August 04, 2013

Source: Marco Walker

Dear Gato,

The silly season is over and the dog days are about to set in. Come stai?

I”€™m writing from the Tuscan hill country, where I fled after the São Paulo trip ended with a prolonged visit to the police station, where Luis RR”€”AKA “€œThe Wizard”€”€”had taken me before I caught a plane home. RR is hooked up with the Brazilian law-enforcement community on the ground and at the highest level. He told me he was going to run for sheriff a few years back and pulled out only because of the pay grade. Now he’s a digital military tycoon in the making. Information is the biggest game in town, and he’s in on it. From submarines to Apache helicopters, the dude has reach. It’s a pity he didn”€™t show up two hours earlier that Friday night. His cop buddy”€”who, because of the pay grade, works extra shifts as private security”€”would have taken care of the situation. I was wrong to assume that in Brazil, the rule of law comes for free; it doesn”€™t. As Luis said in passing, “€œWe are a violent people.”€

He did me right. I got to see the new Brazil in action. A stunning, willowy blonde, looking like Gisele Bundchen and wearing a loose Brigitte Bardot sweater, was manning the reception desk at a station in the Jardims neighborhood, and I told Luis I”€™d never seen a police-person look like that before. He winked at me and said, “€œDon”€™t be fooled. She’s tough.”€ It turns out she was an undercover officer. I met the station chief and he told me how a similar thing had happened to him in Miami two weeks ago.

What can you do? You check your moral standpoint at the door as soon as you enter an establishment such as Manuel’s. Even a police chief has no choice but to concede to a steroidal doorman when presented with a trumped-up bill in another country. He and his officers chuckled at the absurdity of life, and I chuckled with them. The Brazilians wear their violence as lightly as their charm.

Now my hand is mending, and I”€™m back by The Honey’s side. I”€™m lying in a hammock with the Chromebook, looking at rows of olive trees and vines. I”€™m recovering from a party where I had the fortune to meet two girls from New Zealand known as Bad Barbie and Worse Barbie. I was fascinated. I don”€™t know their personal biographies, but I know the type. A woman in her mid-thirties”€”beautiful, intelligent, and determinedly single.

“€œThe Brazilians wear their violence as lightly as their charm.”€

She’s a woman in control, meaning she’s not single because of a lack of offers. And there’s no reason a woman should not be single, though it’s clear that a femme fatale lurks deep in the psyche of this Bad Barbie. She’s the kind of girl you wouldn”€™t leave alone with your boyfriend. She might eat him for breakfast, only then to toss him away. A naughty twinkle in her eye, she will somehow catch you staring at her and shrug you off even if you were looking at a painting behind her. The Bad Barbie stereotype is a woman who disdains the committed boyfriend type and prefers to maintain a relationship only with a married man.

Curiously, Worse Barbie is her first cousin. Superficially less extravagant, she is more dangerous than her loose-cannon namesake. Bad Barbie loves a good time as much as she loves a good man she can turn bad. A Worse Barbie, however, is more rare. Worse Barbie operates in the shadow of a Bad Barbie, with whom she is on good terms. Often Bad and Worse Barbie types are sisters; they might be best friends. They are in competition in one sense, but in another sense they are partners: If Bad goes one step too far, Worse goes one step further. And Worse could not have been prompted to do so had her rival Bad not gone there first. It’s a powerful combination, and woe to the man who allows emotions to enter into his dalliance with such ladies.

The Barbies reverse the stereotype of man as hunter and woman as prey. Not for them, a life of female captivity. And if a Bad or Worse Barbie takes things a step too far, whatever it may be”€”from borrowing a husband to clinching two men in one night for sport”€”the conservative peer group will naturally react. “€œYou can”€™t do that,”€ her lesser girlfriends will say in unison. “€œHe just got engaged!”€

To which Bad Barbie will reply: “€œIt’s not my problem. It’s his.”€

If Worse Barbie is confronted over breaking off an engagement because of the opportunity cost that accompanies a marriage, she will not apologize. Her concern will be whether or not she has won the day. “€œSo what?”€ she will ask. “€œI got the proposal and I kept the ring.”€

The Bad Barbie is the female equivalent of the toxic bachelor. Being a woman, however, she works through softness as opposed to aggression, seduction as opposed to conquest.

The man who comes between Bad and Worse Barbie will have to be brave and sure of himself. If both Barbies stake a claim upon his head, he will be the beneficiary.

“€œI”€™m not complaining,”€ said one such man who found himself in this position. Bad Barbie had warned him in advance with faux concern that there is a Worse Barbie: “€œShe’s certifiably mad. It’s only fair that you know.”€


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