Chapter Five: "It all comes out looking like shit in the end."
The fantasy of living large consistently trumps the reality of making money. I met quite a few wealthy individuals thus far: Self-made millionaires with expensive tastes; tested by norms, acquired by fate. I thought I was unimpressed with money before, but I don't think I'll ever be impressed with it again. Diamond-encrusted limited edition timepieces seem more than a bit trivial to be an object of genuine envy. With all the attention paid to it, shouldn't it at least be able to escort you to the nearest restroom while fixing Thai-style omelettes with the dial? I remember thinking how shiny it was before immediately turning my attention to the gawdy, rubber strap -- it was a reality check that reminded me class and culture were not mutually exclusive. When I was picked up in a "couldn't afford this with three life insurance policies" Mercedes convertible, the temporary exhibitionism gave way to the still-unaccustomed desire to ride in a rickshaw like an old world prostitute from Shanghai. (Although one could get used to the $300/dish dinners.)
Without warning, he revealed that he had spoke of me to his friends after our first encounter. The son of my mom's childhood neighbour, he had just finished taking me out for dessert when he asked me why I've never "embraced love" which he neither, I don't think, said euphemistically nor ironically. Let's make one thing clear: he's not unattractive in the physical sense, but he lacked something alternatively essential ... like a backbone. A archetypal mama's boy, Chinese Boy's subtle interrogation of my interests came off not just not-so-subtle, but downright uncomfortable. I tried to deter his increasing curiosity with timeless excuses like, "I'm a whore," but this merely amused him for he thought my assertiveness ... attractive! Incroyable mais vrai! He's an enjoyable evening walk companion, but I was playing with Flubber: no resistence. "Whatever you want to do," was his oft-used phrase whenever I gave him an opportunity to assert himself. "I'll stop if you want me to," I'd hear soon after making an innocent remark or two. The "hand skimming" was the cork in the pooper. I can't stand checking off predictable strategies before the list has been realized. He walked me further and further away from home and found reasons to prolong his time with me and though I knew my distancing techniques (jokes, jokes and more jokes) were having an opposite effect, I still made an unceremonious and hurried exit when he was distracted by my mom's friends (one too drunk to keep his beer in). A cross-Pacific love affair? I'd rather mate with elves. *sidenote: There was another guy whom I taught English to. Also a friend's son, I didn't find out about his girlfriend -- from my cousin, no less -- until after he showed interest. "They're on the 'edge of love,'" she told me, half-seriously, finger quotes prominently on display.
"What does that even mean?"
[End of Chapter Five]
-Steve, guest blogger