The bestselling author of Honeymoon with My Brother hits the road again to learn about love and finally finds it closer to home
When you've been jilted at the altar and forced to take your pre-paid honeymoon with your brother, it's fair to say you could learn a thing or two about love. And that's what Franz Wisner sets out to do—traveling the globe with a mission: to discover the planet's most important love lessons and see if they can rescue him from the ruins of his own love life. Even after months on the road, he's still not sure he's found the secret. But a disastrous date with a Los Angeles actress and single mom keeps popping into Franz's head. While researching ideal love, could he have missed a bigger truth: that something unplanned and implausible could actually make him happy?
Uproarious, tender, and studded with eye-opening insights on love, How the World Makes Love is the story of one average man's search for happiness—a search that turns into an improbable love story in the author's own backyard.
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About the Author
FRANZ WISNER got dumped at the altar and turned the experience into a career. Wisner has written for a variety of publications, including The Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Connecticut.
Franz Wisner is a writer/vagabond who, in a previous reincarnation, used to work as a lobbyist, a public relations executive, and a government press secretary. During his world journeys, he published numerous travel articles and opinion pieces, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, ABC News on-line, and Coast Magazine, among others. He is the author of the book Honeymoon with My Brother and How the World Makes Love.
Read an Excerpt
How the World Makes Love
... And What It Taught a Jilted Groom
By Franz Wisner
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Franz Wisner
All rights reserved.
The Professional Dumpee
Only in America can a person get dumped at the altar and turn it into a career.
I discovered this verity thanks to Jennifer Wilbanks, the wild-eyed Georgia bride-to-be who chose to put a twist on traditional prewedding festivities by shunning a simple rehearsal dinner in favor of a faked abduction and a cross-country road trip. The arctic-footed fiancée was picked up by New Mexico police after a nationwide manhunt and countless television stories featuring Runaway Bride's Julia Roberts on a galloping horse. I was one of millions of Americans mumbling to Jennifer's fiancé, "You lucky SOB."
Then the phone started to ring.
We want you on our morning show to speak on behalf of jilted grooms, the television schedulers begged. Can you be in New York City tomorrow?
"Franz," said one earnest producer. "You don't understand. You're the world's number-one authority on getting dumped."
My parents must be so proud. Four years of Tufts University, tutors and science kits and that thirty-volume set of encyclopedias my father lugged home — all so I could comment on failed engagements.
But so it was. The producer's words confirmed my fate. I had become a professional dumpee.
You see, several years prior, my fiancée had fled as well. She decided to do so just days before our large wedding at the remote coastal community of Sea Ranch, California. With guests en route and the wine on location, I decided to go ahead and enjoy all the festivities of the weekend, pretending, with zero success, to forget about the whole bride part.
Of the 150 people invited, 75 showed up — my entire side of the aisle. We had the golf tournament on Friday, the rehearsal dinner on Saturday, and even a mock wedding ceremony on Sunday, complete with a seaweed-clad friend who filled in for my absentee bride.
And you know what? It felt all right, even meaningful at times. Okay, for the other twenty-three hours and fifty-seven minutes it felt like somebody took a battering ram to my stomach and unleashed a martini hangover typhoon in my brain. I was humiliated and miserable and shocked enough to know the feelings had yet to fully sink in.
The meaningful part was having everyone who meant something to me in the same place for a long weekend. I realized then how few times we gather our entire group of friends and family in one setting — twice, in fact: your wedding and your funeral. And it's tough to enjoy the latter. Sure, we speak of their importance in monotone: "My friends mean everything to me." Really? Do we really feel their depth or embrace their warmth until we need them? That weekend, I needed them. My brother, Kurt, two years my junior, led the festivities. He jumped on the first plane from Seattle to California after I gave him the news.
When my fiancée dumped me, I pledged to marry my job, to become the workaholic's workaholic. Then, shortly after the nonwedding wedding, they demoted me. The two loves of my life, gone.
So I opted for the rational course — take Kurt with me on my prepaid honeymoon to Costa Rica. I told him about it the night before.
"C'mon," I said. "We're going on a honeymoon."
"With whom?" he replied.
"I have first-class plane tickets. I have honeymoon suites. I have champagne."
"Whoa, whoa. I love you, man. And I really want to help you out. But honeymoon suites have one bed. And it's usually heart-shaped. And I'm sorry you got dumped and all, but there ain't no way I'm going to spend two weeks in a heart-shaped bed with you in Costa Rica."
After I assured him I'd sleep on the floor, Kurt and I took off. He was a year out of a divorce. He hated his job. So there we were, two brothers, both dumped, both in dead-end jobs, on my honeymoon in the tropics.
Now, honeymoons are a big deal in Costa Rica. Those hotel managers have their places spiffed up and flower-laden, eager to hand room keys and PRIVACY PLEASE signs to happy couples for a week of tropical bliss. One owner took pains to meet us curbside.
"Meeester and ... Meeester Wisner?" he said with a scrunched face.
"You're not half as surprised as I am," I said.
That lump of gray matter I used to call my head continued to swirl with guilt and regret and embarrassment and a gnawing question of whether she'd cheated on me. Aha! The other man grew in stature and riches each day. He must be a model. A Hilton heir. A tango expert with an American Express Black Card. I'll kill him.
I hurt. I was in a deep, dark hole, gasping for air, praying only to stop the fall, far from the day when I could even envision pulling up to level ground. Snap out of it, I scolded myself before realizing nobody snaps out of pain. Instead, I struggled with equally devastating forces — attempting to figure out where our relationship went astray and realizing I'd never be able to do anything about it.
Meanwhile, Kurt and I did something we hadn't done in years — we talked. It wasn't as if there had been a big issue that separated us. It was simply that we'd drifted apart, like so many brothers and sisters in our society. We went to different colleges, moved to separate towns to begin careers, began love lives, and shoved our relationship to the bottom of the priority list. I believed the occasional phone calls and tidbits passed from Mom were enough. I was wrong.
I discovered this in Costa Rica, somewhere between the Arenal volcano and Tamarindo sunsets. Maybe it was better to take a honeymoon with a brother I barely knew than with a woman who obviously didn't love me the way I loved her. I wanted the conversations to continue, wanted to learn more about Kurt. I also longed for a change of scenery to clear my head and thought the road may be a potential healer. So after two weeks of brotherly bonding, I suggested to Kurt we lengthen the trip.
"Great idea," he said. "There's a golf course nearby. We could stay there for a couple days, play a few rounds, eat some more fish."
"You have no idea what I'm talking about," I said.
Over dinner that night I convinced Kurt to extend the honeymoon for two years and fifty-three countries.
Now, this was not exactly how I dreamed my honeymoon would go. But the two years offered a world of discovery, enlightenment, and renewal, as well as a strengthened relationship with a long-lost best friend who just happened to be my brother. The planet made me a believer in many things — optimism amid chaos, soccer as a legitimate sport despite the grade-school playacting, green tea, siestas, the power of faith beyond the pulpit, Eastern medicine, a father's right to improve the lives of his children across all borders. The world showed me the importance of living life with my heart rather than just my brain, the need in all of us to follow passion wherever it takes us. It made me prouder than I'd ever been to hold a passport with the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA etched in gold, ever more so each time I met an aid worker with a Southern drawl or a villager whose dreams were fueled by a place he'd never see, a land I was lucky enough to call home.
This was the honeymoon of a lifetime ... if you overlooked that whole runaway bride aspect.
There was one small problem. Herculean, as far as my mother was concerned. I'd spent two years traipsing around the world's most romantic destinations — Rio and Prague, African safaris and exotic islands — meeting affable women at every port of call, with ample time to invest in friendship and conversation and love. Somehow I'd managed to take this dream setup, one so laden with options even Borat could have filled a black book full of numbers, and come back single.
"Man, you're lucky," said my friends, most of them married. "You had the whole world to choose from."
"Are you kidding me?" I'd reply. "Have you been in the singles game in, say, the last decade? Don't you know how impossible it is to fall in love in our own country, let alone connect with someone in a place where everything is foreign — language, culture, fashion don'ts, political insults, or even what to order from the menu?"
How on earth do you meet someone? How, on this earth, do you fall in love? The questions rumbled around throughout the honeymoon with my brother, especially when we found ourselves in a romantic setting, at sunset, as real couples strode off for their sidewalk café dinners. I'd go to sleep in, say, Lake Como or Los Roques, look over at Kurt in the other bed, and think, "What in God's name am I doing here with you?"
As the honeymoon ended and I came back to California, I concluded love was unreachable for the masses, and especially for a sap who ate his wedding cake alone. Their love stories were just that, stories.
It's not that I didn't believe in love. I just didn't believe in the odds. It's like Powerball. We see people who win the mega-jackpots on television. They wear muumuus or cowboy hats. Played the same numbers for thirty-eight years. They hold five-foot checks and promise to buy houses for their children. We see them, but we don't know them. And we certainly aren't one of them.
I'd been afforded my single shot at love. I'd blown it. Just the way it is. I'd invested a decade. Not all investments pay off.
Truth is, I can't say my life was completely devoid in this arena. Humans are a creative species. Bedouins can sense water under a sea of sand. Pacific Islanders know when storms are coming despite cloudless skies. So, too, with love. If one source dries up, we'll find it elsewhere. The mind convinces itself time with friends and family will suffice. We get creative. We get pets.CHAPTER 2
Strangers in Paradise
You know that ripcord feeling you get on a bad first date? That almighty urge to flee after your dinner partner launches into a lengthy explanation of failed loves, reincarnated lives, or infatuation with all things Ricky Martin? Out go the predictions that "you'll make a perfect couple"; in sets an overwhelming urge to decouple. Now. You speed through your ravioli and stare at her wine as if doing so will make it evaporate. No dessert or coffee, thank you. Just the check, please. We're in a bit of a hurry.
I set the world record for that feeling aboard an Air Jamaica red-eye en route to a couples-only resort in the Caribbean. On a first date. I should explain.
Midafternoon on an aimless Friday, I popped by the offices of Coast Magazine in Newport Beach, California, "popped by" being code for "no job and nothing better to do." The editor, Justine Amodeo, had a habit of throwing assignments to unemployed scribes who lingered by her door. I lingered, long enough for it to happen again. Could I go to St. Lucia the first week in March? Justine didn't have all the details, but a public relations representative would call.
Let's see. The junket would entail canceling a haircut and an afternoon of laundry, but, sure. The clothes weren't that dirty.
"Since the trip is to a couples-only resort, we want you to bring a love interest," explained the bubbly spokeswoman the following day.
Couples only? As in those full-page ads in airline magazines, the ones with happy Caucasian couples in neon-colored bathing suits splashing each other on the beach, though never so much that it tousles the hair? Couples only as in wristbands and activity directors and all-you-can-eat?
That's when the panic set in, and not because my wardrobe was devoid of anything tangerine. The destination was an escape for couples, pet-named, hand-holding, Jimmy Buffett–worshipping couples.
"Are you sure you have the right guy?" I said. "Franz is a popular name."
"You're fun-nee," she said. "Justine said you'd liven up the trip."
"That Justine. What a character to pick me for this."
Oblivious to my hesitation, she gabbed on about the romantic setting in St. Lucia and the endless stream of activities I'd enjoy with my significant other. Their brochures in the press kit explained: "Love Is All You Need."
That's exactly my problem.
"Can I bring my brother?" I said. "I took him on my honeymoon."
"Oh, no. The Caribbean isn't really into that kind of thing."
She resumed her spiel about swim-up bars and his-and-her massages. I didn't register a word. I was too busy searching every corner of my brain for a living, breathing, preferably unrelated female who might possibly say yes. The feelers began immediately after our phone call. The results went something like this:
"That's nice, Franz, but I don't really see you that way."
"I swear it's nothing more than a free trip. I'd never in a million years lay a hand on you."
"Now I really don't want to go."
My girlfriends, as in girl friends, were working. They had obligations. They had aversions to buffets. They said no en masse. Could you blame them?
The assignment had seemed so idyllic when Justine handed it to me. Ocean swims and happy hours and pupu platters or whatever they called them in the Caribbean. I could do that. Spend a few days with a group of pampered travel journalists? No problem. Her call changed all. My island fantasy evaporated thanks to those two god-awful words: couples only.
No longer was this a free trip to an expensive resort. The assignment didn't occupy an atom of thought. This was now a trial, a highly publicized inquisition into the love life of a terminal bachelor. That's it. Justine's doing this to mess with me. To force me into a relationship with someone, anyone. The proceedings began with my ego as the first witness.
I called my friend Martha, a documentary filmmaker and adventurous soul, to see if she had any suggestions.
"Bullshit, Wiz," she said. "This sounds like some sort of a scam."
"I swear it's legit. I just need someone to hang beside me so they don't kick me off the island. It's illegal to be single at a couples-only resort, you know."
"Libby has this friend. She might go. Careful, though. She's strong enough to reject anything you might pull down there."
"Great. Just don't tell her about my whole getting-dumped-at-the-altar thing. I don't want to scare her off."
Martha called back the next day.
"I gave Tracy my best sales pitch," she said. "Told her you guys would laugh the whole time, and that you'd sleep on the floor."
"What did she say?"
"She said she'd meet you for coffee. When you get back."
Then, a way out. I was sure the resort would be a breeze for couples enamored with each other. But what about couples who weren't? Better yet, how about a couple who didn't even know each other? How would it do as the setting for a first date?
Yes! A journalistic coup. Bob Woodward never took a blind date to a couples-only resort. I'd bring someone I didn't even know. Brilliant solution. That, and the small fact it was my only option.
Cue Angela A. She's the brave-slash-reckless soul who answered an ad I placed online offering a "Free Trip to the Caribbean" in exchange for letting me write about the experience. Strictly professional, I assured all Craigslist readers. And I meant it, kind of. "Please send picture."
Three days later, and stag I remained. Microsoft must equip its computers with a virus protection for any contact with unemployed, thirty-eight- year-old vagabonds. Then, a ray of hope in my inbox.
Angela sent me the first, and only, response. She included a picture, a grainy black-and-white image that reminded me of a stern flight attendant on Cathay Pacific. She looked pensive, with tweezed eyebrows arced in faux concern, and staged, her long brown hair pulled back to frame her Asian features. She looked like, well, the only person who replied.
I decided to meet her for five minutes at the Casbah Café in Silver Lake, both to assure her of my quasilegitimate scribe status and to make sure she didn't fit the chainsaw-murderer profile. At the front table she waited, an eight-by-ten glossy in hand, which she presented to me as if auditioning for a role. I shook her hand and looked for any ominous mannerisms, tics, or eye darts and such. She sounded sane. She didn't fondle the knives. Plus I decided it would be next to impossible to get a chainsaw through a metal detector. There was no love connection, no tidal wave of pheromones, but at least she seemed fun. If you flake out on this, Justine will never give you another assignment.
"Okay," I announced. "You got the part."
We flew to St. Lucia the next day.
Excerpted from How the World Makes Love by Franz Wisner. Copyright © 2009 Franz Wisner. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsA Note to Readers,
The Professional Dumpee,
Strangers in Paradise,
Love Is Dead,
The World's Worst Pickup Lines,
World Courting: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,
The World's Top Five Relationship Gripes,
Dexterity: Czech Republic,
A World of "Issues",
Love on a Leash,
Ten Global Threats to Love,
Equability: New Zealand,
The World's Ten Worst Places to Be Gay,
Love Lessons from Abroad,
Plan on It,
All the Love in the World,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved "Honeymoon With My Brother", so was eager to read Franz's sequel, "How the World Makes Love". I really enjoyed traveling the world with him as he explored how one's culture influences love, lives and relationship around the world. He offers unique, inspiring insight to how our own individual environment really does shape one's views on life. I particularly enjoy how he intertwines his own life experiences and openly discusses his own love life in a witty and endearing way. This book was a perfect compliment to the next book on my book shelf... I just finished reading "How to Have a Match Made in Heaven" by Ariel & Shya Kane. In a very different way than Franz, they too explore how the culture that you've grown up in influences your life and your well-being. They use real life stories (including video links) to give you the tools to have a magical life. I highly recommend that you go out and read both of these books - they're light, fun and great!
I loved "Honeymoon With My Brother", so was eager to read Franz's sequel, "How the World Makes Love". I really enjoyed traveling the world with him as he explored how one's culture influences love, lives and relationship around the world. He offers unique, inspiring insight to how our own individual environment really does shape one's views on life. I particularly enjoy how he intertwines his own life experiences and openly discuss his own love life in a witty and endearing way. This book was a perfect compliment to the next book on my book shelf... I just finished reading "How to Have a Match Made in Heaven" by Ariel & Shya Kane. In a very different way than Franz, they too explore how the culture that you've grown up in influences your life and your well-being. They use real life stories (including video links) to give you the tools to have a magical life. I highly recommend that you go out and read both of these books - they're light, fun and great!