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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Sleepless in NYC

New York City. The bright lights of a metropolis of money and power, promising success, but throwing temptations in the way of the unwary. This was the backdrop for another set of sleepless adventures.

It started with another friend's 40th birthday party. I am not going to talk much about this party, except that we had a bunch of people there, including his wife and parents. And I was jetlagged from eight cities in the previous five days. So it wasn't as wild as , although it started with box seats at the baseball playoff game, went through a late dinner in a private room, and didn't end until 4:30 AM with the hard core of six remaining partyers.

I rolled out of bed at 7:30 AM the next day for a breakfast meeting. The highlight of the day would be the arrival of a VIP from China, who hopefully is my ticket into the country of opportunity. He is a deeply-connected, Harvard-educated, nearly fifty-year-old Chinese man who had all the right credentials for my needs. He is the culmination of months of networking. I had corresponded with him over email, had many phone calls, and had a face to face with one of his people in the United States prior to this meeting.

In a couple of hours of meeting, "Lau" and I bond almost instantly. He is an intellectual, fun-loving guy, who loves to party. No doubt this would be trouble, but it was important for my business. And I'll undergo all kinds of hardship without complaint in the name of my business, willing to endure moral hazard, no sacrifice too large for my investors!

Our business introduction completed we go to a massage spa. Not a hanky panky place, but an incredibly competent Asian massage to relax, work out the kinks of jet travel, and to refresh. I nearly fall asleep during my massage, the three hours of sleep, you see, but then I catch a second wind. We are out by early evening.

Dinner is at Masa, the jewel of NYC sushi. Stratospherically priced, but divine preparations. This isn't the ostentatiously creative pseudo-sushi found at Nobu. This is the pure unadulterated stuff. The owner directly serves all the customers himself with an omakase he has prepared for that day, knowing exactly who is coming. There are no walk ons or last-minute reservations at Masa's. That night there are seven fellow diners. The omakase is the best I have ever had, paired with a killer sake. The bill is eye-popping.

Lau is interested in going to Scores, whose reputation has spread to China. So I make arrangements with the manager "Peter". I have never been to Scores, believe it or not. So I plan a tour for the two of us: a little time in the main dance area, then to the VIP room, and perhaps then to the private room. The manager is very accomodating, getting a whiff of Asian high rollers, the backbone of all overpriced luxury businesses.

Since I am mostly there for Lau, I make sure HE has a good time. Eventually he spots a brunette named Faye with hands-down the most perfect body in the room. It is an incredible body, lithe and lean, all natural, with perhaps the most perfect and completely natural breasts I have ever seen. Her face is also pretty, but not at the level of her body. She is 26, has a degree in education, and a bit uncertain about her future direction. Lau REALLY likes her. We trade off buying dances for each other, but he's pretty much sticking with her while I'm getting dances from other gals who happen to pass by. He stays ahead by a ratio of about three to one.

Faye won't do the private rooms, but Lau is charming her. Her resolve is weakening. During a pause where she has to go up to dance, I tell Lau that if he can persuade her, I'll arrange the private room. I beckon Peter over, who is hovering over us like a concerned mother hen, and he is happy to execute my wishes. The private room, I am informed, is $1500 and the girls are $400 per hour. We haggle over the price, he drops it significantly, and shortly the deal is done.

Faye is back. But she is distraught. She has lost her money, which was folded over in her shoe strap. She goes to look for it. Lau helps. In the end she does find it, but not before Lau offers to make up the amount to her if she doesn't. She's favorably impressed with his chivalry, and, probably, his Armani suit and nearly infinite bankroll of one hundred dollar bills.

She agrees to accompany him to the private room.

And then I am alone.

But not for long. A beautiful young blonde comes over. I haven't seen her around so far. She tells me that Peter sent her to me. Her name is Angela, and she has a thousand volt smile, pretty eyes, and a very friendly attitude. I can't resist the temptation, so I take a dance.

She is from Alaska. She is attending Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, where she graduates next year. She travels extensively, often on her own. We compare notes because, frankly, I think she's bullshitting me. But indeed, she has been to New Orleans for jazz (which she prefers over Mardi Gras), hiked Copper Canyon, beached in Bali, hung out in Jakarta, partied in Tokyo, and had numerous other experiences in Australia, South Africa, Europe, and the Eastern Bloc. She is truly exceptionally well travelled. And she digs Asians. We talk a lot. More than she dances for me. I'm sure she's losing money this way, but she seems to be having fun.

When Lau comes over, quite excited, he mentions that he wants my help persuading Faye to visit him in Tokyo (this saves the issue of obtaining a visa for China). I tell him he's on his own.

He succeeds and is extremely pleased. Watching this second hand is quite interesting. I wonder if I am that transparently pathetic in my interactions with attractive women!

(I'm writing this part over a month afterwards, so I'll tell you that the meeting never happens, although they apparently keep in email contact. But I'll be meeting him in China shortly, and he is returning to the US for followup with Faye.)

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