God damn! I love Viet Nam!
Angel on my Shoulder and a Devil in my Head
I am sitting with my friend Matt on low 70’s lounge chairs that belong on the beach rather than outside a grubby local bar. We are both sipping Saigon Greens as we watch the foot traffic of back packers, locals and expats go by. Most of the back packers are white European couples, a few Chinese, and a smattering a guys that recently escaped their frat. Some of the frat guys, and the expats are with a disproportionately pretty Vietnamese girl, I mentally grind my teeth.
I look to my right, and I elbow Matt, “Look at this fucking garbage,” I blatantly point across the street, not minding if my target of disdain hears or sees me. Matt laughs and in barely comprehensible, extremely fast Queen’s English says something like, “I hope your wife is fucking the pool boy, you fucking fat wanker…!” (Matt’s funny) We both throw squinty-eyed glares at the 300+ pound rotund man waddling past. He has his prize in hand, a petite gorgeous girl that in the States could pass for 15.
I used to live in a small apartment building in Japan, and the guy next door drove me a little nuts, he liked to slam his door, shaking the entire concrete building. I got used to this, but curiously not the daily horse like “clip clop” of high heels on the hallway tile. I thought, I know those shoes, they belong to his Monday girl, and she will soon make the walk of shame past the disapproving Japanese staff at 7 in the morning. This happened about 4 days out of the week, a new girl, and a new set of shoes in front of his door. Granted, unlike the man above he isn’t hiring hookers, a pretty common occurrence in Saigon but not Japan. Rather, he went online, and offered language exchange to these girls. Of course, they are all quite young and naive, and he claimed to have, on the first “date,” a 90% sex rate. That’s great buddy, so impressed, but am I really being honest with myself?
Matt and I went on a pho noodle run last night and stumbled upon a massive dead rat and the above topics. “There used to be this guy I knew in my building named Leon, just a sleazy, ugly English fuck, had a new girl over every night.” Matt nodded understanding, “I’ll never understand how a sleazy bugger like that gets a lot of play, where do they find all of them?” I said, “Online… he raved about it, says it is ridiculously easy.” The conversation digressed more and became downright shitty towards Leon and the obese German man. Fortunately, I have been in this mental shit hole of “better than thou” enough times to know it goes nowhere. I stopped and sighed a bit, “It sucks that we keep harping on this because essentially we are just jealous.” “True that,” said Matt and we dropped it.
There are a lot of people I hate, and have good reason to. Rapists for example should be put to death, as well as anyone trafficking in children, and countless other offenses. Why? because these people that rip away the freewill of an innocent are truly evil.
But what about the 20-year-old hooker or the 20 year old “language exchange” girls? Are they victims? No… Not at all. Don’t ask me how, but I actually am on friendly speaking terms with a couple of prostitutes that work a local bar. Are they fucked up? Nope, most are ridiculously normal. Are they forced into this? Honestly no… not at all, some don’t mind the job, some are looking for boyfriends, most just need money for their families (but honestly they could have worked at KFC instead). The girls that Leon brought over? Is he fucking them up? Sure, I heard them crying sometimes in the morning or the occasional fight at night but if they were honest with themselves, all they wanted was a western boyfriend or a little excitement.
Why am I so angry at these guys? Because I see shadows of myself here and it is terrifying. I don’t want to be the guy that takes advantage of, and crushes the ridiculous expectations of an 18-year-old girl. I don’t want to be the guy that carries the dirty guilt of fucking a woman younger than his daughter while his wife is at home watching American Idol. I see a guy in my past I no longer wish to be, and a man in my future that I would hate to become.
It pains me to look in the mirror and see potential reflections of morality I loathe.