Soy una mujer del Nuevo Mundo [a little tri-lingualism in my Berlin blog just for you, R]. I expect energy, interaction, and, most importantly, initiative. In short, I expect a spark. And that means I'm not interested in E-mailing for weeks until you make up your mind to meet me, I won't want to join your instant messenging list before you've even asked me out, and I expect you (if I could be so crude) to put out when I want you to put out. That means I do not expect to wait until the stars are in proper alignment, the Pope has sent his personal benediction, your ex will not be dropping in for the next five hundred days, or your mother is in the air on her way to Mallorca and can't check in on you every five minutes.
The other week I was at the Arsenal, Berlin's archival film theater. I'd recently mused it hardly seems right that in over 25 years of rabid film-going, I'd never once met anyone at a screening. It's not that moviegoers are uninteresting, of course (and I'm talking here about us addicts who nearly always go to films alone). No, it's just that we're a terribly solitary lot and would scarcely dream of talking to each other. Currently, the Arsenal is presenting various film series, apparently with sponsorship, as the last two times I've been there, wine and pretzels have appeared afterward. This last time, determined to take matters into my own hands, I looked the crowd over, and spotted a solitary man with very nice El Greco hands. He must have seen me scoping him out, but, being German, he would never dream of approaching me. In the interest of social research, I did it myself. He was quite flustered (admittedly I had to use English since my ability to flirt in German [if it's even possible to flirt in German] is non-existent as of yet). After some fairly awkward exchanges, I did obtain his Email address, but he never responded to me. And this after I sent him a photo of a 500-year-old painting of his very own hands. ... Sniff.
So I've had countless (well, the number hasn't reached infinity but I certainly have lost count) dates with Spaniards, admittedly limited dates with Germans, and thankfully brief encounters with the completely icky Frenchman in Berlin, drawn-out dead-ends with both an Italian and a Venezuelan in Madrid, two horrifying one-night stands in Spain along with two little-better-than-one-night stands about which I'm still deciding whether to be horrified about or not, and various disappointing dalliances with immigrants (including some Americans) in both countries. I find most Spanish and German men hopelessly passive: the Spanish ones seem lazy and spoiled and the German ones withdrawn and poorly socialized. And of course I launched this blog in the first place by explaining what happens to immigrants here.
My ex, who spent three years in Norway, always used to describe people going to bars and drinking themselves into a near-stupor as a sort of obligatory foreplay. One of the Spanish little-better-than-one-night-stands described virtually the same scenario: a man goes to a bar or club, chooses a woman and buys her 6 or 8 drinks, at which point she (and perhaps he as well) is magically freed of her Catholic upbringing and groping can begin in earnest, with the inevitable conclusion. In contrast, I'll never forget the Ex-Berliner's great Dr. Dot column that appeared just a few months after I moved here. Dr. Dot opined that German men are so cheap that they would rather just wank off before going out so that they don't have to spend any money on a date. Maybe here it's the woman who's in charge of getting the man sufficiently lubricated; I simply could not say. Other than the French (whose appreciation of sex is nicely documented), I do wonder at times if single Europeans have sex more than once or twice a year.
I'm honestly not sure what the solution is but I'm determined not to admit defeat. If I've learned anything at all from all this (and surely I must have learned something), it's that if the spark is there, it's there right from the beginning. One can see it often from the minute one looks into a man's eyes, but certainly within the hour or two it takes for a first date. From now on, no spark, and I walk. Hasta la vista. Auf wiedersehen. See you later. Oder besser nicht!