Thursday, March 19, 2009

Josh and Taiwan girls: No means no - and yes means no too

As i have said people are complicated, varied and filled with the capacity to surprise. However, you can draw some rough guidelines, and with the women in Taiwan i would draw these: they are averagely more coy, demure, committed, downtrodden and less direct than in the west - Now, if you are a good, middle-class college boy from the west brought up on Mike Tyson date rape trials and 'no means no' campaigns, it can be a little daunting at first. If you then add to the mix an overly neurotic desire to be honest and upfront so as not to hurt other people, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble meeting Taiwanese girls.

Six months ago, Josh had had a girlfriend who said she loved him after one month. We all do, it is not a cause for panic. You just have to ask a Taiwanese female friend what is means and she will tell you the girl is just trying to create a romantic atmosphere. It is actually a little more than that: the culture emphasises friendship and the Taiwanese compete to say nice things to each other all the time, viewed from that perspective you can take it with a pinch of salt.

Josh, unfortunately, had panicked. He had since told every date before the starter had finished that - "I must tell you I am not looking for anything serious” - and six months later he was still sexless.

Finally, we had convinced him that if she didn't ask, then he was not obliged to answer; that, in fact, he was not obliged to know if he was in love and committed to the relationship within a month - and he could take his time. More importantly, he was unquestionably getting his date's back up by taking such a position.

Half convinced he went on another date. Slowly over the next few months he revealed how badly it went...

His date for the evening was Candies Lien, a late twenties account executive for Christian Dior who had a degree from Canada.

"You are a little quiet," said Candies now they had finished the main course.

"Yeah, sorry, a few things on my mind," said Josh.

For twenty minutes now he had been trying to analyse if she was going to fall in love with him or not. Whether he needed to tell her the truth.

“Are you busy?” he said.

“Yes, of course. I have to earn money,” she replied.

He sighed and hissed because he knew it had been another time-wasting question.

“Okay,” said Josh, aware that things were dragging and he was the one with his heels to the ground. "Hmm, so - "

“So, you know I am a foreigner.”

Fuck, that is stupid, he thought.

“You know we foreigners have a reputation,” he said referring to the one Westerners had for loving and leaving in most of the world.

“I know,” she said smiling.


“Hmm…Just I know. What can I do?”

She smiled and then pushed out her bottom lip and hunched her shoulders. He was sure he caught her flick an inviting look…but then a moment later he was unsure.

“So, you know and that means??”he replied.

She went through the same set of body moments and gestures, and for a fleeting moment he was sure and unsure again.

“I see you know...” he said, presuming he was beginning to make himself unappealing to even a Taiwanese girl. “Hey…Nothing…Again...”

He stared at her hard trying to will an answer out of her that he wanted to hear: Don't worry, i know life is complicated. He was frustrated because he kind of guessed she had given him the answer he wanted, but she hadn’t put it up on a big neon sign - The minimum he required at this stage.

He looked her up and down again – She had soft features, pleasant manner, unassuming; if she had heavy eye shadow, an aggressive manner; her tone of voice pleasant not snappy, this would be easy.

He decided he had to tell her.

“I am just gonna go to the bathroom,” said Josh. “Sorry.”

He walked through the curtain next to the coke machine on the back wall, and he opened the door to the left with the Chinese characters for bathroom. It was small, barely a meter and a half wide and a couple meters long. He couldn’t swing a cat. It was tiled white. No carpet. Carpet was a rarity in homes in Taiwan and definitely nowhere to be found in toilets. It was unisex with a urinal on the back wall on the left opposite the door and a squat toilet on the right. Squat toilets were bedded in a set of bricks so that further limited his ability to pace. It was smelly. It had no air conditioner. He wanted to be out of there quickly. He paced up and down from the bricks around the urinal to the floor below, considering what was said. Presumably, he told himself, even though he was no expert on Chinese culture, he could relax. She was saving face and not directly giving her answer. It was pretty basic, he made up his mind. He would head back to his seat. Hold on, he thought. He still didn’t have the answer to that look. After all she just said he understood what we were like, she didn’t say she agreed. She was still going to love him. He thought of ways to ask her whether she agreed, but he was too nervous already. He had been in the bathroom too long.

I’ll decide on the way out, he thought.

She gave him a fake smile. “Everything okay?”

‘No problem. Thank you,” he said knowing he looked anything but like he didn’t have a care in the world.

“So, Candies…” He stalled.


“So, do you want to go back to mine?” he asked.

She didn’t answer, but started to put her coat on to go with him. Still Josh needed to find out if he was sending her to his home or hers. She didn’t answer.

“It is okay? You want to come to mine?” He asked again. She had made it easy for him so many times already so he felt a little harrying might get her to give him the answer he wanted and save any guilt.

She didn't answer but they got on his scooter, her behind.

“Are you okay?”he asked again.

She registered what he meant and started to get annoyed: This was her first time to go back to a guy’s place so quickly, and she was embarrassed, and she really wanted him to respect her feelings as a ‘lady’ and be more subtle.

Still, she wanted to do this, and so decided the question could be perceived as checking if she was alright on the back of his scooter.

“Yes...thank you,” she answered putting her arms around his chest. "We Taiwanese are used to riding on the motorbike.”

He fell silent because he knew she wasn’t answering the question he asked. He knew she was going to fall in love with him.

For the next twenty minutes until they arrived at his house, he said nothing and she began to feel uncomfortable the result of his negatives vibes; starting to feel dirty instead of caught up in the moment.

He parked his scooter outside his apartment buildings, turned off his engine, sat facing forward for a second, then turned his head.

“If you don’t want to do this just say?” he blurted out.

I am already outside your apartment you stupid boy, she thought, I thought you foreigners were sex maniacs.

She got off the back of the motorbike, and stood saying nothing; trying to block out that ever dissipating enthusiasm.

“You know if we have sex tonight, it is just sex, it doesn’t make you my girlfriend, nor does it mean I love you. It takes a long time to know if you love someone,” said Josh.

She felt humiliated. She wanted to be romanced, given a break from reality, lied to if necessary; instead she was left feeling the next move was to slap on rubber gloves and press hard on each other’s anal G-spots.

“If I have sex with someone, it is very important to me. It means I care about that person very much,”she said.

Ten minutes later in the taxi back home reflection had set in for both of them, and they were kicking themselves hard.

. . .

A week later Jasmine was sat on Josh’s bed watching the TV, waiting...

Two days ago she had called up. “Hello,” she said. “Um, I am sorry about last time.”

“No, my fault,” he said and invited her to come round.

About an hour before she arrived the nerves had started to kick in, and he started to feel bad again: The poor girl was that desperate. He had bullied her into coming. He had lied to her. Now she was going to have sex with him and he was going to break her heart.

She hadn’t had a big beaming smile when she entered the door – and he noted that and got more nervous.

He got her a glass of wine, and remembered she might just be being shy. Then led her into the bedroom – He shared an apartment with two other Canadians and he didn’t want her sitting in the lounge and them coming back when he made his move.

He psyched himself: just relax because she wouldn’t be here if she didn’t want to, take the lead because she was shy, don’t keep asking and don’t wait.

Candies was sat on the bed with her knees tucked up to her chest. He flashed her a smile, she didn’t respond to. She was sitting on a strange man’s bed after all – she knew she shouldn’t make it too easy for him. She remembered her nationality: what men expected of their women.

She straightened her legs out when she remembered he was a foreigner – they don’t look down on girls for sleeping around, she told herself – and smiled.

He took up position next to her.

Fuck, he thought. It was that dating show – the Taiwanese version of Blind Date. He had heard almost every couple on the show got married.

“Why don’t we watch MTV,” he said.

She looked sad, but said nothing as she didn’t want to appear argumentative or selfish.

He turned his head to kiss her because he wanted things over - Just a few moments later, he started to try to remove her top. She watched him desperately trying to remove her top by pulling it up over her breasts. After a minute or so it was hurting her as, in his attempts to get it up without moving her or putting his hand inside, meant he was pulling it outwards taunt against her back, scraping along. It was also her favourite Dior t-shirt and she didn’t want it ruined. She arched her back slightly, hoping it was enough to give him a hint what to do, not enough so he could take the top off completely, because that was his job to man-handle her. Finally, he moved her enough to remove the outer layers of clothing – the skirt, tights and t-shirt.

The bra went, and then he went for the underwear. “What are you doing?” she said, partly annoyed at the speed of all this, partly as an instinctive action she was already regretting.

He sat up.

A few moments passed and she felt awkward sat topless on the bed.

“Kiss me,” she said grabbing him.

They kissed with him spending more time thinking, and the pants went. He massaged and kissed, and procrastinated as he doubted whether he should put her through this life changing experience.

He thought about going down on her, but he guessed he was only hard now because he was pressed up against her thigh, and taking that physical pressure away would mean victory of the mental pressure over his apparatus.

“Bu yao la (I don’t want!)” she said as he tried to enter her.

He sat up straight immediately. Doubts were drowning out the registration of devilment in her voice and the lack of volume in her protestations. He knew it could be explained by culture factors, but he suppressed that immediately – cultural issues were putting his head in a spin. At this stage - 'fuck me now, fuck me hard’ - would have been interpreted as an attempt by her to get the act over as quickly as possible so she could go home soon and start mending her broken heart. He was hoping she would rape him.

“You are not interested, right? Okay, I get you a taxi,” he said.

She covered herself with the duvet and lay on the bed unmoved, a little puzzled, she realized that he actually was going to get her a taxi, and she started to sniffle and fumble for her clothes.

Overwhelmed with anger and shame, he put on his boxers and headed to the living room to make a call. As it dawned on he had completely messed up anyway, he might as well tell the truth.

“Candies, I am sorry. I am a fucking goof - that is idiot. I don't know if i am looking for anything serious. I have to be honest to you.”

“I know,” she said, reacting positively to his new soft approach.

“What do you mean, ‘you know’,” he replied thinking there should be more words said than that.

“I know you will leave me one day. I can feel, but I want this opportunity. I don’t regret…Hmm, show me your hand,” she said.

He looked at her strange, but a sense of fairness was kicking in – he had behaved like the idiot – and he followed along.

“See this line - It means you will be very successful at work. And this shows you will have many lovers. I know now it is my fate.”

Again, he looked at her strange. It just sounded too weird for him. He knew the Taiwanese were superstitious and religious people: there were temples everywhere, the priests in the orange and brown robes; people were always burning paper money for some ghost or festival, or for dead relatives to spend in the afterlife. He wasn’t interested in these things. He had intended to ignore this aspect of the culture. Now it was dawning on him they really did take it seriously.

They made love – passionate, romantic love like you do when you have just come to an understanding.

A few hours later they were relaxing watching TV. They were both feeling fantastic: Candies hadn’t had a boyfriend for a year and was happy to just feel wanted; Josh was excited because he could find a girl on his terms.

Candies leaned over and looked him in the eye. "I love you," she said.

Josh started to run for the door before he realised it was his home.

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