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Friday, August 13, 2004

Deja Vu Part 2, Days and Nights in Hell

This is part II, see part I here.

The phone rings...

...and I reel back in terror. Who could it be?

DEJA VU THREE

It's "Jenny", the hostess with the most-ess. I stammer, since the conversation is in Korean, and it's too much to ask me to speak the language and be quick on my feet at the same time.

Jenny misses me. She got my number from my "big brother" (the Korean exec who has dragged me into this hell of Asian experiences); it was highly unusual for her to ask, but she missed me so much that she had to.

As I have mentioned before, you don't fall in love with hostesses in Korea. It might sound ridiculous, but it happens a lot. Something about the traditional sweetness of the role does it. The role is so ingrained in the culture that songs and poems are written about this. They are almost always tragic. Although Thailand is different, it's worth keeping in mind the 10 commandments for bar girls.

So there's no future in this. But she's so damned cute, nice and helpful. And the mode of address she uses seems appealing.

SIDEBAR: Big Brother

For most of Korea's history, it was uncommon for women to date men. With the modernization of the culture, the language has to adapt. Like many Asian languages, Korean has several forms of address, from the kind you use with strangers of uncertain standing, to the kind you use with your younger siblings. It is very ingrained. It is not uncommon to have a husband and wife argue (in private, of course) and the wife to threaten to kill him and kill herself (a common threat is mutual destruction) and all the while she is using the form of address of respect to the socially-superior husband.

Interestingly, as new social relationships develop in modern culture, rather than tearing down these forms of address, they seem to add new ones or adapt existing ones. There is no planning committee that does this, so to an extent it has to be ratified by the gestalt of the community.

Since there is no historical context for a girl dating a man, what form of address should they use? Married form isn't right, and stranger form isn't right. Today they use the word that means "older brother."

Now this isn't some incestuous thing, although initially this surprised me. The term is reserved for relatives, not somebody you might want to have sex with. But the collective unconscious sometimes rings true, and it started to resonate with me after a while. The reason why is a bit subtle, and made me feel embarrassed for thinking of the sex first, but it is completely consistent with the way that the Korean women seduce you:

As older brother you take care of and protect your younger sister.

It creates an automatic submissive role for the woman; not subservient, but submissive. It implies a bond of care and protection on the man's part and respect on hers, but all with an underlying familiarity and informality.It's disarming and works well with their art of relationship. It has nothing to do with the sexual act where, by convention, much of addressing formality can drop. That's right, it can drop during sex, but not during arguments.

Quite an enlightened approach, if you ask me.

I have to keep in mind that her job, even more so than an escort, is to seduce men in this submissive way. So she's probably very good at it as a fantasy.

She's talking to me: She says that I have to promise to see her. Maybe she can visit when she comes to the US. Her favorite cousin was in Vancouver and wasn't that close to me? Her aunt lived in NYC, didn't I have a place there? And so on. I'm starting to get use to nervous female phone chatter, it being my third call of the day.

Again, I am non-committal. I tell her I enjoyed being with her. Sure, I could look her up when I was in Korea next time, since I have her number. There isn't a problem with her calling me. Yes, I have a place in NYC, I'm not sure when I'm there, but drop me a note when you are. And so on.

She says she will send a CD of Korean songs, for the next time I sing karaoke.

The call ends.

DEJA VU FOUR

Not more than two hours later, I receive another call. But I'm in the bathroom and miss it. I come back and check the voicemail.

It's May the masseuse.

I have to admit it, I'm a man, and my body reacts to the physical remembrance of some of those sensations she created. It isn't quite like what I imagine a drug craving to be like, but there is... something to just hearing her talk that arouses a physical memory. I'm sure I'll get over it.

She is wondering where I am and when I will be back, and why I haven't called her. She leaves her phone number in case I forgot hers.

I do not call back.

May is like an E-ticket ride at Disney (an old but apt reference.) Just because I enjoy Space Mountain doesn't mean I want to own one.

Is she somebody with whom I'd want to experience other things, new adventures, life itself? No. Being realistic, her role is very clear and for that role I certainly wouldn't mind seeing her again. But if meeting her becomes entangled in other things, I would prefer not to.

Before I met her, I thought I might learn some techniques from an expert like her that could be passed on to a girlfriend. But that's not even the case with May. What she does is an outrageous fantasy and more than I could reasonably expect (even from her!) on a regular basis. And if we knew how to teach things like rhythm and synchronicity, Vanilla Ice would still be making records.

Would I be her friend? Sure, if it could be limited that way. But there is a risk in even investigating this. And I limit friends to a very small handful.

But, boy, what she does feels good.

I wait the night, mentally reviewing other loose ends I have left, waiting fearfully for my phone to ring. But there are no other spooky calls.

WHY?

Today I think... why does this happen?

I am not very self-aggrandizing, but evidence suggests that I am an excellent first date. I am polite, respectful, nice, smart, not ugly, so on.

But I don't think I'm a particularly excellent boyfriend in the long run. I'm dangerous. I can hurt a partner. Maybe that's because I can get hurt so badly myself. But I still do it.

This must be a little bit like being a good looking woman. The first date always looks good to your partner. But then what? You actually lose certain opportunities because things go so well the first time. It's harder to be just friends, for example. You may attract a disproportionate number of very aggressive people, thereby missing the less aggressive but better opportunities. People may second guess your intentions and desires, and mold themselves accordingly, "trying too hard."

Yesterday was a miniature "This is Your Life" reel. An interesting review of effect and affect.

I really encourages me to review the implied commitments I may make in meeting women. Perhaps it's not as innocent as I hope it to be.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like too many women have your cell phone...

8/14/2004 7:30 PM  

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