Mercy, Karma. Mercy.

I can’t help thinking of the women I’ve hurt in my life. It’s never in a purposeful manner, or even in a way that could’ve been helped. Sometimes there’s no other choice but for one person in the equation to get hurt, and sometimes it’s the girl and sometimes it’s me.

But, I suppose, in my experience it’s mostly been the girl. I’m just good – no, not good but, like, accustomed to – walking away and forgetting about it. Shrugging my shoulders and saying, Whatever, and being mad for a week but resentful forever. Break ups haven’t gotten easier and I take each of them as hard as the last – it’s just that at this point I’m used to them.

Alright that might be the saddest fucking thing I ever acknowledged in my entire fucking life.

Anyway. I can’t help thinking of the women that I’ve hurt because I’m beginning to see my comeuppance. I just can’t hold onto the women that are crucial to me, the ones that I can’t stop thinking about, the ones that I see a future with. The ones that my brain tagged with potential for whatever subjective reason (occupation, hairstyle, love of animals, square jaws, etc.). I just can’t get to a point with one of the crucial ones where I can even begin to determine if there’s a future. I keep faltering at Step Zero-Point-Zero-One.

(Though there is a small piece of my consciousness that whispers to me: Psst – you only think they’re crucial because you can’t get them, you piece of shit. All of the ones you attained, all of the ones that you proceeded to the next step with, you deemed uncrucial. Grow the fuck up.)

So anyway, we were talking about my comeuppance. I mean, there are girls who read my texts and then don’t text me back IMMEDIATELY or sometimes AT ALL, thus forcing me to skew the consequential text message ratio BY SENDING THEM A SECOND CONSECUTIVE MESSAGE! That’s the kind of savage shit that I pull when I want to send a hint to a girl that I’m not interested. Jesus fucking Christ, that shit stings. I had no idea. The gods are getting their revenge and I’m seeing the wheel of karma…

Wait, no – okay, this is a fake comeuppance. Do you see what I’m trying to do? I’m trying to fool the gods: Ha ha ha! Okay, you got me, Gods! You got me back for all of my transgressions, for the path of broken hearts that I left in the cities around the world in which I trampled. You got me back for my cavalier attitude, my carelessness, the merciless way in which I’d depart a relationship while keeping my foot in the door, while tossing a loaded text message or email every six months to remind them that I exist. You got me back for all of that, and now we are even.

It’s like I’m proclaiming that this is my comeuppance, just to get it over with as quickly as possible, to get me off the hook and back into the cushy driver’s seat where it’s only my hand on the steering wheel. What the fuck. People who are authentically being comeuppanced don’t say they’re being comeuppanced. They don’t even know. They’re too busy curled up in a closet, weeping and snotting into their sleeve to even give a shit. Jesus, is this how manipulative I’ve become? Is this how much artificial control that I think I have? That I think I can fool the gods? That I can fool motherfucking Karma?

We’re not even close to even, are we? Goddamnit, this is going to sting.

Pink Tube Top

It must’ve been 2005?

Sometime during the heydays of traveling to New York and Los Angeles solely to ruin my mid- to late-twenties liver. We were at the height of partying in those days, so I don’t remember dinner or the nightclub or the karaoke after. I was just suddenly, magically in my friend’s downtown loft, all eight of us, drinking in the dark living room.

I came back to consciousness while talking to a girl. Literally, I was blacked out, and blacked back in while sitting on the arm of a couch while she sat facing me, talking about something serious enough that it was obvious that we’d be chatting for awhile. In my shoddy memory, she was wearing light blue jeans, a pink tube top and a white knitted cardigan on top of it all. She had freckles and bangs and dimples.

It must have been 5am. We were the last ones awake. I think we went to the bathroom and made out in there. Half of me thinks that that’s what happened; the other half thinks that that’s what I fantasized to have happened.

But I think we were making out, hard, as she was sitting on the sink and I had her pink tube top half off but then my friend’s white roommate with long, disheveled hair knocked on the bathroom door, still half asleep, to fetch his toothbrush (or something). I mean, this shit has to be what really happened, right? Who fantasizes about being interrupted?

Anyway, we left the bathroom and went for a walk, which was probably my idea because I like to walk. So we crossed the street and went to a McDonald’s and might’ve got something or might not have, but afterwards we found a hill and sat on it and talked until the sun came up. We probably made out, but I only remember the grass and the weeds and the commenting on all of the Mexicans trudging to the bus stop at 6am on a Sunday morning. They were all middle-aged and in their blue-collar work clothes – the women in aprons and the men in tool belts – and sadly went about starting their day, life just one long ass fucking chore to them, while two spoiled young adults wearing clubbing clothes with vodka still on their breath watched them from the top of a hill outside a (maybe closed) McDonald’s.

My flight back to Toronto was at 11am. I always took that same Sunday morning flight. We walked back to the loft and I woke up my traveling companion and we quietly packed our shit and tippy-toed through the seven sleeping bodies and slipped into our rental and drove for LAX.

I emailed with Pink Tube Top for a few weeks. She was smarter than I thought she would be, and she undoubtedly thought the same about me (I look stupid). She was the only other fan of The Eels, or the only other person I talked to about them.

Then one day I flew back to LA. It probably wasn’t long after – three or four months. I don’t know why I didn’t tell Pink Tube Top that I was coming back. I don’t know, it wasn’t that I didn’t like her and it wasn’t that I wanted the freedom to meet other women (I was flying to LA with a female friend whom I couldn’t leave alone, anyway). It’s like I just didn’t think of it, which might be worse.

Or maybe I thought that she wouldn’t care if I did? I do that a lot, I think that people come out to see me to be nice and I loathe being a burden. I think people don’t actually care but are being nice for some fucking reason, and I tell them, no, no – don’t be nice, don’t do anything for me.

So I didn’t tell her I was coming and at the first nightclub/karaoke we went to after I landed, she was there, drunk, in a fiery red leather skirt. She came into the karaoke room at the back of the club and saw me and exclaimed, “Alex?” in an incredulous and vexed manner. She didn’t give me a chance to respond but she didn’t need to, she knew it was me. Pink Tube Top stormed out of the room, her face buried into her hands.

“Oh, I guess maybe she did really like me,” I said to my female friend, who looked at me like I was a psychopath.

I never heard from her again.

No Sex For 95,040 Minutes

I didn’t know you’d take it so hard, she said.

Let’s not focus on what the fuck she was talking about (because I’ve dismissed it and refuse to acknowledge that she said it at all, in order to invalidate it, distort reality and erase it from history).

Let’s instead focus on this bullshit that I come off as some arrogant and selfish douchebag who’s drunk every night and fucks whatever and basically does whatever he wants to (well…) and tramples and bulldozes on and over anyone who stands in his path.

What is it that makes me seem so pompous? What is it that makes people instinctively tag me as some conceited, egotistical, psychopathic asshole?

It’s because I’m handsome as fuck, isn’t it. I feel like that’s it.

I get this constant barrage of shit from people about my Instagram posts, about how it’s made up of 50% selfies and 50% drinking and partying. They’ll accuse me of this and so I’ll whip out my phone and scroll slowly and deliberately through my feed which plainly demonstrates that 90% of my photos are the disgusting things I’ve eaten juxtaposed with the beautiful places that I ate them in.

They have no response but to smirk and shake their head, like I somehow miraculously omitted the tens of thousands of topless selfie pics that were just there! They don’t say that they’re wrong and they don’t admit defeat and they don’t change their minds; they just shrug it off. They shrug off the evidence, like it’s something shrugoffable.

And so from a factual and verifiable standpoint: I’m a guy that likes food and beaches. But from the perspective of the General Public’s Opinion Of My Appearance And Demeanour, I’m an arrogant drunk that travels the world, fucking girls and breaking hearts. What’s fucked up is that the latter matters more.

Jesus Christ, I can’t even remember the last time I had sex – oh wait a sec, it’s in my calendar…

May 9. That’s the last time, with the girl in Hong Kong who I went on a few dates with the previous time I was in Hong Kong (March). So on May 9th, I called her out and we met in Wan Chai and ate fancy Chinese food and had drinks at some hipster bar and then while we stood outside on the stoop, I meekly asked, “So, can I come over?” and she said yes and we slid into a taxi and went to her apartment on the east side of Hong Kong island where she grinded herself to orgasm on top of me maybe six or seven times before it was my turn.

After that, I was in Hong Kong for the rest of the week, and then Taipei for the wedding and then Saigon and then back to Taipei and then here to LA. That’s how much sex I haven’t been having. But who cares, I don’t have this undying thirst for sex, anyway. I don’t sacrifice things for it, like drinks with friends or a motorcycle trip or soup dumplings or especially — and the most frequent reason — the chance to go home and sleep early.

But even here in LA, even from friends who I’ve known for decades, I’ll get that bullshit. If you want girls, you should go here. If you want to get laid, try this place. Jesus, really?

When was I ever this type of man? When did I ever show any sort of evidence that I had that category of lifestyle? I can count on one hand the number of times…

So anyway, that leaves me with what I started with: I didn’t know you’d take it so hard, she said, because she thought I had other girls in the lineup. Because she thought I was dating a million fucking girls and she didn’t want to be one of them, or didn’t think it’d kill me to date only 999,999. Because she doesn’t know that I operate one-girl-at-a-time (albeit in a very rapid-fire succession – but still). She doesn’t know that I’ve always been so absolutely eggs-in-one-basket that I have neither the time nor energy to put this much effort into more than one fucking person in my life. I mean, I had to cut my mom out for this shit.

Jesus fuck, I hate being this handsome.

Hips & Whips and Fat Bottom Lips

She didn’t come out the first night and I was hugely disappointed, (is she the reason I came to LA? Why else would I care so much?) so we went out a few days later, maybe on the following Wednesday? I picked her up at her apartment in my white Hyundai Accent at 8pm, her address still starred into my GoogleMaps,. We were supposed to meet at 7:30pm but I pushed it back because I wanted to stay at the gym longer, because that’s the kind of frame of mind that I was in: I would rather hit the gym than to see her 30 minutes earlier.

— But now, three weeks after that first time, what exists in the world that I wouldn’t give up for those 30 minutes? Jesus fucking Christ, I had no idea how rare it was to get those 1,800 seconds. I would give up the stupid gym, I would give up traveling, I would give up melted cheese and processed meats and my newfound cheekbones and my sharp tongue and this extraordinary life of living in cities that I have no business in. And I know this because it might be exactly what I do, what exactly might happen —

So I pulled up at 8pm and she came out and sat in the passenger side. She wore her fitted gray jeans that I know very well, the one that makes her ass appear rectangular, made even more blocky when she would thrust her iPhone 5 into the back left pocket, half of it sharply outlined in the thin fabric and the other half perilously dangling out the top. She wore a tight black tank top – with a graphic? – so tight that I was sure that it was a one-piece body suit because it didn’t once un-tuck from the waistband of her jeans. She looked like a rocker chick, like Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease, after she shed her good girl bullshit and painted her pants on.

I hugged her and fell back in and I was done and I knew it.

We went to a dive bar on Melrose. Had a few beers, ate some things. She apologized profusely for missing that first night. She told me the story of the events that happened to cause her to miss it, starting in the early afternoon of that same day (alcohol; entertaining guests). I was confused because it wasn’t like her to apologize so profusely for something so small. I mean, in my head it was a monumental event that shattered my fucking world — but she couldn’t have known that. No one could have, because I acted cool as fucking fuck.

So she apologized and I just kind of nodded and stared blankly at her forehead because I didn’t want her to think it was a big deal, and I also didn’t want to accept her apology.

We walked to another bar down the street. I always need to walk to at least two places – preferably three – to get into my head that we’re bar hopping. Between the first and second place was the original location of the first Johnny Rockets and I asked her, “Wasn’t that the first Johnny Rockets?” and when she answered, I grabbed her hand, pulled her in, leaned my face into hers. She seemed puzzled, but then gave up and acquiesced and we kissed on Melrose after the sun had set but before it was chilly.

“You’re so stupid,” she said, repeating what we would tell each other back in January, both of us urging the other to snap out of it and continue on whatever form of relationship that we wanted (me: normal relationship with us in the same city; her: long distance and instant messaging forever). So she said, “You’re so stupid,” and she meant it and I said it back to her and I fucking meant it.

We went to the next bar, but it was only cursory. After a drink we were back outside on the sidewalk, kissing. We talked about things, things that I didn’t know and was shocked to hear: last January, after I refused her messages and ignored her calls – because she was stupid and I was hurt – she was devastated.

She said it again and again, that word, and I didn’t believe her. I couldn’t believe her. Could not. She was the girl that broke me by not allowing to break herself. You know? She was too tough, too cool, too unemotional – and seemingly proud of this. Opposite of the mess that I am, the melodramatic, foolish boy who wears his heart on his sleeve and mails her packages from Thailand and Vietnam, crammed with simple trinkets and treats and snacks and common fuckery found in my corner of the world that I wanted to share with her.

When we ended, I didn’t think – at all – oh, she’s devastated. I thought that she moved on, quickly, to the next guy, or to her old guy, or to one of the guys in between. I mean, that’s how I was trained to think of her – where would I get such ideas? Why would I think that she couldn’t cry? Couldn’t hurt? Why would I think that she wasn’t emotionally available? The way she acted, of course. She acted like a girl who could never be devastated.

But she was, she said, for the fourth time. Devastated.

I drove her home. I held her hand and it felt good. I was silly, giddy. I asked her, “Can we make out for a bit when I drop you off?” “Shore,” she laughed, in her Southern Californian accent. I parked illegally in front of her apartment complex and dove onto her in the passenger seat and buried my face into her neck and I swear to fucking god that it felt like home. For a man who has no home – a bed, a couch, anything familiar and comfortable and warm – a woman’s neck sometimes does the trick. Her fucking neck is home. Jesus fucking Christ, what kind of life is this?

We kissed, hard, the way we did before, in this weird way where there was all this sexual energy and aggression but very little tongue. Maybe we both waited for the other to lead and it just never came down to it? I placed my hand on her right breast and squeezed and she gasped and rolled her eyes because her breasts are extremely sensitive and even the most clumsy manhandling of them would lead her to euphoria.

I felt the arch of her back. I followed it with my finger, the same way I did it Taipei and Tokyo, starting at her neck and tracing the curve to her waist and hips and ass. Oh my god, her body. Her perfect fucking body that makes me intoxicated when I’m around it and whimper when I’m not.

“Can I come in?”

“No. I didn’t expect this at all.”

“Really? I totally expected it. I wore my good undies and shaved everything.”

“No, I really didn’t. So you can’t. I’m not your ho bag.”

“What? No,” I said, staring into her eyes, insulted. “You’re not my ho bag. You’re so not my fucking ho bag.” She looked at me weird because I took her casual joke far too seriously and it made her suspicious.

We kissed again and she climbed out of my car and disappeared through her gate.

 

I’m Almost 40, I Can’t Live Like This.

It’s fucked: I grew up on American TV shows and movies, grew up watching violence and racism and sex and assault and debilitating drugs use and that whole go go go go go fucking go pace that everyone’s operating on, that hopeless loop of working-spending-drinking-fucking-sleeping. You know.

What’s fucked is that I thought it was fictional. I thought it was all made-up or exaggerated or amplified, this furious life that Americans lead, this life where they’re one step away from crippling substance abuse, where the only reason they’re not is because they produce something somewhere for somebody who validates them for it.

Who can live like this, I thought. Who can live like this day in and day out, expending so much energy on working and finding parking and buying shit and showing off and trying to find girls to fuck?

But it’s not fiction and it’s not over-dramatized – it’s really just a few average dudes sitting in a writing room talking about the stupid shit their jackass friends were up to the weekend before.

I thought Toronto was an American city. I thought I had an American upbringing. But I didn’t, I had a very decidedly Canadian lifestyle, because shit like this was never on my radar. I was never ever close to becoming a drug addict or joining a gang or even coming into work late two days in a row. I mean, shit, I guess we are a nice, temperate, polite, even impotent country.

So that’s why I was so exhausted after spending a month in the States last November. I thought it was the weather, the prices, the car culture, the mentally ill homeless people (what’s up with that?), the gossipy, melodramatic nature of Americans in general (I have never, ever heard so many people so interested in telling me who they know). It wasn’t any of that, it was the distinctive American air that the people breathe here, and it’s contagious as fuck.

I know this because I’m falling into the loop. I’m falling into the cycle and losing myself. What happened to waking up at 7am, meditating, hitting the gym and then working all day? What happened to being happy for no reason, smiling at the fucking sun just for existing? What happened to three-beers-before 11pm, watching half of a Netflix movie, falling asleep and waking up without an alarm?

What happened to writing every day?

All that is gone. All that is gone and replaced with, well, I guess it’s just more money. And although I miss my old life of having money (an unspendable amount of money), I’m quickly remembering why I traded that all in for a life in Southeast Asia.

I used to want this life. I was built for it, you know? For starting up projects and working long hours and social management/manipulation. I groomed myself on American TV shows and movies, to be AC Slater or Vince Vaughn, to be able to talk to bosses and women and women bosses. To be able to drink an enormous amount of vodka and to dance adequately enough to feign coolness to have people talk to me, or even better, to feign coolness to have people avoid me. I was good at that shit.

But now, Jesus fucking Christ, I’ve never seen so much excess, and I’m shocked as fuck that I’m even talking like this. Who complains about excess, what am I, a fucking Swede? A fucking Norwegian fisherman? I live in Bangkok for Christ’s fucking sake, and it’s LA that I’m shaking my head at.

I mean, the amount of times I’ve told myself, “I’m almost 40, I can’t live like this…” in the past three weeks – Christ almighty. I need to go.

Yay, Melodrama

Already, already I’ve been rejected. I watched that fucking door, man. I watched that door all fucking night, waiting for her to walk through it. I drank and drank and drank all of these foul shots, these putrid glasses of whatever, whiskey and bitters and what-the-fuck-evers, and my brain refused to get drunk because we were all waiting for her. Waiting for her to walk through that door so I could feign anger, fake irritation in some weird way that I thought would come off endearing: “Hey, I hate you for what you did to me,” and we would giggle and drape over each other all through the night.

But instead I got a text message, “Sorry, won’t make it, can’t come, sorry, sorry, sorry,” and the feigned anger, the fake irritation turned authentic as I turned sour, really fucking fast. Then the alcohol – all of that shit – was finally permitted to hit me and so it did and then I blacked out and woke up 15 hours later a couch, actually on two couches turned towards each other to form a giant couch island.

I read the messages and reread them and thought hard about the balance of what was going on, of the state of the union. Of how much I wanted to see her and how little she wanted to see me back. I mean, how much more could I skew this ratio without coming off looking like a fucking idiot? How much more could I plead? How much more could I reveal myself while still respecting myself?

There’s a line somewhere, but fuck if I know where it is, so I told her, “Ha ha ha, let’s try this again…”

To the bitter end. That’s been my motto the past few years. Fight to the bitter fucking end. Because in those occurrences where I didn’t, where I left the fight in the middle for whatever reason – I was tired, I was distracted, I was bitter and thought our ratio was off – I regretted it. No, not regretted it, but I was unconfident with the result. I don’t like loose ends; I like ending things by telling myself, “I did absolutely 100% of everything that I could possibly do.”

Wait. But I did that with her. I already did that with her, just a few months ago (but what feels like years). I did this and said that and in the end I told myself, “I did absolutely 100% of everything that I could possibly do,” and I meant it and I was certain and confident and self-assured enough to gripe and whine for about a week – just because – and then move the fuck on. She had tainted Ho Chi Minh City and so I left to Phu Quoc and then to Hong Kong and then to Bangkok and then Bali and Jakarta and Kota Kinabalu and back to Hong Kong and then to Taipei and finally back to Ho Chi Minh City, which was now newly untainted.

And now I’m back in LA, but goddamn it, what a spectacular difference between when I landed four days ago and now, because of a door that she didn’t walk through.

Los Angeles

I’ve been here in LA for what, two nights? The first night was drinking expensive cocktails at a place that I must try to avoid because what the fuck, the amount I spent was insane when I’m used to Southeast Asian prices. Then I slept for 15 (!) hours because I was stuck in a cocaine-and-xanax loop which was totally not my idea, or even my preference, because why would you want to do that, take a stimulant and then immediately take a downer to come off of that stimulant? Jesus fuck, that’s just a shitload of pharmaceuticals that my body could’ve – and should’ve – done without.

The girl, she didn’t show up. She was supposed to show up and she didn’t show up and texted me to apologize and I was fuming, I was so fucking irritated, but then woke up the next morning thinking, “You can fume and be angry and never see her ever again and teach her a lesson — or just get over it and make a joke and make plans to meet her later on,” and I did the latter and feel okay about it. But still. But fucking still, I scowl, even as I type this.

I’m currently sitting in a white-walled cubicle in an office on Wilshire somewhere in Koreatown, Los Angeles. I was given the tour, met the CEO, a few of the receptionists and analysts and a super hot woman of indeterminate ethnicity.

They’re a client of mine, this financial services company, but I’m only half here to do work for them while I’m in LA. The other half is for me to have a place to focus on all the other shit I have to get done, including the book which has now taken up six stressful months of my life. So there you go, I’m working in this god-awful cubicle drinking shitty coffee (I mean, I only started drinking coffee two months ago but already know this coffee is especially shitty), trying to remember everyone’s names and connect the office printer (PC) to my laptop (MAC).

And it’s all self-imposed, living like this, working like this, a cog in the machine. The last time I lived like this was, what, 2005? Over a decade ago. It’s not so bad this time, since it is self-imposed, and I feel important, like a consultant, like a specialist who was called in to kick ass or something.

Anyway, how boring.

What’s not boring is that girl that’s sitting near the front of the office with her sharp make-up, like she’s bad ass but hiding it under her white button-up shirt, hiding a deluge of tattoos and body piercings. Yeah, I know what’s up with you, Indeterminate Ethnicity Office Girl.

Holy fucking shit, I just realized that I’m back in North America. That’s a shock in itself but I’ve also been thrown into this weird world of full-time employment nad I’ve totally forgot how to act around white strangers, unless it’s at a beach in Bali and we’re all learning how to surf. Unless it’s in a classroom in Bangkok and we’re all learning to conjugate Thai verbs. It’s this normalcy that I’m no longer used to. The fuck do I do? Do I have to raise my hand to go to the bathroom? Jesus fucking Christ.

Old Girl Make Me Sad

God. Not only do I feel sorry for those women who are my age and older, but also for those around the 30-to-34-year old mark. The girls that are up to 7 years younger than me, because those were previously the youngest girls that I was hanging out with, who I still can relate to (anyone before that, and I couldn’t reference early 90s shit like Chris Farley or Pearl Jam).

(For some reason, I don’t feel sorry for the girls that are 35 to 37 years old – my immediate generation. I don’t know, they seem to have their singledom figured out. Or they’re no longer sad about being single; they’ve come to terms with it.)

I was at the pinnacle of my drinking/socializing days at around 33-years old, which puts them at 26. (Wait, I don’t mean pinnacle like the peak, but, like, the end, the bitter end.) They were young and smart and energetic and I knew that I’d lose touch with them because I was aging rapidly: my body was degenerating, I was suffering through 24-hour hangovers and my brain just couldn’t pretend to be interested anymore. Basically, I was faking that I could keep up with them, but I could not fake it for any longer. It was becoming physically impossible.

So that’s where I’m at now.

Anyway, I’m back in Taipei, a city full of these girls who are in this age group of 30-to-34 years old. I recently met up with two of them, who don’t know each other, who are from two entirely different social circles and have completely different upbringings. They were both born here, but one was raised in Taiwan and became a teacher and wears cute Asian street market fashions; the other grew up in Los Angeles and owns cafes and restaurants and dresses very upmarket and looks like a mannequin.

But regardless of how different they are, I was shocked at how identical their answers are, so I’m going to deduce from this sample of two girls that all the girls in the world that are their age think the same, hence, I’m going to collate their indistinguishable answers into one dialogue: “Do you want kids?” I asked.

“No,” they said. “I don’t want kids.”

“Really? I want kids. I think that’s the point of life.”

“Nah, I’m over it.”

“I don’t know, I think you’d be a great mother.” This was my standard we’re-friends-but-let-me-plant-a-small-seed-here-just-in-case line. I have zero fucking clue if they’d be great mothers. Who does?

“Well, here’s the thing,” they would say, with a sigh. “I wanted children. Of course I did, that’s what we all want when we’re children ourselves. But, look: I’m 32. If I meet a guy this year – which is unlikely – we’ll date for two years and then get married. Then I’ll be 34. Then we should have a honeymoon and be married without children for another year. So that makes 35. Then we can start having kids, but I’ll be, what, 36?”

“So? That’s a fine age.”

“Look, you’re a guy. You can make babies into your 50s. But realistically, in my mid-30’s it just gets less feasible.”

“So you’re saying you want kids,” I asked, somberly, “but you’re afraid you can’t have kids.”

“Right. I might be too late. So I have to tell myself that I don’t want them.”

That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard it twice here in Taipei, last month from the Triangle Face, last year from Angular Japanese and the Older Woman, before I left Toronto from The Ex With The Perfect Face. All of these spectacular women who have entered their 30s single, and are now giving up on kids. Not because they don’t want them but because they don’t think they’ll be blessed with them.

“I’ll be 56 when they graduate from college,” she said.

“But what else are you going to do?” I asked. “What else is there to do? There’s only so many times you can travel around the world.”

I wasn’t saying this for her, but for me. I know this: there’s only so much life I can experience before I have to dive into that enormous, mammoth cavern that is Fatherhood. I just never thought that that choice – like for these girls – wouldn’t be mine. I thought it was the easiest thing to do, to become a father. After all, I spent the first half of my life trying to not get women pregnant. Condoms and birth control and morning-after pills.

Like my brain is accustomed to controlling birth, avoiding pregnancy. I just thought fatherhood meant, “Alright, we’re going in raw tonight!” and voila – new life project to work on.

Anyway. I’d have a baby with each of my exes just to see which one came out best. I can’t be the only person who thinks about that?

Nah.

I often email myself with notes – reminders or thoughts or musings that I might find important later on at some point. I frequently do this when I’m drunk and blacked out, and so usually the next morning I’ll read them while sober and think, “The fuck did I mean by that?” and then hit the delete button.

But a few days ago, I wrote this: “The last girl wasn’t the girl of my dreams. But as time went by, my dreams became about her. And maybe that’s the right order.”

What the fuck is that? Was I drunkenly yearning for an ex? Did I dream about one of them?

Oh wait, shit, yeah: I had a dream about the Hawaii girl. I met her when I was 19 years old, on a trip to Seoul. We were on this …

Nah.

Good-Girl Local Girl Misses Me

The Good-Girl Local Girl, the girl that I left back in Bangkok, the girl that I see whenever I’m there. She messaged the other day and asked, “When are you coming back?” “I’m not sure, I have to go to LA and then back to Toronto for a few months.” “Well, I miss you.”

She’s never said anything like that before. She’s a tough kinda girl, you know? Hides her feelings and such. She might say keed tung to me once in awhile, a casual, Thai version of miss ya. But never in English and never in such a somber, serious tone.

When I first met her – when I first saw her – god, I wanted her so badly. I saw her photos online, on OKCupid, while I was living on Ko Samui during the first month I moved to Thailand. And I remember thinking, “There’s nothing I can offer this beautiful, wonderful 23-year old woman. There’s nothing I can give her that no one else can, that half of the other thousands of men messaging her through these dating apps can.” She was just that gorgeous, that bright-eyed and witty and smart and happy. Sunshine in a bottle.

God, that was nearly two years ago, and now she’s a presence in my life and I’m the man that she misses. We’ve traveled, slept in hotels, swam in waterfalls, watched movies in $30 theatres, had sex in countless positions. Two years worth of memories, when two years ago I didn’t even dream that this outcome would be possible. I had no idea. I was the underdog, singing Morrissey in my head: So for once in my life, let me get what I want/Lord knows it would be the first time.

I mean, I don’t want to say that I won, or triumphed, or anything along that vein – but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t just the teensiest bit proud of myself for this achievement.

But what’s the achievement? That there was something, someone, out of my reach, out of my league – and two years later I was the one on top, I was the aggressor, the decision-maker, the one in charge? I suppose so, though that’s something I don’t care about, something I don’t value. But I suppose in terms of power and control, yeah, I flipped that table.

It went from her being my out-of-reach Dream Girl to completely-accessible Normal Girl.

I don’t see a future with her and I don’t know why. What is it, her age? Her immaturity? Her inherent Thai-ness? Her flat chest? Her wide hips? Her simple clothes? I really have no idea. I’m not for or against any of her traits. I like them all, or I don’t mind any of them, or I simultaneously like and dislike them. Like, I like the idea of them, but pragmatically, they’re just too dissimilar from my life.

Like, she’s a middle-class local. She’s not poor, she’s not rich. She’s comfortable but has to work – needs to work – and eats and drinks in local establishments. I love that about her, her utter normalcy. I love that she wears jeans and flip-flops and t-shirts and only wants to eat somtam at roadside restaurants without any walls and a squatter in the back.

But the flip side is that she refuses to go to nice restaurants. She has no interest in dressing up and putting on make-up and having a night on the town. It’s insane that I’m the one asking her for this, that I’m the one that needs to do this shit once in awhile, or on celebratory holidays. She just has zero desire. She couldn’t give any fucks about it.

God, but when she puts on make-up, holy shit. She can really put on that make-up. She can really clean up. But she’ll only do it for work and not for me, aside from our very first date and a few months later on some random day when she slept over at my place and the next day we went for eggs benedict and frozen yogurt. She took photos of us, and they remain my favorite photos of her while simultaneously being the least favorite photos of me.

So what am I saying, if she put that make-up on every day, if she did that and wore nice clothes and was a smidgen more mature – that I would then see myself with her? Yeah, maybe. I mean, yeah, that’s a step closer.

Wait…

Holy shit, I’ve never done this before: thought of what a girl can change in order for me to like her. I’d usually just walk away and look for someone else who’s closer to what I want. Is this allowed? Am I allowed to think like this, what people can change for me? I mean, it seems mean as fuck. It seems unfair and douche and too self-serving, even for me.

But. It’s just that. I just never thought that if I can’t find the right girl – why can’t I just make her? Take a close approximation and change her? Isn’t this what girls do to us?