May 8, 2007

America's Deadly Dance with Diversity

Mr. Lim picked me up at Changi Airport, that afternoon when I first arrived into Singapore and as soon as I was in the car, we exchanged greetings and were then off to see customers. It would be a long day, I wouldn't have time to check into my hotel on Scotts Road until almost 7pm that night. I checked into my room and then joined Lim downstairs at the Treetops lounge for a few drinks before going to bed.

The next day was Friday and another full work schedule from morning until evening. After our last appointment we headed to back to our office in Singapore so that I could send a telex back to Houston giving a full report on the day's events. Ahhh... finally finished. The next morning we had three more appointments but for now we had a night off.

When we got back to the hotel, Lim and a few other collegues including Mr. Chew Kok were waiting at the Treetops lounge and I was informed that we had a full evenings activities scheduled. After a few jugs of beer, we were off for more Tiger beer and chili crabs at a restaurant along the East Coast, after dinner and copious amounts of beer, we were off the karaoke lounge where I belted out my best rendition of "Green Green Grass of Home" while a young demure "guest relations officer" fed me peanuts with one hand and and gave me a raging erection with the other hand by gently stroking the inside of my thigh. Stumbling out of the karaoke lounge we were off to what I was told was the requisite visit to Geylang. Geylang was not exactly my cup of tea. I'm not sure what it was at this point, either the thick smell of Chinese incence that can be found in all of these Chinese flop houses or the garlicky breath of number 16 that turned me off, but I politely informed my hosts that I was not interested. Distraught, my hosts rushed me into one of the "health centres" at a 5-star hotel where I obliged and settled for a half-hearted massage followed up with a hygienic handjob from a bubblegum chewing college student.

I would leave Singapore another two weeks later and as the plane lifted off I was amazed at how a country that had banned Playboy magazine could be so sexually liberated beyond anything I could possibly have imagined. It would be several years later before I had a full understanding of the culture differences in play and how my initial perceptions on Singapore's sexual liberation were clouded.

A few months later, I learned that one of my collegues from Singapore would be visiting the United States for the first time. My boss asked to me to make all the arrangements for Mr. Lim and take care of him during his visit. Prior to Mr. Lim's arrival, I made all the arrangements for his visit, I arranged his hotel, his business schedule for the week and tried my best to arrange a few extracurricular activties for the evenings in an attempt to repay the favor for the hospitality that I had received during my previous business visits to Singapore.

Mr. Lim would call me one night a week before his arrival, excited about his first trip to the United States and asked me to arrange a girl with blond hair and blue eyes for him to "meet". The call left me a bit frustrated, The entertainment for men was nothing like the entertainment in Singapore as far as I knew. The best option I could think of was to take Mr. Lim to one of Houston's gentlemen's clubs where he could enjoy a twenty dollar lap dance sans the "happy ending".

Options for Lim's "happy ending" were basically limited, as far as I knew there were no "health centers" in the major hotels that offered a massage and a handjob from a blue-eyed blond college student nor were there any karaoke joints that I was familar with. Oh of course there were a few karaoke joints over on the Southwest side of town run by the Koreans and Japanese, but Lim wanted an "American experience" and he would not have been interested in buying a bottle of Chivas for US350 and having a creepy 40 year old Korean vamp licking his earlobes . I also had no idea where to arrange a prostitute. The only prostitutes I had ever seen were the nappy headed hos wearing neon tube tops and mini skirts who often trawled Telephone road in the evenings looking for "dates" and needless to say, this would not have suited Lim's expectations of bagging that All-American girl.

In the end, I explained to Lim that America was not like the East. I told him I would be happy to take him out for drinks someplace but as far as arranging women went, that he would be on his own. Lim's reaction was a bit puzzled, he found it hard to believe that the United States could be so prude after all that he had read about America and what he had seen on television and in the movies. How could a country that had introduced Playboy and Hustler magazine to the world be so straightlaced when it came to sex?

Thinking back, it is perhaps what I didn't tell Lim that played the most importance. The truth is that American women didn't really find someone like Lim attractive and for the most part Asian men don't have much success with Western women. Lim like many Asians had the typical features that many Western women find totally unattractive in a man. A small framed, hairless and effeminate body with slanted eyes.

I introduced Lim to a few attractive women at one of Houston's gentleman's clubs who were pleasant and nice, but made it painfully clear that Lim wasn't exactly their type. After a few drinks, I noticed Lim becoming angry and frustrated that the women would not respond to his overtures and it didn't help when women laughed at him. As Lim's expectations met with reality, I tried my best to calm him down and told him that maybe he was just trying to hard. The truth was something I couldn't bear to tell Lim.

The contrast was almost comical, Lim was "dorky, timid and pushy" and no match for a liberated and sexually confident woman and his 'charm' needless to say was going no where.

It has been twenty years now since I first came to Asia and interestingly enough, it was the tragedy at Virginia Tech and Cho Seung-Hui that caused me to recollect my first experiences in Asia and the culture shock and the cultural differences that I faced at that time.

In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, the authorities and the media ever ignorant of Occam's razor will continue their mental masturbation by investigating only what the dictates of political correctness allow them to investigate.


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