Friday, October 29, 2010
Save the last bullet for yourself
Another long fucking bus ride. 17 hours from Phnom Pen Cambodia to Bangkok. I try to find a seat with nobody next to me, but my search is in vain. This time I am solo. My lady friend has gone on to visit her family in Laos. Our man in Cambodia waved goodbye to me, and wished me luck. Not that it's hard to sit on a bus. There are no more fears of Khmer Rouge Guerrillas hijacking the bus and cutting off my head, which was a very real possibility 10 years ago. The only real worry is sitting next to someone who won't shut the fuck up while I am trying to read.
I have never won the lottery. I have never won anything for that matter. Cancer? Yeah, I'd win that. Drugged and left for dead? Yep, already happened. Sit next to a 70 year old Christian missionary on a 17 hour bus ride? Jackpot!
Let's call her Ethel...outdated jeans, flowery shirt, curly hair, and expanding waist line which she cleverly hides by pulling her jeans almost all the way up to her throat. Subtle, yet ostentatious crucifix hanging around her neck -- that falls between her breasts, which are, as I notice, smaller than her stomach. Harsh huh? Stay with me...
I can feel Ethel is trying to size me up through her peripheral vision. I know she is dying to talk, so I bury my nose in my book. I don't need to be Sherlock fucking Holmes to figure out that she is a Missionary. She has prominently displayed her Bible on her lap, along with several religious pamphlets depicting some sort of rapturous event on the cover. I am minding my own biz. Just another dipshit who couldn't afford a plane ticket straight to Bangkok. I also pull out my Buddhist amulet from underneath my T-shirt and let it hang between my man boobs, which are also smaller than my stomach (you see? Self-effacing humor to balance out my rip on Ethel, so fuck you Ethel).
Her opening line is rather ham-handed...
"Would you like to read a book on forgiveness?"
I pretend not to have heard her.
She taps my arm.
"Excuse me." She whispers, as if to lessen her intrusion.
"Yeah, what's up?"
"I can see you are reading. Do you like to read?"
"May I ask what you are reading?"
"Oh really? History of Cambodia maybe?"
I can be fairly anti-social if I want to. I roll up my sleeves to show more tattoo. Like a dumb ass I chose a Japanese motif, replete with pink cherry blossoms, and flowing water patterns. Rather non-threatening. Now I am kicking myself for not going with the gangster prison style.
"Oh my, your tattoos are lovely. Are those Japanese?"
"Did you get those in Japan?"
"Where did you get those?"
"San Diego." Fuck! I fucked up....
Ethel turns what she can of her large ass in her seat so she is facing me.
"Are you from San Diego?"
"Nope." I sigh heavily. The sigh that says please shut the fuck up.
I'm fucked though. Ethel has wormed her way in.
"Where are you from?"
"And where are you now?"
"Oh my, Los Angeles is beautiful."
"It's a shithole. I fucking hate it."
"LA, it's a fucking shithole. I wish somebody would bomb it already. Just blow it the fuck up."
Ethel straightens up her posture and sits facing forward again. Ahh...Silence. That should buy me at least a few hours. Ten minutes later, she turns to me again.
"So what brings you to Cambodia?"
"Drugs and hookers."
Ehtel doesn't miss a beat. She hastens to give me one of her religious tracts.
"You are exactly the man I want to talk to!"
"Did you ever think of the repercussions of your actions here in Cambodia, and of the victimization of the women you exploit?"
"I'm just bullshitting you. I was here to see Angkor Wat with some friends."
Ethel raises a judgmental eyebrow. A skill honed from years of being a Christian missionary.
"Really now? What else were you doing?"
I put my book down, turn to her and give her the evil eye. It has zero effect. She is under the holy light of God, and He is her protector and guide. Every one of her actions has been sanctified from on high.
"You know, to be honest, I don't need to explain myself to you. So if you wouldn't mind, could we just please end this conversation? I'm not trying to be rude. I just really want to finish my book."
Ethel takes a kinder tone.
"I'm sorry, we got off to a bad start. I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. You must think I'm some crazy lady."
"Yeah, with like ten cats right?" Ha ha.
"How'd you know?" she laughs, then under her breath she starts praying for me. Something to the effect of "Heavenly father please guide this lost soul out of the darkness into the light. Please Lord Jesus save this man from himself."
Shit. Sounds like my own prayers to myself every night. Minus the Jesus part.
Ethel begins again..."Well, you are probably wondering about what I'm doing in Cambodia right?"
I shake my head horizontally, apparently not overtly enough.
"I'm here as part of a group that finds alternative jobs for girls who are forced into the sex trade."
Ethel has genuinely piqued my interest. A topic that enthralls me.
"No kidding? What sort of alternative jobs do you find for them?"
"Well, when we meet an exploited girl, we teach her how to farm, how to cut hair, do nails, maybe find her a job cleaning a hotel or something."
"Yeah? How's that working out?"
"Oh, well, you know. It works with the older gals, but the young ones are harder to get through to."
"You mean the old ladies who nobody wants to sleep with anymore go for it, but the young attractive ones don't?"
"Not quite that simple but basically yes."
"Now, I'm not saying you frequent prostitutes, but if you do, or maybe if you have friends that do, it would be great if you could hand them out my cards."
Ethel hands me her business card.
"Ok, well, I'll keep that in mind."
For some vague reason, I feel it necessary to justify my trip to this parasite.
"I have a girlfriend in Thailand, by the way. Gonna get married soon."
"Oh, congratulations. How did you meet her?"
"She worked at a restaurant near the Muay Thai gym I train at."
"Muay thai? Oh yes. That fight ing stuff. So violent. Brrr." She shakes.
Now it's my turn.
"Can I ask you a question?" I ask
"Have you ever done what they call cock math with these girls?"
"Cock math. It's really simple. You ask a girl why she started working. She's gonna say the usual thing like support my family or build a home for her parents. You then ask her how long she's been working, how many days per week, how many customers per day, etcetera. Then you ask her how much money she has saved. She will probably look at you with a blank face and then say she hasn't saved anything. Because bargirls just blow all their money on cel phones, clothes and other bullshit. So you just add it up for her and do the cock math. For instance, let's say she worked for two years, five days a week, at two customers per day..that would be..."
Ethel arrives at the number before I do. So I suck at math. Big deal.
"One thousand and forty." She says.
"Yeah, that's a lot of cocks. Tell her that big ass number, and then tell her she slept with over one thousand men and has absolutely nothing to show for it. Then give her your sales pitch about the hair salon. I'm sure you will catch a few with that approach. Just try it."
Ethel is uncomfortable with my over emphasis of the word cock.
"Well, we would have to come up with a better name for it, but I can see how doing the math would help them to understand how they are wasting their lives away. It breaks my heart."
"Yep. Gotta do the cock math with em."
Ethel ponders this and I go back to reading my book.
"May I ask what book you are reading?" She asks.
I turn the book over and show her the cover.
"The Christ Conspiracy." She reads aloud. "Sounds interesting. Is it about Judas and his betrayal of Jesus."
"Nope. It's about how Jesus never existed as a historical figure, and his myth was plagiarized from the Egyptian God Horus. Also how there were sixteen crucified saviors in ancient mythology. All of them were plagiarizations of one another. The Romans simply used the Christ myth to unify the then divided empire under Constantine, believing that a monotheistic religion could be used to justify rule under one emperor. Basically it just says that Christianity is bullshit."
Ethel turns to look out the window. She begins to pray for me again under her breath, and I assume, doing her own cock math in her head.