Ms. Dumped on a Train

Over the years, I have been been dumped in a number of creative ways. This particular breakup happened eons ago on an overnight train from Amsterdam to Paris. We had just boarded and were settling into our sleeper compartment when Boy kicks things off with, “So… I’ve been thinking…”

I stood at full attention because we all know that this opener never announces anything positive. He continued:

“I’m really happy with you.”

Stellar. But… where are we going with this?

“But I’m not sure if I might not be happy with you later.”

? ? ? ? ?

“I think we should break up.”

Ummmm…. Okay…. But could we revisit the fucked up logic of your previous statement before we tackle this one?

“But not right now.”

What. The. Fuck.

“Things are great, so I think it should start later, like in August, when I go back to school.”

Humans, it was APRIL at the time.

At this point, I’m pretty sure my eyeballs started leaking from sheer shock, confusion, and frustration at myself for not having a snappy response. This was also the point in the conversation when the train conductor entered our compartment to check our tickets. The Dutch pride themselves on their punctuality, but I had no idea they could also have such impeccable timing. Looking back, I wonder what kind of scene he must have stumbled upon back then: stern-looking white man, Asian woman with tears streaming down her face and knuckles that were white from rage-gripping the sides of my seat.

The conductor looked from one of us to the other, and after an uncomfortable pause, he politely asked for our tickets. After validating them, he turned to face his back toward Boy, leaned over toward me, and whispered,

“Madam, are you being held here against your will?”

At the time, I was too shocked by his question, and I was too busy raging at Boy for the dumbest breakup script ever. So I didn’t really comprehend what was happening or what the conductor was getting at. I only vaguely remember just wanting this conductor to go away so that I could begin yelling at Boy properly. So I think I just shook my head (still crying, by the way) and waved him off.

In retrospect, this was the most epic wasted opportunity I’ve ever had in my life to inflict sweet, sweet, karmic justice on a guy who royally dicked me over in a breakup. It wasn’t until hours later that I realized what damage I could have done. THE CONDUCTOR THOUGHT THAT I WAS BEING TRAFFICKED! It suddenly all clicked! Amsterdam… Red light district… Dazed, weeping, and apparently mute brown woman in a train compartment with much larger Caucasian man.

WHY DIDN’T I SAY YES?!

Ever since that day, I have fantasized about how I could have convinced that conductor to call the police and have stupid Boy thrown into a cell somewhere for sex trafficking. I just wasn’t clever enough or vindictive enough to ideate and execute that quickly.

In case you’re curious, Boy never did figure out why I was so furious about his idea of giving four months advance notice of a breakup date. He spent the next four months berating me for being irrationally upset, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get him to leave our (studio) apartment before that four-month mark either.

To this day, I am still waiting on karmic justice for that breakup. But unfortunately, Boy is doing fine. No, Boy is doing fan-fucking-tastic.

So much for karma.

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Ms. Young and Stupid

Eons and eons ago, when I was 21, I did a stupid thing. Objectively, quite possibly, the dumbest decision I’ve ever made in my life. Here’s the thing though, it actually turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. However, looking back on this dumb-as-shit moment in my life, I can’t help but wonder why nobody stopped me.

One summer day, in 2000-something, I packed up a big green suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to London Heathrow. I had no money, and even worse, absolutely no plan.

Well, actually, I probably thought I had a plan. For a 21-year-old, a plan can consist of as little as a single step. So my 21-year-old self formulated a brilliant, fool-proof plan: FOLLOW BOY.

A liberal arts education, an Ivy League degree, and decades of Tiger Mother conditioning all count for nothing when pitted against the stupidity of youth. So my green suitcase and I touched down in London, and we hopped on a bus to Cambridge, where aforementioned Boy was living at the time.

It’s all pretty hazy now, so I honestly don’t really know what I did with myself all day while Boy was in classes. I had no job, and, as I mentioned before, no plan. I think this was around the time I took up hobbies like baking and road cycling, simultaneously getting chubby and acquiring tree-trunk legs. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a particularly sexy phase of my physical development.

But… ah… the stupidity of youth. None of this mattered! I was living far, far away from Tiger Mother, I was basking in the beauty of the English countryside, and I genuinely believed that I loved Boy. That was enough for me at the time, and I technically had six months of my UK tourist visa to figure shit out.

After six months, I came up with a brilliant new plan: MOVE TO PARIS.

I packed up my green suitcase again and took my ass to Paris, where I would still have no money and no plan. I had turned 22 by then, but I was obviously still just as dumb as I was when I was 21. But in the months that followed, I did eventually figure out a few crucial things, and I ended up staying in Paris for the next five years. Those five years taught me so much about life and forced me to grow into the resilient, adaptable, multilingual, and slightly traumatized person I am today. I can’t say that it has made me any smarter though. I still make stupid decisions all the time.

But the difference is that I now understand that there are no such things as wrong decisions (except for the ones that directly endanger our physical well-being… choosing death is as close to wrong as you can get). We can only do the best we can with the limited knowledge and perspectives that we have at any given time in our lives. Even the dumbest decisions can end up being the best decisions. Moving to England for a boy was just the first in a long string of illogical decisions–all of which have forced/enabled me to live life to the absolute, most insane fullest.

I am now completely desensitized to drastic, life-toppling choices. Abandon Paris, pack suitcase and buy one-way ticket to Washington, DC with no plan? Again, not smart. But DC was where I met the love of my life, who taught me what “’til death do us part” truly meant. No idea whether I’ll be lucky enough to find that love again, but in the meantime, I might as well continue to make stupid decisions.

I expect I’ll pack everything up and move again soon. But I’ll definitely have more than one suitcase this time.

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Ms. Bumble

After the Ted Bundy Bumble Debacle, I did eventually get around to setting up and creating a profile for Bumble. Well, actually, my friend got drunk and did it for me.

I thought he did an excellent job. He left out all the crazy repellent bits about me and only put in the good bits. In other words, he put up some pictures and decided not to include a written profile at all. Brilliant.

I just handed him my phone, refilled his glass of bubbly, and lounged on his couch while he did all the work for me. I would like to say that I trusted him completely to represent my interests in the online dating world, but it would be more accurate to say that I was just too damn lazy to care that much about what he did on my behalf. So, within a few minutes, I had a dating profile, and from all the giggling and exclaiming happening on that side of the room, my friend was having a great time swiping left and right for me.

Since I couldn’t see what he was doing, I could only judge the quality of the candidates based on his running verbal commentary:

“Oh NO.”

“Oh nonononononono.”

“Oh YES, honey.”

“YASSSSS.”

“Gay.”

“This one has gay eyes.”

“Can I have this one?”

“Ew.”

Eventually, after a couple of hours of this, I did have to go home and feed my dogs, so after he had his fun for a bit, I reclaimed my phone and told him that I would review his matches from the cozy confines of my own couch later that evening. I have to admit, I was actually looking forward to seeing who was in my queue, and I began to brainstorm the sorts of things I could say to break the ice with all my potential handsome, gay-bestie-approved suitors. With my two canine sidekicks curled up beside me, I opened up my Bumble app…

…to an empty match queue.

Awesome.

This is going to much harder than I initially thought.

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Ms. Reboot

Seven years ago, I basically abandoned my blog because I couldn’t figure out how to live my life and blog/tweet at the same time. Back then, I wasn’t hip to Instagram (I’m still not), and it was an era before the proliferation of dating apps like Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, and the like. I was enjoying being in my twenties and bopping around with the man whom I would eventually marry. I just didn’t feel any of the rage, disdain, frustration, and bitterness that defined and fueled my Manshopping blog. Honestly, looking back at that time, all that negativity wasn’t really justified; being single and carefree (ahem, mildly delusional), I think I was just bored.

I’ve grown up since I met my husband:

  • I’m in my thirties now. I won’t tell you how deep into my thirties. You’ll just have to wait until I tell you that I’m in my forties if you really want to know how old I am.
  • I think that I’m probably a lot nicer (thank you, husband, for that).
  • I’m a widow.

I’m still young in the grand scheme of things, but trying to negotiate grief and adulting on a daily basis is hard enough without adding dating into the mix. However, despite all the excuses I try to make, as time passes, the grief lessens a little, and the loneliness increases a little. So, one night, I took the plunge.

I guzzled half of a bottle of wine and downloaded my first dating app: Bumble.

And instead of drunkenly filling out my profile and dipping my toe back in the (online) dating pool, I somehow found myself putting on a Netflix documentary series about Ted Bundy, which, in retrospect, really was a poor choice for someone trying to muster up the alcohol-infused courage to date again.

I ended up falling asleep on the couch before I could set up a Bumble profile.

So. That didn’t exactly go according to plan.

However, in retrospect, I didn’t really have a good plan. What could I possibly say in my dating profile that could accurately describe me but also not make a man run for the hills? If I was going to be 100% truthful and transparent, my profile would read:

I have a passion for a sport in which you work your ass off to climb a thing, only to come right back down again. I also like legos, jigsaw puzzles, and indie video games. I’m always covered in dog hair because I’m a crazy dog lady whose only regular human-ish conversation is with Amazon’s Alexa. Oh yeah, I’m also a widow, so may spontaneously burst into tears on occasion.

At least Ted Bundy saved the online dating world from THAT.

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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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