The Return of Good Girl Gabby

The last time I saw Good Girl Gabby was almost exactly a year ago. I was living in Los Angeles and flew to Bangkok on during vacation to relive my days of living there years ago. Good Girl Gabby was a significant figure in those days, so we went out.

I wasn’t going to call her this time. There was no point – we were no longer dating and barely had a relationship outside of those lines. But I called her out anyway, partly because I felt guilty that I was all the way in her hometown, and partly because I wasn’t doing anything else that night.

We met at Emquartier, the new luxury mall closest to my apartment. She was coming from work so I suggested she crash at my place that night, in order to reduce her morning commute from an hour to 15 minutes. She agreed.

What’s strange is that I had no expectations that we’d be having sex. Last year we did met up in the same way, and we didn’t. Like I said, our relationship was in a weird gray area where we used to see each other naked, but now we’re just familiar and comfortable around each other.

I arrived at Emquartier and texted her: “I’m on the ground floor in Building B – where are you?” She responded with a photo of me taken from behind. Good Girl Gabby was always pulling funny shit like this. She consistently makes me laugh.

(Holy shit, I can’t write.)

Good Girl Gabby gained weight. She’s tall, maybe 5’10, and would probably tower over me if she wore heels instead of the flat, unisex footwear she usually wore. She was slim but somehow since meeting her when she was 23 years old until now at 27, she filled out all that frame with fat.

She knows it and feels bad about it. “I drink milk tea every day. Sometimes I have two dinners. I just can’t stop eating.”

“You’re 27 years old, Gabby,” I said. “Everyone’s fat at 27 years old. Even I was fat at 27 years old. This is the age when people still eat like a teenager, when we have a fast metabolism. You’ll begin to adjust to being older soon. You’ll get the hang of it, and then slim back down.”

It’s true. Late-20s is when everyone looks awful. And then early-30’s is when women are gorgeous. That’s when they start yoga and deadlifts and SKII face creams and shit. Three years ago, I thought Good Girl Gabby would become super hot in her 30s, after the baby fat fell from her cheeks, revealing that beautiful bone structure she has underneath (that becomes apparent when she smiles). I dated her too early, you know? I was ahead of my time.

You know, that said, I should stay in the periphery of her life for a few more years to see how she shapes out. Not that her looks is the single issue why we’re not dating anymore – but if she becomes as attractive as I think she’ll be, it could be the dealmaker (probably not).

So we met and sort of kissed and sort of held hands, both of us unsure of how to interact with each other. Everything was comfortable, though – there wasn’t any anxiety or awkwardness. We were just trying to shift from “dating” to “eating buddies” and it’ll just take awhile.

We strolled through the luxury mall to the movie theater on the top floor. There wasn’t anything playing, or the timing was off. I suggested a horror movie, which Good Girl Gabby absolutely despised; and she suggested a cartoon, which I rolled my eyes at.

Jesus fucking Christ, I really, really can’t write anymore! Keep going, dickhead.

We ate Korean BBQ, then walked to my apartment that was a few blocks away, stopping at the fancy grocery store for stout beer for me and apple cider for her. She bought a pack of Japanese Ice Cream mocha, reminding me that I introduced her to them a few years ago at CentralWorld.

Walking back, I said, “I miss this.”

“No, you can’t miss me. I’m in front of you right now, you can’t miss something that you have.” She repeated verbatim what I’d told her years ago, the smarty pants.

We got back to my place and I drank my stout as she drank her cider. Then we fell asleep with our clothes on, no sex, no goodnight kisses. Just two people crashing in the same bed so she could get to work quicker the next morning – for more efficient logistics.

At 7am, I woke up and went to the gym. When I returned, she was gone, probably forever this time. Unless she becomes super hot in her early-30s.

The Girl With The Extraordinary Face Made Me Kiss The Blue Eyed Malaysian

At the end of our date, I did not kiss the Girl With The Extraordinary Face, and I don’t want to talk about it.

But I don’t think the opportunity was there. As much as I was full of anxiety and self-deprecation, I don’t think she was waiting for a kiss and I had a chance and I missed it. I absolutely do think that she’s the type to take it slow, and we were only on our second “date”, our first being almost exactly 365 days before. That’s how slow I believe she likes to take things.

On the other hand, I also think that I should’ve went in for that kiss anyway, because then I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now: abject purgatory. I would’ve kissed her and she would’ve kissed me back or reacted terribly, and neither of those things are worse than the place I’m in now.

Which is why I swore that on the next date, whoever the fuck it would be, I would kiss her. And the next date took place in Kuala Lumpur a few days later, where I flew to after Singapore and before Bangkok.

I met the Blue Eyed Malaysian three years ago from Tinder. I was living in Bangkok and she was traveling through and we both swiped right and said a few things and then she went back to Kuala Lumpur a few days later. We never met up, but we did connect on Instagram – which is proving to be the de facto dating app in my life, although it always takes THREE FUCKING YEARS to get that first date.

So we were casual acquaintances on Instagram. We knew what the other was up to. I saw her vacation to Bali and Ko Samui, to raves and clubs and parties. I saw her working, selling imported wines to restaurants around Malaysia. She’s a scuba diver, and sometimes we’d have direct messages about that, but earlier this year she got into freediving, an extreme sport where you dive without a tank of air strapped to your back.

(Why would anyone want to do this?)

I saw post after post of her practicing in pools and then executing in real life, flying all the way to the north coast of Bali just to free dive to a shipwreck, solo. I love that shit, that she has a hobby, is passionate about it, and does it by herself. That’s what attracts me about women, when I see that there’s a chance that I can be with her but alone.

So when I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, I messaged her: “Let’s finally go on a date.”

“Okay.”

The Blue Eyed Malaysian is gorgeous. She normally has blonde hair but recently dyed it gray-purples. She has a sharp, triangle face, large eyes (with blue contacts) and salon-quality hair (you know). She’s super fit, veering on the skinny side. She’s both feminine and masculine at the same time. Like she looks like a pointy little pixie, but then she’s always decked out in baggy hip-hop gear with large emblazoned SUPREME logos all over.

She had an evening meeting at a restaurant that serves as a heli-pad during the day and a lounge at night. We met on the rooftop where they set up couches and high tops where the helicopters would land.

It was a decent date, both of us seemed used to meeting new people. We were both worn out from the muggy KL weather so sipped on sugary cocktails. “I’ll take a mweeto,” she said, and I had to repeat it a few times before I realized she was trying to say, “Mojito”, but turn the three-syllable word into two.

After a few drinks, I settled the tab. She offered to drive me home as I was on the way. Her car was a Mazda something-or-other, kitted out with Toyo Tires.

The Blue Eyed Malaysian told me how she broke up with her boyfriend a few months ago. “I didn’t even know you had one, he never showed up on your Instagram.”

“He didn’t want to,” she said. “He cheated on me a few times. I should’ve known.”

“How old are you?”

“30.”

“Why do I keep meeting 30-year olds?” My recent ex was 30. The Girl With The Extraordinary Face is 30.

“How old are you?”

“I’m 39,” I said. Being so close to 40 years old would’ve scared me, maybe filled me with some shame. But I know better, now. There is no girl who would turn me down because of it. None. At the fuck all. So I proclaim it now, “I’m fucking 39 fucking years old.”

“My ex was 44,” she said. See, to her I’m a spritely young buck.

She dropped me off at my friends’ place. We hugged in the awkward way you hug in a car. “Give me a kiss,” I said. I was brazen. This was the fault of the Girl With The Extraordinary Face. I needed a win.

“On the cheek,” she said.

“No, fuck that. On the lips.” She opened her mouth to reply but I didn’t waste my time; I kissed her on the lips until she kissed back. Then I let her go.

“Fuck, they’re so soft,” I said. They were soft.

The Almost-The-One (It’s Not Time For Her Story, Yet)

A client needs a piece on the Galapagos Islands for a travel guide book, so hit me up because she knew I was there in 2010. Eight years is a long ass time, so in order to write a factual and fairly accurate portrayal, I need to do some research to see what’s changed and what hasn’t. So I dug up my old photos to remind myself of what it looked like when I was there with the ex-girlfriend, the girl I was close to marrying.

I haven’t seen these photos in years.

She’s beautiful. You know, I say this a lot about the girls that I date: “She’s the most beautiful girl I ever dated,” and it’s always true; I mean it every single time. They’re all the most beautiful girl in their own right, and I tend to date incredibly differing women that they can’t be compared to each other. It’s like trying to compare Angelina Jolie to Salma Hayek – they’re both at the top of their respective categories (but you can compare Salma Hayek, to, say, Zoe Saldana. Okay, so maybe my categories are racist).

Anyway, this ex-girlfriend, The Almost the One, was beautiful and I knew it and I was completely head over heels for her. I loved her so much – until I didn’t, until it faded because I thought that I needed someone more or someone less or someone different.

In retrospect, I could’ve married her. No, not in retrospect – I knew this at the time. I knew I could marry her, take the Art Direction job, buy a condo, lease a German car, have a baby. I didn’t take any of it for granted, it was all at my fingertips. We’d have a terrific life and I was pulling in three times the average salary which would ensure that she wouldn’t have to work.

Anyway, I don’t want to write this overarching, truncated summary about the girl who was Almost The One. There’s so much more to our story than a banal 750 words that I’m quickly typing out to hit my stupid, arbitrary daily deadline just because I’m procrastinating about writing the Galapagos story.

It just struck me that the love I had for her was nearly impossible to find again. I (possibly) found it once more in the last ex-girlfriend, who was actually the only girlfriend I had after the Almost The One. How is that possible that in a period of 8 years I’ve only had two girlfriends, one that lasted 2.5 years and the other 6 months?

Oh, the 238924324 girls in between. Got it.

But back to my point: I look at her photos and I remember how protective I was of her. Not in a jealous, overbearing manner – I just wanted her to be comfortable and content and warm and secure all of the time. That was my daily goal in life, to keep her floating. If she was happy, I was happy.

And then I think what happened was it got exhausting. Or it wasn’t reciprocal. Or something to make me stop, maybe abruptly, because she would complain and say, “You don’t say the same things to me that you used to say,” and I would reply, “But that’s how the world works, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamcs says that everything is in a state of entropy,” and she would say, “Shut the fuck up with that shit, just love me like you used to.”

I couldn’t do it.

(I can’t write. What happened? Is the gas tank empty from writing 50,000 fucking words last month? I thought the more I write, the more I’d be able to write. It’s like I wrote myself stupid. I wrote so much that it sucked the energy and juice and creativity and capacity to write with any structure, right out of my brain. These days, it’s like I’m just writing words into a giant black hole, words that I won’t be able to use in the future. What the fuck is going on? Should I take a break? Or should I write more?

I’ll write more. I’ll write and write until the fucking magic comes back.)

The Girl With The Extraordinary Face: The Date

“You know what, I’ll take you for Peranakan food,” said The Girl With The Extraordinary Face. The Peranakan people were the original indigenous settlers of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, which is why the three countries are incredibly similar in language and cuisine. They’re separated only by borders and customs that were recently drawn up by Man.

Or maybe not, I don’t know, this isn’t a fucking history blog.

My flight landed at 4:30pm and we were meeting in three hours at Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill in Clarke Quay. It was enough time for me to cab to the hotel, shower, iron a dress shirt and take the subway. I arrived first and grabbed a table. She messaged apologizing that she was running late. “Just out the door now.” “On the train now.” “Walking there now.”

I was sitting at a 4-top facing the door. She walked in and said somethingsomethingsomething that I didn’t hear, because I just wanted to hug her and make sure she was real. I’m not one to confuse dreams and reality (because I’m not retarded) but, man, this time I just had to confirm it.

It was dark and she sat quickly, so I couldn’t ascertain what she was wearing. Maybe a long, loose black dress? Definitely with a scarf. I couldn’t make out the shape of her body, or even the length of her hair. She sat in the dark and all I saw was her extraordinary face, her large eyes and plump cheeks and triangle jaw.

And then we sat there talking about everything while making eye contact. Making eye contact so penetrating and potent that I’d usually turn away from that degree of intimacy. But what we also had was familiarity and a bizarre sense of solace that two people who met off Instagram probably shouldn’t have. So while the eye contact was extremely personal, I felt so personal with her that it didn’t feel personal.

So for 2.5 hours we made eye contact as she told me about the coal mines she would visit for work, her family who lives in Singapore, the return of her irritable bowel syndrome that prevents her from her nightly drinking but has also helped her to become healthy.

“This is the worst country to have IBS,” she said.

“Why? The spicy food?”

“No, they put red onion in everything. Look, it’s all in here,” she pointed her fork at the dishes on our table. “It’s hidden in everything.”

“I love red onion,” I said, with nothing important to add. This, by the way, is one of the Top 5 conversations in my life: she was so involved in her story, hunched over the table and hunting down small bits of julienned red onion in our food to demonstrate her point. I just sat back and watched her, hypnotized, not giving a fuck about red onions or even what we were eating (I despise curry, yet she ordered curry, and I shut the fuck up and ate it).

She was just so fucking fascinating. That’s what’s missing in my life: a fascinating woman. I sat there in wonderment trying to figure out how her mind worked. She wasn’t anxious at all, she said what she wanted to, what she needed to, and they were all amazing things.

“Do you trade for yourself?” I asked her. She was an analyst working the energy sector, hence her trips to coal mines in the deep recesses of Indonesia. We often message each other about stocks; she gave me a tip on Kronos earlier in the year and I made $640 in a day.

“Yeah. I was amazing,” she said. She’s the only girl in world who could make a proclamation like that and have me agreeing in my head: you are you are you are fucking amazing like fuck.

“Was?”

“I had to stop,” she said. “It was too unethical.”

“What do you mean? You had insider information?”

“Yeah. Well, no. But it’s my job to study the markets and the numbers, so I had more information than the market.”

“But that’s not unethical; it’s all public information. It’s not your fault that people don’t dig and find it. You have an advantage, but it’s not illegal. You’re not hurting anyone.”

“No, I had to stop, I was making too much,” said The Girl With The Extraordinary Integrity.

But the most crucial element of our conversation wasn’t what she said but what she didn’t: after months of hearing the same old fucking shit over and over again, with Boring People thinking they’re the only ones to broach the subject, she never once said: “You’re dark,” or “You’re old.” We simply had too many things to talk about.

After 2.5 hours, we got the bill. She had to go home to pack for her business trip in the morning. When the bill came, I insisted on paying for it. Not (only) because it’s a date and I’m the man and I make American salary, but because on our first date the year before, she took care of the bill before I had the chance to grab it.

“It’s okay, you’re the guest.”

“Listen, Girl With The Extraordinary Face, I’ve been waiting a fucking year to pay you back.”

“But it’s $120. Last year the bill was $4.”

“Just stop,” I said. She stopped and we left.

The Girl With The Extraordinary Face: Pre-Date

So I flew to Singapore for one date with her, The Girl With The Extraordinary Face, whose nickname I wish I could change at this point, because her extraordinary face is the last thing I give a shit about because everything else about her is equally extraordinary.

I flew there for a single date, just dinner, really, because she had to get up at 4am for a business trip the next day. I flew from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore to spend three hours with her, and that’s a sacrifice ratio I’m fine with and would gladly do again.

Man. Once in awhile, a girl comes along who is so fucking crucial to my life that I lose all of my powers in order to attain her. I don’t mean that I have the “power to get her – I certainly do not – but the “power to make a move in order to have an inkling of a chance to get her”. This is it, she’s one of those girls. She’s my Kryptonite; she reduces me to an insecure pile of shit.

I’m not insecure in myself, like she doesn’t make me feel bad or I don’t put her on a pedestal (well…). I’m just insecure in the overall story of me and her ending up together. This trajectory that we’re on – I’m not sure that at the end of it will be me kissing The Girl With The Extraordinary Face. It might not be meant to be and I’m fully aware and absolutely sad about it.

And that makes me weak and despondent and lose those aforementioned powers to Take Charge Of The Situation. I tippy-toe around her, you know? I say things that aren’t too polarizing, that hopefully she’ll agree with. I talk about happy things in order to build a happy conversation. I talk about things she’ll already know about, and it’s probably boring.

Well, there was this one time I launched into a tirade about Japanese porn. I don’t know why, she must’ve triggered it somehow (I think we were talking about octopi which reminded me of tentacle porn). I have these monologues about certain topics where if I start it, I can’t stop until 5000 words later, until the entire script is out, and this is one of them. So after 20 minutes of straight texting about hentai and school girls having sex with sea creatures and liking it but squealing-like-they-don’t, The Girl With The Extraordinary Face responded, “Oh, I’m a porn virgin, I don’t watch any.”

I sat there, mortified that I went to that place, out of control and talking about fucking porn with a sweet, Christian girl who may or may not have attended a convent school when she was younger (still trying to figure it out).

But she liked it, you know? I know she liked it, and it led to a better conversation. But even though it ended well, I dare not do it again, because like I said earlier, this girl is now crucial to my life and I can’t lose her.

That’s the power she has over me: I would do anything to keep her in my life, even if that means that I can’t be with her. I kinda feel like that I don’t mind languishing in this stupid state where I can’t figure her out, where I’m desperate for her to like me, so long as she’s right there, a message away. I’d rather be here than to make a move, get flat out rejected, and then never see her again. That’s the worst-case scenario; my current situation is the second-worse-case scenario.

But this is all bullshit. I’ll eventually get sick and tired of existing in this purgatory and make a brazen move and whether I get her or not, feel better for it. God, that’s what I fucking do.

 

Viet Aussie Washroom Move, The Finale

At 8pm, we met at Baozi, a hip new Taiwanese restaurant in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City. Coincidentally, it was the same restaurant where we first met just two weeks ago, whose washroom it was where I pulled the Washroom Move on Viet Aussie in the first place.

I walked over and got there first; she was running late, apologizing profusely from her Uber, after our last conversation concerning how we hated people who were late. “I’m soooo sorry, I rushed home after work to change into something better and there weren’t any Ubers around. I should’ve just met you in my work clothes.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I texted back. I meant it; sometimes I’m annoyed at tardiness, but Asia Alex doesn’t really give a shit. There’s always something or someone on the street to observe, at so it doesn’t count as “waiting.”

We ordered more food than we needed to, but this was Saigon and 6 dishes cost $20. It’s cheap even for Southeast Asia (ie: last night I spent $140 on casual drinks on a rooftop in Bangkok). The “Taiwanese” dishes – lu rou fan, dumplings – were awful, but the fusion stuff – scotch egg – were killer.

I paid for the check. Viet Aussie Washroom Move didn’t make any effort to reach for her purse. Oh well. We were supposed to go to an acoustic rock bar that I scouted out (“I miss live music, let’s go eat Baozi and find a concert”) but it was nearing 10pm and we were both tired. “Let’s just go to your place,” I said. “Good idea,” she agreed.

This is where it began to fall apart (for me).

We sat on her couch, half watching TV, half talking. Viet Aussie Washroom Move does this thing that I despise: insults me without being funny. She was in top form on this night, spewing witty barbs such as “You’re old,” and “You’re dark,” and “I thought that’s what you nomads did,” where there wouldn’t be a joke, she would just say the word “nomad” in a condescending tone to indicate that there was a joke pre-installed in there somewhere.

For instance: “I like ginger ale,” I would say. “Oh is that a nooooomad thing,” she would remark, thinking that her mere inflection could do the work for her. No man, you gotta come up with the fucking punchline, you fucking rube.

On whatever program we were watching, some couple appeared on the screen. Maybe not a couple but a father-daughter dynamic. “Do you think their age difference is as big as ours?” she said, with a smirk.

“How old are you again?”

“I’m 33,” she said.

“You do know that my last girlfriend was 30.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” she said. Well, no, that’s what her face said, because she remained quiet after that. You know, I get that people are awkward, and I get that people think they need to be humorous. But there needs to be an actual attempt at jokes, or else it comes off disingenuous and just plain mean. I get that ribbing is a show of affection, but when it’s this lazy and boiled down to just “You’re old,” it’s just callous and, even worse, boring.

We went to the bedroom.

In the morning, she brushed her teeth first and I used the washroom after. When I came out, she was putting on a red dress, over her head like a shirt, rather than the kind you zip up in the back. She was wearing a lacey black bra and matching panties. The whole picture was so alluring it’s seared into my memory. Beams of sunlight, lens flares and all that shit.

We left her apartment together. She took the first taxi and I grabbed the next one.

***

A few days passed. I was leaving to Singapore on the following Thursday. On Monday, she messaged: “Let’s have a goodbye dinner before you leave.”

“Okay. Let me check my schedule and get back to you.”

“We don’t have to.”

“No, let’s do it. Just let me check my schedule. I have a few doctors’ appointments. Maybe we can do lunch.”

“You have doctors’ appointments at night? Look, I always knew that this was a fling, but you didn’t have to be cliché about it.” Well fuck, that escalated quickly.

“What the hell. The appointments push my day back, so I’ll be working until later.” I replied. “Cliché? What the fuck? This isn’t an excuse.” She didn’t respond.

The next day, I was at the hospital getting a physical. I posted a photo of myself in a hospital gown with some brilliant caption. I’m positive that Viet Aussie Washroom Move saw this post, because she finally responded after a day of freezing me out:

“Okay. Lunch Tuesday or Wednesday.”

No apology. No acknowledgement that she was wrong, that she blew things out of proportion. She doesn’t take accountability for her mistakes, and that’s a deal breaker, a personality flaw that will snowball. She also framed our conversation as if I was lying and the onus was on me to convince her otherwise, and the photo of myself at the hospital did it, so she can now reward me by restarting communication.

Nah.

“Hey – let’s just forget about meeting. Calling me cliché was insulting and bizarre and just factually incorrect. I’m baffled that that’s how you digested it and then responded. I’m not sure what makes you so trigger-happy with the cynicism, but it’s really not pleasant.”

“Well, boy meets girl, girl thinks boy isn’t typical, boy ghosts girl, girl realiszes he is typical.” Shit, I went from cliché to typical. I read that and realized that this would be one of the easiest pseudo-breakups I’d ever have to do.

“I didn’t even ghost you. That’s the thing, your entire narrative is wrong…” and then I stopped. I have too many ghosts in my life, women whom I dated and didn’t have a clean break with. Either our conversations slowly died down or I abruptly moved to another city. It’s just nice that this one has a finale, a clear The End – and so I’m keeping it.

 

I Need To Process This

I don’t like insecure people. Women, let’s just say it like it is: I don’t like insecure women. Exes, girls I’m dating, female friends – when they’re insecure, they become vicious and offensive and just plain boring.

Boooorrrrrring.

It might be Western-raised women. My brain is finally beginning to see a pattern emerge. The girls I meet abroad, do you know what they do when they’re feeling bad about themselves? They fucking say it. “I am very insecure about my makeup today.”

When Western-raised (not Westernized) girls feel bad about themselves, you know what they say? “I hate that fucking bitch, Stephanie. And Mary thinks she’s a big shot. Fuck Charlene, too.”

Boooorrrrrring.

Asian women let it out and cry, then return back to normal. Western-raised women suck it up, swallow it and fight. I think it’s this whole notion of feminism – a skewed version of feminism – that they have to be tough like men, which is skewed because we men aren’t really tough, we just don’t give a fuck – and there’s a huge difference. If we care about something, losing it will break us.

I only hear Western-raised women throwing words around like, “That guy’s a pussy; he couldn’t even admit to me that he was dating three other girls! That faggot didn’t have the balls to tell me he didn’t want to date me anymore.”

Do they really think it’s about courage? Do they really think it has to do with being less of a man? We don’t want to break your fragile, insecure, megalomaniacal ego, you idiots.

Anyway.

Viet Aussie Washroom Move, Part 3

I came back to Saigon from Phu Quoc, a shitty-ass island a 40-minute flight from the city that I swore I’d never go back to. But what could I do, I needed a beach and my feet to touch salt water, and that’s what Vietnam offeres.

So I came back on a Friday night and messaged Viet Aussie Washroom Move.

“Doing anything tonight?”

“I’m staying in,” she said. “By Fridays I’m so exhausted from work and just want to unwind.” It’s baffling that people move from developed to undeveloped cities, say, Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh, but then still work the grind. I thought the point was to escape the 9-to-5, not to just change the scenery.

“What’re you going to do?”

“The internet’s down so I only have one channel. So tonight it’ll be Mission Impossible 2 and wine.”

“Oh, that’s not so bad,” I said. “Thandie Newton was at her hottest in that. Then disappeared.” While I messaged her, I messaged another friend to see what her plans were. Speakeasy and club – sold.

“By the way, you were supposed to invite me over for wine,” I said.

“Goodnight,” she replied.

The next night – Saturday – was my turn to stay in. I ordered Korean chicken delivery to my AirBNB and plopped my laptop on my bed with Snatch loading up on Netflix.

“Where are you?” It was a message from Viet Aussie Washroom Move.

“Home. Where are you?”

“At a cool speakeasy.” She sent me a picture.

“Oh yeah, I was there last night.”

“Okay, so you basically know all the places.”

“I’m very smart,” I said.”

“I’m going home. Come over.” She sent me her address.

“On my way.” I cleaned up my bed, put clothes on and called a car Uber. I normally take motorbike Ubers but she lived two bridges away, and I wanted to have good hair.

I arrived at her building, probably the most popular residence for ex-pats that I also lived in two years ago for a month. It’s a huge complex with maybe half a dozen condos and a plaza below with all the amenities so you didn’t have to leave the premises. The one thing it lacked – and the reason I moved out, despite free rent – was fucking any Vietnam character at all whatsoever. It felt like I was living in Markham, Ontario.

It was all still familiar: the lobby, the video intercom beside the elevators. I went up to her apartment and we kissed when she opened the door. We sat on her couch and kissed while drinking her brother’s Penfold’s shiraz with Mission Impossible 2 playing (again) in the background.

“Let’s go to the bedroom.”

You know what, I was proud of her. She’s not a modern creature by any means. She even dresses in lacy, frilly clothing, much more suited for the 1920’s than a century later. She wears fancy, lop-sided hats whenever she has the chance.

Viet Aussie Washroom Move was sometimes snippy – downright bitchy – but I could tell it wasn’t because she thought of herself as higher but the complete opposite: she was nervous, and that’s how Australians handle their nerves, by being complete dicks. But under it all, here was a girl living in a new Wild West city with no idea how to date in the modern era – and knew she had to make changes.

So I was proud of her: she knew that I was in Saigon temporarily; she knew I’d just exited a relationship; she knew that although I date only one-girl-at-a-time (maybe she didn’t know this), I’d (probably) be swift to switch them up. Regardless of all of these qualities that would cripple an old fashioned girl like her, she sucked it all up, swallowed it, held her breath and invited me over.

In the morning, I woke up in her bed, alone. I walked into the living room and she was on the couch, this skinny, pale-skin creature, her eyebrows furrowed at the stark sunshine smacking her in the face.

“Why are you out here?”

“You encroached on my space and pushed me off the bed.”

“What, that just means I want to cuddle. You gotta fight back, you can’t just let me push you around. Shit.”

“Oh, I didn’t know.”

“Now you know for next time.” I put on my clothes, brushed my teeth and left her apartment. There was a part of me that was aware that she might’ve wanted breakfast, or coffee, or to at least softly wind down our rendezvous. It would’ve calmed her, soothed her consciousness that she didn’t make the wrong decision, that flings could be a healthy component in-between more crucial romances. But it was Sunday and I had to get to the gym. She probably didn’t believe.

Well, She’s Not “The Girl With The Extraordinary Personality”

I’m currently playing games with The Girl With The Extraordinary Face. What’s sad is that I think I’m the only one playing. What’s even more sad is that I think she’s winning.

She’s good. She’s real good.

But I have something that she doesn’t have – a lack of shame. And no boundaries. Very little caution. No respect for personal space. That defense mechanism that we’re born with that prevents us from feeling too much pain, that makes us build up the walls when we see rejection looming on the horizon – well, no, I have a surplus of that shit.

Anyway, what a fun game we’re playing: I write her well-thought paragraphs and she responds with emojis! Over and over again for a week! Ha ha ha! It’s so fun!

I would straight-up marry her for her face. Hers is a face that will solve all of my problems. All of mankind’s problems. Bad day at work? Look at her face. Stock market crashed? Look at her face. Someone threw acid at the left side of her face? Look at the right side of her face.

No, wait, scratch that – hers is a face that will be the source of all of mankind’s problems. I will fucking stab people to death for her face. Not even because they’re a threat to me and attaining her face, just if she asks me to. “If you love me, you’ll murder those people,” and I wouldn’t even ask which fucking people. Anyone in a 500 meter vicinity would be dead.

I look at her face and I see the future. Our future. I my mind, everyone has her face – her parents, our kids, their teachers, the fucking mailman and nanny and maid and dogwalker. It’s a universe full of The Girl With Extraordinary Face. That’s how extraordinary her face is, that I could be surrounded by them and never be sick of them. It’s the equivalent of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas. Year after year you hear that fucking thing and try as you might to despise that tripe, it does nothing but evoke a sense of warm nostalgia and love for fellow man.

This is all seemingly superficial, that I would marry a woman just based on her face. The world has this notion that looks are fleeting and will disappear, so it’s crucial to judge someone based on their personality and philosophies, because that’s their core that’ll never change.

But is it?

My last girlfriend was beautiful. Great face, incredible body, crafted and sculpted and made to appear on Shape Magazine. We broke up but it’s not her looks that changed – she looks exactly the same today than a year ago when we first met. It’s her personality that went fucking haywire. It’s her personality that switched from one extreme to another – sometimes in the same day – that in the end I couldn’t take. If her personality stayed as concrete as her looks, we’d still be together right now.

I’ve never said, “She gained weight and I cannot date her anymore,” but almost every single breakup was, “I didn’t know she was like this, I can’t live like this, fuck this shit.”

So the Girl With The Extraordinary Face could be the one, the soulmate, the game changer, simply because I don’t give a fuck about her personality. She could be brilliant one day, ditzy the next. A spoiled princess yesterday and a grounded hippie tomorrow. She could demand diamonds and penthouse suites and first class airfare. She could hit dogs and small children and yell and waiters.

She can do anything she fucking wants, as long as the foundation of our relationship – her extraordinary face – stays the same.

(Holy shit, even I almost bought this shit.)

Headway With The Girl With The Extraordinary Face

This is fucking crazy. You mean all I had to do was ask my dream girl if I could go visit her in Singapore and she would say yes? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

That’s the thing about life: no one told me that all of these things were possible if you just did them. I was brought up to ask permission or to wait for someone to give me the thumbs up to proceed. For the past decade, I’ve been testing this protocol – quitting jobs, traveling months to Asia, moving to Asia, not having a career, blah dee fucking blah – and I’m beginning to learn that it’s better just to do shit.

I haven’t “learned”; I’m still “beginning to learn” because it’s not completely habit yet. I mean, I’m used to people being against what I’m doing and doing it anyway (that’s habit), but I’m still shocked at the whole precept of “You Don’t Need Permission To Do Anything (And No One Will Give It To You Anyway)”. So every year I push and push and push, and I receive and receive and receive. By my calculations, when I’m 46 years old I’ll be fucking invincible.

So this girl, this absolute dream girl, but also reality girl because I met up with her last December in Bangkok – she was single and then not single and then single and then not single with her Korean-American expat boyfriend. I was also in a relationship for the better part of the year, so our communication simmered to just a food picture here or asking for advice there (I traveled to Southeast Asia with my girlfriend at the same time she traveled to California with her boyfriend).

Months later – and a month ago from now – I messaged her that I was back in Asia. “I’m unemployed and single again,” I told her. It wasn’t a flirt, it wasn’t a loaded statement. “Must be an epidemic; I just broke up with my boyfriend, too.”

What?

“Oh no, so sorry to hear. Wow, you guys are on-and-off. Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said. “The more we break up, the less I’m sad.”

I didn’t dive in headfirst. I did the right thing; I just hung out, messaged her here and there. I tossed small, tiny flirts at her just to stay out of the friendzone. They were harmless but they were obvious. If not tacky as fuck. But the Tacky Zone in better than the Friend Zone so I’ll take it.

And then:

“Hey, you in Singapore at the end of the month? I’ll be there for a few days,” I said. It was the truth, I need to kill a few days between Vietnam and Thailand for visa issues. “I don’t have many friends there, I’ll need you to be my tour guide.” This is a lie: I have a shitload of friends in Singapore. “So if you’re too busy, let me know and maybe I’ll go to Kuala Lumpur instead.” You see? Everything’s nicely loaded, right? Low pressure, but I made it clear that she’s the reason I chose that dumb island country where I’ll spend $800 in three days.

“Yeah, I’ll be here,” she said. “I have to go to Jakarta for two days during that time, though.”

“Oh no, well, hope I get to see you.”

“I’ll make time for youuuuuuuuu.” The more “u’s” the more she likes me, isn’t that the rule? Well it is now, motherfuckers.

“Why do you need a tour guide anyway? You’ve been here many times,” she said.

“Well I don’t really need a tour guide. I just want to hang out with you and see how you live.” I think she was double-checking my motives for hanging out, so I double-confirmed them.

Anyway, so that brings me back to: All I had to do was ask? This is a woman of magnificent stock, with thousands of men after her. Dream Girl status. I’m shocked that I got onto her radar on Instagram in the first place; then I was shocked that she set aside a night to eat with me in Bangkok last year; now I’m shocked that I have a fucking date with her in a country that I despise but will move there if I have to. I feel like I pulled off a scam, like she’ll see right through me. But I’m nothing but transparent so what the fuck am I afraid of?

So in a few weeks, I’ll find out. We’ll either get along and I’ll spend the holidays with her, or I’ll finally have nothing stopping me to move to South America and tackle Brazil, Argentina. She’s the last dream girl I have left in Southeast Asia. Anywhere.