Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One For The Boys

I’m going to try to do two posts this week because we are going to Bilbao, Spain for the next seven days and I don’t know if we are going to have reliable internet.  Plus, I might just be too busy eating tapas and enjoying the sunshine to write in the blog!  (Is that how you say it?  Write IN the blog?  Or, is it write ON the blog, or FOR the blog?  Which one?  I have no idea.)

Seems like I’m guilty of skewing all of my blog entries towards women and what we find interesting.  That’s only natural I suppose, because, having no penis myself, I tend to write from a feminine perspective.  This time I’m going to try to make it a little more interesting for all of those MALE Trailing Spouses out there, of which there are many.  Hi, Guys!

Also, I have another reason for writing one about the guys.  Lots of my single friends and ALL of Charming Daughter’s friends want to know about Swiss men in general and, specifically, how to find one.  Ahem.

APPEARANCE/ATTIRE:  This one is easier for European and UK men to adapt to than it is for American men.  Guys on this side of the Atlantic are ALREADY skinny, wear bowling shoes and are comfortable with taking public transportation.  You poor saps to the west of Iceland have got a major learning curve to master, however.  Sorry.

North American bodies just do not fit in European clothes.  Mr. Big is not a fat guy, but he has not missed many meal, either, if you get my drift.  He has not purchased one item of casual or dress clothing, or dress shoes, for that matter, over here.  They just don’t fit!  He wears a 36 inch waist.  Now, in the US, that is a very normal size.  Over here, that will be the largest size on the rack, if they have it at all.  Shoes are long enough, but they are all really narrow.  These are PINCHING me, Trailing Spouse!  OK, Mr. Big, there is no need to whine.

Guys, if you normally wear pleated khakis or dress pants, you are out of luck.  It is all flat front, all the time.  Suits have double vents, not single.  And, BTW, Swiss men wear suits a lot.  Here is a handy, dandy list:

1.       Monday through Friday, wear a suit.  No seersucker.  No corduroy.  Linen, OK in summer.
2.       Learn to knot a scarf.
3.       Dress shirts are NEVER button-down, only spread collar permitted.
4.       French cuffs are de rigueur, worn all the time, not only with tuxedos.
5.       Black, grey, taupe, brown, navy—all OK.  Plaid, no.  Madras, no.  Crazy golf pants with ships or lobsters embroidered on them?  No, no, no.
6.       Bowling shoes, yes.  Sneakers, no.
7.       Shorts?  You had better be on a bicycle,  playing tennis or swimming.  Otherwise, no.

MAKING FRIENDS:  This is where I feel really sorry for male Trailing Spouses.  All of the Swiss men are at work in their banks counting their francs.  All of the younger, single guys are at school in the University.  I really don’t know what you can do during the day to meet friends unless you hook up with some female Trailing Spouses and join us on our walks and coffee breaks, (and by this I mean short walks and long coffee breaks).  Speaking for myself, if you are near Lausanne, we’d love to have you join our walking group, if you are willing to discuss recipes and gossip about Swiss idiosyncrasies!   If you have kids that you are taking care of then you can meet some Moms and complain about the Swiss school system that sends your precious charges home every day for one and a half hours at lunch time as well as the 13 weeks of school holidays.  You guys really have to expend some effort to make “daytime” friends.  Much more than women do, because we are all organizers at heart.  I feel for you, truly.

Evening rolls around, however, and you should be good to go.  This is when the University boys and the other men who have been trapped in their homes all day come out to play.  (NOTE:  the Swiss idea of “out to play” means between 19:00 and 22:00 hours!)  Make sure you live in a “big” city and you will find an English-speaking pub.  (By big, I mean anything over 30,000 people).  Learn to love soccer/football and pick a favorite team.  Learn to have a love/hate relationship with Swiss beer, (mostly hate, from what I understand), and learn to call your “friends” your “mates”.  Done.  

DRIVING:  I cannot speak for any other European countries, but if you drive a car in Switzerland, you will accrue many speeding tickets from the ubiquitous speed cameras and you will wreck your car while parking.  Just get over it right now.  Mr. Big has amassed 7 speeding tickets and 3 major wrecks and 2 minor wrecks in 13 months.  At first, he was apopleptic.  Now, he is resigned.  Still, it is his number one topic of conversation with ANYONE, natives or visitors alike.  How can a man who managed to drive for 30 years without one single wreck and a handful of speeding tickets fall to such depths?  I don’t know.  I take the bus, fellas.

SPORTS:  If you are moving to Switzerland, learn to ski.  Learn to ride a bike, the kind where you wear a pointy helmet, a lycra outfit and hunch over your handlebars at a 90 degree angle.  Learn to hike up a mountain without having a stroke.  Learn to love soccer and sailing; UNlearn your love for American football and golf.  Mr. Big has even taken up roller-blading.  You heard me.  If you have ever seen anything more ridiculous than a 50 year-old man on roller blades, let me know.  Because I think he is winning that particular title.  Honey, do you want me to buy you some roller blades?  Um, no thanks, Mr. Big.  You look ridiculous.  What?!  I do not!  Um, yes.  You do.  Enough said.


1.        Learn to say “Gruetzi”, (gruuut-zee, emphasis on the gruuut).
2.       Be blonde.  Be skinny.  Have smallish or medium-sized boobs and white teeth.
3.       Do not shout.  Europeans whisper or don’t say anything at all.
4.       Wear big sunglasses.
5.       Finance is sexy.  Whisper sweet nothings in his ear like “I hear the franc and the euro might be in parity by 2012”.
6.       Wear black.
7.       Ski black diamonds.
8.       Learn to live on 1.5 meals a day; one of which will be yogurt and one of which will be salad and fondue.
9.       Eat only meat that originated in Switzerland.
10.   Opt for a skinny wedding band but a fabulous Swiss watch.

Ciao, ciao.  I’m off to Espagne and a week of cheap shopping and great food!

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