Monday, April 30, 2012

Latin Lovers. Fact of Fiction?

I've had a great respect for all things French ever since watching Better Off Dead in the 80's (back when John Cusack only made hilarious/heart warming comedies where he always played the sexy cool underdog and not lamo RomComs). The French exchange student was so cute and sophisticated I just knew they all must be on to something. The fact that the nation is currently led by a tiny man who is not exactly a silver fox who is married to a former super model who not only ruled the runways, but dated Jagger, recorded a kinda cool album of folksie pop music, and was born into an Italian Tire Empire seems like pretty definitive evidence that probably all of the rumors about their talents in the boudior are most likely true. There is seemingly a pretty good reason that they are the nation responsible for the Emanuelle series and French Kissing.

Because of this, when I found myself sharing some cafe con leches with two frenchmen this weekend and the conversation turned to matters of amor I made sure to pay attention. I was especially curious about what they had to say because they were both adorable and charming and in their twenties. Because of this I imagined that they had had a pretty good chance to figure out what was going on around town in terms of sexy stuff.

What they were saying was shocking. They were both in agreement that they had not come across a single person who had a talent for French Kissing or getting busy. Since one was a monsieur and one was a madamoiselle I was getting both the man and the lady perspective. Their complaints included too much biting, make out partners who tried to shove their tongues all the way down their throats, and ones who were way too sloppy. They had similar complaints about other related activities and felt that way too many things were left off the sexual menu.

I was left with so many questions! Do the French really have all these special sexy skills in relation to which all others pale in comparison? If I managed to eventually do any field research (I was cursing myself for letting the 60 year old cabbie slip through my fingers! How was I to know that when Culture Shock Colombia told me that women over 35 got little love in this nation that they were not joking around?), would I even notice what they were talking about as an American? Being almost ten years my junior did the two adorable Frenchmen grow up with so much access to internet porn that their standards had become impossibly high and complicated preferring bedroom activities that I have never even heard about or contemplated as a person on the 30s who had to use the dictionary and my best friend's mom's Cosmos to figure out how things went down?

But most importantly, is it possible that the Latin Lover is some sort of a myth??? Is it no more accurate than the idea that all Asians are math wizards, all Russians are Communist grumps, and all Germans are deeply weird? After all of my travels had I failed to view the stereotype through a critical lens because it just sounded too appealing. Did I have to allow for the possibility that maybe anyone can do the Lambada? Have I been guilty of buying into a cultural stereotype. Are sexy times no sexier in Colombia than say Minnesota or Winnepeg? I don't know! However, when two sexy frenchmen speak up it is hard not to admit to the possibility that where there is smoke there is fire. Have you seen Carla Bruni? She is smoking hot! They know secrets!

Was I picturing this sort of trip to South America?

I don't know. Maybe? (However I would like to take this opportunity to say that while I am all for movies which depict older women getting their groove on or back, I could have been totally OK with not seeing Shirley Valentine's boobs). Who hasn't had at least a few Joan Wilder type fanatasies where you go to a foreign land and meet a either a swarthy man or a Michael Douglas adventurer who sweeps you off your feet? Remember how much better Kathleen Turned looked after she ditched the power suit and bun and found her way to Cartegena with Michael Douglas in search of that stone?  

 It seems that I must admit that there is at least a chance that all of the time I have spent assuming that these guys all had special romance/bedroom skills may have been erroneous.

Even though I had to disagree with a friend who claimed that Jarvier was still super hot while wearing the little dutch boy wig and mass murdering people in No Country For Old Men, I always he assumed that he was crazy sexy in a way that was distinctly Spanish.

What about Menudo? Could they really French Kiss no better than say The Backstreet Boys or In'Sync? The very thought of this possibility totally blows my mind.

Is the fact that Antonio Banderas is married to Melanie Griffith not so strange after all?

When the lights go out is the only difference between being with Diego Luna and being with Ryan Seacress the accent?

But more importantly, where do all the French dudes in Bogota hang out?

Friday, April 20, 2012

They Work Hard For the Money! (So You Better Treat Them Right)

I think that prostitution is probably a very hard way to make a living. I would imagine it is way less Pretty Woman and more really, really difficult work. I am guessing that regardless of where your moral compass lies on the whole selling your body thing, just pretending disgusting men are not disgusting but super hot and sexy must be extremely challenging and exhausting all on its own. I´m pretty sure that the number of dashing  Richard Gere type business men who roll up and want to take you on Rodeo Drive shopping sprees and wine and dine you must be pretty few and far between. I also bet that dudes probably don´t always seek the help of a professional in pursuit of their healthiest sexual impulses. Working girls also must often times wear really uncomfortable clothes and shoes and work late hours. Not to mention the fact that they also live under the constant threat of violence and disease. That´s a lot.

For these reasons alone, I feel that they are some of the very last people that a customer should try to cheat out of any money. They work really, really hard and most often because they don´t have any other choices.

However, even if a person is really cheap (And this is a terrible, low rent thing to be. If I go out to dinner with someone and discover that they are a bad tipper, I never feel the same way about them and if you are over the age of 22 please don´t try to quibble over the bill and pay 5 dollars less because you had one less beer. It´s tacky. Just try to keep up next time.), I would hope that if they were specially trained in international crime fighting and discretion they would realize that if the prostitute they hired the night before is demanding more money and they work for an organization that really, really frowns upon that sort of thing that it is a really good time to put your cheapness aside and PAY HER. Pay her extra. Include a really good tip. Give her your watch. Give her anything she wants so she does not alert the police that someone who has been entrusted with the protection of the leader of the free world is either a despicable cheat/cheapskate or somehow under the impression that the city of Cartagena is home to a great number of volunteer sex workers. (I would hope that in international crime fighting classes you learn that there is no such thing.)Seriously, even if you wake up from a black out if you are a professional secret police man you should be able to think your way out of this one. If not, you are in the WRONG game.

Do I think that all those international crime fighter guys should lose their jobs? Hell, yes. However, I am less concerned with the fact that they decided to pay for sex and more concerned with the fact that they are clearly very, very cheap and very, very stupid. This is a terrible combination. Besides, Obama has enough other problems and always looks in need of a very long nap. He should at least have access to better, more reliable protection givers.

The only possible explanation that I could come up with was that perhaps the international crime fighters in question somehow didn´t know the situation. Perhaps they just thought that they had stumbled upon a collection of extremely young, gorgeous, and sexually adventurous young women. I know it sounds bananas, but I have seen it happen while living in Indonesia. I saw many men who liked to sometimes forget that all of the gorgeous young women falling all over them were on the clock. It was nicer to believe that said gorgeous young women had simply fallen victim to their irresistible charm and overwhelming sexual magnetism. Demi Moore clearly has to keep making those documentaries (And forget about Ashton! He's NOT charming!).Would I fall into the same trap if I took a trip to Imaginationland and found myself surrounded by young men who looked like this and seemingly wanted nothing more than to shower me with lots of flattering attention and display a powerful desire to bed me?

Since I already have no problem with the fact that Ryan Gosling is both a Canadian Mormon and a former Mousekateer who somehow sounds like he was born and bred in Brooklyn no matter what role he plays (Who cares? It always sounds wicked hot!), I would say it´s highly possible.

I would like to add that I am pretty sure that I have been subtly propositioned before while traveling in Bali (which is a hot spot for older ladies looking to pay for the company of young men. They call them Kuta Cowboys.). Yes, it´s time to give myself a great big pat on the back! I knew what they were up to! I did not think that I was just looking irresistibly sexy in my sunhat and flops to a 20 year old Balinese guy! But, before I do I would like to add that it´s pretty hard to loose one´s objectivity when being approached by Kuta Cowboys who are literally 1/5 your size. Look at that dude in the middle! I hope someone gave him a sandwich or some nasi goreng immediately after this photo was taken! 

However, I would also say that the events in Cartegena highlight a much greater problem than simple male self deception. What is up with these international crime fighting classes? Are they missing the part about how to tell the difference between a prostitute and a really, friendly lady? Do they not tell these guys some of the signs to look for? I would like to think that I am pretty OK at being able to tell if someone is in the life or not. So, I would like to lend a hand. I would start by watching some episodes of two of my favorite shows from elementary school:

From what I remember Dee Dee McCall and the two ladycops from Miami were always having to go undercover in outfits like these:

Although perhaps a bit dated, I think the costume choices and situations can still give a viewer a pretty good basic idea of what to look for.

They should also be taught to watch out for both of these two types of shoes:

Lucite Heels

                                                                        White Boots

I am pretty sure that the only three types of people who are  allowed to wear them are strippers, prostitutes, and porn stars.
Other helpful hints include lycra dresses, bunny fur jackets, being called ¨Daddy¨, and scantily clad women you don´t know who are standing on dimly lit streets, but not really going anywhere who ask if you would like a ¨date¨. You can totally learn all of these things from Miami Vice and Hunter. If you feel that these are not enough you could move onto the HBO documentaries ¨Life on the Point¨ and ¨Downtown Girls¨. As an educator I see a problem with a lack of meaningful content being provided; The International Crime Fighting Institute should really consider adding these programs to the curriculum.

They could also learn a thing or two from Hilary Clinton. She was able to avoid dabbling in any morally questionable activities and get her party on with just a few brews and some good tunes. I knew I liked her. See? You don´t have to take your clothes off to have a good time!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen Spoil the Soup

Why didn't I ever learn how to cook? I am not really sure. It's certainly ironic since I really love eating. It might be related to this time I remember watching my mother cook a big meal for my father and his friends sometime around kindergarten. I remember they all sat around eating and laughing and having a good time while my mother wore an apron and cooked and and served all of the food and waited to see if they needed anything else. Even at five I guess it didn't look my kind of party. I remember thinking that if I didn't learn how to cook, I wouldn't have to do that.

When I left home at 18, I figured I would eventually learn how to cook out of necessity if not desire. I greatly underestimated my ability to eat peanut butter and jelly and pasta with Ragu sauce for weeks and weeks at a time. The only thing I ever learned how to make was sandwiches. I do make pretty good sandwiches, but I am pretty sure that doesn't count as cooking.

I am so untalented in the kitchen that usually my mother gets too upset watching me try to cut or slice anything. Therefore, when she has parties at the house she usually politely asks me to stop trying to touch the food and go and pour wine for the guests instead. I pour wine pretty well.

I realize that given this set of circumstances it may seem strange that I decided to take a cooking class. I did not sign up for the class out of a burning desire to learn how to prepare a traditional Colombian dish. I was more interested in taking a break from my steady diet of TV. I really do love TV, madly and deeply, but even I have my limits. I also figured I should try to avoid becoming a complete and total weirdo which was in danger of happening if I watched even one more subtitled episode of CSI Miami, New York, or Las Vegas.

So I went to this nice lady's house and she tried to teach me how to make Sancocho, a type of Colombian Soup. Unfortunately, my teacher, Elsa, and her husband, Hernan, could speak no English (except for the word "chicken"). Therefore, we had to rely on my 8th grade Spanish which I am sure was a special kind of torture for both of them. We learned some basic things about each other, but a lot of our conversations ended with one or both of us shaking our heads in total confusion.

Elsa showed me the ingredients (chicken, beans, plantains, corn, and potatoes)and tried to give me some basic tasks to aid in the soup making. At first I thought my lack of culinary skills would not be a problem. I was totally able to open the pea pod and let the peas fall into the bowl. However, that was pretty much the last task I could complete with any real competency.

I thought that getting the corn off the cob would be no problem. I watched Elsa do it at a rapid pace and the bowl began to fill up with perfect little kernels. However, when I tried they did not look like perfect little kernels. They looked like I had removed them with my teeth and spit them into the bowl a chewed up mess.

We then moved on to the potatoes. I watched Elsa peel the potatoes  with a large knife. The peel came off in a single,perfect ribbon. When it was my turn, I was very concerned. I had never attempted to peel a potato without a potato peeler. The giant knife looked way out of my league and I figured that accidentally lopping off a finger would put a damper on my cooking lesson.

I heard Elsa and Hernan do a little snickering and I saw them shake their heads. I wasn't offended. A grown up should be able to figure out how to peel a potato with a knife. I will readily admit that I could not figure out how to do this. I did figure out how to remove the skin but it required that I place the potatoes on the table and cut it off in chunks leaving the potatoes pretty hard to identify.

I think when Elsa realized what a menace I was in the kitchen she somehow signaled her husband to show me his wood shop where he carved frames and altars by hand for churches around Bogota. It was a pretty extensive tour which I think was meant to keep me away from the food because when it was finished so was the soup.

However, since I had not really done all that much to help make it besides deform a few potatoes and shuck a few peas, it felt less like a cooking class and more like I had just paid two nice old people to have lunch with me.

They were pretty sweet so that didn't bother me at all. However, I might have to accept that, much to my mother's chagrin, I will just never learn how to cook.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm Trying To Stay Hip In Colombian, Homies

As many of you already know, I am having a devil of a time finding amigos in Bogota. I have sent out countless emails to friends of friends of friends (who I suppose are actually strangers) and have yet to convince anyone they might like to get a cup of coffee with me. I get the feeling that most of the people I have met at work think I'm some kind of a hippie, but not in a good way. Bizarely, I had an easier time finding friends in Borneo, the same island where I guess some people like to do this:     

However, I have not totally given up hope (even though the rocking chair that came with my apartment does seem like possibly a very bad omen, I might have to contact the fortune teller I visited in Chelsea before I left NYC to see if there have been any changes in my Tarot Cards). I am not totally convinced that I came to Bogota to be a single, sober, homebody who spends a great deal of time wondering if it's time to make the jump and adopt that first cat. It just seems as if that would be a little too ironic, even for me.

In the past I have learned that for those of us who remain single out social lives don't change all that much. I don't know what people in serious relationships do for sure, but I have heard tails of tasteful soirees and nights in. From what I gather they rarely find themselves at slightly scary gay bars on Christopher Street. Sometimes I get invited to nights out with couples and figure I should accept said invitations in order to satisfy my curiosity.

Often times these nights will include going to a tasteful place which has either candles or muted lighting like this:

I feel like I should warn the other single ladies out there that at times curiosity really does kill the cat. Although going to an establishment where Budweiser or PBR is not the biggest seller will feel like a nice change of pace at first, you will probably find yourself wedged into a dimly lit booth flanked by one or more couple. They will begin using strange and unfamiliar terms and acronyms. After a longish period of time you will learn that these strange and unfamiliar terms and acronyms relate to things like mortgages and professions you know nothing about. You will begin to feel like a little kid who has accidentally made their way to the grown up table. They will sometimes ask you to share your latest "hilarious" romantic debacle and they will chuckle. They will follow this by either sharing an inspirational story about either a friend of a friend who "never gave up hope" and recently married their internet boyfriend or a less fortunate friend of a friend who has decided to artificially inseminate herself. The conversation will then turn to either fertility treatments or plans for the next couples vacation. At this point you will probably start to feel like this girl (not the one on the left):

In order to combat these feeling after a few hours you will probably try to contact one of your few remaining single friends or try to remember if this is the night that your old roommate works the door at the hipper bar down the street. You will try to go to the louder, younger bar where at least you might be entertained by watching a Hassidic guy who has ten kids at home somehow manage to pick up the 22 year old hipster wearing some sort of jumpsuit from American Apparel, or catch some metal band's last set.

Because at the end of the day hanging out at tasteful, candlelit wine bars with people who are very much in love is  perhaps more age appropriate, but not all that much fun (at least not all of the time). I often times find myself at some places that are younger and louder where people are less likely to suggest that I start to consider buying a stranger's sperm off of the Internet. As a result I still sometimes wear vans and tend to use a little bit of slang that I might be almost too old to be comfortably using. I have to try to blend in without coming off like this guy:

Therefore, I have been trying to prepare for finding some amigos here in Bogota. I figure when I finally find some hip, new friends I should have a few cool, local slang words to throw around to really wow them with. Since I hear they speak a lot of Spanish here I started doing some research on the internets. Hopefully, the website I found is pretty up to date or else I might sound like this guy I worked with in Japan long ago who was constantly quoting In Living Color from almost ten years before when it wasn't really cool anymore. This would probably not do much to help my hunt for a few good amigos (mediocre would also be OK). Here's what I've got so far.


Since this word means nerd in English I am hoping that even with my embarrassingly limited linguistic talents I should be able to lock this one down.


Although I don't really have any personal problems with saucepans the fact that the word also can be used to mean bad luck, or not good, is fine by me. Probably because I don't think I have ever tried to use a saucepan (since you don't use them to cook up PP&Js


In addition to the STD this can also be used to describe something evil or loathsome. Even though I am not totally sure what the symptoms are, I have never really heard anything good about Gonorrea so this sounds about right.


This is the word for fried pork rinds, which are delicious. The fact that they are so delicious makes it hard for me to understand why it is also used to refer to a problem or something to deal with. This sounds pretty negative for such a tasty treat.


While I might not totally agree with the use of Chicharron, I can totally get behind the use of chimba, although I seem to remember about this only being used this way in Medellin. Out of respect for my nana, I will define it as the word in English that begins with a P that we use to describe a lady's ladyparts. Now in English we use it to describe a man who acts like the opposite of this guy:

Since this is generally a bad thing, it suggest that we English speakers have pretty negative feelings about ladyparts.  This is not all that surprising when you take a look at what was sold to ladies to improve their ladypart hygiene not all that long ago to:

As a lady this is kinda a bummer (especially the Lysol part) and something I try not to get behind by trying to substitute the P word with another P word, pansy (which is probably not much better) when describing a girly man. In the interest of honesty I will admit that I am not always successful at this.

However, in Colombia when the word chimba is used as an object of comparison it denotes an extreme attraction to something. For example, according to my Colombian slang website, "Eso es una chimba de carro" translates into "That is a cool car". Think of how much more pro-lady we would sound in English if you could say things like "That guy is a real P" and have it mean he's a real cool dude instead of some guy you wish would just man the hell up, or if you could say "How P!" and have it mean "Awesome!". I mean, isn't this why Our Bodies, Ourselves was written in the first place and why Eve Ensler wrote that play?

When you think about it, the only people who really should be using the P word in a negative way is gay men. This is because usually when they get mentioned they involuntarily make a face like this:

They can't help it, it's biological. However, men who claim to be fans should really consider why they also use the same word as one of the most offensive insults for other men.

I would like to share this bit of info with my one of my aunties. I think she will be pleased. Several years ago I was related a story to her about a little family drama in which a man was acting a little less than manly. My brother's response was that the man in question was acting like a great, big V (while it is a more official word, it is still not complementary in the given context). Instead of being offended by my brother's indelicate language, my aunt who is both a Buddhist and a Yogi, was concerned that he sounded as if he had some negative feelings about Vs. I think she will be happy to know that there is at least one place where  a similar word can also be used to refer to a bitchin' ride or a hot lady.

So now that I can cooly talk about nerds, loathsome things, bad things and things that are wicked cool, all I need is a few homies to appropriately appreciate my command of the local lexicon.