Tag Archives: American adventure

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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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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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. Man-shopper in Boozetown

Part of being an adult is having adult problems and solving them with adult solutions.  In other words, I am here to write about…

… alcohol.

I posit that alcohol is a key component to any man-shopping operation.

I cite the following reasons:

Doing away with inhibitions and sound decision-making is essential to coping with an interlocutor who is unattractive, boring, or generally repulsive in some way.  In the long run, it’s better to be civil, but sobriety makes this very difficult.

  • Sober Man-shopper : Bugger off before I rip your face off and use it as a cape.
  • Drunky Man-shopper : Oh heeeeeeeeey, fancy seeing you here.  How’s it going?  Having a good time?  You like my dress, aw shucks, oh how nice of you to say!

It’s nice to have something to do with your hands.  It’s the difference between descending into irredeemable dorkitude and actually passing for a normal human being who may even appear to have some semblance of man-shopping mojo.

  • Sober Man-shopper : < arms flailing about uncontrollably, sometimes hitting people in the face >
  • Drunky Man-shopper : < clutching glass, sipping demurely, and sometimes peeking over it and pretending to bat eyelashes >

Sometimes we would all like a way to pretend like something never happened.

  • Sober Man-shopper : Oh god.  That guy last night at McDonald’s.  He looked like a troll that was hit by a truck and then backed over by a cement roller.  He smelled like a petting zoo.  I’m not entirely sure he was even simian.  And HE TOUCHED MY ARM.  GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF.
  • Drunky Man-shopper : I don’t remember anything after paying for my chicken nuggets.

Man-shopping is a risky business, and we all know how easy it is to get burned.  And it’s disturbing how easy it is to not just get burned, but to get effing incinerated.  So if you’re anything like me, we don’t like to deal with our shit in a productive kind of way.  Alcohol to the rescue!

  • Sober Man-shopper : Sob. Sob. Sob.  Uncontrollable weeping.  I hate myself, and I would like to die now please.  My heart is exploding.  But I luuuuuuuurve him.  I am a fat cow, no wonder he discarded me like day-old bread.
  • Drunky Man-shopper : I am a goddess, and it’s his loss, dammit.  Leaping lobsters, I look phenomenal in this new lingerie, and he’s NEVER GONNA SEE IT.  Dance it out, girl.  Dance it out to Britney in your bedroom….  < static… >

Alcohol = courage.

  • Sober Man-shopper : < Silent and cowering in the corner of the room >
  • Drunky Man-shopper : Helloooo, sir, you are very handsome.  May I touch your biceps?

Sometimes competition over a coveted male can get a little heated.  Alcohol can sometimes save you heaps of money that would otherwise have been spent on legal representation after getting charged with assault.

  • Sober Man-shopper : That bitch just said WHAT?!  I WILL DESTROY HER.  HE IS MINE.
  • Drunky Man-shopper : Aw, she didn’t mean it.  She’s just jealous of my awesome shoes.  Who is this guy again?  Ooo, is that guacamole I see?  I LOVE PUPPIES!

Alcohol = mad skills.  We all need skills to have an edge over the competition, right?

  • Sober Man-shopper : I can’t dance to save my life.  I also can’t speak any language but English and a smattering of Pig Latin.
  • Drunky Man-shopper : I AM A BALLROOM CHAMPION.  I AM FLUENT IN CROATIAN AND FINNISH.  RAWR, BITCHES!

All that aside, however, as I try to pick my face up off the floor from yesterday’s hangover, perhaps you all should ignore everything that I have to say.

Happy man-shopping.  Don’t forget to hydrate.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This post has been brought to you by The Insomnia Club.  This edition was to take its inspiration from the image above.  Check out what my compatriots have to say on Natalie Dee’s little drawing!

Condoms: Who Likes ‘Em Anyway? - Skye Blue of Met Another Frog

Insomnia Club Strikes Again: Get Your Own Box - Nikki at Women Are From Mars

Sharing is Caring: The Insomnia Club Strikes Again – Simone at Sex, Lies and Dating in the City

We also had an additional topic this month…

Banana Pancakes & Pretend It’s The Weekend ~ Charlotte at My Pixie Blog


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Mr. Rectangles

Long-time readers and twitter friends are well-acquainted with my obsession with man-buttocks (for example, see Mr. Beautiful Bottom).  So it was only a matter of time before I passed judgment on the D.C. derriere.

And that time has come.

The D.C. derriere?

Disappointing.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure that there are some lovely bums in D.C.  But nobody ever gets to see them.

This is due to the fact that (hetero) suiting in our nation’s capital is, in a word, tragic.

Unlike the well-reared parisians to which I refer in my post on Mr. Sexy Suit, the men in D.C. hide their tushies away in a box.

Literally.

The suits here are cut like boxes, so that the men all walk around seemingly unaware that they are bedecked in rectangles.

After five years in Paris, it appears that I have started to embrace european sensibilities about menswear silhouettes.

Where are my delightfully cuppable globes of buttocks?  Nowhere to be seen.  I am drowning in a sea of ill-fitting trousers, badly cut jackets, voluminous and shapeless button-down tent-shirts, baggy jeans, and squashy looking coats.

Dapper fitted coats, where are you?  Trendy tweeds, slick slacks, and fetching footwear, why have you all forsaken me?

In what universe does “aesthetically conservative” mean “frumpy as all get-out”?  In the District of Columbia, ya’ll.  Right here.

Someone throw me a life-preserver!  Save me!  Save me from rectangular bums!

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Mr. Seventy-Two Thousand

I know, I know, “douche” is technically a french word.  I’ll not delve into the origins of the word, nor will I contest its anglophone “urban” connotation.  Long-time readers have surely read about my brushes with parisian douche-toolery, but I hope you didn’t expect my accounts of douchetards would cease now that I’m no longer an expat living amidst Paris’ unique form of douchery.

Au contraire.

Let’s face it.  Douchery is an international phenomenon that is hardly limited by national borders, by urban-rural divides, or by class lines.  Part of the anthropological analysis of any city’s dating scene must therefore include some treatment of The Douche Problem.

Before coming to D.C., I’d heard tales of high levels of douchery in the city, most likely due to the fact that it is, after all, the national capital and, therefore, contains high concentrations of people who live, work, breathe and bleed politics.  I can’t say that this surprised me at all, but I was still in that euphoric honeymoon phase of my relationship with America, and I was reluctant to come to terms with anything that could possibly shake my faith that my interactions with the opposite sex here must, by default, be better than my experiences in Paris.

But, my first night out in D.C., I came face to face with what I now call the D.C. Doucheoisie (shout-out to my buddy, Andrew Stillman, for coining this term).

At the time, my girlfriend and I were out and about in a part of town whose nightlife demographic was well-known for being… young.  Undergraduate and recent-grad age.

< Confession for the sake of context : I am NOT that age.  Not by a long shot. >

While we matronly damsels were awaiting our shining carriage to whisk us homeward, one young lad of such age approached me and stated very matter-of-factly:

“I like your jacket.”

I was not wearing a jacket.

It was the height of summer, and the city was the approximate temperature of some of the deeper bowels of hell.

He then proceeded to ask me to accompany him to his place for drinks and, apparently “a good time”.

There really was no transition between his comment on my non-existent jacket and his transparent proposition.

While I admired his ballsiness, I was very keen on going home to bed (it was far past my bedtime), so I gave him a very simple response:

“No, thank you.  I’m too old for you.”

But he was not to be deterred.

Mr. Seventy-Two Thousand : “No, you’re not!  How old are you?  What, 25 or something?  Listen, I am 23 years old, and I earn $72 000 per year!”

Man-shopper’s brain : “Oh merciful christ, I can’t believe this is happening.”

Man-shopper’s mouth : “Oh, honey, that’s not the issue here.”

Mr. Seventy-Two Thousand : “Well, what else could it possibly be?”

I was gobsmacked.

I walked away at this point, but instead of “Oh, honey, that’s not the issue here,” this is what my response SHOULD have been:

” How much of that seventy-two thousand

are you willing to part with tonight? “

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Ms. Nostalgia

It’s taken a while to settle into my non-expatriate life, and blogging hasn’t been on my list of priorities lately. And, quite frankly, I’ve had a hard time finding my blogging mojo.

Words seemed to flow pretty freely for me on the other side of the Atlantic, and now that I’m back in my own country, I guess I’m eager to start anew, and blogging seems to be something that my subconscious associates with my former life as a foreigner in France.

But for your sakes, dear readers, I am determined to overcome this subconscious block.

So to kickstart my new bloggerific life on this side of the Atlantic, I’ve decided to publish a list of all the things I miss about dating in France — all those elusive, intangible things that I took for granted while I was there.

Ready?

Things I miss about dating in France:

……

………

………… Nothing.

You know that saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side”?

That’s a load of crap.

The grass is greener on THIS side, folks.

Let’s face it. If you’ve been long-time followers of Man-shopping in Paris, you must be convinced as I that there is nowhere to go but onward and upward from there.

Stay tuned. As soon as I get around to changing the above header to “Man-shopping in DC”, mayhem à la man-shoppeuse will continue to grace your internets.

Make no mistake, I am still as bat-crap mad as ever.

But trust me, I’m also still as delightful as ever, and I am ready to rumble.

The poor american lads will have no idea what’s in store for them.

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Ms. FORMER Expat

“Paris is most beautiful when one is about to leave it.”

~ 1945, Robert Brasillach, executed French Nazi collaborator

Yup. that’s right.  Consider this my official internet announcement of my big move.  In 24 hours, this Chickicus Northamericus is going home.

After almost half a decade as an expat American in Paris, I am finally moving on to the next phase of my life.  And I am happy to say that I will be starting completely anew in Washington, D.C.

I still have a few untold stories and musings about man-shopping in Paris to share with you all, so I expect to crank those posts out when I touch down in the States.  But after that, this is blog is going to go all-American.

I suppose that means that I’ll have to change the header of this blog to Man-shopping in D.C….

Paris has taken me on a long, eventful roller coaster ride, with its high points, low points and brain-pulverizing upside-down bits.  There has been much frustration and heartbreak, but there have also been lifelong friendships and beautiful moments that have more than made up for it.

If I can survive these past five years, I can survive anything.  In fact, I will triumph.  D.C., I dare you to stop me.

Stay tuned, dear readers.

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Ms. Mantissa and the Russian Red

After reading the Man-Shopper’s musings on red lipstick, I decided to give Red Hot a try on a night out.  It was something of a last-minute impulse as I was heading out the door, so I unfortunately didn’t have time to change my clothes in accordance with the “Parisian queenbitch-vixen” look.  In fact, I was probably pretty far from the parisienne as depicted in her Ms. Russian Red post.  Imagine:

  • No swooshed fringe.  Probably some flyaways.
  • No cigarette.
  • By-no-means-skinny jeans (blue, not black)
  • Legs with flesh on them
  • Fitted black top (if I’ve got shape, why hide it behind a shapeless tunic?).
  • Rockin’ brown heels.

However, I did have the following:

  • Non-smiling red pucker
  • No cleavage showing

Did I have the right attitude?

  • I’m not half-starved.
  • I wasn’t wearing a kick-ass matching lingerie set.  I don’t even own one.  In fact, I think I was in desperate need of doing laundry and was on my last pair of knickers (and no, I won’t tell you what pattern is on them).
  • But hey — I still OWN the sidewalk.

Regardless, the Man-Shopper’s theory is that the red lipstick defines the queenbitch-vixen image, thus mesmerizing the men and empowering the pouter.  If this theory is true, it shouldn’t matter what the rest of me looks like–the color of my lips should bamboozle the senses and render men powerless against me!

So what happened after walking into the club with the reddest lips in town?  Firstly, I had to wait in line to get to the actual dancing.  Behind men.  Who turned around and saw me and were in no way hypnotized by my crimson kisser.  I was willing to attribute this to the dim lighting of the foyer, which made all colors indistinguishable.

Once we were on the dance floor, I made absolutely sure not to smile in order to maximize the effect of the pouty red lip, eliciting multiple comments from my friends about my serious dancing face.  But in the interests of science, I merely shrugged and tried to channel my inner Parisian vixen.

As the night progressed, some of my girlfriends began pairing off with strange men.  They did not have red lipstick.  No man so much as looked twice at me or my lips.  One guy did invade my dance space a couple times, but that could have been because he was too busy making out with some blonde chick to pay attention to where he was dancing.

At this point, my friends abandoned their new men-friends, and we removed ourselves to the rooftop bar to rest and cool down.  I was starting to get very frustrated.  Why wasn’t the red lip working?  Had the Man-Shopper failed me?

But wait!  Were those three men sneaking glances at us?  Lo and behold, one of them sidled on over to us!

Unfortunately, he was drunker than pink elephants on parade.  The conversation started something like this:

Him : “D’you wanna hear a story?”

Friends : <shrug>

Me : “That depends.  Is it a good story?”

Him : Silence.  “I dunno.  It’s all, well….subjective.”

Me : “If you don’t think it’s a good story, how are we supposed to think it’s a good story?”

Him : “It’s, uh, subjective.  Y’know, an opinion.”

I was about to add that I was asking for his opinion on his story, but he interrupted and began telling the story anyway.  He had just gotten a new bike with the clip-in pedals and was biking down U Street when all of a sudden, he had to stop at an intersection.  So he braked, and since his feet were clipped in to his pedals, he fell over.  And of course it was necessary to mime this fall as a cheap way of initiating physical contact with my (non-lipsticked) friend.

That was it.  It was not a good story.  AND, he showed no sign of being bedazzled by the red lip.  Neither did his friends when they sauntered over.  They were much more interested in the lovely ladies next to me, who at least had the good manners to put on fake smiles.  If I wasn’t shooting full-fledged glares, there were certainly some withering looks sent their way.  Thankfully, we left pretty soon after that encounter, and I was able nurse my erstwhile red lips’ wounded pride at home, curled up in bed with my hot water bottle.

So the final score for the night:

Red lipstick: 0 men

No lipstick: ≥ 4 men

What does that say about the power of red lipstick?  There are a number of possible conclusions:

  1. The Man-Shopper’s red lipstick theory is false, and you need the rest of the Parisian bitch-vixen look for red lipstick to be effective.
  2. Red lipstick only enchants Parisian men and not American men.
  3. These men are outliers.  Not enough data.
  4. There is something wrong with me.  I am repulsive to all men.
  5. Some option not yet considered.

Given these options, I’m inclined to go with option 3.  If anyone else has any red lipstick data — in Paris or otherwise — I urge you to share your results.  In the meantime, I fully intend to do more research.

Reporting from the American East Coast,

Ms. Mantissa

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