One Traveling Man’s Weak-Dollar Dating Survival Kit
Speaker's Corner: With superior dentistry and monolingual charm, you too can pick up women overseas. Rolf Potts gets all Maxim magazine.
02.13.09 | 10:09 AM ET
Travel to distant cities has always carried a whiff of romance for American men. Separated from the dull restrictions and routines and workaday life, we can embrace the spontaneity of each moment, express ourselves more passionately, and (let’s face it) hook up with the kind of women who’d never go for us back home.
Though at a certain level we’ve been able to woo these exotic beauties through our distinctively American charms (optimism and good humor, superior dentistry and an endearing inability to grasp the local language), paying our way in dollars certainly hasn’t hurt our romantic odds. Until now.
Indeed, with the euro and the pound pounding the greenback, traveling with a full wallet just isn’t as sexy as it used to be. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean we have to condemn our romantic ambitions to the corner pub back home. With a little bit of local knowledge and romantic savvy, it’s still possible to woo women within most any urban economy.
This in mind, here’s some weak-dollar romantic advice for American men in four great world cities:
Why it’s a good city for meeting women: The most beautiful homely women in the world live here.
Put your average Parisienne in a police lineup, dressed in a ball cap and sweatpants, and you wouldn’t find her all that remarkable. Perch her atop a bicycle in a sundress along Boulevard St. Germain on a warm spring day, however, and you’ll swear she’s a knockout. Poise and attitude count extra in Paris, and French women carry themselves through the world with a rapturous sense of confidence.
Cultural catch-phrase to keep in mind: Cinq a sept.
Literally “five to seven,” this refers to the time of day when married French people can rendezvous with their lovers and blame it on “extra work” at the office. What this means is that you’re not just competing against the cÃ(c)libataires in Paris—you’re also competing with married guys for the attentions of local women. In short, everyone is fair game in a town where even elderly men and women check each other out on the street—and if you aren’t being romantically bold in Paris, you won’t be keeping up.
Tip to remember: You can’t really win, so just be your cowboy self.
If Gallic attitude makes French women more beautiful, be warned that it also makes them more difficult. Even if you’ve been practicing your French verbs since the 8th grade, odds are a typical Paris femme will find your American accent contemptibly ridiculous. Moreover, you may be a whiz behind the mesquite grill back home, but you still don’t cook as well as her little brother—and even your clever references to Baudrillard and Foucault will only merit a dismissive wave of her hand. Leave the Parisian affectations to the moody French man-waifs who live there, and just be your beefy, boorish American self. The French delight in simulacra, so the right amount of drawled English, baseball talk and firearms knowledge should be enough to make a Paris lass swoon (or at least slum it with you for a night or two—if only to confirm her prejudices about how rough and unsophisticated you are).
Rio de Janeiro
Why it’s a good city for meeting women: Rio is where Sao Paolo women go on holiday.
Brazil’s iconic beach-lined cityscape might have a reputation for beautiful bodies in teeny bikinis, but the Rio girls aren’t the real attraction here. To be sure, Cariocas are every bit as stunning in their “dental floss” as you might imagine, but the real catch along the shores of Rio are the cosmopolitan lovelies visiting on holiday from Sao Paulo, Brazil’s booming commerce capital (less than an hour away by plane). Not only are Paulistas every bit as attractive as their Carioca counterparts—they also speak great English and have interests that go beyond the beach.
Cultural catch-phrase to keep in mind: Ficar.
Body language is a manifestation of culture anywhere in the world, but nowhere is personal space less of an inhibiting factor than in Brazil. Americans might consider it shockingly forward to lean in for a kiss 10 minutes after meeting a woman in a nightclub, but in Rio it’s simply the polite thing to do (she knows you want to kiss her, and she wouldn’t still be talking to you if she didn’t want to kiss you back). Ficar literally means “to stay,” but its meaning is more like “to play”—casually making-out because, let’s be honest here, it beats the hell out of idle chit-chat in a noisy nightclub. Keep in mind that a quick ficar session doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting to second base any sooner than back home; it’s just a legitimate and enjoyable way to pass time on a warm Rio evening.
Tip to remember: Don’t try to pick up Brazilian girls on the beach.
A walk along the sands of Ipanema might rekindle your worshipful reverence for the female form, but that doesn’t mean you should swagger up to random sunbather vixens and ask them if they’re Capricorn or Sagittarius. In Rio, the beach is sacred territory, and trying to pick up a sun-worshipping hottie is as intrusive (and ineffective) as attempting to woo women in the middle of a church service. Save the beach for recreation, and take your romantic ambitions to the budding nightlife district of Lapa near the city center. Here, the bars and nightclubs spill out onto the streets, infusing the whole neighborhood with an ebullient block-party vibe.