January 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
Dao was a pure pleasure: a girl from the coffee plantations, she had just arrived that day. She had a lovely smile, she was polite and deferential; it was a cold night and she became very cold on the bike, so when we got home I made her a hot bath, a hot chocolate and warm pajamas to warm up: she was surprised and pleased and embarrassed by the attention. The way she kissed me afterwards — self-consciously but generously — made it clear that she liked and trusted me — indeed, that I appeared to her a kind of mirage: a fairly youthful, good looking, well paying, gentle and kind customer on her first night of work. Her city career would work out well.
The sex was lousy as always, though she did try hard to oblige and there was a brief spark of fire. In the morning I drove her home and she was lost, unable to find her room, a little worried (what if I cannot find my way) and again embarrassed — me sun-burnt country bumpkin coffee picker, what I am doing in the big city. We found the place at last; she pointed out her room in that natural gesture she would use with any new acquaintance. She thanked me politely and — putting her palms together and bowing, offered a pretty, low wai.
She was a gem: an unspoiled girl observing faithfully the feudal principles of respectful subservience to one’s employer. I didn’t offer to trade numbers or to meet again: things could only go down from there. Dao would learn to be city-like — vulgar and insensitive before she learned better sex. Or worse: she might fall in love. These are, after all, girls: they sleep around no more than European college girls do. Like them they are just beginning to learn sex and like them they sometimes fall victim to the emotions it provokes.
January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was beginning to give thought in my mind of how much I should give Fon at parting; and whether she would make any trouble about it; when she suggested that I take her to her favorite bar. At first I was reluctant to go, knowing that Kung would probably be there and things could get out of hand. But having given the matter a little thought I realized that that might not be a bad thing at all, as it could solve my problem (if Fon chose to walk off in anger), and might be enjoyable into the bargain.
It was: I bought both girls their drinks and played pool with Kung while Fon huddled with her bar girl friends who told her in conspiratorial whispers how I two-timed her, all the while waving to me and from time to time engaging me in a spot of hi-byes (you can’t call what they can say in English, or I in Thai, conversation), or bringing me a snack from their table. (“The two faced Yellow Race!”, no doubt, my club-handed friend Wilhelm would have here exclaimed had he lived to hear this story).
Kung was somewhat flummoxed at first but got over it quickly; and gave me a fun game of pool, no doubt thinking I might yet hire her again in a few days; and Fon kept cool until we got home; when we did, she grabbed her things and left. I stopped her long enough to exchange a few words: I explained to her how I hired Kung when I thought Fon was never coming back. But she kept saying something that suggested she had got her dates wrong; or perhaps her friends had given her wrong dates. I realized then, again, that the anger was about her friends — the fact that her friends disapproved; and also that her friends’ reports were probably given with more than a little joy: Fon was so proud to show me; they were happy to prick her pride. They might have exaggerated things, or lied, but, at any rate, they clearly stoked up her moral outrage beyond what can be reasonable in bar girl. And Fon was not smart enough to see this. Fon lives to please her friends: it is not a prescription for happiness.
January 21, 2012 § 1 Comment
Kung, on the other hand, is a nice girl of the old school — trends take time to propagate and the Confused Modern Girl Syndrome (“not sure what I want or why”) has not yet reached Sukhothai whence she came only a month ago to work. The deal is clear and she observes it professionally: she serves her clients and for this she is paid the sum agreed. She treats her customers with the traditional feudal respect and deference, and does not try to gouge more money, or more emotional commitment, than was agreed at the outset.
Work has not been a smashing success: foreigners prefer girls who speak English; so Kung spends her days with phrase books and dictionaries and watching English TV; but it is precisely her poor English that has led me to hire her: girls who speak no English are new-c0mers and have not had time to grow rude and smart-allecky, which is a very fast change, and unsurprising given from whom they learn. But newcomers are still nice Thai girls in the traditional mold: polite and gentle and neat. Pleasant company. Good huggers.
Like most young girls today, Kung has not been trained by her mother to serve. It does not occur to her to pick up the garbage, or hang out the towels, or sweep the floor. She does not realize that her job is really to provide comfort, not just sex. I should not wonder if this is why her husband has left her. Which to my mind, at least, is a strong reason to pick older women.
The sex is like all Thai sex: it is foreplay-less, and remarkably unsensual. Once penetration has been achieved, the girls do warm up to the act and do appear to enjoy themselves, even come. But they don’t enjoy kissing, and don’t know how to, and if you try to kiss their necks, or the inside of their elbows, or stroke the backs of their thighs, they squeak jakachee (“you tickle me!”). Lacking the emotional heightening of foreplay, I find the whole thing dull and often lose interest in the middle of the act. I can see why so many Thai women say sex is overrated and name eating as their favorite indulgence.
It is the same with woman after woman after woman, whether professional or amateur or virtuous. The attraction of Thailand to single men cannot be the quality of the thing; just its availability.
January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
But it didn’t last long: less than a week later, she was gone. Although I didn’t try to stop her, she left of her own volition and without asking for pay. (She did however carefully pack everything I had bought her, even the unfinished food). She did not seem interested in the money all that much, I suppose, nor in her employer. Rather, what she wanted to do was to have me meet her “friends” — the tons and tons of girls she knew by name; “meeting her friends” involved eating in restaurants where she knew all the staff and spent almost the entire time standing at the counter talking to them while I ate.
To some extent this is understandable: these girls are her world: it is with them that she will trade favors: the kid of favors the girls can provide — a 500 Baht loan, a couch for the night, an investigative phone call — making a positive impression on them matters. What puzzled me is why she wanted to show me to them. Is attracting a foreign male a source of kudos? Does it increase the girl’s stock market value among her “friends”?
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.
June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Or: further reflections on Jerome Robbins’ En Sol
But Gillot is divinely graceful and otherworldlily beautiful (all impossibly long arms and legs, a beauty so unusual, so striking as to be un-sexual, positively… seraphinic, powers and thrones, powers and thrones, I kept thinking — see this post)
Either most evolutionary psychologists are wrong in suggesting that our perception of beauty in members of opposite sex is sexually driven (being in their view recognition of a good breeding material); or I am a cross-wired mutant: my greatest loves have hardly been the most beautiful women I have known; and when faced with some types of beauty I am moved but — not attracted.
Agnes Gillot, and the Paris Opera Ballet in general, are case in point: I find them very beautiful and can stare at them for hours (usually hitting the replay button twice), but I am neither in love, nor sexually stimulated.
And while this could be a matter of intimidation (very beautiful women are often not courted precisely because they are in the opinions of men too beautiful for them to stand a chance), it seems, in my case, very well hidden indeed: I seem unable even to fantasize about these girls. (Bah! I am… uninterested in fantasizing!)
As beautiful as I find these ideal athletes, for pleasure I seem to prefer girls with… more flesh on them. An Evolutionary Psychologist might explain that: slightly chunkier girls are better breeding material, all that flesh — evidence of good feeding. But if so then why do I find the Opera Ballet girls beautiful? What could possibly be the point? Atavism? A throw back?
Nor is this a case of intimidation (i.e. preferring easier girls): while I have noticed — with great surprise — that trashy/easy looking girls get a lot of attention from men — perhaps because seeming cheap they do not intimidate; or perhaps because their unkemptness suggests general laxity (hair refusing the control of the comb being symbolic of a… shall we say, more general lack of control), the girls I have loved have all been prim and rather severely controlled. (Such girls can turn out to be surprisingly adventurous lovers – ease (or difficulty) of getting isn’t in any way indicative of the quality of the food). This, too, is straight Evolutionary Psychology: girls who are hard to get pose less risk (of infection); but even folk psychology can explain this: when a reserved girl loves you, you feel singled out for special treatment. Such love seems more… personal, more precious. (And it strokes your vanity).
OK, so evolutionary psychology explains perfectly my sexual conduct to-date: I prefer healthy looking (good breeders), well groomed, self-controlled (safe) girls.
It does not seem to explain why I find Agnes Gillot divinely beautiful. Why thrones, powers, principalities and dominions come to mind. Or why there should be such a thing as divine beauty: things so beautiful as to make us think of them as supernatural, greater than life, worthy of worship, and — unsexual, pure. Atavism? Or — faulty mutation, a mistake in the cognitive apparatus?
The ability to sense this divine beauty may be a minority phenomenon (I am surprised by how many people seem not to… — er — divine it); but one sees it frequently enough: there exist whole branches of mysticism — in otherwise unrelated religious traditions — whose whole point is the contemplation of divine beauty. Ergo, if it is a mutation, it is a fairly common one. And if it is, then it is there for a reason.
What reason could that be?
Hey, let’s have fun with this: here’s a poll: Do you experience divine beauty? By which I mean: if you are religious, do you find God beautiful? If (like me) you are irreligious, are you sometimes faced with experiences of beauty that make you think of God/ things divine/ transcendent/ otherworldly?
June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Jerome Robbins choreography “En Sol” (“In the sun”) suits the music (Ravel’s G-Minor concerto, in French: “en sol majeur”) so well, one might swear the music was a ballet commission. The choreography takes as its theme the beach and the sea — an idea very well suited to the jumpy outer movements (all that frolicking on the beach) and the gently swaying middle movement (floating on the swaying sea). It is brilliantly conceived on the ensemble level, with all parts — individuals, small groups — moving in harmony as if they were parts of one body. Agnes Gillot’s rendition of swaying waves is so convincing as to be mesmerizing – just like the sea.
Unfortunately, the male lead is stiff and wooden — with an occasional technical blip — and utterly lacking in the gift of grace. It is possible to ignore him for the most part, but not when he is dead center (the “swimming figure” in 1st movement makes me want to cry: it could be so beautiful and he ruins it); nor in those instances in which he trips up the female lead. Rather funnily, during the final bows he seems quite satisfied with his performance, rather like that certain Japanese prince Sei Shonagon mentions in the Pillow Book — subject to mean snickerings behind his back, who thought composing poetry was easy and frequently dashed out fast and furious — drivel.
But Gillot is divinely graceful and otherworldlily beautiful (all impossibly long arms and legs, a beauty so unusual, so striking as to be un-sexual, positively… seraphinic, powers and thrones, powers and thrones, I kept thinking 1), head-taller than the rest, she both dominates and saves the show. One can’t help reflecting, when watching her in the pas-de-deux on the fate of extraordinarily gifted women reduced to coupling with mediocre men or — not coupling at all.
What is it like, I once asked one, to date men less intelligent than you? What to do? She said, and asked: What is it like to date women less intelligent than you?
Oh, I said, I no longer do.
1 See Ophanim.