Cuban men put the art back in flirting


Kayla Friedrich

“Do you want a novio Cubano?”

“You have beautiful eyes,” says a young Antonio Banderas, cutting in front of my friend in the middle of the street. Her face lights up and she beams, although it’s the third time that day a hunky Cuban has nearly stepped on her to admire those blue orbs. They always do the same thing: sing praises to her eyes, quirk their lips up ever so slightly on one side and then slowly back away, while holding her gaze long enough to ensure that her biological clock has stopped ticking and started blaring an alarm.

There is something very nice to be said about Cuba, and it’s not about the quality life, the tastiness of the food or even the beauty of the tropical island. Although the last part is definitely true, there are more than just turquoise waters and white sands to take in as sights. As odd as it may seem, this little Caribbean treasure is teeming with eye candy for the ladies.

At the risk of pushing against the lines of the gender box and finding myself in the realm of salaciousness, I’m going to share a little secret with the American women, understanding if I were a man writing about Cuban chicks like this I’d find a mailbox full of letters addressed to Lecherous Pig, a bag of fresh dog poo and possibly a burning bra.

From my perspective, describing the Cubano picante population in lurid detail is actually a service.

Most of my trip was spent with the same one or two friends. Now I like to put us in the “not scary” class of American beauty standards if not – dare I? – cute. The other two are better looking than I am and that’s alright with me, an acceptance made easier by the fact I have a husband of 20 years. But literally from the moment my friends and I stepped onto the streets of Cuba (school trip, all legit!) we were treated like friggin’ Goddesses.

AMERICAN WOMEN, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! CUBAN MEN LOVE ALL WOMEN! Fat ones, thin ones, small ones, tall ones, in the dark and in the park– Dr. Seuss could have written a 20-page book in rhyme about the varied ways Cuban men could and would love women if it wouldn’t have ended up more fitting as a back-page Maxim article.

I know what’s going through the women’s minds right now. They are thinking it’s not that great to be hit on by third world men who probably rarely shower and have no access to dental care, and that they would rather chance it at the local bar with guys who don’t know their limit before Beer Goggle syndrome sets in.

But there must be something special in Cuba water, because not only is there an absurdly large population of good-looking, clean Cubanos with 32 teeth, most have muscular chests threatening to rip through their shirts and enough hair gel to make Freddie Prinze Jr. jealous. Even one of the men in my group commented on how many “hot dudes” there were–and I think it says something when a straight guy with his girlfriend makes that observation.

And it’s not just their physiques that rise into the steaming range; although one can question whether they are sincere (I must disclose I have never pursued a relationship with a hot Cuban man), no one can question their methods as anything less than aggressively fascinating.

It’s in the eyes – if they appreciate what they see, and they usually do, they stare as though you were the first woman they’ve ever seen. Like a Goddess. Like they had been dreaming of you and you stepped from the ethereal and onto the sidewalk. Unlike in America, where the men look at you like a beefsteak they think they may want to sauce, Cuban men hold your gaze until you feel like you can’t hold back. They’re good, and they know they’re good.

Let me assure my more timid female readers before they scratch Cuba off their vacation list with a bright red pen: Ladies, we have a choice. Yes, it’s avant-garde and sometimes in your face, but you can choose not to respond.

In America, guys wolf-whistle. In Cuba it’s more of a cat-call (literally so; they make the same noise my husband does when coaxing our fat cat over to the couch – a “psssspsssspssss!”). Generally it’s quiet, unassuming, and completely ignorable if you’re just not up to having a caveman conversation where his best articulation is “Your eyes are beautiful” and yours is “Where is the bathroom?”

But this is the real beauty of the situation. In Cuba, it is completely unlike in the United States, where, should you be hassled by unwanted attention, the calls tend to turn into slurs real fast. You can go from “princess” to “bitch” if you don’t engage.

Instead, if a man wants a lady’s attention in Cuba, he waits until she walks past him and quietly, just for her (and her companions) to hear, he offers a “psssspsssspssss.” He’s not trying to impress his friends with bravado – he’s giving an invitation and the woman has a choice. However, like friending on Facebook, I think there are only two choices – “accept” or “not now” – and the invitation will be extended again the next time she passes him.

If a girl chooses to not respond, there’s the end of it. Honest. But if a girl wants to check out her admirer, she’d best be prepared for deep, melted-chocolate eyes and a smile that says much more than American wolf-calls ever will. Consider yourself warned.

A few other warnings: Know that marriage is not always considered a barrier between you and Cuban men. You may hear “pssspsssspssss” so much that a morning when you are hit on only four times is considered slow. And if you are looking for someone who views you as his one and only, I strongly suggest a different country to visit.

This last part became very clear to me when my friend and I were taking a horse and buggy tour of the Malecon. After 10 minutes of grilling my younger friend if she wanted a Cuban boyfriend – I have to give credit to his patience during her monotone succession of “no’s” – the good looking driver became frustrated, quiet. Suddenly he turned to me.

“Do you want a novio Cubano?”

I laughed, pleased to be included in the surreal moment and not at all upset I was second choice, and said I was married.

“I see. But do you want a novio Cubano?”

OK, I never said a girl would find her True Love there, only that she would begin to know what it’s like to be valued, not condemned, for having three dimensions to her body.

Perhaps soon the embargo will be lifted and unrestricted travel between Cuba and the United States will explode the singles’ scene. When that happens, I hope every jaded female will do their self-confidences a favor by taking $1000 of mad-money and turning it into Oh-My-God money on a brief trip to the island.

I want American women to know how it feels to be admired regardless of what size, shape, color, or form they are. In Cuba there aren’t any “not good enough” or “not pretty enough” women and certainly none with “too much junk in the trunk” (they do like the booty!).

Outside of our Barbie-Doll world is another one that admires all women, just on the virtue of being the sexy, magnificent creatures they are.

Go to Cuba. Shake that thing. Ditch the diet pills, bring the tube top. Wear those yoga pants with impunity – they’ll love it.