Welcome to the Virtual Gogo Bar, Part 5
When Jiab came back, looking even cuter in a tight top and tighter jeans, Bob said his farewells to Larry, and led her to an out of the way corner on the second level of the Plaza – and there it was, his old bar. It had been renamed, rather unimaginatively, as T&A Bar. He found out later that the new owners had liked the Boobz n’ Bottomz name, with the cheesy ‘z’s instead of ‘s’s, and, as the name Boobz n’ Bottomz was trademarked, had tried to rename the bar Titz n’ Arz, but permission had been refused, so T&A Bar it was.
When they went into the bar, he was surprised to find that the decor had not been changed, and even more surprised to see that the rebranding went no further than the sign outside. The sign near the bell still said: “BOOBZ N’ BOTTOMZ. RING THE BELL FOR 3,000 BAHT”.
The place seemed tired and unloved. Half a dozen bored-looking girls did the Bangkok shuffle on the central stage, and a few others sat around, playing with their mobile phones or chatting. He and Jiab were the only customers.
The waitress who came to serve them was one of his staff from before the pandemic. “Hi, Bill, sabai dee mai?” she said, with a respectful wai.
“Hi, Gop. Sabai dee, krap,” he replied.
Gop was delighted to see him because she thought that he was going to buy back the bar. She explained that the new owners seemed to have forgotten about it. They had a manager, but he was hardly ever there, as he had another bar to see to. There had been no investment at all, and the only girls who would work there were those who couldn’t get a job anywhere else. Larry was right, Bill thought. He didfeel better. What do the German’s call it? – schadenfreude – joy in somebody else’s misfortune. Well, the way they had beat him down, they deserved it!
Happy now, he ordered another round of drinks for himself and Jiab, and a lady drink for Gop, then left them to rattle on in Thai, while he gazed around the bar and compared it with how it had been in its heyday. Before the financial crisis in 2008 that stage had been so packed that some girls had to dance on the steps at each end – all young and cute, too! The customers were packed tight on the bleacher benches and stools at the stage, and if they came late, it was standing room only. The decor had never been up to much. Bill had always preferred to invest his profits in staff, paying a bit more to get the best girls, rather than shelling out on glitzy refurbishments – anyway, when a bar is packed it has something better than decor – atmosphere: the girls are in a good mood, and that puts the customers in a good mood, and there is that exciting feeling that anything can happen: you can get talking to the guy next to you and make a new friend; you can have a girl on your lap and one on either side, and barfine all three of them for a night-long orgy; you might even meet the one – the love of your life. And best of all, in those days, it wouldn’t cost an arm and leg. These days the exchange rate and the crazy bar prices made you think twice about buying even one lady drink – no wonder everybody looked so glum. Well, it wouldn’t be like this in his new bar. Bill had a hunch that, in Nong Khai, he could recreate the old days, albeit on a more modest scale.
Time to go. He paid his tab and gave Gop his number. “If you ever want a job, call me. I can’t afford Bangkok these days, but I’m going to get a little place in Nong Khai.”
Gop was delighted. “I will. I’ll call you. This place no good now!”
Jiab was intrigued to find that she had been barfined by a bar boss, and asked him lots of questions about it: “Did he make lots of money?” “Did he boom boom all the girls?” “Why didn’t he open a bar in Bangkok?” To which his answers were: “No,”, “No,” and “Can’t afford it,” – but of course, she didn’t believe him.
She was still asking questions when he soaped her beautiful, firm body in the shower, and it seemed that that the only way to shut her up was to put his tongue in her mouth. Then it was body talk, and when Dick and Fanny were having a full on conversation, Jiab forgot the questions and responded with moans and groans.
It was bliss! Yes, it was paid-for sex, but the two of them had the things that matter: chemistry and connection, and that’s all you need. Many a boyfriend and girlfriend, or husband and wife, have worse sex than Bill and Jiab did that night – sex that has become routine over the years, sex that is marred by a recent argument, sex that is unwanted. It was just a transaction – but a satisfying one for both parties. Cybersex with one of Dave’s avatars is also a transaction, but it is a transaction with the auto-updated accounts subroutine of Boobz n’ Bottomz Online. No human contact is involved – might as well jerk off over a dirty postcard.
Then they slept, and that was bliss too. He hugged her and she hugged him back, and he heard her soft rhythmic breathing, and smelled her bitter-sweet Thai girl smell, and in the middle of the night, without even intending to, he found that he had entered her and they were heaving away together like true lovers. In the morning, he woke to the most wonderful sight a man can ever see – a Thai girls head on the pillow beside him – try coding that in a gogo bar simulation!
He had a morning hard on, and Jiab knew how to take care of it, but what was even better was when she said afterwards, “Di chan chawp khun, Bill,” and he could tell by the tone of her voice that she meant it.
“I like you too, Jiab,” he replied, discreetly putting her 5,000 baht fee into her purse. “How’d you like to work for me?”
Jiab seemed to consider it, then said, “Cannot do, korp khun ka. Have to send money to mae and paw. Not enough money, Nong Khai.”
So it was breakfast and goodbye, though not without taking her phone number first, and giving her the 100 baht taxi tip – not because a computer program had asked for it, but because she deserved it.
Then it was MRT to Hua Lamphong Railway Station and SRT to Nong Khai. The train took over nine hours, but Bill couldn’t face another flight. In any case, it would help him to slow down, and to get into that state of mindfulness that was so necessary to feel comfortable in Thailand.
As he settled down into that semi-meditative state, he fantasized about his new bar. He had a hot tip that Rim Khong Alley just behind the Mekong River Promenade was the place to be. He would find a small bar, something not much bigger than his living room in Cantley, with a kitchen at the back and rooms upstairs. He would call it Boobs n’ Bottoms – the change from ‘z’ to ‘s’ being enough to avoid trademark infringement (why couldn’t the new owners of his Bangkok bar have thought of that? No imagination, that’s why!). He would let the girls “live in” as a perk, because he wouldn’t be paying them a salary. He would keep things cheap, very cheap – lady drink 150 baht, barfine, 300 baht, short time, 1,500 baht, long time, 2,000 baht. He wouldn’t bother with a mamasan, he would let the girls manage themselves. He knew a few bars that worked like that, the old Silver Star in Pattaya for one. He wouldn’t need many girls – half a dozen should be enough, and it didn’t matter what they looked like – young and cute is for Bangkok. Nong Khai expats, and the few tourists who made it up there, would know better; that a more mature woman, who had experienced “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, would take better care of you than a self-obsessed short time queen.
Best of all, he knew it couldn’t fail. His overheads would be low. He would be like the subsistence farmers throughout SE Asia, who had got through the coronavirus pandemic without it changing their lives very much, but best of all, it would real. He could laugh with the girls, listen to their stories, be delighted and surprised by the unexpected things they would say, and perhaps even get close to one of them – and isn’t that what it’s all about – the existential urge to connect with another human being?
So he wouldn’t end up in a cardboard box under a railway arch after all – or in barge. He would have a small, but steady income for – as long as he wanted it – as long as he could stand up – as long as he could get it up. The more he thought about it, the more he realised he didn’t want to spend his declining years in Doncaster, jerking off to Boobz n’ Bottomz Online. No, he would rather go out in the way that he had lived – with a Beerlao in one hand and a bargirl in the other.
That’s the story. It’s not as good as the real thing because it’s all in the imagination – hang on! What am I saying? A virtual gogo bar isn’t the real thing, either, as that’s also in the imagination – though it may be a step in the right direction. How does it go? – imagination, a story to stimulate the imagination, porn, camming/cybersex, gogo bars/paid-for sex, leading up to the ultimate – a real relationship – a sort of monger’s “Hierarchy of Needs”. Well, if that’s the case, perhaps a virtual gogo bar would be a good thing after all, so I’ll repeat Stick’s suggestion – any takers?
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