’s a little teaser for my guest post for them…

When the lovely folks over at Metanotherfrog asked me to contribute to their discussion about religion, as a former catholic schoolgirl, I was only too happy to oblige.  Since those days, I’ve discarded my plaid skirts, cable-knit knee socks, and saddle shoes.  They may have made a brief reappearance for a few themed parties in college, but it’s been a long time since I was plagued with the catholic guilt and inexplicable reverence for religious rituals that defined my elementary school days.

You can find the rest here.

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