After having my mind blown by Bertolucci’s “Last tango in Paris”, my first thoughts went to my amazing Western lovers and to how movie-like our relationships have been. It sounds a bit farfetched to make generalizations based on such few cases. But maybe I can extend my sample by also considering my most favorite men, who are directors or writers or just some of their characters.
I’ve always found Eastern Europeans to be a bit on the dark side. They have this obscurity that somehow makes you feel like you could never penetrate to a level where they would lose the grip. There is something about them that is never satisfied. Like they could always get better, but they’re not even bothering to look. I do believe that all of this brings along a lot of frustration. Of the Eastern Europeans I got to know better in time, I find Serbians to be the most shady. I think they pair a nice imagination with some serious case of always feeling wronged. Hungarians are still a mystery to me, they do have a potential for romanticism, but maybe they’re too well programmed to roam free. Bulgarians are nice guys, but you can never be sure they’re not being sarcastic. I don’t think it’s a national trait, but maybe a case of Romanians being lost in translation. The latter speak a really weird kind of romance. Because they’ve always experienced it second-hand. That kind of traditional courtship inherited through the ages is almost gone. The one where you would dance with the girl on Sunday and then try to get her alone when she’s out working or whistling over her fence and then eventually stealing her in order to oblige her parents to give you their blessings. Romanians have borrowed bits and pieces from Italian or French and now American fashions of the times and forgot how to pursue women in their own way. The most obvious example is the toxic bachelor syndrome, where men figured after a certain age there is a flip in power and now they can sleep around and convince women it's all right for them to do so because they call it open relationships and everybody does them nowadays. However, I believe women much rather adopted platform high heels than fancy-named polygamy.
What I’ve always loved about the French, for example, is that openness to however sophisticated or absurd approaches to courtship. That ability to see women as means and not ends, to not think about whether tomorrow they may still belong to them. And that gives them a freedom that Easterners’ fear or ridicule would never allow them to experience. The freedom not to think twice before they speak and not to have to hide behind words. And the ability to be there and not somewhere else when they’re with a woman and treat her like she’s the only one left on Earth. When I talk about darkness I don’t refer to mystery. I refer to being impermeable to intimacy and in that sense the more you go East, the thicker the barrier gets.
Latinos are not big on intimacy either, but that fire that everyone talks about, it’s there all right. These guys know what they want and they take it. And they hold on to it. Not by always fearing it’s going away and bitching about it, like Eastern Europeans do. But by being a bit overly possessive and mostly by being insatiable lovers. They are maybe not the most fancy guys you can find, but I believe they know how to enjoy the really good stuff. The sun, the sand, the food, the wine and especially the women. Uncomplicated lovers, I believe they make it to our hearts easily because of that warmth they effuse. But what I like the most about them is that they can really fight. Not just stand there and look angry, not just offend you and walk away. They argue the way they love, spending a lot of energy and burning all of the tension then and there.
It’s a pretty sensible subject and I’m sure anyone could disagree with my experience. It’s always been a bit wrong to put people of a certain nationality in the same box based on traits we consider to be inherent to their ethnicity. But I believe some of the cultural heritage does express itself in our everyday lives, and why not in our relationships.