Post Script to “I broke all the Rules”
This brings up to date a post that I wrote, at around this time last year, called, “I broke all the rules".
That post ended at the point where a girl whom I had met and fallen for in a bar, whom I had set up in a house, with her child, at a safe distance from her former companions, and whom I was planning to marry when my divorce came through, had started a fling with a good-looking, young, builder's labourer who came from her own province – the classic "side line".
Of course, the version that was fed to me had been "improved" and embellished with circumstantial details, not all of which were quite true, but in essence she had been bored and unable to resist the excitement of an affair with a man younger than her, whom she could "mother", buy clothes for, go to discos and "hang out" with – they were both "alone in the big city", etc…
The only novel factor was my decision to try to get her back.
The route I took, after a lifetime in East Asia, was to get her family on to my side.
And after an extended pursuit, I succeeded. She never loved him; she was just bored and disappointed in me. Looking back now, he has vanished like the morning dew.
Reader, I married her. And now we live in my country; she chats to her extended family on Skype, she has started to make friends and her son is doing really well in school – he has a Tiger Mother behind him.
There is something a bit special about seeing a woman whom you first saw wearing a couple of yards of pink string coming down stairs wearing a dressing gown and slippers with her hair in a Mrs Mop kerchief and her arms full of laundry… and something wonderful when she turns out to like long country walks in gumboots in mid-winter…
I followed the discussion on “what happens to bar girls when they leave the industry” and decided to interview the nearest available ex bar girl – the one whom I see across the breakfast table every day.
"My parents are rice farmers in the South. I was the youngest of seven and yes, I always knew I was good looking. I had a lot of boyfriends when I was in high school and in college, but none of them were serious. I have always been able to get men to do what I want, but I don't do it with the husbands and boyfriends of my friends. I have never been in love, really. The one exception was my childhood sweetheart, who was killed in a road accident when I was in college. I stopped college after that – I could not concentrate any more. I started work in a mall, then I got the idea of following my brother and sister to the capital city. I got work there, but I also met the son of some neighbours and he got me into bed. That was my first time, and the second time I got pregnant…"
Why did you choose to work in a bar?
“I’d thrown out my boyfriend, the father of my son, because he was taking drugs in front of me and he used to hit me. That meant that I needed an income.”
But you didn't have to choose that line of work!
“No, I could have done other things; I have worked as a cashier, as a sales lady and as a graphic artist, but to do those would have needed paperwork, permits, interviews, travel, and so on. I had a cousin who worked in a bar, so she introduced me and that was that – it was easy. Besides, it was night life! And free drinks!”
What did you not like about it?
“Men putting their hands on me. I really hated that. I used to tell them to stop it, and one or two even said “sorry, we thought girls like you like it!” I told them I do not like it, and they stopped. If a man did not stop, I stopped drinking with him.
Did you make friends in the bar?
“Yes, very quickly. Girls from my part of the country, and there were two virgins who were very nice.”
How long did you work there?
“Three months. I did a few bar fines; usually to go bar hopping, but there was one foreigner who took me back to his apartment twice. It was a nice apartment, but I did not like it, because he wanted me to stay all night and I wanted to get back to my son.”
How many men have you slept with?
(Long pause for thought…)
“Grand total – five, including you and the father of my son.”
Did you do drugs?
“Five girls there used shabu. I wanted to try it but I was advised not to. I did try half an Ecstasy tablet but it had no effect. I have never used any other drugs.”
Where did the drugs come from?
“We got them at the clinic where we had to go for check ups. Even the virgins had to go for check ups!”
They were real virgins?
"Yes; they just liked to talk with the customers."
Looking back, how do you feel about the experience?
“I'm terrified of anyone outside my family finding out that I did that. That fear will never go away. But I was proud to be able to buy presents for my parents and my brothers and sisters. There’s a double standard where I come from: two of my parents' neighbours worked in Japan and in Korea, so it's obvious what they were doing, but they are always happy to criticise others. I really really hate the thought of being talked about behind my back. I can't stand the idea of your friends knowing.”
Would you say that the experience damaged you?
“I was crazy to do that!"
"Yes, for sure it damaged me. Probably for life. You are the one who will have to live with the consequences of that. I don't know why you chose a bar girl when you could have had so many nice women!"
"I still hate to be touched, even by you, sometimes, and I can't enjoy sex, because I am always scared, and I feel so ashamed. I know I ought to see a psychologist and get this sorted out. Give me time and I will do that. Don't expect too much from me….