Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Of birds and bees

They say that were it not for alcohol there would be no British people. And I am coming to realise just how ill-prepared my British upbringing has left me for the world of dating outside the UK.

For those of you not in the know, the traditional courting ritual of the British mating pair involves nervously avoiding each other for anything from one week up to six months (in rare cases this phase of the mating cycle may last for years), a wary circling which sooner or later culminates in one frenzied night of passion, largely fuelled by any one or combination of the following:

- Stella tops
- Bombay Sapphire and Tonic
- Snakebite and Black (students only)
- Sainsbury's Valpolicella


After fleeing the scene - normally within twelve hours of copulation, and often in haste leaving behind appendages of varying degrees of essentiality (shoes, bras, contact lenses - known as 'Cinderella syndrome') - Phase Two, or Sub-phase One, 'secondary avoidance', begins. The tension begins to build again, eventually reaching its climax - excuse the terminology - in a second night of liquid-laced activity. At this point, the couple in question is generally no longer able to fend off probing questions from members of their social circle, and - somewhat sheepishly - a relationship begins.

As the relationship progresses, the volume of alcohol required prior to mating may vary in either direct or indirect proportion to its duration.

Typical mating calls of the Anglo-Saxon female may include:
- God, I'm so wasted!

***And they all lived happily ever after***

It has become clear that this method ceases to be effective across the Channel.

Now in Belgium, the avoidance and booze technique is simply getting me nowhere. Ultimately it results in my sitting at home in front of Spooks with a bottle of Cotes de Rhone, inadvertently avoiding more or less everyone.

I wouldn't mind all that much (I'm starting to get into the new series, and 75cl of Carrefour red is an awful lot cheaper than going halves on a candlelit dinner for two), only the effects are starting to show in other areas, namely that I tend to channel pent-up - ahem - physical energy into feverish yet futile mental activity.

I have two degrees, speak Polish and play the organ and can't believe it's taken me this long to work that one out.

So, to save my neighbours from the inevitable insanity that can only come from frequent repetition of pages three and four* of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody on organ setting; to prevent my floor becoming completely lost under a pile of old copies of Polityka and to stop me missing most of Grey's Anatomy by trying to read the Dutch subtitles, I'm enlisting your help. Teach me how to date in Europe! That's all I ask.

In return, I'll avoid you for a month and then come round with a bathtub full of snakebite and black...

*the only two pages that I can play.


Michael Dembinski said...

I just heard an ad for tomorrow's Gazeta Wyborcza, in the Męska Muzyka series. Some Polish writer (didn't catch name) offered this explanation for Why People Write:

To get the girls (or indeed guys).

So, Ms P., don't give up, keep doing what you're doing. You are a wonderful writer, such emotional openness, powers of observation.

The Great Novel beckons.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't drink so the British way of dating doesn't work for me and I don't know anything about dating in Europe so I am completely lost. I am no help to you.

Maybe you should post a thread on, maybe some Polish women might share their ideas.

From what you have said though it seems Polish women are to be avoided altogtether, their competitivness, ambitiousness and single mindness surely spreads to other areas of their lives, like gathering friends that are only of practical use to them etc.?

I didn't think that you were socially inept anyway, you dance, surely this has yielded some results? Maybe you should ask some guys out? Best of luck anyway.

Laura said...

I have no idea about Euro dating - I managed to hunt down a half french bilingual boyf who is sufficiently exotic whilst understanding the mating rituals of our race. He doesn't drink much though. Or eat cheese. Maybe he lied about his ancestry?

You forgot the difficult part of the relationship where the question of "So, are you, like, my boyfriend now or what?" is raised. I once had someone say no and nearly died. I think I replied with "good"

wv = icerb - msybe if I was a Serb I wouldn't have dating issues?

pinolona said...

Sorry, I've edited this: I know tons of awesome Polish women and I was trying too hard to be funny and became distinctly unfunny. Apologies all round.

The bit about British dating still stands though :)

pinolona said...

Michael, thanks for the compliment - I write because I feel like one day I would like to write more but don't have the time or space right now and this is a good way to keep in training. Literally, I write for the sake of writing. Although I'm appreciating - but trying not to use so much - its function as a cyber social support network.

Anon - see above comment about Polish women. It's true though - as far as I can tell - that Polish girls are hassled a lot by their aunts and grandmothers to get married to so and so who is a doctor etc. And that they are streets ahead of us at knowing how to handle guys. Even just being nice to guys. In the UK it's a taboo to be too nice to guys: you're supposed to be a tough nut feminist and the man is always wrong. I think that might be one of the major areas I screw up in actually.

Laura omigod, a French guy who doesn't eat cheese?!

I totally agree with you on the boyfriend/girlfriend bit, that's so funny, I had completely forgotten (which just goes to show how utterly out of touch I am). Averages around the three month mark in my experience :)
To be honest I don't actually want a relationship: 'dating' is code for 'getting laid' except that my parents read this blog.

Actually they probably read the comments too.

Oh well. At least they can rest assured I'm definitely NOT doing it.

Norman said...

"In return, I'll avoid you for a month and then come round with a bathtub full of snakebite and black..."

I don't know, if I want to help You, if what i get in return is one place less to visit in this virtual world...

But I'm not myself, when I'm "not helping" on purpose... If getting laid is all You need, visit this place: - there You will find description of place in a city, where people are doing "this and that" and are doing it fast/slow, cheap/expensive/free-of-charge, and in every direction in every sense. The only place - I think - is better for such stuff is Poland, Kraków, Akademiki AGH - especially free-of-charge part.

Norman said...

P.S. Pino, jako kobieta masz stosunkowo łatwe zadanie. Upewnij się, że facet, którego poznałaś, jest dla Ciebie odpowiedni (na przykład: moralnie - nie ma partnerki, jeśli Ci to przeszkadza) i mu o tym powiedz wprost. Istnieje zawsze szansa, że się zrazi, ale nie chcę tu pisać o statystyce (życiowej?), logice i matematyce. Zapamiętaj tylko powyższą regułę i nie przejmuj się niepowodzeniami. Dla celu, który chcesz osiągnąć, ma to najwyższą skuteczność - w przeciwieństwie do długiego poznawania się oraz odkrywania swoich sekretów, które jest przeze mnie zalecane w długotrwałych związkach (nie popieram ukrywania prawdy przed partnerem :]). Ostatecznie wszystko zależy od kontekstu - nie szukaj w jednym miejscu, ponieważ pojedyncza porażka może mieć wspólne źródło u wszystkich przebywających tam osób (jaskrawy przykład: klub dla impotentów - dowód powyższego twierdzenia)
Twoi rodzice nie rozumieją języka polskiego, prawda? ;]

P.P.S. Powyższe odnosi się do kultury zachodnioeuropejskiej. Mam na myśli dogmaty społeczne, które w Europie Zachodniej, przez Polskę, i kawałek dalej są podobne, choć nie w całej Europie takie same. Chodzi o tak zwane domeny (domains as in spin domains), gdzie ludzie "żyją jakby w innym świecie" (explanation, because this could be importnant in general: there are social domains where people live in different style, with different beliefs, thus rules that apply everywhere aroud, do not apply there).
Czy są jakieś wątpliwości co do mojego tekstu? (If You have any problems understanding my comment, please, tell me and let me clarify - I often make too many mental abbreviations).

Laura said...

To be fair to him... he's more English than French. He does eat cheddar and will consider other hard cheese but he refuses to go near any soft or mouldy cheeses (the best cheeses in my opinion!).

Oh, if you don't want a boyf then I think you're probably going about things the best way... Just cut down on the avoiding time if you can!

pinolona said...

Norman, you know what, I say all these things but actually I'm just bored. It's boredom speaking. Work is going nowhere and I don't have anything really to plan for. Maybe I should join a gym.

Laura: I'm totally shocked. The gungier the better where French cheese is concerned. Have you ever tried Normandy Liverot? Oh my goodness. It smells like the back of your throat when you've had catarrh for a week. Marinated in Calvados of course.

Anonymous said...

0. Zapisz się do jakiegoś koła zainteresowań: Koła miłośników Kanałów, Koła Miłośników Kolejnictwa. Wybierz coś, co jest ciekawe, ale czego jeszcze sama nie znasz. W ten sposób będziesz autentyczna. I nie będziesz się nudzić..
1.Poszukaj kogoś żeby Ci w czymś pomógł. Najprościej - pomógł wyjaśnić nową pasję. Mężczyźni uwielbiają tłumaczyć.. :) Potem zainteresowanie może stawać się bardziej i bardziej osobiste.
2 Bardzo ważne - upewnij się, że obiekt zainteresowań nie jest zajęty.
Powodzenia w łowach! JAcek

Norman said...

Pino, You should read - reading that stuff 24/7 doesn't give You a chance to read everything. At least try it. It's the best time killer I know! :]
And The Knowledge You earn is quite good for You. And interesting - I think. ;]

OR try in aeroclub! Don't You want to fly in a glider? ;]

peixote said...

hehe you said "organ"...

Incidentally, lots of useful technical terms for all us non-native speakers here: "liquid-laced","appendages", "copulation"... my vocabulary expands with your every post...

By the way, can you go Dutch in Belgium? I guess you`d have to go Flemish instead.

pinolona said...

It's true, maybe I should have just said that I play the piano.

'liquid-laced' is not a good term, I made that up. Normally you talk about a 'liquid dinner' (i.e. skipping dinner and just drinking instead), while various foodstuffs and beverages can be 'laced' with anything you like: whisky, vodka, gin, etc.
How did you go to a British international school and not learn the word 'copulation'?!

I don't think that the Flemish are too bothered about distinguishing themselves from the Dutch, they're more concerned about being mixed up with the French...

peixote said...

Oh, I skipped Science and took Art and Languages instead. And they only had copulation at A-levels anyway.

Future Mrs Growbag said...

Hiya - When in Brussels - Head to Celtica or Le Corbeau

I knew I'd find the links for you! Both are good places to meet drunk English (and indeed many, many other nationalities, also drunk) and dance the night away. Happy Hunting :)

Fisz & Czips said...

I've never been in a relationship with a Polish girl, part of me wonders what it would be like. Don't think it's going to happen though, though when I was younger I always thought it would. I'm probably too anglo-saxonised or something.

Relationships (and humans) are so strange when you really think about them anyways. Sometimes I wish I could change into a particle and journey through time and space, observing the world from above. This would be playing in the background:

Back to your scheduled programming...

Mr Growbag said...

"In the UK it's a taboo to be too nice to guys: you're supposed to be a tough nut feminist and the man is always wrong."

Couldn't disagree more. Most guys in the UK would far rather meet a girl who is nice to them than someone who's going to give mixed signals the whole time. The whole hot-cold thing gets tired very quickly.

PS: A Polish ex-colleague of mine who was seemingly quite keen on me used to bring me Polish doughnuts as part of her flirting technique. Whilst I wasn't keen, this was not because of her tasty sour-cherry-filled gifts (not an euphemism) and had I fancied her I'm sure the fact that she kept on bringing me doughnuts would have been a plus rather than a turnoff.

pinolona said...

thanks Pip!! Will find another expat and go for some bar-dancing asap :)

Fisz, humans are quite strange aren't they?

Peixote: most UK schools have covered copulation by GCSE level...

Mr Growbag: that's the point: the upbringing/general peer group of UK girls says we have to be mean to men - at least mine did anyway - whereas in places like Poland there's much more emphasis on being nice and charming. I think this is why cities like Kraków are full of utterly delighted foreign guys with Polish girlfriends/wives.

PS why is everyone still talking about Polish women/men? Please tell me I edited out that bit?! I love Poland, my Polish friends are awesome, I didn't mean it that way!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1, me :-)(see 2nd comment)

I get your point now, you are saying that they have better social skills when it comes to men! :-) They know what to do to capture a good man's heart. Being nice is a good idea alright!!! No need to get rotten drunk afterall. What man can resist a woman being nice to him? Especially in the UK etc. where it is so rare!

Yes you did edit your post.

Norman said...

I'm sorry for this obvious off-topic, but after I followed Fish'n'Chips' URL, i found that he/she/it may ("might"?) like this one:
Have a nice journey! :]
Once again: sorry, I couldn't resist ;]