I picked her up in a girlie bar
December 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
I picked her up in a girlie bar — which is precisely the kind of place Nagai describes in his diaries as machiai — the realization seemed to ennoble the experience imbuing it with a kind of literary glow. I liked her because of her body type and personality, which usually go together: she seemed a happy, uncomplicated person — and a lot like someone I have liked in the past but never attained. It was also clear that she was not a pro — a mere beginner; not entirely green, but still more of a girl meeting boys rather than a professional earning her living. Her poor English confirmed it; and the fact that when she agreed to come with me, she did not try to negotiate the price upfront. Later she claimed that she was not there professionally — only for a drink and only because her friend was a cashier there, and that she went with me because she liked me, but the truth is that the bar took their fee, which they would not have if that story were quite true.
No matter: once back home, she proved shy in the way in which young Asian women often are, confirming my suspicion that it was all fairly new to her. Once things got going, she proved a delightful mixture of enthusiasm and stumbling inexperience. Inspired by Nagai, at daybreak, in my halting Thai I asked her to spend the month with me. I explained to her that I could neither remain in the country, nor take her with me, and that the relationship could therefore only last as long as my business here; but, I said, I liked her and wanted to be with her for even the little time that I could; and that when I concluded my business and it was time to leave, I would give her a nice departure gift out of the money I was about to make.
She agreed but refused the small upfront stipend I offered her and begged me not to mention money again — I understood that the money was to be left in the background — to some extent the driver of the whole thing, but unmentionable: we were going to pretend it was not part of the arrangement. Still, when we went out to the market to buy some things for her stay — soap, cosmetics, hair-drier, her own pillow — things I said she would keep when it was all over — she let me pay without resistance.
And that’s when revelation struck: as I paid I looked around at the four sales clerks hanging about and realized they were all watching me in a special way — with the mixed expression of a child being shown a toy which it wants but does not know how to attain.
I then remembered Nagai’s discussion of coffee shops as the new venue for finding girls. Unlike machiai, which employed professionals delivering a standard service — not just sex, more a temporary wife — the woman would look after her customer, pour his tea, wash his back, send his laundry, take his phone-calls, etc. the new coffee-shops employed part time amateurs who accepted the position in hope of a liaison, but who played by the ear, willing to prostitute themselves to some extent, but always hoping — and manipulating — for better. In other words, ordinary girls, like the sales clerks at the market: open to any kind of convenient opportunity.
The experience, viewed in the light of Nagai’s diaries, has suddenly revealed to me women, and the facts of life, in a completely new light; and it must have changed profoundly the way I look at women — I wonder if one could call this a knowing look — because many women seem to return my gaze in new ways, ways I have never experienced before: ways best described as a kind of silent negotiation.