Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stupid expats: Hate yourself too much to appreciate Taiwan girls

The two expat guys in question were called David and Swen – although we guessed there were plenty like them.
David and Swen were friends of John’s who he always met in the bar at around at 11:00. He would ideally like to go with us but we, like most expat foreigners in Taiwan, sat around in someone’s apartment drinking beer until one in the morning to save money. John worked 50 hours a week or more and, in his own words, didn’t want to sit around waiting for his evening to happen. It was arguable if he even needed to meet them as, as soon as the bar got crowded they would fan out, only passing another twenty minutes of conversation together all night. David to one side of the bar and Sven to the other, while John wandered around introducing himself to anyone who would talk to him. When pushed on the subject, he admitted that it wouldn’t make much difference to go alone, but it was that initial thirty minutes or so of knocking back Tequila, he didn’t want to do by himself. None of us liked Sven and David, but John explained they were disgusting Neanderthals and after working hard all week, behaving like a decent human being, it was good to talk to someone without a good bone in their bodies.
Sven and David were in the bar to pick up Taiwan girls three nights a week; rain or shine, sick or healthy, on their own or with friends, they had to be there to stop there lives falling apart. They had not evolved – This was Taipei, everyone had a Taiwanese girlfriend so you could talk to your friends for most of the time in the bar; there wasn’t such a hurry. Not them, they were to be found heads above the crowd, staring hungrily, agitated, consumed, like the desperate guys in the over-25 Nightclub back home, who hadn’t met a girl for months, and were beginning to question whether they ever would do again. They were so focused a 100 people could walk by and spit in their glass and they would never know, yet they picked up the night before, 3 days ago, 5 times this month and countless this year. Surely they must have proved to themselves that they were men by now…it seemed not.
“What’s up mate?” asked John suddenly finding himself next to Sven.
“It is a bit slow tonight.” And with the sheer horror of not picking up that night dawning on him, Sven set off back into the crowd, efforts redoubled.
Then John saw David. “How is it going?” asked John.
David and Sven were not assholes because they liked to pick up Asian girls; they were assholes because of the manner in which they did it.
David replied, “I can’t find a decent girl, man - these Taiwan girls are all sluts. I am going to have to leave soon…to somewhere with decent girls. I expected to be married by this age, but not here!”
That was the problem: David was absolutely sincere in his disillusionment and disappointment, and because of it, destined to lead an unhappy life: arriving a nerdy virgin with an ultra conservative upbringing, meant he had to fuck as many Taiwan girls as possible to try and prove his worth as a man; then recoil in disgust because the girl was prepared to sleep with him. Drawing large maps of his hypocrisy, with bright colors and 3-D shapes specially designed for kids, didn’t help.
“Look at that slag. I fucked her last week and now she is with another guy,” he continued.
“It is okay, I don’t think you were planning to marry her,” replied John.
“I decide when things are over.” As an expat David’s ego had also got out of hand: he had got the idea that getting Taiwan girls had something to do with his looks and personality.
“Hey, that guy is ugly. You are ugly. This is Taiwan.” retorted John.
Sven returned, “I got to go someone else. I don’t care if it takes all night.”
“Just get yourself a whore. Save your energy,” replied John.
“I’m not going to pay for it.” Sven would never see her again; she could be anyone and he didn’t care if she liked him or not.  However, it was different from prostitute for reasons only known to him.
John was glad to see middle-class liberal contradictions weren’t dead.
Sven wasn’t finished. “Man, I just don’t get these 3-hour Take-a-Break hotels,” he said. “I mean, my girlfriend is at work so I go to one with this thing I picked up and the woman behind the desk is looking at me like I am some sort of smuck. She doesn’t know it ain’t my girlfriend.”
“There you go - Shows why we all hate lawyers,” said John.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eric and over compensation towards Taiwanese girls

Despite years of evidence to the contrary Eric still found it impossible not to overcompensate for Taiwanese girls’ poor status in their society – It is not that Taiwanese girls didn’t have lesser status, they did; it was rather the situation was more complicated than that: a lesser status didn’t mean they didn’t have an opinion or pride or desire to have your own way.
Still, no Taiwanese girl with Eric would be allowed to make a decision just to make her man happy. On this occasion, Eric was trying to arrange a vacation to southeast Asia with his new girlfriend Christina.  Christina understood that she could speak out with a foreigner – that was why she was with one after all; however, over the vacation she just had no idea.
“Where would you like to go? Thailand or Philippines” said Eric. 
“Why not California or New York?” replied Christine.
“We have discussed this,” replied Eric. Christine wasn’t sure what they had discussed – apparently some nonsense about getting to explore her part of the world when she had no interest.
“Then i am fine with anywhere,” replied Christine.
Eric stared at her for a short while. “Come on, you can tell me. It is okay, I am a foreigner. Would you like to go to Koh Samui?”
“Yes, anywhere you want,” she replied as she had no idea where it was.
“No, come on, I want you to say where you want to go. This is a joint effort you know.”
“I just know nothing about these places. You decide.” Eric was sure she was just as a Taiwan girl being nice and respectful.
“We could also go to Koh Samui in Thailand, or maybe the Philippines or Bali. What do you think?”
“Okay, what is the difference?” replied Christine reluctantly. I now have to decide my execution method, she thought
“Boracay has the best beaches but is the least developed; Koh Samui has better beaches, Bali better hotels.”
“Okay, then take me to Bali. I decide,” said Christine thinking it was quicker this way.
“Okay, so you prefer Bali and I prefer Koh Samui. I thought we were going to go cheap, and therefore it is better to go to Boracay and get a beach hut.”
“Okay…wherever you say…Boracay then!” She had lost him a long time ago and was getting annoyed they were still having the conversation.
“Wait a moment, we are discussing this together. Boracay is hard to get to and a little bit undeveloped. Koh Samui is a good compromise of the two!” Eric was talking to Christine and himself at the same time. 
“Why you bother to ask me when we are back to the original? You want me to make decisions and then you change. Don’t ask me again!”
“No, I wanted to discuss with you. That is the important thing.” Eric was sure he knew best where to go, he just wasn’t sure where that was. Like those bosses who call meetings to make it appear like it was someone else’s decision he needed to discuss it with Christine.
“You are now grateful for my input yes! Remind me: what was my input?” barked Christine.
They moved on to timing. “So when can you go?”
“Just give me a month and I can book it. What is a good time for you?” said Christine.
“Me the same! So give me a date.” He was not going to fall for that trick? He was sure if he gave her a date, she would agree with it just to follow him.
“Okay! July. First week,” she replied.
Next Eric opened the website “Ok, where to stay?”
Christine. “I decided the place, you decide the hotel.”
“You didn’t decide the place. We did together I was happy with your choice so help me choose a hotel,” said Eric. This was what he had suspected: she was being a Taiwan girl. He needed to get her more used to taking part in the decision making. He knew because he daily monitored his own actions for signs of male chauvinism, and was getting increasingly worried because he didn’t seem to be able to spot any acts of caveman like behavior. To train her, he knew he had to spoil her now, let her get used to making more decisions and then he could start to bring things back to a more equal balance later.
“Okay, this looks like a better hotel,” she replied wearily.
“Are you sure? You are not saying this because you think I want to stay there are you.” He was sure she had been trying to read his face. Actually, she was just confused.
“No, that hotel is the hotel I want to stay at,” she replied. Even though she didn’t care, after the destination discussion she was going to make a stand on this one, she wasn’t going to be messed around again.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay at this one.” Desire to let her have her own way was now causing decision grid-lock.
“If I can’t stay at this one, I’m not going.” For an instant he thought she was serious –which she was – but then concluded that these Taiwanese girls really were experts at hiding what they truly thought.
“Ok. Great. Then it is all decided,” said Eric. He gave a nod to himself that he had managed to negotiate the tricky problem of drawing out of her what she thought. Now, he just needed to get together the money for his half about a month earlier than he initially planned. Maybe, the hotel was a little out of his price range – but he would think of a way out of it.
“You know anyone who can get us a cheap flight?” asked Eric.
“A travel agent is a friend of mine and she will give me a good price.”
“What do you mean she is your friend? She actually gives you a special discount and you occasionally go out socially?”
“My family has bought a lot of tickets from her in the past.” It was the same old story – couching a business relationship in personal terms; the belief that cheaper tickets would come because she was a friend.
“So she is just someone in an agency who you have bought a lot of tickets from - like the other 4 million in Taipei. This woman has a lot of friends, I’m sure.”
“You get the fucking tickets! You ask me if I had a friend to get us a cheaper ticket, yes or no? I don’t want to help anymore.”
“I meant an…” He wanted to say ‘actual friend’, but realized it was much quicker just to apologize - “I’m sorry.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Flooding the toilet and germ obsession in Taiwan

In was in a Starbucks in Taipei. I waited for the door of the bathroom. I had heard the guy splashing and sloshing around from the other side of the door, now my fears were realized as i spotted the wet floor, walls and water dripping from the mirror over the bathroom.
Jesus, can’t i even come to Starbucks and not need my wellies, i thought. It is well decorated. The assistants keep it clean. You are not at home.
The obsession with germs and cooling oneself down meant almost every bathroom you went to in Taipei, Taiwan was soaking wet. You kind of expected it and were not bothered at some tourist attraction where the toilets were pretty basic, but not in this spanking new clean bathroom. Obviously, the guy has done what he always did. Pulled out a 100 tissues or so to place on the toilet seat, so many that it must have felt like a sofa. Then he had opened the tap with his fingernails and, once his hands were washed spent 10 minutes throwing water over the tap to make sure when he turned it off he wouldn’t pick up any germs. But he hadn’t finished yet. It was summer so he had to throw water on his face for another 10 minutes, and, as Taiwanese never have carpet on their floors in the bathroom, he threw enough water to thin out the paint on the back wall. 
Oh well, nothing to do. I had to turn up my jeans and wade in.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Work in Asia: Smuggling into Taiwan II

A long time after the gigolo work Pierre started his Taiwan import/export business – see, smuggling expensive bags into Taiwan
While it was work, it wasn’t exactly ever going to IPO but at least it keep him in enough cash for a 4 or 5 month stay in Taiwan. However, like all nice little numbers it was destined to come to an end.
He was back in Paris for another bag run. At the start Pierre had showed some commonsense: he went shopping for the bags when he arrived for good reasons – He didn’t spend all the money he had been given and if an item was out of stock he had a chance to get it another day. This time he had reverted to type. The money his buyer in Taiwan had given him was mostly gone – she gave him about half the money – and he had just one day left to get all his bags and scarves.
Still, armed with his father’s credit card, he was sure he could do it all in time.
First stop was a scarf and bag he needed in Hermes. On the way he checked out the pictures he had in his pocket of the items he needed before entering the shop. He didn’t have much time so he just shouted to the shop assistant to get him the items, but this was France not Taiwan so the assistant ignored him, before pointing curtly to a table in the corner.
Pierre sighed, somebody was already looking at the bag and he had a tight schedule. He hovered around not trying to look too interested or pushy waiting desperately for him to put it down. He breathed a sigh of relief as the guy moved over to the scarves and he went to pick it up.
“Hey, what are you doing?” said the guy.
“I am taking the bag,” said Pierre. “You put it down.”
“I put it down because i have decided it is the bag i want and now i am looking at the scarves.”
Pierre wasn’t sure about etiquette here. He had never had to fight to make a purchase. He looked at the sales assistant who just shrugged his shoulders. Pierre snarled and put it down again.
Pierre to shop assistant, “Ok. I want that bag, please.”
Assistant: “Is there anymore on the table?”
“No,” said Pierre. There was a long silence punctuated with: “So can you get me more from stock?”
Assistant: “Is there anymore on the table?”
Pierre turned to the guy with the bag and tried to be charming. “Look, it is my girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow…”
But it was pointless. “Same here,” he replied. “And, no. She didn’t give me a long list of choices.”
Pierre turned back to the assistant. “Ok, can you order me one from another shop?”
“Sure,” said the assistant. “It will take two days to arrive.”
“Never mind,” said Pierre. “He bought the scarf he had to and headed out the door to the taxi.
An hour and a half later after wasting plenty of Euros in taxi he had his bag and he was in Gucci to get a couple of wallets.
There were lots of people there already but he knew the layout of this shop and headed straight to that section. As he approached the glass counter the same guy was approaching from a different angle. Pierre accelerated and grabbed 3 or 4 wallets.
“Don’t know which one i want yet but i am booking them all.”
The guy stared at him but knew he was beaten this time. He headed off to pay for the sunglasses he had picked up, while Pierre stood a couple of customers behind him in the queue. As they waited Pierre began to put two and two together. The guy had sunglasses he had just bought, he was dressed overly smart for someone who clearly wasn’t going to work that day, and now he was double-checking a piece of paper to make sure it was the right item. He guessed they had the same mission.
Once outside he chased and caught up to the guy.
“Ok,” said Pierre. “Who are you getting the bags for?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” the guy replied.
“Stop,” said Pierre. “We are both French. What difference does it make?”
The guy then explained how he got his smuggling job into Asia. He had met a Hong Kong girl in a bar. She had told him a hard luck story of how the racist shop assistants in Louis Vuitton wouldn’t sell her a bag so he had gone and bought it for her. It became a habit and he knew she didn’t have that much money. After giving her the bag and getting the money he followed her a while and saw her meeting another guy. Initially he had been interested in her, so he approached angrily only to see her collecting another bag and handing over cash. He demanded to know the truth and from then on it became a job.
Pierre knew this was kind of work was not limited to Taiwan but all across Asia. It was a smart move and a step up in operations. Usually the Taiwanese and Hong Kong relied on students from their respective countries and air stewardesses, but that was limited: they could only buy one at a time and not so regularly because they didn’t want to get blacklisted by the shops. This way, with a local buying, the bags could be passed on and the hostesses could bring in two or three per trip nicely tucked away in their luggage. It was a necessary move now with the demand for these kind of bags in Shanghai etc.
Can’t anything stay low key, thought Pierre.
“Anyway, do you have to do this today?” asked Pierre.
“Sorry, man. I have a mortgage to pay. Besides the girl said tomorrow lots of items had to go.”
That will be my flight, thought Pierre.
Pierre continued: “So what now?” said Pierre.
“I don’t know, man,” replied the other guy. “I guess you do yours, and i do mine. And let the best man win.”
With that they both ran in opposite directions.

Five hours later the shops were shutting and Pierre was assessing his shopping list of items that needed to be smuggled back to Asia. He was down about half the items. During the afternoon he had only seen his competitor about a couple of times, but he had felt his presence as stock was gone before he got there. But it wasn’t just competing with the other French guy it seemed because the shops with packed with Mainland Chinese guys in bad jackets trying to buy luxury and getting rejected. The Mainland buyers were a hard bunch to pick because the super rich from China also often dressed extremely badly. Picking a westerner faking rich was about looking for a cheap pair of shoes combined with the nice suit; for the Mainlanders spotting someone who was genuinely rich was about finding one extraordinarily expensive item – usually watch – among a bunch of bad ones.
On this smuggling run he knew he would only make enough for a month or so. He also knew that he wouldn’t be bothering to fly back in such a short time. He would have to find other work to do.
He went around the corner to a bar and sat down for a drink. Across the room was an Asian girl sitting across from a French guy. Not extraordinary but for the fact that there were a bunch of name brand bags on the floor between them – and obviously, they couldn’t afford the contents for themselves. The couple got up and left after exchanging bags and the guy gave him a wink as if to say “you too”. Pierre ignored him based on professional pride: he was the original smuggler. He would have some real work in Asia.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Work abroad: Pierre and his KTV Gigolo job in Taipei VI

Just a reminder this is the sixth installation of the story of Pierre's work as a gigolo in Taipei. Best to go back and read all in the Pierre and his KTV gigolo job series from work abroad.

 About a week after he went into hospital in Taipei, we all went to visit. As we got close to the door of his room a certain woman came out and suddenly we felt the need to sprint in, hearts racing.
“What the fuck was she doing here?” We shouted in unison. “You didn’t eat anything from her did you…? She didn’t get near your drip?”
“Relax, guys,” said Pierre.
Eric lost his temper. “What do you mean? RELAX. It was her you dumb fucking idiot! She hired the hoods!”
We hoped the pain shooting through his body would generate some humility, but unfortunately not.  “I think I know her,” he replied.  “I was always too careful. She is not smart enough to have worked it out.”
We all thought about punching him or grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and banging his head against the wall. 
Pierre broke the silence. “Besides - You boys don’t want to lend me the money to pay for my hospital bill?”
We didn’t of course, because lending no doubt meant giving.
Pierre continued. “How do you think i got moved into this private room?”
In fact a week ago, for a few moments, we had delayed his entry into intensive care wrangling over Taiwan identity papers and costs:
In the end Eric solved it. “I use my registration card and John handles the costs. You’ll be able to get the money out of him; he is afraid of you.” Eric had suggested and so it was settled: one of them had the cash, and the other, an identity card.
“You sure no syringes went near your drip?” I asked.
“No. Now have some fruit. It is one of those Japanese apple/pear combinations. Very good and very expensive,” said Pierre.
It did look great but still we declined.

In spite of his convictions that it wasn’t her, the next day he checked himself out of the hospital, arranged to see her to tell her he was going back to France, and went to collect his stuff.
He then chose to interpret her not standing in his way, and the envelope with four thousand US dollars, as a sign she felt sorry for him - rather than that she felt extremely guilty.
No doubt she did actually only want him scared and a little roughed up. Things had conspired against Pierre: he was drunk, spoke excellent Chinese, and had already gone into Mickey Rourke mode.  They were professionals, but it didn’t mean they couldn’t be provoked into making it personal.
* * *
Another week later. We had gone to meet him in a pub. He had already arrived. Probably been there all day.
We sat opposite him watching in awe while, with his arm in a sling, he ‘chain’ ate and drank: a pint, a large submarine sandwich and his evening dose of pills with just the one working hand.
“Not easy to keep the salad in the sandwich with one hand,” said Pierre implying that he could, and he was coping much better than most who, just two weeks ago, had all the nerves in their hand severed. When they set up the ‘Machete Victim Olympics’ he would be the new Carl Lewis.
He continued. “It must have been my ex-boss. I don’t fucking forget this sort of thing. There are some horrible kind of guys in the gigolo industry, I can handle them but, you know, I ain’t that sort of man. Don’t want that for my life.”
"So that is the end of your career as a gigolo then?" I, unable to resist, asked.
"You know i have been trying to get out of that for a long time," said Pierre. "Working abroad is not easy you know."
I wanted to say working abroad was indeed difficult when you refused to work, but i decided to leave it.
Overall, we still felt too much admiration and pity for him to tell him what an asshole he was. Josh, Eric and myself knew we were expat wimps: that if we temporarily lost feeling in a little toe, we would have been on the first plane home to utilize the hospitals of our respective Western countries, and promise our parents to never leave again. It was irrational of course: Taiwan has a first world healthcare system and similar could have just as easily have happened back home, but times like this demanded panic, familiarity and a ‘bogey man’ to blame.
“If I owe you money, get it now, while I have it,” said Pierre getting a huge envelope of cash out of his jacket pocket. “ Thank you all. In fact, take some money for drinks tonight. Only, I excuse myself from going to get the rounds.”
We had visions of him going backwards and forwards bringing one beer at a time and started to smile. We could tell that there was a slight lack of energy in his tone - Maybe the unsinkable ego had it bows breached after all.
Pierre then declared he was off to Thailand for a few months because he needed to lie low and have a think about what to do.
Thailand wasn’t exactly the place where you go if you want to stay out of trouble.
As expected he was back in under a month. All his money spent, but at least not lacking functionality in any more limbs.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Work abroad: Pierre and his KTV gigolo job in Taipei V

Just a reminder this is the fifth installation of the story of Pierre's work as a gigolo in Taipei. Best to go back and read all in the Pierre and his KTV gigolo job series from work abroad.

After the BBQ on the roof, drunkenness and just down right stupidity meant we agreed to go to Pierre’s gilded cage for a party.
At the time we actually thought we were being clever because Pierre went ahead by half an hour or so – just to check the coast was clear. Who knows what would have happened if we had arrived at the same time? I suppose it doesn’t matter.
John took Eric on his scooter and I took Martina, Pierre’s date. Worried about being caught for drink driving i took things slowly arriving about 20 minutes after the other two. It proved to be one of the best decisions in my life as i guess it saved me the kind of stress that turns you gray. Afterwards, John decided to drive slow as well. 
Anyway, this is how they recounted the story of the first 20 minutes.
“Get the fuck off the back,” shouted John to Eric. They recognized the shirt, they were outside his apartment, and had to extremely reluctantly face the fact that the limp body being dumped in the boot of the car was Pierre’s. (John had seen this once before, when he was walking pass a dark alley, the guys flashed a concerned look at him, to which in reply he pointed two fingers at his eyes, shook his head and walked on).
Unfortunately, now he knew the person concerned and had to do something. Driving off would be the best option, and he thought for a second whether Pierre was a friend worth putting his life on the line for…Probably, not, but he couldn’t risk regretting it the next day.
John left Eric depressed and shaking and sped round to the front of the car, dropping his motorbike to prevent them driving off.
“Just do nothing but translate, word for fucking word, no ideas, no personal input. If they come for us run screaming like a bastard! Got it!” Eric didn’t know whether he was more scared of John or of the guys who had just bundled Pierre in the back of a car and were now coming to the front of the car to confront him and John. For once, he appeared to get the idea that it was best not to threaten to sue.
Eric was actually caught in two minds about the presence of John: if the situation was going to be got out of, he was the man, but if John hadn’t been there, Eric could have pretended he didn’t see, then later justified it on the basis of there was no point in two people getting killed. On his own he knew he would be crap, non-existent; he was not going to much use now - just hoping to pull off being John’s Chinese speaking hand puppet, and he may even fuck that up. He had always thought he was far too logical to get into a fight: he never fought, he wasn’t big; common sense taught him he was going to lose. After all, you don’t expect to go out and beat Federer at tennis when you have only played a handful of times in your backyard. He often got angry, and felt like punching people, but then logic would take over and he would walk away. Now he was just overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. And, he didn’t know how he had time to think of this because he was frozen and numb with fear; but it seemed his poor attention-span applied to feeling shit scared as well: his mind wandered off until it couldn’t ignore the shaking anymore, then went back to blind panic.
“Right. In you’re best non-arrogant, condescending, listen to me I went to Harvard tone tell them we just want them to leave the guy. We didn’t see anything…But…We ain’t going without him.” For once in his life Eric was sure he could do non-combative, modest, and un-argumentative.
He did as John said but it didn’t seem to be effective: the guys still went to the trunk, pushed Pierre’s body about a bit – they heard a bump and a groan – and started coming towards them with a machete and a baseball bat (Stun and slash seemed to be their operation) clearly intent on taking the two of them with their friend. 
“Hmm, it doesn’t seem this is going to be so easy after all,” said John. “Right. You know what you are supposed to do after you start running?”
Eric thought that was straight forward enough – pump air into his lungs through his nose until they burst while approaching looking back as if he were Hades leading his dead wife through the underworld back to life. “Get around the corner and call the police, then start ringing every fuckin’ buzzer on this street. Use that big mouth of yours for something good for once. I won’t be able to last out too long.”
Eric thought for a moment. “Shouldn’t I…” he said. He knew Pierre got himself into the situation, but John hadn’t and was going to get himself killed and he decided a man can’t be a weasily-coward all his life.
“No!” said John. “Is it going to help the situation if you hang around?”
Things changed again. John and Eric had already backed down the street thirty yards so the guys had turned back and were picking up the bike. John knew he was going to have to provoke them, he looked around for some weapons…Bloody typical, he thought, in this city there is always a skip by the roadside, building sites and scaffolding with materials that would make Mr.T orgasm, now…
“Gan ne ma (Fuck your mother).” He shouted as loud as he could and produced a middle finger. An East/West combo insult couldn’t fail. As expected the guys dropped the scooter, and started to move in his direction. No amount of profession pride could suppress a Taiwanese gangster’s anger at being told to go and fuck his mother. John was starting to feel a little sorry for himself, that life was shit no matter where he lived, and he was going to go out for someone else’s sins.
At this point Martina and I arrived.
I didn’t initially see Pierre, and i had never been in this situation before. All i saw was the two guys with the weapons, but it is funny how fast your worst fears allow you to clue in. 
“Where is Pierre?” I shouted to Martina.
Martina quickly found Pierre and went running in the direction of the guys with the weapons. I followed until i realized she wasn’t going to stop running and i was getting in swinging distance. John changed from backing up to running in their direction to help her out.
Martina stood in front of them. “Na ma, le hai,” she said, and then kept repeating it while dipping her head and being reverential. It seemed completely weird to compliment the guys but i didn’t have any better ideas.
“You the winner. You beat him,” she said. “Please. Let him go. He stupid foreigner. He is very scared now. You teach him. Please let him go.”
It was then a weird couple of minutes as Martina continued sucking up to them and we all stood in our various positions. Two minutes ago my hands had been outstretched trying to grab her and pull her back. John had been sprinting with a motorcycle helmet in his hand. And Eric was running away. Now, my hands had relaxed at my side, John was in half hulk mode, and Eric was slowly edging his way back towards us. Stress levels were dissipating.
Suddenly, the tension then ratcheted up again as the two guys walked back to the boot of the car. They then rather un-lovingly positioned Pierre on the boot entrance lip and ceremoniously tipped his balance so he fell to the ground, spinning and bouncing off the bumper below. While John moved his scooter the window screen was lit by a broad arrogant, menacing smile; as they drove off they shouted ‘bye bye’, in that patronizing way that says you boys are losers.
Pierre was unconscious and and some pools of blood were getting bigger on the floor. I immediately went for the smaller pool whose source was his forehead. I took off my outer t-shirt and held it on his head.
The biggest pool was coming from under his left arm. 
“Hold the cut together, man. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding,” said Eric to John.
“I know. I was in the army knob head. Why me?” questioned John understandably.
“One of us has to call an ambulance. How is your Chinese?” replied Eric.
John grunted and quickly put one hand on either side of the wound and pushed it together.
About 30 seconds passed and Eric was still standing there.
“Why the fuck aren’t you calling?” I shouted.
Eric hesitated again before blurting out. “You know me. My pre-pay card is out and I didn’t have enough money…”
“You twat, earn some fuckin’ money,” shouted John. “Anyway, use my phone.”
There was another moments hesitation before Eric worked out it was best for John not to let go - John was holding together Pierre’s left forearm which had been sliced to the bone. And, it wouldn’t just be the effect on Pierre’s blood volume if he took his hands off, but John knew a game of now you see it, now you don’t with the white bone below was likely to cause him to throw up.
Eric reached into John’s pocket, took his phone and started dialing.
“What a fucking dick, eh!” said John.
“Shut up – maybe, he can hear,” I said. John thought this was bullshit, but given the gravity of the situation decided not to take a chance. He had visited casualty plenty of times on the early hours of a Sunday morning for his own, or friends’ broken noses, cracked ribs or concussion, but they had always managed to wake up from the boots in the head; this he knew was a level above.
“Martina, that was amazing,” i said. “That took balls.”
“I am from the Ukraine,” she replied.
“But i mean the whole reverse psychology shit to calm them down. In a movie but - ” I said.
“Of course,” said John. “We had courses in that in the army. Hostage situation. Talking someone down and all that stuff. It works. Very useful.”
“So,” I said. “You were standing with a motorcycle helmet?”
“There you go asshole,” he replied. “If i could do that crap i might have made it to the special forces.”
He continued. “Besides, do you think they would have allowed me within 2 yards of them?”
For the next 15 minutes, we kneeled and sat on our asses on the road silently, hands occupied holding wounds together – Me on his head, John on the left arm, Martina on the right arm, and Eric on his ribs. Selfish motives for his survival went through our heads along with the noble: neither of us had had anyone die on them before and we had no interest in wrestling with the question, ‘Did we do enough?’
Fifteen minutes later, the ambulance arrived. Unfortunately, the officer thought he could speak English.
“Uh, what…Uh…matter?” he said.
“Ta di shou be bei kan le. Ta liou hen dwo xie,” (His arms are cut. He has lost a lot of blood.) Eric informed the medical officer from the ambulance.
“You say…um...arm. cut…yes…Where?” he replied taking an age to finish his sentence.
Eric repeated it and started to explain about the head and ribs as well.
“Stop. Uh. Slowly,” said the guy. “So…Uh…Head? Rib? Did i say it right?”
For once we were all in agreement with Eric and weren’t prepared to be polite.
“Stop practicing your fucking English,” we shouted.
Offended, he walked off leaving his colleague, who didn’t mind speaking Chinese with a foreigner, to take over.
At the hospital.
“What happened to him?” asked the receptionist in the hospital.
“He was beaten up; hit by a meat cleaver,” replied Eric.
“Hmm, that is nothing. See that man crying there, his daughter jumped from the roof - Se diao le (dead).”
“What did the old bird say?” asked John.
Eric stood pondering the unbelievable level of insensitivity. Almost admiring it. Normally he would have already taken the bait but tonight he was spent. “You don’t want to know,” he replied.
Pierre was taken into emergency and we had no choice but to hang around at the reception desk, accompanying each other for finger biting and cigarette breaks, before checking with the insensitive receptionist if their was any news from the emergency room. She had more important things to talk about.
“Your friend is American,” she asked.
“French,” answered Eric, but her attention had been taken : “Look at that !” she shouted. A suited businessman was being wheeled into emergency on a bed wearing an oxygen mask. “He tried to commit suicide, but failed! Mei you yong (No use). That man’s daughter succeeded…3rd attempt though, I had seen her before today.”
“Maybe, this guy will be back soon. Have you seen him before?”
“Next time is number 2. That is quicker than her.” I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation.
“That is right.” She turned in the businessman’s direction, “Die next time and you won’t be such a failure.”
Then flitting back to me: “You are American?”
“No,” I replied. “But he is.” I pointed to Eric so she turned her attention to him.
“I have been to America. Denver! My friend lives there, opened a Chinese restaurant,” she said.
“Never been,” replied Eric. “Denver is a nasty place. I am from New York which means i find you culturally easier to understand. What is happening with my friend? Uh, i mean the person we brought in.”
Receptionist: “Worry is a waste of time! If they can save him they will. Just wait and see.”
Eric was traumatized, and having seen enough blood for one evening he sat down instead of thrusting the pen, he still had in his hand from filling out the forms, in her eye. The world seemed a cruel place.
Half an hour later, and her shift had finished: “Tell your friend to be more careful - if he survives…”
The lady who replaced her was compassionate, sensitive and understanding!
About two hours later, he woke from his coma, and we were able to go home to sleep. He had twenty stitches in his head; several of his ribs were cracked, his face was a swollen mess, and the most permanent damage was to his left arm. The nerves had been severed meaning it could take months or years or never to recover full feelings.
We went home assuming it was the end of the story of Pierre's gigolo job. Still it had one more episode…
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Work Abroad: Pierre and his KTV gigolo job in Taipei IV

Just a reminder this is the fourth installment of the story of Pierre's work as a gigolo in Taipei. Best to go back and read all in the Pierre and his KTV gigolo job series from work abroad.

A little while later and Pierre had taken things with Ms. Hu further.
It was the mid-September Full Moon Festival meaning, among other things, everybody was supposed to have a barbeque in the evening.
The struggling artists, prompted by Eric, had agreed to arrange one and John, Pierre and Josh and myself had reluctantly agreed to go because it sounded like they had an ideal place: a top-floor flat meaning quick access to the refrigerator from the roof; the roof had not been built on; and, the best thing of all nobody had covered it with corrugated iron so you could see the stars.
Firstly, who were the struggling artists? The struggling artists were a group of Eric's friends who shared similar interests: they organized drum festivals in parks, they went to the beach and played their guitars, they studied ancient Chinese, and they desperately claimed to only be doing work they wanted to do rather than teaching. But that is where the similarity ended because, whereas Eric was committed and fierce in learning to do the things he wanted, they were not: Eric struggled; they struggled to get out of bed. And it was something about Taiwan that allowed you to do so. It was easy to get your 40,000 NT a month for doing very little and with that you had a scooter so negligible transport costs; food was cheap and you could always find a girlfriend better looking than you ever had back home - Either impressionable young girls who wanted to speak better English or older women who thought you were going to treat them better than a local guy. Their relationships lasted about a year or so, until the girl went off to study in Canada or the older woman worked out they weren't going to turn their lives around and get a good job.
Although this was a national holiday, requiring the purchase of lots of fresh meat a foreigner could still confidently walk into the supermarket at four o’clock and expect to get what he wanted - The Taiwanese had emptied the shelves of the chicken wings, squid, little boney fish with the eggs still inside, clams, shrimps and intestines, leaving all the nice pieces of steak, chicken breast, pork and sausages for those barbarian foreigners with no taste.
John and myself had been waiting on the road outside their apartment for Eric for half an hour and when he arrived we remembered another reason why we didn't like to attend the struggling artists bbq.
“Sorry I am late man! I had to go to several supermarkets,” said Eric. He had balked at the price of the steak and so spent an hour driving around town until he found the only reduced price chicken wings left.
“More Taiwan style, eh,” he said. We went upstairs and laid out next to the bbq were a lot of chicken wings all supplied by the hosts. They arranged this, but clearly didn’t seem to suffer from the Taiwanese desire to impress their guests with their generosity.
It wasn't a surprise. The first time we had eagerly turned up at their bbq with steak and lamb bought from Costco and wine. Feeling embarrassed we had put it down next to the chicken wings and proceeded not to get any all night. Tonight would be different. Our stuff wouldn't come out of the bag till they were all too high to notice.
Suddenly Pierre arrived with Martina, a Ukrainian girl who was in Taiwan as a model. Pierre pulled me over to one side. “Look at this. Don’t tell Martina where I got it.” Pierre had not managed to get any food, but had bought an extremely expense bottle of XO Brandy. I had no idea where he had got it so I, of course, couldn't tell Martina.
Eric had missed his chance for a bottle of brandy yesterday. As a way of saying she didn't want to study anymore, Eric's student had tried to give him a bottle of brandy with her excuse that she was busy. As a form of petty revenge he had said, No, and walked away shaking his head cursing the Taiwanese for not being straight. Telling himself back home they would have come out and told him, they wouldn’t have wasted his time like this. John assessed the situation correctly. “So it would have been much better if she told you you were crap? Back home they would never have given you the bottle... And, anyway, she didn't waste your time because you have been in Taiwan for a while and you know not to hang around waiting for students to call.”
Oh, for the marvels of alienation.
John had no such problems exploiting his status. His date for the evening was Lucy, another of his eager beaver, dying to speak good English young girlfriends who would be gone in six months to the States.
John walked off to hide his meat and we stood awkwardly with Lucy. It was awkward because we knew she would be determined to speak English and us Chinese, and we had to stop ourselves being rude. We decided to indulge her – It was funny how that always happened in Taiwan.
“Do you want a kebab?” I said.
“Sorry, what did you say?” she replied keenly.
“Kebab!” I picked it up to show her, “What about a beer? Taiwan beer is a nice beer you know!”
“No, thank you!” She was a little impatient: these weren’t useful words to learn. She decided to go on the offensive and ask a question. “What do you do in Taiwan?”
“I am studying Chinese” replied Josh knowing this was the quickest way to lose her. She moved to Eric: “And you?”
“I am a student of Daoism… dao jiao.” She stood awkwardly for a moment after realizing she wasn’t going to have a conversation useful to her progress in the English language and walked off.
“Where is Lucy?” asked John now he was back.
“Finding a victim,” said Josh. “Why do you bring these stupid, boring young girls?”
“Because I can, I suppose.”
Eric continued: “Don’t you just hate that when they try and show off their English?”
“Okay with me,” replied John. “We both get the benefit of a body part above the neck.”
At this point Martina wandered off. Pierre’s declaration he could get girls from anywhere in the world, that he didn’t need Taiwanese girls - and was thus better than the rest of us - hadn’t been an idle one. Two months previously his girlfriend from France had arrived on a year long deafening trumpet fanfare: they knew everything about her, but especially that she had large breasts – cue, Taiwanese girls don’t. He walked around for two weeks showing her off, totally unaware that we just didn’t care. Otherwise, over the last few years he has had a succession of eastern European models working abroad in Taiwan. Martina, like most of them came for two months, working packed schedules for the smaller, local clothing companies, who needed a white face to show their clothes were imported from Italy or France, but didn’t want to pay too much.
Up until now we had remained indifferent to his superiority, but the dynamic was getting annoying so we had a plan to stop it – We were always with Taiwanese girls, who, of course, didn’t believe in the superiority of men, but understood to play that game. You could be rude and sexist and they smiled; you could criticize western women, which they did all the time, and of course the Taiwanese girls smiled.
We decided Eric had to execute the plan because they were the least friendly to each other.
Eric spoke: “Pierre, man, where do you find all these hot white women? Look at us, we have to make do with the local girls.”
And with that Martina was his last western girlfriend.
Josh changed a topic.
“Hey, Pierre, how was the visa run?” he asked. Pierre looked like the game had been given away, and made a point of pulling me and Josh over to the side, making something that wasn’t clandestine extremely so.
“Best not to ask me about this in front of Martina.”
“She is not here,” I pointed out.
“Why?” asked Josh because he knew if he asked Pierre wouldn't tell. “It is complicated. Just don’t mention it to Martina.”
Eric walked back over so Pierre had to involve him. “American. Did you hear what we were talking about? Same goes to you don’t mention it to Martina.”
“That will be easy,” he replied. “I never speak to any white women. And, just so that I don’t, dude, just blurt it out. What am I suppressing?”
Pierre was feeling friendly towards Eric, now that he had shown the integrity to admit the truth about the women, so he decided to tell him: “I went to Thailand with Miss Hu (one of the women he met as a gigolo). She is paying me to live with her now.”
Pierre pulled his now that is big shit, isn’t it face, and on this occasion we had to agree it was warranted. That was the thing about Pierre you couldn’t permanently dismiss him as an arrogant buffon because there were some things he did exceptionally well - He spoke perfect Chinese and English – when many of the other French guys had rather strong accents; he could charm a crowd with his Chinese singing; and he got women to pay for him, which has just about every guy’s fantasy. Pierre then went on to tell his story…He didn’t want to live with her, but he had had enough of the KTV and he wanted to make a clean break. He had to do it - You see, he needed someone to buy him out of the KTV, otherwise he would get his legs broken by the bosses. Pierre had told us about being sucked into an underground world where he constantly had to stay alert, but this was nonsense. He wasn’t a mainland Chinese girl smuggled into Taiwan to whore until her debt was paid. He was working at the higher end of the scale; yes, they might have called him a few times, but basically he could have stopped being a gigolo and left the KTV anytime he wanted to.
“I had to tell Martina I was sorting out some business,” he said.
“Didn’t you have to go to get a new visa, anyway?” I asked.
“So no need to say anything other than that.”
Pierre had got tired of the club only working two times a week. He refused to meet Miss Hu on his days off, no matter how many times she asked. This forced her to come to the club on the nights he worked and pay them to take him out. He knew he could be getting that money, but, short-term at least, he liked to think about how much money it was costing her, and this way, he didn’t have to work either. Then, after realizing he didn’t have enough money for a visa run to Thailand he had decided to invite her:
“Pierre I am a traditional woman, well-respected in the business community,” she replied. “I can’t just go to Thailand with a young foreign guy.” She had reacted exactly as expected.
Two days later she called for his full name for the tickets - Of course, he had to go to the airport and check in separately.
“I am a good woman. I know you need somewhere nice to live, and I want to give you a chance to relax, not worry about money and find something you really want to do,” she had said. And with that she had managed to make the hiring of his services for 50,000NT a month sound like a humanitarian gesture the Almighty couldn’t match.
John wandered back to our group and we inched towards the bbq.
“You know Pierre is living with the old bitch?” I said to John.
“Of course! Anyway, come here.” Even though the hosts hadn’t felt embarrassed about not providing any food for their guests, John felt so about not sharing his food. Now they had gone downstairs for a spliff, and the hundreds milling about were all people he didn’t know and didn’t need to give a fuck about, he had started to pile large pieces of steak on the barbeque and give everyone dirty looks.
“If anyone comes near let me know,” said John. “Anyway, he told me last week, because I am prepared to carry the cyanide pill.”
Pierre wanted some steak and was back again.
“So what is it like?” I asked Pierre. “By the sounds of it must be a month or so.”
“Two months,” he replied. “And a nightmare.”
This is how he described a typical evening.
‘Oh, yes! Sorry, I am too presumptuous,’ he said. Miss Hu would flash him a stern look to leave her room. Despite the fact that he had slept with her countless times, stupid games still had to be played – On this occasion, they had just got back from a restaurant, and he knew she would want sex – that was what she was paying for after all – so he had followed her into her room thus causing the look. He went to his room, turned on the TV, and waited for twenty minutes.
“Miss Hu are you okay? Do you want anything?” he said. He knocked, then opened the door and went in. First time, he had just knocked - he didn’t want to burst into the shy ladies bedroom - and she didn’t tell him to come in, so he left again for another hour. Second time, he knocked and because he was getting impatient he just went in and this was acceptable behavior; she wouldn’t invite him in so she had to give him someway to get to her, otherwise he might be still knocking at regular intervals for eternity.
Why the fuck do I have to initiate sex, when I am the whore? He thought. I have slept with a few female whores and they do nothing, but play with their toes, waiting for the time to be up.
‘I am sorry about earlier. I just wanted to make love to you immediately,’ said Pierre who understood ham and cheese, as he had delivered more than an EU food mountain of it in his time.
The flattery was very simple to give. It wasn’t a matter of believing – for her, someone so obsessed with getting respect; tired and paranoid about not doing so, she was not interested in anyone’s sincerity, just that it came.
She only stayed three nights a week (that was the agreement) – the others she spent in her home with her son. She always arrived with bags of shopping and then spent two hours cooking, and washing up, presumably to try and create the image in her mind that they were a proper couple. Once a week, usually while she was cooking and he was hanging around trying to look helpful, she went on a tirade about how she didn’t get enough respect, and how he thought he could just come in a her house and do anything he wanted. How she was not a soft touch, or interested in using her money to buy people. And how she should be thankful that she was sponsoring him to help him get himself set up in Taiwan.
Sex was unusual. Pierre called it taking turns to masturbate. She was a stressed businesswoman who always needed to take control, get want she wanted, and sex was no different. She took control, maneuvered herself into position (it was an exact science for her), and five minutes later she was orgasming. Once was enough for her, and she then asked what position for Pierre was opportune for maximum efficiency and she assumed it. There was no chance of them cumming together, or even fumbling at doing so, or playing the game of pretending to try and do so that most couples do. And, no need to apologize for coming just before she did thus spoiling it for her. There was order: her first and him second, and nothing in between. Pierre had thought many times about heading to the bathroom first to get himself on the verge so he could beat her to punch, but in the end he thought better of it – No doubt she wouldn’t politely lie down, but demand instant rehardification. It was the nearest a heterosexual man could get to shagging another man.
For twenty minutes or so she would then tenderly kiss and cuddle him, but her expression did say, wasn’t that nice making love? but rather look at what we managed to do for each other. Today, we both managed to come within twenty minutes, our efficiency is getting better and better. Then it would be, “See, I am not so hard to handle. You can do it.”
Back to the moment.
“Hold on now,” said John. “I am going to ask you a serious question. It should be bleeding fucking obvious the answer but I have to ask it anyway because I know what a dumb wit you are. You are not taking Martina back to that apartment are you?
….You fucking are, aren’t you? Jesus, you are stupid.”
Pierre burst into indignant. “John, you know I can handle these situations. She will never work it out.”
Pierre then stared at us and us at him projecting the belief we thought our opposite number was as dumb as fuck. Clearly, all the dumb vibes had had an effect because later that evening we all headed back to Pierre's gilded cage.
To put it mildly the evening didn't end well.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Work abroad: Pierre and his KTV gigolo job in Taipei III

Just a reminder this is the third installment of the story of Pierre's work as a gigolo in Taipei. Best to go back and read all in the Pierre and his KTV gigolo job series from work abroad.

After his one stab at paid sex, Pierre had sworn himself off preferring to just drink with the women. Six months later Pierre had found his feet and in doing so rediscovered his sense of the melodramatic, and that melodrama expressed itself in clients with overlapping schedules. He was sure that if a client saw him with another it would be disastrous. His gigolo colleagues told him that it is generally not a problem, but he replied with: “Yeah, right, what I am going to say to her, ‘Sorry, I was fleetingly making someone else’s life less lonely. Now it your turn.”  Still, his gigolo colleagues knew there was no need for embarrassment, but were not interested in arguing (Taiwanese are very good at that) and decided it was best to just play along.
That evening:
He made an excuse to a Miss Chen to approach the bar and talk to his colleagues.
“Has Miss Hu arrived?” asked Pierre.
“No,” said his colleague.
Pierre did his phew, the world isn’t going to end face and waited for someone to be interested.
Nobody was.
Pierre continued: “I don’t know what time Miss Chen is leaving.”
“Should be no problem,” said his colleague again. But nothing was ever ‘no problem’ in the Pierre universe. He started to pull his this is deadly serious, man face, but got no joy. He then pulled it harder and harder until all the energy in his entire body was helping to radiate seriousness; but, all he got was a polite smile (Taiwanese were also very good at polite smiles).
Besides, they had seen and heard it all before: at the start he had just talked about the possibility that he would get a clash of clients coming to the KTV, then he invented them and had everyone running around pretending he wasn’t there, or in the bathroom, or covering for him at a table so that he could sneak out the emergency exit. Now, he was throwing out names that made no sense to them for authenticity.
“Is Miss Chen a regular,” asked a different colleague.
Pierre raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.
“Well…is she?” asked the colleague again.
“She might be,” replied Pierre.
Now his colleague was raising his eyebrows because he didn’t understand. He thought about getting to the bottom of the situation, but decided to walk off instead.
Suddenly Miss Hu arrived and it was a perfect chance to invent a problem. 
“Miss Chen, excuse me, I have a problem...I am really very sorry,” he said.
“No need to be so polite,” she replied. And she actually meant it because she didn’t much like foreigners, and was waiting for someone else.
Pierre went out the emergency exit of the KTV, clambered over the empty beer crates, slipping on a fire extinguisher buried underneath; down one flight to the office below, then took the lift back up.
He straightened his tie as he approached Miss Hu. “Sorry, I have got here. I was late tonight,” he said. Miss Hu looked baffled why he would lie - She knew he was already there with another client, and if he wasn’t popular, she wouldn’t be interested. Anyway, he had told her to be there at 10:00…Insisted in fact.
A little white lie. It wasn’t entirely accurate to say that he had decided never again to take payment for sex. He had decided never to take payment from a nice woman. A few weeks ago Miss Hu had taken a shine to him, and, at the moment, she was certainly fulfilling the above criteria.
Typical Miss Huisms:
“You know, even though I have a lot of money, I like to have normal friends. I don’t show off my money -I have 3 houses, one in the California, but I don’t it doesn’t make me arrogant.”
“I am really nice to my friends. I always forgive people when they are mean to me. But one time, I don’t like to use my power, a friend of mine doubled crossed and one phone call and they had their business closed.”
“My friend are only secretaries, but I don’t tell them that they should do better with their lives.”
“I pay for everything, and I never ask for anything, but I know they don’t respect me.”
And it went on and on…he was sure he was going to go mad. The first time he entertained her was the first time rage had been so intense he could have killed someone. Everyone, from time to time, was stuck talking to someone they didn’t like, and watched their clock desperately hoping the next sentence would be the last and you could get away. That first time, he had watched her lips and wondered how such beautiful, thick things could allow such obnoxious, arrogant drivel past. Didn’t they have a sense they were being showed up? It quickly became clear there would be no respite, so he concentrated his attention on those lips, convincing himself that when they stopped, she would stop. Unfortunately, they’re momentary stops were only pauses while she gathered together another snippet of self-absorbed reflection. Still it helped to see them unmoved for just a second, it was a moment’s relief before the torturer put the electric tongs back on his balls. Each sentence hammered into his head on the same spot. And it was so much worse because he was not just required to appear to listen to someone else but to actually listen and respond - She continually asked him what he thought and pulled him up if he wasn’t listening, but she wasn’t looking for a discussion, merely an acknowledgment of her plight: your empathy showed that you had digested what she was saying.
While he tried to keep his attention focused his teeth clasped tight, and his eyes stared forward, then he was hit by the sensation the parts of his face had got so close together they could feel the presence of the others and were about to engage each other in conversation. When she went he just stumbled around dazed, shell-shocked. He was afraid to go to sleep – Initially surprised he had not gone mad, he then decided the experience would be like when you play on an injury and get used to it, but the next day, you have done so much damage you are out for the season. He expected to wake up dribbling and babbling; or somewhere in a small African country, having undergone plastic surgery, carrying a new identity, with no knowledge of the past twenty-five years, only of unspeakable past trauma. He tried to run and hide second time she came, but she sought out the manager, who asked him to do a favor, and therefore he had no choice. It got better from then in - You will get used to hell. He knew what she was going to say, developing the ability to wake back up just when she was finishing a sentence. She was so obsessed with face that he could wrap her around his little finger: Keep telling her what a nice person she was; misunderstood, down to earth, sincere, and she would keep coming back. And, he wanted a woman who he could rip off, but had been restricted by conscience, so a candidate like this, that he disliked so intensely, wasn’t going to appear too often. He knew he shouldn’t miss hopping on the broom stick.
The next evening we were all out together.
“Have you sorted anything out yet - what you want to do?” I asked.
The fact that it had been eight months now since Pierre entered the KTV club, wasn’t lost on his friends either. He was still talking about how: he was going to change the world, do something different, not rely on his status as a foreigner to earn money, and now the period in which we were too impressed to say anything was over.
“I have been working 4 nights a week. It was not as easy as I expected you know,” he replied.
His expression was humble, introspective, and everyone wanted to feel sorry for him, but nobody could really take it seriously: you don’t believe the gambler who says he has quit, you don’t believe Pierre will start approaching life by realistically assessing his strengths and weaknesses.
Sometime during his upbringing his parents stopped trying to tether his self-belief to reality - Presumably, as he is still alive today, it was sometime after teaching him to cross the road, but the indications suggest not long.
He continued: “Having to drink so much everyday and deal with the people, I don’t think you boys could handle it.”
Ah, back to normal, we thought.
“What about that cash? You must have a stack saved up.”
“I have some, but meeting business contacts is not cheap here. You have to keep up appearances.”
We didn’t believe the excuse. We also disputed he was working at the club four nights a week --The regularity with which we saw him meant there would have to eight or nine days in a week.
Anyway, we knew he was spending the money. You can pretend this is independent cinema and invent the killer who likes to prune roses or work with disabled children when he is not lopping and dismembering, but in the real world, most of these guys follow the stereotype. Pierre and his colleagues spent fortunes on clothes, cars, drinking, and cards in illegal gambling houses. It was stuff right out of the movies for Pierre – dumping one or two thousand US dollars on a bet and losing it all. At times, we wanted to feel sorry for the na├»ve boy who we were sure was going to regret it bitterly later, but there was no need to feel sorry for him: Pierre only remembered the experience.
Still, even the most optimistic guy can have a few regrets. The Miss Hu situation would come to be one.
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