Date: Sun, 7 May 95 18:47:55 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: International Seduction
Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Todd Kover <kovert@cs.UMD.EDU>
Forwarded-by: mpanti <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: Paul Darwen <email@example.com>
In France and Italy, people seduce each other.
In Brazil, they don't have seduction, they just have sex, and are laid back
about it in a way many uptight Englanders might find loose-moraled.
In Sweden, they don't have seduction either. Any sex that may occur usually
happens during a discussion on Third World debt, or the ozone layer, or
something equally mind-broadening. Any attempt to seduce a Swede will
result in a patronising lecture on safe sex.
In Singapore, they don't have seduction either. Ordinary people live in
towering government-built apartment blocks, most of which have a social
committee which receives funding from Singapore's government to throw
parties to get the socially inept technocrats to socialise and marry and
have children to make more Chinese than Malays and Indians (who have a
higher birth rate). For the same reason, the National University of
Singapore's Engineering faculty is built next to the Accounting department,
so the male engineers meet the female accountants, get married, and have
South of Harlem and north of downtown Manhattan, and either side of midtown,
is where the rich whites live, and where half the people are too busy to
even think about something as frivolous as romance, while the other half
are too busy seeing their shrinks because they can't find romance. Anyone
they do meet faces a barrage of questions about their career paths, medical
insurance plans, and past drug and divorce offenses.
People who live in Connecticut and upstate New York, who commute to
Manhattan every day (so-called "mainline snobs" because they never use the
subway) seduce each other on the train home, where they scope each other
out on the train for a few days, then strike up a conversation a couple of
minutes before one of them gets off (so that if the other person is an
asshole, the conversation will shortly end anyway) and arrange a lunch date
back in Manhattan. This ensures that rich professional mainline snobs mix
with other rich professionals.
Near (but not in) Washington D.C., in the neighbouring suburbs in Maryland
and across the river in Virginia, the first thing single people talk about
having met an attractive potential partner is politics. Tax-and-spend
liberals won't go out with Dickensian conservatives, gun nuts won't touch
screaming heart civil libertarians, lobbiests for oil companies won't date
lobbiests for clean air, and all the fine shades of political opinion are
more important than opinions about anything else, physical attractiveness,
intellectual prowess, and personality.
In Germany, people can talk about their emotions up-front and realistically.
SCENE: Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
Helmut: So Hans, how is Helga these days?
Hans: Helga says that unless I stop sleeping around and spend more
time at home, she's going to leave me and contest custody of
Helmut: I think Helga has a point - if you really loved her, you
wouldn't pay for Eva's flat.
Hans: The first few years with Helga were great, but I really don't
love her any more.
People from other cultures find this Teutonic efficiency a little bloodless
and dehumanised, as if they discuss their emotions like they discuss their
shopping list, or desired options in their new Opel.
In most of Australia, people are afraid to say what they think, for fear of
offending someone else and for someone else hurting them. Instead, they
talk about safe trivialities.
SCENE: Kensington, NSW
Warren: So Harry, how is Janet these days?
Harry: She's been very strange lately. [Tense]
Warren: Oh? [Nervous tone of voice]
Warren: [Changing the subject] How's the new Falcon?
Harry: It's alright, but typical Australian-made stuff....
Foreigners are shocked to find that the only way to seduce an Australian is
to pretend to be almost completely disinterested. Any show of romantic
interest will cause the non-risk-taking Australian to go scurrying of to
their friends for security. Any effort to be warm, caring, and supportive
to an Australian woman will cause her to reciprocate only because she thinks
you must be gay, and thus free of emotional risks.
[And how about if you are gay ... and a woman? -psl]
© 1995 Peter Langston