Monday, August 17, 2009

Flogging the Dead Horse

Alison, in comments… sez:
Do you ever wonder what she is doing now the woman you spent the night with? It sounds almost romantic or maybe that's me being naive..(probably)
Not naïve at all. It was romantic, if you can believe it… and I hope you do. And yes… I've often thought about that woman… and others like her. Often. And always somewhat wistfully, too. Allow me to digress and amplify…
That particular reminiscence was kinda-sorta typical, in my experience (emphasis on "my") but atypical in the sense that it was close to being my very first such experience and was with a woman with whom I most definitely "hit it off." I don't recall anything that ever equaled that night, in those circumstances. At the risk of flattering myself, I was something of a hard-sell in what was a buyer's market in Southeast Asia, at the time. Which is to say there were many women and few Johns, which required a certain amount of effort on the part of those women who wanted to "make the rent" that evening, so to speak. It might also come as a minor surprise that I wasn't looking for the typical "wham-bam-thank-ya-Ma'am" experience… I wanted "quality," self-defined as fun with a woman who could be "in" to the experience in as much as possible, given the circumstances.
So… to make a long story somewhat shorter, there was some "courtship" involved, if only in the brief conversation… usually measured in the space of an hour or so… that could take place in a crowded noisy bar. And there were times when one paid the "bar fine" (a small amount of money paid to the madam [or "the management" of the bar where your friend worked] to secure the girl for the evening) and left the premises to have dinner and/or spend an evening "out on the town" before retiring to one's hotel. This happened more often than not, believe it or don't.
There was also a certain amount of "gut feel" involved in the selection process. I was looking more for empathy than physical attributes in my encounters, if that makes any sense. Which also made me the subject of a lot of good-natured ribbing from my partners-in-crime, as I was known for selecting older women and most often women whom I described as "substantial" (which is to say curvy), rather than the young and nubile. We know what we like…
Now… that said… I should also mention that more than a few of the women who worked the bars in Angeles City in the Philippines and other well- or lesser-known locations wound up marrying GIs. A lot of the guys who were "permanent party" at Clark AB in the Philippines, U-Tapao AB in Thailand, and all points in between… Okinawa, Japan, Taiwan… had "permanent" girlfriends who began as one-night stands and ended up as wives. A LOT of those marriages worked out pretty well, too. Granted there were those women who were only looking for a meal-ticket and divorced their husbands once they were safely established in the "Land of the Big BX," but I'm thinking those cases were in the minority. It might amaze you… the collective "you"… how many of these sorts of marriages were made. I know of more than a few, and spent many a happy evening in the homes of guys who made such relationships work. A lot of women working in the bars outside the US bases in SEA grabbed the brass ring on the carousel that made up our respective existences, back in the day.
But then… on the other hand… there were probably many, many more broken hearts on the part of the women who grabbed for that brass ring and missed. Many. I also knew a few of 'em, and my heart goes out to those women, to this day. Speaking of that… a former Marine made a series of guest posts at Lex's place that describes… in great and poignant detail… one such love affair in the context of his broader military experiences in the PI. These sorts of tales are relatively few and far between, as most men who found themselves in those circumstances don't talk openly about the experience. Here's one such post, and here's the epilog from the series. Many of ASM826's posts were truncated in Lex's migration to his new platform, but that's small beer… as enough remain to make a good evening's read, if one has the incentive to do such a thing (here's the search term and its results, if interested). I'm just glad I got to read those posts in real-time, in the not-so-long ago. The memories came flooding in, and they were sweet memories, indeed.
You hadda be there… and God really and truly blessed you in a manner of speaking, if you were.
Photo credit: Clark AB website, circa the 1970s. Strangely enough… we were in and out of Clark at that point in time. Imagine that.


  1. You've got Olongapo ca. 1984 down pat. Just change BX to NEX.

  2. Wow... 1984. I retired March 1 of the following year... Time really DOES fly, eh, Bob?

  3. Nice memories! OK I have to be honest here - it sounds a lot like modern dating!! But for the money involved I don't see too much difference. That could reflect badly on us but that's how things are now. I do feel for the girls there a bit though, as they must have wanted out of that hellhole and their culture is pretty unforgiving. The point you make about some of them being lucky is kind of sad? I'm not like Daphne in that I'm not very pro ho ;) generally but that's kind of irrelevant. You were there for a reason and things like this happen. Your memories sound charming and sincere. I like the way you handled things Buck. I bet they seriously enjoyed your company.

    I know what you mean about some of the other guys as I've seen it in the movies.

    I'm NOT gonna tell you how they called American GIs here during the war (our men I mean!) as you dated them and whisked women away.

    OT but know how you can have a favourite time period to have lived in? I was born several generations too late imho. I would love to have been married off to some GI after the war. He dug my accent and I dug his kind of thing. Living in the US after the war, say in the 50s onwards? That was (in my view) the US at it's pinnacle. Must have been quite the experience for the war brides

  4. BTW by "i've seen it in the movies" I mean I am a war film addict + a gazillion in particular the Vietnman ones. I was completely fascinated by that war.

  5. Alison sez: I was born several generations too late imho. I would love to have been married off to some GI after the war. He dug my accent and I dug his kind of thing. Living in the US after the war, say in the 50s onwards?

    That was my childhood, Alison. My father's friends included at least one couple where the woman was an English "war bride." I remember being just fascinated with the woman, as she seemed so different compared to the rest of the ladies. As I recall my Mom didn't care for her much... probably because the men fell all over her. But memory can be fallible... especially when it concerns one's childhood.

    As for the rest of the post... what I described was the modus operandi in the Philippines. "Girl shopping"... for lack of a better term... could be quite different elsewhere, and I have Thailand in mind, specifically some of the brothels where the girls are in a single room behind a large plate glass window, wearing number buttons. You pick by number... not quite as romantic, eh? But there's also quite a large "bar scene" and that milieu was preferable to my way of thinking.

    I try not to be judgmental in my observations and I am sincere. My experiences in this space were generally good, but I fully realize there's ugliness... and a lot of it... too.

  6. In a funny kind of way if I had my way Buck prostitutes would be revered for the gift they provide (albeit revered in a discreet social manner). Some dignity. It's the fact that, other than the story you relate of course, that more widely they are not - it's that that makes me dislike the whole business. It's sad that so many men become flippant about what is essentially a privilege and that the business itself treats them like meat. I get why women are so ugly about the whole business. But I never understand why men can be so ugly about women when they are being given something they need. It was seriously good to read your charming memories and get the antidote to that feeling.

  7. Looks like your typical Coyote Ugly bar! Could have been one of the first!

  8. Alison sez: In a funny kind of way if I had my way Buck prostitutes would be revered for the gift they provide (albeit revered in a discreet social manner).

    Well, in different cultures, in different times... they were. After a fashion. I'm thinking of geishas and other sorts of high-class courtesans... but it's a lot more complex than that, of course. Geishas went WAY beyond providing sexual favors and most were entertainers and companions, rather than what we'd call whores today.

    Mushy: I doubt that (one of the first); those bars have existed outside military bases for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The Romans had 'em...

  9. I am not pro ho - I'm realistic, Miss Ali.

    I love it best when you tell stories, Buck. You've got a nice ear for narrative.

  10. Thanks, Daphne. I find telling stories difficult in a couple of ways: first there's the memory thing and I have a fetish about "getting it right," which is to say accuracy; and second... most of my stories aren't suitable for a PG-13 sort of blog, which is the tone I've adopted due to the possibility of the grandkids reading. So far the latter hasn't materialized, AFAIK. But that's not to say it can't or won't happen...


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