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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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. Umbrella Warrior Princess

For those of you who haven’t heard, the eastern coast of the U.S. was recently bombarded by Hurricane Irene.  The reason I bring this up is because the torrential rains have forced us to break out our wellies and umbrellas.  From my experiences in Paris, I’ve found that the umbrella can be an essential man-shopping tool for avid man-shoppers of all levels.  Think of it this way: The umbrella is a fashion accessory AND a weapon.

When I say “umbrella”, I am not referring to those dinky foldable umbrellas that slide into a lady’s handbag.  I am referring to a proper brolly with a hooked wooden handle and a large enough wingspan to encompass both a lady and all her handbags underneath in order to protect them from the elements.  In my humble opinion, this is the only kind of umbrella worth owning.

Moving on, let’s discuss how an umbrella can enhance your man-shopping experience in Paris and elsewhere.

The umbrella as a fashion accessory

  • A lady can strike quite a debonair pose while leaning on a full-sized umbrella.  I’d like to think that a worthy man would be attracted to a lady in a trench who carries a striking cane-like accessory.
  • From a practical point of view, I find it much more difficult to lose or mislay an umbrella if I can hook it on my arm or lean upon it whilst in conversation with and perhaps getting distracted by potential suitors.
  • For those blustery rainy days, maintaining dignity is difficult if one is constantly wrestling with an uncooperative foldable umbrella that turns inside-out and breaks at the slightest gust.  Without one’s dignity intact, there’s no decent man-shopping to be done, I assure you.

The umbrella as a weapon

  • In Paris, the men can be (physically) aggressive ass-wipes.  In the states, you may get cat calls and appreciative under-the-breath comments, but in Paris, you will need to beat these idiots off with a stick — namely, your umbrella stick.  With a large umbrella, a lady can do some effective damage to an unwanted suitor, should she need to make her lack of interest clearer when he attempts to grab her in the street.
  • If a lady sees a worthy man-target in her midst, but her path across the room is blocked by passers-by and less desirable suitors, she can more easily part the crowd by rapping people in the shins with her handy cane-like umbrella.
  • If a lady needs to run away from unwanted attention on a rainy day and is faced with a narrow parisian sidewalk filled with clueless people, she can easily hog the sidewalk to make a quick getaway, as other pedestrians with less hearty umbrellas would easily be intimidated and back away from the superior rain accessory in order to avoid injury.

In conclusion…

I highly recommend big umbrellas to supplement your daily man-shopping operations.

They.

Are.

AWESOME.

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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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