A blond sorority girl bagging European guys on her vacation - like shooting fish in a barrel, right?
Not so, according to Katherine Chloé Cahoon, a Vanderbilt University grad whose new book The Single Girl's Guide to Dating European Men makes it sound like rocket science.
The 24-year-old spent her university summers in Europe picking up elaborate man-hunting tricks. A sampling: "Use Getting Lost to Your Advantage," "Catch Up on Current Events" (reading newspapers counts) and "Pause When Ordering a Drink" - European men love hesitation and paying for drinks, apparently. The book ends with a handy chart for long-distance dialling.
The author has also crafted eight over-the-top instructional videos - these have gone viral on YouTube. There's How to Meet Euro Men at the Running of the Bulls (think see-through white pants and red scarves honouring the bull-dodgers' heritage); Oktoberfest...a Manfest for Single Girls! and How to Meet European Men at a Dance Club. Here, Ms. Cahoon demonstrates her signature hair flip: European men love a face full of hair, really.
Bloggers are delighting in the videos, which feature Ms. Cahoon dressed in Vanderbilt-ready pea coats and kilts. As the hunks press up against her in various scenarios, her delivery ranges from wooden to school-girl giggly.
The Globe and Mail talks to Ms. Cahoon about becoming a "foreign-man magnet," going viral and whether she's for real.
So did you see a lot of action during those summers in Europe?
I had a fabulous time. I met lots of European men. I learned so much about the culture. Honestly, I tell people that it's best to meet the natives. A lot of travellers will stick with people from home but you're never really going to learn about the country unless you branch out.
Was it about culture or having sex?
I honestly did not go there with the goal of dating European men. I really just saw what worked naturally and what didn't, and that's where the tips came from.
Which Europeans do you prefer?
That is so hard. How in the world am I supposed to narrow it down? The Swiss men - for loyalty, they're excellent. The Spaniards - you just can't get more fun guys. They have all-night festivals; they're very welcoming to single girls. The Polish men are extremely polite. The Portuguese men are also very polite.
Who's the best in bed?
Oh my gosh! I think some things should be left a mystery.
How are they different from American guys?
I would say the key difference is they are friendlier faster, especially those from the southern European countries.
What's your best tip?
For me, the going-out-alone one is something that I was really surprised to find works. You can't always go out with a friend. It's a little daunting until you realize it's safe to go out during the day. European men, as soon as they see that you're alone, they will come up to you and make sure that everything's all right and see if you need anything. If you can just get over that hurdle, it's wonderful.
What's with the hair flip?
I had a friend who was the hair-flip connoisseur. When she would do it, guys would just flock around her. It was like Cupid's arrow, it was so strong. But you don't want to overdo it. The first time I tried to do it, I got a cramp in my neck. If you're walking around uncomfortably, it defeats the purpose of the hair flip.
Tell me about the persona in the videos. Is that you?
That was completely meant to be over the top, like Sex and the City, with all the clothing changes, the stilettos, the posing, the model walk. I don't know that it looks like model walking because I've never been down the runway. The guys and I had so much fun making the videos - we would egg each other on. There is actual information in the videos though.
Bloggers can't tell if you're real or if it's all a hoax.
It was all meant to be fun teasers for the book. The guys [in the videos]were asking me, 'Are these people asking if we're real? The question is, are they real?'
The website Gawker called you 'the world's craziest dating expert.' What do you make of that?
I thought it was kind of funny because we thought everyone would know we were being over the top. It was a surprise.
What about the criticism that Americans are loud, drunk, obnoxious and generally clueless when they land in Europe?
It's true, and in my book I say top it off at tipsy because the Europeans, they don't want you going around drunk, breaking things. It's unfortunate but a few bad examples can give people a bad name. Stop when you're tipsy and then they'll know that you're respecting their culture.
Some have gone so far as to say you've put women back a few years.
I wrote this book so that girls can go to Europe. It's, like, empowering to women. They can do whatever they want. Some girls are just there for a week and they want to have the sampler package. Other girls want to find their European husband. My book is for all types of girls to complete their goals.
This interview has been condensed and edited.