Caught At The Gates Of Hell
Actually, it still isn’t certain who was caught outside Nana Plaza, me or them.
It was late and I had used up a fair amount of my time in wasteful activity down in Soi Cowboy before I came to my senses and returned to Nana. I went into Rainbow 1 and had another beer I didn’t need and then left the place. For some reason I thought I might check the parking lot and so strode out to the entrance of the plaza to mingle briefly with the coming and goings of the pleasure dome. All I noticed was a group of young people with clipboards and I turned to go back with Erotica bar on my mind. But something made me pause, and I walked casually in the direction of the clipboards.
“Excuse me sir, but I wonder if you would mind participating in an anonymous survey we are taking,’ said a fresh faced young man who had evangelical Christian stamped all over his solicitous manners. It was wicked, I know, but I had caught the unsuspecting fly just as I had intended. Not that all the deceit was of my making. This group wasn’t about to advertise its real intentions either.
I was asked about my nationality, an innocuous question, but when I said I was a dual national, that got the reply, “wow, so cool.”
“Have you ever been to the bars over there,” he said, indicating the neon of the stately pleasure dome.
“Sure,” I replied. And when he wanted to know how often I went there, I told him seven days a week. “This is my neighborhood. I live just down the street.”
“How do you feel about exploiting the women who work there?” asked Mr. Freshface.
“Well, that never happens. They exploit me for money, but I allow them to do it willingly and bear no grudge towards them for it.”
“They exploit you? Those girls work there because of poverty, try to help their families and you are exploiting their poverty.”
“Not me. The majority of people who exploit the poor in this country are wealthy businessmen, middle men and corporations who allow unskilled laborers to compete with one another to drive down wages and thus, increase profits. I allow these women to charge me money as they exploit my masculine nature for sexual release. I want to make love to these women for free but they won’t have it. So, I pay up and forget about it.”
“Don’t you agree that these young women come to work like this because they are poor?”
“Well, that may be the case for the women who work here but they could get jobs in factories out in Samut Prakan. They come here because it pays better. I mean, they aren’t doing this to stave off starvation. They can make more money than a bank manager here and, if the truth be told, they lose a lot of their money gambling, giving it to friends and boyfriends, and so on.”
“But you have money and because of that you can get these girls to do anything you want.”
“I’m sorry, but you don’t really seem to have enough experience with women to understand the problem you are trying to solve. Firstly, the women here decide everything that goes on between men and women. Surely you know that. This isn’t like shopping for shoes. If they don’t like you they won’t go with you. They set the price that I have to pay. They tell me what they will and will not do. I am completely helpless, as all men are, when begging for sexual co-operation from women. I mean, when did men not pay for women?”
"Yeah, actually, I understand what you're saying."
“You know,’ a colleague joined in, trying to deflect the onslaught of arrows, “I used to have a problem with masturbation and pornography before I gave my life over to the Lord. It was like an addiction, but now I am cured.”
“You make a man’s nature seem like it is a disease that needs curing when women are involved. I was taught, and I studied theology to the second year of university, that man was made in the image and likeness of God. Now, for one thing, masturbation is not cited in the Bible as a sin. For another, either man’s nature is natural or it is perverse, but if it is perverse, what does that say about God?”
“So, like you just come down here to get off. Do you believe them when they say they love you? Don’t you want real love?”
"Love? There are all kinds of love. Parental love, love for children, love for a good friend. What sort of love are you talking about? Can you define love? Your view that I come down here just to get off betrays a teenager's understanding of sex and touch between a man and a woman. The men who come here are largely guilty of only one thing and it is loneliness. No one has any compassion for these men. We and they don’t talk of love here, or if they do it is the women who will benefit from it.”
“You come because you are lonely.”
“Actually, no. I am not lonely. I come here because my male nature tells me I need this and it feels good and no one gets hurt by it.”
“No one, huh? Don’t you have any concern about these women and AIDS.”
“Glad you brought that up. I used to teach a training coordinator for HIV/AIDS in Thailand and these girls are amongst the best informed about STDs. For my part, after I sleep with a girl if she is new I tell her about safe sex, make her promise to do it every time, save her money, don’t get tattooed, or use any of the other cultural corruptions to Thai beauty, such as silicon, don’t smoke, don’t go with anyone you are not happy with, and to have pride in themselves as people, not to look down on themselves."
"Anyway, tell me why Christianity is totally consumed with sex as the only morality. You come from a country with a right wing Christian President who has made war against innocent people. The Bible warns against avarice and greed more than fornication, yet you never preach to your parishioners about greed. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins and obesity has climbed to health endangering levels amongst Westerners and yet here you are preaching against old men like me who cannot otherwise express their God given nature. What has Christianity become?”
“You know, we have to go now. We’d love to stay and talk some more, but remember this quote, “A man has no greater gift than to lay down his life and desires for his friend.”
“Wait a second there, don’t go adding in other words to that quote, like desires. That isn’t in there. And what the hell does it have to do with anything. Just tell me whether or not man’s nature is natural.”
“Sorry, we have to go now, nice talking to you.”
“You back here tomorrow, same time? We could meet up. There are lots of things I could help you with. I could show you around if you like.”
“We really have to go. Would you like to read what is in this pamphlet?” It was a black and red thing with a question mark on it. “Sorry, but there is not a thing in that pamphlet that I don’t already know and don’t believe.”
And so it ended. I was so revved up I had to go to R 4 and sink a couple more beers just to calm me before I took the lovely Fa home from Erotica. In the sin of pride, I hope they talked about me the next day at Church. “Last night, just as you said, we met Satan.”