Her Body, Part 1

I’m not sure why she loves me. I’ve never been sure when any girl is. My first thought is that I must have fooled them somehow, accidentally made them promises and constructed a vision of the future that I’d never be able to (or want to) live up to that weakened their knees, took their breath, sucked them in.

My second thought is that they just want to get married and I’m the closest warm body around. (And then I’ll turn tail and SCRAM.)

I just never think it’s because of me. For all my arrogance and hubris and conceit and self-aggrandizing – I honestly just never think they’re in love with who I am and what I want and how I do it. It’s all just so risky and dumb, isn’t it?

So I told her, “I’m sorry that I’m the kind of guy to quit a full-time job with a solid income so I can move to Southeast Asia to write books and freelance design and launch a million website businesses, 99% of of which will fail while the remaining 1% will generate enough income for a 14-year old Cambodian. I’m so sorry.”

But despite all of her goals and dreams and visions of her future, she’s willing to suffer with me. God, okay, okay, fine – I believe it, for once in my life I’ll believe it when a girl tells me that she loves me.

Her body. Listen. Listen, this isn’t a small, superficial thing. It’s miraculous, it’s the hand of karma delivering what I have earned – and yearned – for my entire life.

Her body, Jesus fucking Christ. I couldn’t get a girl with a body like hers. For some reason, I never encountered it. Well, not for some reason, the reason is that I don’t choose girls for their bodies, I choose them for them and then pray for the rippling back muscles and sharp shoulders and deep crevices in the abdominal and a divergent waist-to-hip ratio.

I’ve had all the other types of bodies but I never had fit. It was such a maddening and perplexing and formidable facet in my life – daily – to a man who grew up on Baywatch and BodyShaping, and now spends an inordinate amount of the day browsing fitness girls on Instagram.

What the fuck am I talking about.

And One of Them Almost Touched Me! Ewwwwww!

What the fucking fuck. I was in Budapest, you know? I was traipsing around Budapest, doing nothing but doing everything.

I took the train from – where was I before? Munich and then Vienna and then Bratislava and then from there I took the train to Budapest, to the famed train station a walk away from town, the one that only weeks later closed down because of the glut of Syrian refugees that summer.

That was also bizarre, that all of that shit was going on in the world while I was completely sheltered in mine, traipsing from one continent to another with no knowledge that these refugees were doing the same. I was ahead of them by mere weeks and a few hundred kilometers. Wherever I went, no one knew how bad it was going to be.

There was some overlap. In Belgrade, Serbia, I ran into them in the park beside the train station. It was probably 10 square kilometers with worn down grass, tents every few meters and garbage everywhere. I thought they were the city’s impoverished and that it was a Skid Row sort of thing, where they got to pitch up tents and the government stayed out of the way, so long as they stayed within the park boundaries.

But it wasn’t, they were the Syrian Refugees, and I only realized this weeks later when I read about them setting up camp beside the train station in Belgrade.

What’s fucked up is that I walked through that park. I walked from the touristy downtown with the pedestrian-only promenade to the train station to buy my tickets in person (that side of the world was notoriously shitty for Internet-related purchases). I saw the tents and the dogs and the sad adults and dirty children and thought, You know what, I’m going to walk through this fucking park, and so I did, with my ear buds in my ear and the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack playing.

I felt safe. I just always feel like I fit in, even though I was this tall Korean guy walking through a field of refugees. No matter how shitty the city I’m in – Guayaquil to Mexico City to Phnom Penh to Tijuana – I’ll just always feel safe enough to walk through these streets, making eye contact with the locals.

(I also think that this is why I don’t get mugged; I act like I belong there. I act like I have nothing to lose, and they look at me and think, That motherfucker knows what he’s doing, he has nothing of value on him.)

I walked the circumference of the park and then back through it. I remember thinking, Why can’t they use the trash cans? instead of haphazardly tossing shit all over the place. That would go a long way with the host country. That could be why Serbia – a few weeks later – was like, fuck this fucking shit.

So I left the park and accidentally followed two local men through an alleyway and up some dilapidated steps. These guys can turn at anytime and mug me, I thought, but more amused and excited than scared.

I also ran into the refugees on the train from Belgrade to Sofia. I still didn’t know about the exodus, about their plight. So I was on the train with five others, probably a decade younger than me. Most of them fell asleep early and a few of us stayed up to drink, and that made it obvious who the travelers were. Night trains are for drinking, motherfuckers.

Some Slovakian kid, blond hair with blue eyes. We drank pulled swigs from his water bottle of homemade Serbian hooch, and chased it with shots of my shitty red wine (that I bought simply because it was the only bottle with a screw top).

We got onto the subject of gypsies. I was always curious about them, always envied their life of impermanence, you know? It’s so weird, though, how they’re banned from this city and hated in that country. I didn’t know if being gypsy was religious or ethnic or classist (I still don’t).

The Slovak explained it to me, then told me the “gypsy class” is always on the back of these trains, removed from our cushy rooms where the benches turn into bunk beds at night. “Let’s go, I’ll show you,” he said, and I followed him through a few cars of cushiness before entering one with what looked like wooden church pews, detached from the floor and shifting with the movement of the train.

The gypsies stared at us, wearily. They looked dangerous, or like they could be dangerous had they not been exhausted and worndown from the weight of life. They sat slumped, low-hanging frowns and tired eyes. They didn’t give a shit about us, two giddy kids running through the train with a bottle of hooch in one hand and shitty wine in the other.

Later I found out that they weren’t gypsies, they were the Syrian refugees who’d just left their homes to avoid death. Jesus fucking Christ.

 

“Oh, Probably Less Than 50,” Is Now My Standard Answer

She said, “The worst possible thing you can do is lie to me. I prefer to hear the raw and honest truth, no matter how awful it is, rather than you lie to me. Got it?”

Someone in her past must’ve lied to her, and it must’ve been bad. I could see it in her eyes, the importance of what she was saying and the degree of conviction in which she held this belief. She felt it necessary to make eye contact and put her hand on my forearm, take a deep breath and say this. But we were all brought up to lie, weren’t we? Not to deceive in any malicious way, but to just lie to smooth things over, to move on with life. Sorry, they ran out of chocolate or Yeah, I do think you’re funny for a girl or Of course my parents like you the best out of all my exes.

“But what about white lies,” I asked her. “Sometimes women ask questions thinking that they can take the answer — but they can’t. They have bad judgement of how strong they are, and we know this, and so we mitigate the risk of drama by white-lying our way out of your question. It’s the best for everyone.

“No. You will get in more shit for lying than whatever it is that you’re lying about.”

Okay. Okay.

Weeks later, she asked me how many women I slept with.

“I have no idea, I stopped counting after twenty,” I said. “If I had to take a wild stab at it, somewhere between 40 and 100?”

I was probably close to twenty when I left Toronto. Then in three years of living in Asia, doubling that amount seemed reasonable. Sometimes I slept with a few women in a single week; other times I’d go months without sex. Bangkok was a haven because I knew the most people there, because it was my home and I was actively dating. But in Bali, Saigon and Taipei, I had sex exactly twice while living for 5 cumulative months in these cities — which is an atrocious amount for a single man in his 30s.

The majority of them weren’t one-night stands; they were women whom I dated and then things went awry. I don’t sleep around often, I just date frequently. So they weren’t purposely one-night stands, but accidental — the intent, the mens rea wasn’t present.

So I got in shit. I got in motherfucking shit for that truthful answer; she had to hang up the phone and go to bed and sleep on it.

The next day: “Well which is it, 40 or 100?”

“I guess it’s 40.”

“Why would you say 100, then?”

“I was just exaggerating, you know? Just to demonstrate how much I don’t keep track. It could be anywhere between 40 and 100! Ha ha.”

“This is a staggering amount. My brain can’t even fathom…”

“Look. You told me to tell you the truth and now you’re like this. I’m quickly learning to never tell the truth again,” I said. If I was going to be in trouble, I might as well set some precedences for the future, right? If I’m ever caught in a lie I could always say, “Remember the How Many Sex Partners argument of April 2017? Well I just didn’t want a repeat of that so I lied to you in order to protect us…”

So it’s bullshit when women want truthful answers, but then ask scary questions. Why even bother? Why are they even curious about the past? I have no idea how many sex partners the women I slept with had. I barely even remember their last fucking names.

“Menstrual Blood Caked On My Dick” is my Indian name

I think the year was 2002. I was still working full-time in Toronto, yet finally started to travel —

(What’s bizarre is that during the first year of my first job after graduating art school, I didn’t take any vacation days. Previous to that job, I was going to school full time and then working as a Kitchen Manager in a fast-casual, highly touristy Italian restaurant. Add to that the hours spent at the gym in the mornings and the hours spent at Peel Pub at night, and my schedule was insanely packed.

So during the onboarding process at that first job, my boss asked me when I’d like to use my vacation days. I looked at my schedule of 9am to 5pm and realized that that would be the least busy I’d have ever been in my adult life, and that in itself was a vacation. “I don’t need any, thanks anyway,” I told her. She looked at me, puzzled. “Well, let me know if you change your mind,” she said. I didn’t.

The second year of that first job – the last year I’d work full time until right now in Los Angeles – I took every single one of my fucking vacation days, and also a leave of absence to extend them. After that, I quit working full-time jobs. Fuck that shit).)

One of my friends had a wedding in San Francisco, so four more of us decided to fly over and join him after he was done. We’d spend a few days in the city, then spend a few more at a girl’s large house in Palo Alto – a girl whom I knew from online, but who was happy to host us for a few nights.

She was this super cute, super bubbly Vietnamese girl. Slim with an enormous head and these fat, juicy lips that seemed like an insect engorged with blood. Large anime eyes and a cutesy, messy haircut.

In her photos, she was seemingly tiny, but later I discovered that that’s just how Vietnamese girls are built, on miniature frames with thin limbs and teensy hands. She stood around 5’8” when I thought she wouldn’t even crack 5-feet.

We drove to her house and there was that slight awkwardness that transpires when five strange men walk into a seemingly-small-but-tall Vietnamese girl’s house in Palo Alto and setup camp in her living room. But then we hit a bar and all got along merrily.

That night, two things happened: I walked into the bathroom on my effeminate male friend slathering cocoa butter all over his naked body, and I had sex with the large-head Vietnamese girl. I came while she was on top, and she remains only the second girl that I could ever finish while in that position.

In the morning, we woke up by having sex on our sides. Then everyone packed and climbed into our rented Ford Escape, where I drove the entire 9 hours to Los Angeles because I liked to drive.

“My crotch is so itchy,” I told Harvey, who was sitting in shotgun.

“Why?”

“Because we had sex and she was on her period, but I didn’t have time to shower this morning so now I have menstrual blood caked all over my dick.”

“Oh,” he said, and went back to sleep.

Wow, that’s it.

The Mother And Her Magical Vagina

The Mother is 45 years old, divorced with two boys. I’m not sure what went wrong with her marriage, just that something did and that she is probably happier now than then.

The Mother is also in the Top 5 Most Sexually Compatible Women in my life. I don’t know how women make this list; it’s not up to me. If it were, I’d swap this girl in and that girl out. I’d populate the list with women who I’d want to remember.

It could be the shape of their vagina or the texture of the inner lining. They’re not especially tight – although they are tight – that, I know. It could be how comfortable I am with them, but that doesn’t make sense because I’ll know if we’re sexually compatible the very first time we have sex, when it’s anything but comfortable.

So The Mother and I were sexually compatible right from the beginning. We met years before we had sex, and as it goes in this day and age, maintained a healthy and regular banter over Facebook and Instagram comments. Then one day I flew from Asia to LA and we met and we knew right away what we were going to do and so I followed her BMW SUV in my cherry red Ford Mustang all the way from Koreatown to the coast at 2am on a Wednesday night.

We stood in her kitchen, cluttered with children’s toys and dog supplies and bags of organic snacks from Whole Foods. I stood close and lifted her chin to kiss her, but she wouldn’t look at me. Sorry, it’s been a really long time, she said. I’m really nervous.

“It’s okay, we’ll take it slowly,” I said. We didn’t take it slowly.

And then we went to her bedroom where she made the Top 5 list. The Mother had this arch in her back, this sinewy, muscular upper body and tight abdominals. She had this certain moan, nasally and submissive. How am I doing this to her, I thought. Who the fuck do I think I am?

You know, maybe they make the list when they’re as excited as I am. When it feels like I’m doing them a favor as much as they’re doing one for me?

(I’ve always had this weird relationship with sex, like it’s all for the guy – me – and it’s nothing but a chore for the girl. Even as I get older and run into women who’re just as much casual sex deviants as any man I’ve met, this idea has been wired into my head and I’ll always think this way, that sexual intercourse is this thing that is sacred to women, when in reality they sometimes just want to fuck.)

The next morning, we woke up to no alarm, had sex, drank liquids and then drove to 3rd Street Promenade. The entire point of me sleeping at her place (well, secondary point) was so we could workout the morning after, outdoors, the way they do in Southern California, but in my hastiness the night before I forgot to pack shorts.

So we drove to the Promenade where I bought sweatpants from H&M and she bought underwear for her boys from Uniqlo – who were the same size as I was. Then we ran to the Santa Monica stairs where we climbed and descended, over and over again, alongside the 230 other people who had the same idea that morning.

Afterwards, we went to her gym where I jumped rope and she stretched for a full hour.

See, because while The Mother is 45 years old, divorced with two boys, she’s also fit as fuck. One of the fittest I’ve been with, one of the prettiest. I think she was the high school beauty; the prom queen and track star and homecoming queen all rolled into one. I think she was the top prize in a city full of prizes, and then married the successful lawyer or banker or architect and the divorced but got to keep her two sons and her beauty.

Goddamn, her legs.

Boo Hoo Hoo, My Life Is Sad, Boo Hoo Hoo

For the past two months, I’ve been sad. Every single fucking day, which is the complete opposite of my time in Asia when I was consciously aware of how many consecutive good days I was having. Well, I was consciously aware because every single day was the best day of my life.

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know that that was possible. I would tell myself, “Not everyone can be happy all of the time, that’s just against the human condition to desire suffering…”

No, dead fucking wrong. Not only was I happy every single day, but even more unbelievable was that I acknowledged that I was happy every single day, in the present, as it was happening. It wasn’t that bullshit where one day I was sitting in a Burmese prison getting raped by a 300lbs Tibetan monk and eating donkey feces for breakfast, then suddenly thought, “Oh, you know what, in retrospect my days living in Bangkok weren’t so bad after all.”

No, it wasn’t like that at all. I was living in the present, and I was happy.

So now I’m paying for it. Here’s where the gods are getting me back: I am wasting away in Los Angeles, sad every day but hopeful – or faithful – that maybe this is all in my head? Maybe it’s my attitude that needs to change?

Maybe it is. Maybe it just takes a small adjustment in my attitude, and then suddenly this life would make sense and be fruitful and be good.

No, I don’t think so. The pains of this lifestyle are too quantifiable. They’re too much about the time that’s slipping through my hands, the energy that I no longer have, the gym sessions that I’ve been missing, the book that I’m no longer writing.

These are measurable pains, yeah? They all relate to finite resources, namely time and energy.

Money. Money money money. Here’s the thing about money, I’m doing the same thing that I was in Toronto before I moved to Asia. It’s that fucking top-line number that I can’t shake, you know? The salary that I’m paid, the freelance I can scrounge up. That total top number in the 6-figures – that’s what my brain wants to grasp and hoard.

But just like back in Toronto, I need to punch myself in the fucking face and realize that it’s not the top-line number that matters. That shit’s just optics. It’s the bottom line, the profit, the savings, that matter. That’s all that fucking matters.

And when I compare the bottom-line between my life here and my life in Asia, well, they’re nearly the fucking same. I’ll make 3 times more here, but I’ll spend 3 times more.

But, you see, it also takes me 3 times longer to make 3 times more – and that’s where things get really skewed, because the older I get the more time is worth to me (and the less money is).

So I know the answer is to leave. Pack what I can, sell what I can’t, strap on the backpack and hit South America for a few months before heading back to Asia. Find more clients, write the book, spend my mornings deadlifting or surfing or motorbiking along the coast, looking for a beach that’s empty but not, just in case my fear of deadly jellyfish realizes.

I know the answer, so what am I doing? I have to be sure, I suppose. I have to be sure that this sadness is real, that it’s not something made up or temporary, something that’ll dissipate if the sun came out or if I found a girl or – even better – some decent fried chicken.

But however good LA can get from here, it can’t get Asia good, can it? No – no, it can’t. I have no energy and haven’t written in 10 months and drink too much and avoid people. What good is a life like this?

 

 

The Type of Girl to Buy a $5000 Chanel Bag on my Amazon Prime Account

“Just use my Amazon Prime account,” I told her. “It’s already setup with my address so send whatever there and I’ll bring it to you.”

“You trust me with your Amazon account?”

“Yeah.”

“I can order anything I want?”

“Yeah, well it’s not like you’re the type to buy a $5000 Chanel bag on my card,” I said. Although she does own $5000 Chanel bags.

“What if I was?”
“But you’re not.”

“But what if I was the type and I ordered a $5000 Chanel bag on your Amazon Prime account? Don’t you trust me to make smart financial decisions?”

“I do, but if you did that, you would be wrong.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re making a $5000 Chanel bag my problem.”

“Why?” She learned English by reading Socrates.

“Because I have no desire for a $5000 Chanel bag but you’re putting it onto my account.”

“Don’t you think I would have a good reason?”

“I don’t think there is a good reason.”

“I can’t believe you don’t trust me, that you don’t think that I would’ve thought this through,” she said.

“Look. You can’t do this. You can’t bring up all of these hypothetical situations of what we may or may not do in the future. This might be a fun brain exercise for you, but it’s causing me real, bona fide stress! The anger and resentment you’re creating from this stupid fake $5000 Chanel bag scenario is real! Do you know what I mean? We’re wasting energy on this shit when we should be saving it for actual arguments in the future. I promise you with all of my heart that they will happen.”

“Okay, okay.”

“Okay,” I agreed.

“I just can’t believe you would think that I’m the type to buy a $5000 Chanel bag on your Amazon Prime account.”

“I fucking said that you’re not, which is why I’m giving you access in the first place.”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “Ha ha!”

I’m probably in love with her.

Maserati Jane And Her Resting Bitch Face

I forgot her name.

It’s only been a month since I spoke with her, but it’s gone, vapor, into the clouds. I’m looking at my phone right now, at our old messages. On the app, her screen name is just “JL” – her initials – and I have no idea what it could be.

It’s not something simple as Julie or Jennifer, or a derivative like Jen. It’s something plain and … Oh, wait, it was Jane. Nevermind. Jane.

I met Jane on Coffee Meets Bagel. We both “Super Liked” each other, or whatever version they have on that dating app. I opened conversation with, “Hey, we super like each other!” Fast forward the obligatory two weeks that you need to chat with LA women in order to secure the first date (in Toronto, it’s a matter of minutes before both parties agree to a quick coffee or beer).

“Hey, let’s go eat tomorrow,” I said.

“Well looks like someone finally grew some balls,” she said.

“What? Wait, no! I slowed my roll because you fucking Cali girls made me!”

“Whatever.”

Jane and I made plans to meet on Thursday night and then she promptly bailed on them. “I won’t able to meet until 10pm,” she said. “Can we reschedule?” LA is full of women – people – who are flaky as fuck, and as result I’m sadly part of the jaded masses who assume that every temporary reschedule is a permanent snub. “If you can meet me Friday night instead, I’ll figure everything out for us,” she said.

On Friday night, I jumped into an Uber for Dave & Buster’s. I arrived first and drank a mojito at the bar, rowdy with every single demographic imaginable, in every single age group. Bizarre, that even in an exciting city like Los Angeles, with bars and beaches and comedy shows and live music, the local Dave & Buster’s is still a choice venue for a Friday night.

I bought two game cards for us, whatever the special was, $39 for 30 games or some shit. It didn’t matter, we played exactly two games the entire night.

Jane texted that she just parked and was walking in. “I’m right at the entrance of the bar, at a stand up table.” She walked into the bar and we hugged and was grateful that she was exactly how she looked in her photos, a rarity on the online dating scene in LA!

Jane is tall, 5’9”, slim (verging on skinny), with a medium-length asymmetrical bob and what could be the bitchiest resting bitch face I’d ever seen. She was wearing fitted light blue jeans, a gray hoodie with a black leather motorcycle jacket on top. She was casual, but very well put together. She looked expensive, you know? Especially the Maserati key on her gold keychain.

“You look so much bitchier in person.” That was the first thing that I said to her. She gave me a glare – an ice-cold glare, with her bitchiest resting-bitch-face face – and I qualified it with, “I love it so much.”

“I get that often,” she smiled. I led her to the bar where I had a tab and ordered another pint while she got a Diet Coke. Jane used to drink whiskey, she said, but came to a point where she was drinking a bottle and not getting drunk, so knew it was time to quit alcohol forever. She’s now a connoisseur of marijuana and claims that she can mimic any state of drunkenness or high by combining different strains.

We walked around Dave & Busters, me with my beer and her with her Diet Coke. It was a good sign that we were in a place surrounded by stimuli, but were so engrossed in conversation that we weren’t distracted by any of it.

She’s 29 and in school to get her PhD. Something something fine arts. She grew up as an artist and wanted to “turn the pretentious art industry on its head”, which is a noble pursuit but so hopeless and nonsensical (in the grand scheme of things) that it sort of exploited her youngness (this is unfair). I had no idea she was in this world, and so when I told her about my foray into the scene – well, one gallery show and a slew of boxes for Godiva – she looked at me as if I was lying. She looked at me as if she were thinking, Why wouldn’t you bring this up sooner?

Her other job is to help young Korean hip-hop acts break into North America.

We played a racing game where I used up all of my nitrous oxide desperately and haphazardly, and handedly beat her when I really wanted to let her win and come in a respectable second place for myself.

I asked if she wanted to step outside, take a few puffs of her vaporizer. “I usually don’t smoke in front of new people, but okay.” I took a few drags and coughed violently, my throat no longer accustomed to a thick cloud of smoke. “This is sativa. I got it for my depression.”

“Oh right, you can just pretend you have depression and get a prescription, yeah?”

“No,” she said, “I really have depression sometimes.”

Back inside, we sat in a booth in the restaurant section and ordered more beer, more Diet Coke, and an order of French fries. She placed an empty plate in front of me and squirted some ketchup on the side. “I’ve never had anyone do that for me before,” I said.

Jane was high and I was drunk, so we talked about nothing and laughed about everything. Then I found out she had to wake up at 6am for a long drive to Big Bear Lake (or something) and urged her to go. “We’re going to meet again, aren’t we? So whatever, just go and get some sleep. I’m pretty sure we’re going to meet again.”

“Yeah, we are,” she said.

I walked her to the parking garage. It was a chilly night in February and so she had her hoodie pulled up over her ears, the collar of her black leather motorcycle popped up. I hugged her, said goodnight and kissed her on the cheek, or where her cheek would be if she hadn’t donned her hoodie. “Have fun snowboarding, I’ll see you when you get back,” I said.

We never met again.

I Was Probably Too Hard On Her

I was probably too hard on her, I know that now. But I was in a place in life where I found her when I wasn’t looking for her, when I was focused on making money and creating revenue streams and building residual income.

I accidentally found her and fell in love and after six months of dating, she became my girlfriend, although there was never an official unveiling, there was never a conscious decision, I never asked her, “Will you be my girlfriend?” and so we couldn’t – and didn’t – even celebrate our anniversaries because there wasn’t an exact date, just a vague “sometime between March and June…”

I robbed her of that. I didn’t think it was a big deal to mark the conception of our relationship, but it is. It is to the girl and it should be to me. These small things are actually the big things and I know that now and I give them to the girl.

I was 30 back then, eight short years ago. On my 31th birthday, we drove a long way to Mississauga, to an Italian restaurant that I always wanted to try – not because of rave reviews or a romantic décor or a dish that I wanted to try, but strictly because they served food family style, on enormous platters meant for sharing, meant for family dinners that started at 3pm and ended six hours later.

So we got into her car, a silver Nissan Altima, and drove for 40 minutes west and then north, past the airport. We parked at the restaurant and walked in; the waitress saw my girlfriend, nodded, and led us to the back room.

Surprise!

She had organized a surprise party. All of my friends were there. We were barely a couple and this is what she did, organized all of these people that she didn’t know for a boyfriend that she was just getting used to. I kissed her in front of everybody and the room applauded.

And then after a week, I was probably too hard on her.

Rachel The Tijuana Whore Knows Her Tacos

At 1am I sat at a taco stand on the main tourist street, Avenida Revolucion. I’d usually eat in a dusty corner of the city, but this was fucking Tijuana – I’d rather risk eating shitty tacos than my life. I sat down at the counter in front of the giant flattop grill, with a dapper cook in kitchen whites and a bowtie flipping various meats.

“Chhh!” the girl beside me said. “Chh!” Oh, this is how they get your attention, here. I looked over and she looked back, a blond haired, fair-skinned local girl wearing a black bustier, tights and high heels. She was obviously a working girl, but not a streetwalking type, perhaps from one of the high class strip joints nearby.

“You want a date?” she said, half-heartedly. She wasn’t even trying, she was just throwing it out there out of habit.

“Nah, I’m just gonna eat.” Surprisingly, she dropped her sales pitch and didn’t ask again. I must’ve looked hungry for food, not companionship.

I studied the menu. “Get the marlin taco, it is very good,” she said. I ordered marlin, carne asada and a cheese and chorizo. She was right about the marlin.

“Thanks, this is excellent.”

“Where you from?” she asked, half-interested, while messaging on her phone.

“I’m Korean but grew up in Canada. But I live in LA now. And before that, Thailand.”

“Oh, you’re Canadian?” she said, authentically shocked. “You don’t look Canadian.” I got this shit all the time in Asia, the locals thinking Canadians came in white or black. I thought we had that whole most-multicultural-country reputation?

“Where are you from?”

“Mexico, ha ha!”

“Ha ha, but which part?”

“Guadalajara.” I heard of it but knew nothing about it. It was a conversation blocker so I just nodded slowly. “I am called Rachel,” she said. “How are you called?”

“Alex.” I didn’t shake her hand. “What do you do here?” I asked.

“We both know what I am and what I do,” she said, solemnly.

“Yeah, you’re in the pleasure business.” Bangkok made me used to hookers – in a good way. I look at them as normal people, as girls just making a living. If you treat them like regular human beings, they open up. “You offer happiness to men.”

“Ha ha!” laughed Rachel. “That is a great way to put it. ‘I am in the pleasure business and I offer happiness to men.’

We ate silently. I don’t know why I always order chorizo, it’s always on the sour side. Rachel squeezed four limes into a small bowl of salsa, then stirred it with a broken tortilla chip. She seemed to be waiting for something.

“What do you do?” she asked while lazily stirring. “Why were you living in Thailand?”

“I’m a designer and writer. So I work from wherever, I just need Internet.”

“That is amazing! You can travel the world!” she said, turning her stool towards me. This is somehow everybody’s dream.

“Yeah, but I’m too old and tired now. I’m 38.”

“Wow, I’m 28 and we look the same age!” We did look the same age. Rachel is good at tacos and determining ages.

“So what do you want to do? What would you be doing if you weren’t in the pleasure business?”

“I want to go back to school for maybe psychology,” she said, pronouncing psychology wrong. “Or maybe I’ll become a lawyer – they make more money.”

“Yeah, but you’re 28. That’s a lot of schooling, you’re too late.”

“It’s not like that in Mexico, it doesn’t take that long to become a lawyer.”

“Do you have children?” I asked.

“Yes, a boy.”

“How old is he?”

“He’s four.”

“Where’s the father?” 

She shrugged. 

“Who’s taking care of the son, then?” I asked. 

“I live with my mother.”

“Where’s your father?” She shrugged again. 

“Damn. Mexican men are savage.”

“Barbarians,” she said. I finished my three tacos and asked for the bill.

“Rachel, it was good to meet you. I’m going to go sleep.” I didn’t look at the bill and handed the dapper cook $5 for the $3 check.

“Which hotel are you staying at?” I told her. “Oh, that one’s new. Make sure you take a taxi. It’s not far, but it’s very dangerous between here and there.

“Thanks.”

“Are you sure you don’t want any pleasure tonight? Can I offer you happiness, Mr. Alex?” she laughed.

“Ha ha, I’m good. See ya, Rachel.”