Good For You, Good For Me
Out the door she goes! Scowl on her face and anger in her heart. I've just broken a friendship, or a kind of friendship. This is someone who I've known for about 9 months and chatted to on quite a few occasions, bought a beer for and generally got on well with, in a 'customer' / 'bar girl' kind of a way. Relations were good and now they are bad. They will probably never recover and she will death stare me across the bar and whisper evil into her friends' ears directed at my person, and all for 500 baht. 5 minutes ago we were pals, now we aren't. Our relationship is over and done. Why would I do such a thing for such a seemingly trivial amount of money? Was it worth 12 bucks, which I can easily afford, to piss this person off?
What did she do? Simple, she crossed the line and unwittingly instigated a 'deal breaker'. It went something like this. A little background. I've been here for 3 years and have knowledge of the bar scene. I am reasonably well paid, I don't live pay check to pay check. At the same time I am not on some staggering expat salary, and I know the prices. I don't overpay and I don't underpay. I'm mid-forties and make a point of taking care of myself, but I'm not a lettuce eating, tea-totaling monk. I still have a full head of hair and all my teeth, but I'm not expecting to be scouted by a model agency any time soon. In other words an average Joe. You won't see me on Soi 7 dressed for the beach and at the same time I think a business shirt is for the office, not for the bars. You get the picture.
After 3 years I know what to pay, how to behave and what to expect. I should do as I've had enough practice. So what went wrong? I shall be brief with this, as it's not the point of the sub. Last night was the first time we'd slept together, which may go some way towards explaining what transpired. We left Nana at 2 AM and upon arriving home my friend had a fit of yawning and after an enquiry announced she was tired and hinted she wanted to sleep. My chum is 32, not some 22 year old disco bunny and it's 2 AM. I'm not happy but experience has shown, and I emphasise the word experience, that chances are I'm going to get a half assed performance from her with a complaint that I haven't finished inside 10 minutes. Experience tells me to let her sleep and we'll do the deed in the morning when her natural exuberance has returned. We retire and apart from being woken by her phone in the middle of the night we sleep well and wake at 10 and sure enough her natural exuberance has returned and a fun time is had.
At 11:30, she answers the phone and tells me she has to go as there is something going on at her apartment so she showers, dresses and makes to leave. All well and good so far. It's time to settle the bill. I give her 1000 baht. This produces a look
of consternation and requests for the extra 500 which she feels she deserves. I refuse pointing out that as far as I'm concerned we've just done short time and 1,000 is quite fair compensation for short time. This is batted back and
forward for about a minute and, getting no result, she leaves in a sulk. I asked myself again was it worth it….again, the answer was yes. Despite the loss of some casual conversation and a cheery wave, it was. And this is why.
The main message below could be summed up as my check list for Nana, Cowboy etc and what I expect from her and what she can expect from me. I emphasise it's 'my checklist', not yours. You may do things differently but I imagine that we may agree on a number of points. There are of course exceptions to the rules. I'm sticking to a few general guide lines.
FROM ME. I show up to my potential 'date' in a style that can usually be described as 'smart casual'. I do not dress in designer duds or a suit and at the same time I don't effect the 'Robinson Crusoe' look so beloved of some farangs. Last night I wore chinos, a polo shirt and sneakers. My clothes were clean and unobtrusive, my sneakers were relatively new and clean. This is not a fashion guide, a workshop on sartorial elegance or otherwise. Its simply a 'look', if I can call it that, which I feel comfortable with and is appropriate to the location. It's neither too much or too little. It also serves another important purpose. It saves me from being a 'mark' i.e. singled out for unwarranted attention, either too much or too little. If you show in your 'Julio Ravioli' suit and snake skin cowboy boots then expect to have designer prices thrown at you. Unfortunately it doesn't work the other way round i.e. if you look like you've slept in the trash and have the fashion sense of a blind man then expect either mild derision or to wake up with someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to an elderly neighbour from back home. Have a quick look in the mirror before you head out. If you don't have a degree in fashion design then play it safe. Add to this the most obvious point. I'm clean shaven, showered and well deodorised. This is so obvious it hardly needs pointing out. The reasoning is simple. I make as much effort as is necessary for to the location and the situation. I'm not going to meet my potential life partner and we aren't dining at the Ritz but a basic standard of dress and more importantly personal hygiene is in order. She can expect this from me.
Secondly she can expect a degree of respect during our conversational moments. i.e. I don't talk down to or belittle them. Not surprisingly the actual conversation itself could probably be described as light, that's fine. I'm not expecting an analysis of the state of the world just a bit of light banter to get to know each other, with a few obvious jokes and funny faces (my ego can take it). I'm not there to make someone feel stupid. It establishes me as an ok guy. I resist the urge to show off for 2 reasons. One, it's the behaviour of a 13 year old and secondly, given the circumstances, I don't feel the need. I should plant in her mind I'm an OK guy. Friendly, polite with a sense of humour thrown in. She can expect that of me.
I won't go into the details vis a vie, bedtime action. I'm mid 40's, QED my days of 6 hour sex romps are good and over. I am not a sexual Olympian. It's not an issue. I do have some basic parameters however which fall within what would be considered standard sexual practice in the 21st century. I usually check beforehand that she can do X, Y and Z. Not surprisingly, like a lot of guys I'm not a fan of the 'wrapped like a mummy in my towel' brigade. To check I will whisper in her ear in a polite fashion if X is ok. However I don't yell in her face "Do you xxxx?" I'm not engaging a nun for the night, but at the same time an approach that is direct but polite is appropriate. I also NEVER force them to do anything that they don't want to do. This is consensual sex between adults, P4P or not, and that is the bottom line. The consent has to come from both parties. All the above she can expect from me. She can also expect, although she doesn't know it yet if it's our first time, that I will use a full range of tried and tested techniques to make the experience enjoyable to both parties as far as the act itself is concerned. I will in other words make an effort in bed on her behalf.
Finally she can expect to be paid in full, the agreed sum, when the time comes to leave and without delay. It will be handed over with a jocular cry of "Happy Birthday" or something similar. She can expect that from me.
To summarise, she can expect a customer who is clean and well turned out, turns on the charm a little and talks in a friendly and respectful way. She will not be expected to do anything abnormal (a relative concept) or perform for hours on end. If there are requests, i.e. a desirable item of underwear to be worn, it will be delivered in a polite and discrete manner. She will not be forced under any circumstances to do anything that is humiliating or demeaning. She will be paid in full without delay and be allowed to go about her day. That is a basic summary of what she can expect from me. And by and large I am as good as my word.
FROM HER. I expect in return a number of things. My fun buddy for the night has to know the difference between 'short' and 'long' time. This has been a constant bone of contention with me and has resulted in some difficult moments. This has also happened to numerous friends also.
In brief, short time is one round of fun, long is two. The time part in some ways is immaterial. Long time means we will go to my room and that very same evening we will have sex and then we will sleep and upon awakening, at a reasonable hour I might add, we will have sex again. That is long time. Another possible version is if she is out of sorts, as happened yesterday, we will sleep so she can recapture her vim and vigour and we will have sex in the morning, there will be an appropriate break to drink coffee, eat breakfast or whatever and then we will have sex again if I so chose. If she offers and I decline then she can consider herself released from all further obligations and collect the fee in full. Anything else is short time and is paid accordingly. Long time isn't hanging around in the customers room for more than 2 hours. Nor is it having sex, sleeping, then waking up at 5 AM, dressing and then waking me to ask for her long time fee. There are of course numerous variations on the theme but I think the point here is the 'spirit' of the law, not necessarily the 'letter'.
My chum last night was 'taking the piss' i.e. using our 'relationship' to try and get away with short time for long fees. And given her level of experience she knows exactly what long time is. There is a school of thought amongst some
of the ladies of the night that long time merely reflects the amount of time you spend with the customer and has nothing to do with the number of times you have sex. To be fair, given the nature of the work and the state of some of the customers
this is hardly surprising. However I'm not another customer. I'm not that abusive and foul mouthed guy from last month, neither am I the 'sap' she scammed for 5,000 short time last week. I'm the guy who did all the things
in the FROM ME column above. Also in a spirit of balanced reporting from a customer standpoint, long time doesn't mean 3 PM the following afternoon. From experience they are usually out the door by 10 AM the following day. Fine by me. Sleeping,
watching TV, washing her hair, eating everything in the fridge and all the other non sexually related activities are not 'tax deductible'. I do not pay someone to write emails, go to discos, eat noodle soup in the street with their friends
at my expense, paint their nails or do their make up….I pay them for one thing and one alone. No ifs, no buts. A major point here is if someone is agreeable and respectful company she can do all of the above, and with the 2 rounds of fun later
on, it's part of the package. All I expect from her is to have a clear understanding of the correct definition of short and long time. If not then she walks home light by 500 baht.
Complaining is the second example. A comment that she is cold will probably result in me digging up a sweater or turning down the air con. That she a little warm will! Get me to turn up the air con or get the fan going. That she's hungry will result in som tam or what ever. This usually resolves the issue to everyone's satisfaction. There is however another type which usually starts once the bar fine is paid or the deal is done which is an intermittent but steady barrage of complaints about things she doesn't like, from the taxi to the noodle soup to the location of my room (which you'd think was in Patagonia and not 10 minutes cab ride from Nana). This again is easily resolved, as happened a few weeks ago by walking them back down the road and sending them on their way with 50baht to get back to where I picked them up from. No doubt she spent the entire journey wondering what she'd done wrong. From her I expect the realisation that she's working and I am not paying someone to whine…. period.
I like the term 'working girl', because it contains the word 'work'. I realise it's work and as I've pointed out above it can be tough going for them. I try to make it as easy and as fun as possible. It needn't be an ordeal. I expect the same from them. I am paying to be relaxed, to have a good time. I am paying. A while ago I was out and had met my friend in the bar. It was late and I was ready to go. She wanted to go to Nana Disco and she was quite insistent. 'Sure we'll go…. and you can pay me 1,500 baht in the morning. 'We went home. I will always try to accommodate them, be it with food, the odd present, a drink etc. but the bottom line is the customer is king, and I'm the customer. If I hire a taxi, we are not going to stop off at his mate's house to pick up a few things on the way as long as I'm funding the fare. If the ride is free, sure, let's go see your mate. I am their customer, period. I am not their boyfriend, lover or anything related. Friends we can be, boyfriend and girlfriend we will never be, period. Look on it as diplomacy. My interests and her interests may coincide briefly but realise they are different. It is important that, as in all diplomatic relationships, we try to have as warm and friendly a relationship as possible but our core interests will always be different. If we realise this we'll get on fine and our interests will be served. So what do I expect? I expect her to remember that ultimately I am her customer and she is there primarily to look after my needs and not the other way around. If she doesn't like it then I can find someone who does. She is a freelancer after all and can accept or reject people as she chooses, as can I.
This submission in many ways only scratches the surface of the bar girl / customer relationship saga and gives some opinions and because of my poor typing skills I've missed out a few things, like 100%, no exception, condom use. There is no real advice here about making a girlfriend out of your bar girl but the general spirit of the piece would also apply in this case to millions of words printed on this topic every year so I only present this as my experience and opinions.
If I were to sum up what I am driving at, it would be follow these guidelines and retain your dignity, because that is what people always seem to lose in these situations. Yes, they often suffer serious financial loss, which is always highlighted in the
submissions, but the sub text of many of the fundamental disaster stories always seems to be loss of dignity and the enormous emotional damage it does. People are destroyed in these relationships because they have been manipulated, lied to, robbed
from etc. Why? Because they refuse to set 'deal breakers' in these relationships. They put up with behaviour which in some cases is utterly humiliating to themselves and continue to do so because they can't say no. <Excellent point – Stick> Very often their future behaviour can be tracked back to their behaviour when they first start going to the bars. If you can't stand your ground in a brief encounter what hope is there for you when Noi from Korat
has really got her claws into you. People say that guys leave their brains at the airport, well they also leave their dignity, and in some cases forget to pick it up when they are leaving! Remember these opinions are being applied only to one
night stands, the most basic and transient form of contact. Some of the points can be toned down if you are dating a bar girl, but some should be multiplied by 10! Also, this cuts both ways. As customers we should show a degree of respect towards
them and have some empathy toward their situation. I am satisfied not just when she has provided a good service but also when I have kept my side of the bargain. I have shown respect and in doing so retained my own self respect. Talking of respect,
I have never once lost my cool with them because at the end of the day I can pick up and walk away. I always keep the thought in the back of my mind that I live in a good room, have a good job and money in the bank. I am insured to provide me
with the best healthcare money can buy. On quite a few levels my life is gravy by any objective measurement. If she tries to welch on the deal then I can shrug my shoulders and write it off to experience as long as I've worked within my own
margins i.e. paid for what was provided and not put up with rude, annoying or disrespectful behaviour from her. I would say finally that with a bit of mutual respect you can create a win : win situation for both parties in a situation which can
be a mine field. And you create this situation not only by laying down rules for your buddy but equally laying down rules for yourself….and sticking to them. This way everybody comes out ahead. Set yourself parameters, define your 'deal
breakers' and stick to them.
As the girls are so fond of saying. . . 'Up to you'.
Ps This is a broad topic and my first attempt at a submission so any feedback is appreciated.
Interesting thoughts. I strongly agree with the philosophy of behaving in such a way as to preserve your own self-respect. That is very important, not just in such encounters, but in life.