Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rented Admirers 2: Comfort's Where You Find It

A customer stops to chat with the girls after finishing his session

Although we've already done a a story about farang and their rented admirers there's an aspect of the World's Oldest Profession at work here that's more compassionate than others, and that "softer" side fills a void for many who succumb to the siren song of the touts that line club alleys or linger in front of some of the massage parlors in Thailand: they just want to feel desired - possibly even attractive - for a while, at least.

Take as an example the man in the photo above.  I use the photo because nobody's identifiable, it was taken some time back and the shop is now part of a construction lot, as is the internet shop nearby where I spoke with the man a short while after the photos were taken. We were at PC stations that faced each other, and I'd asked him point blank "How was the massage?  Good shop?"  Understandably, he looked a little surprised, so I pointed in that direction and told him I'd noticed him coming out of the place while walking to the internet shop.

"Yeah," he allowed, somewhat sheepishly "They seem to be OK with me there, and there's a lot to be OK with!" He smiled as he motioned down the front of himself, gently noting that he was obese. "That's their job..." I thought to myself, but I didn't voice the opinion.  What I did say was "Good. Happy to hear it."

We chatted a bit more before going back to our email and other things, but one thing he mentioned during that short visit stuck with me: he said "It's nice to feel loved. I don't get much of that back home." "Oh," I said "surely you have friends and family back home who love you," and he replied "No, I mean physically desired."  I was a little taken aback as I always am when faced with the "Stranger on a Bus Syndrome"; when people reveal things to a total stranger they wouldn't share with anyone in their everyday life. I couldn't think of a way of agreeing with him without being unkind, so I replied that what he was feeling was perfectly human; we all need to feel attractive sometimes, whether we think we are ourselves or not.

I turned on my camera and held it up towards him so he could see the few images I'd taken.  He was surprised and laughed "Yup, that's me... Mr. Thirteen-XL!", making reference to a shirt size. I said "They seemed to be enjoying their visit with you - they were offering to share their snacks with you as you were leaving."  "Yeah," he laughed as he patted his belly "that may have been the first food I've turned down in six months!"

I shared with him that I'd had weight problems at different points throughout my life, and he gave me a brief but revealing look into his history - one I've heard variations on more than a few times: he'd been a chubby child in a less than ideal family setting and ate for comfort, although he didn't come to that realization until years later. He hid his feelings by being the class clown, but he was a lonesome teenager through high school and college, feeling he'd never have the loving relationship he wanted.  Here in the Land of Smiles he'd found a temporary fix, and he was quite thankful for that.

Although these are my own unscientific observations, if you take the time to observe those who are "on the prowl" in either a girly bar or a gay go-go club you can usually identify which of three groups they belong to: the headstrong/bold, the amiable/sociable and the docile/meek.  The guy today was of the docile group: feeling he was undesirable he paid for the company and physical closeness, and it's difficult to be critical of that if you're not some bible-thumping moralist, and the more vocal of those tend to end up in the news for playing in the same sandbox.

Not that people from any of the three groups are uniformly free of mental and emotional baggage, but if you ask enough working as those whose time and company are paid for (and I have) you'll learn that those the least difficult to deal with are the docile customers, for a variety of reasons we don't need to go off topic for today.  For simplicity's sake say they often are gentle and just looking for the closeness.

Years back I had an acquaintance here stateside that was a nice-looking, successful young man, regularly paying for the company of a sex worker, but not often for the sex; it was the closeness and affection he convinced himself was reality during the time they were together.  He was socially awkward and had thus far been unable to get himself to get out into the dating pool and find himself a mate.  He's now married with two kids and doing fine, but at the time he was somewhat of a mess.

I think that's sometimes the case with those labeled as "sex tourists" while travelling, too. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

This is the wonder of Thailand. To the rest of the world we are "sex Tourists" but to the Thai we are acceptable without judgemnt. For me it is all about closeness I don,t care who beleives that or not. In answer to my friends "I would never pay for it" Everybody pays for it,but often don,t get it.
Thanks for your posts. Chris.

khunbaobao said...

I'd be less than honest if I said I completely agreed with you about how the rest of the world labels visitors to Thailand, Chris - but you have valid opinions. I tend agree with the idea that "we ALL pay for it" in one way or another; even some married folks... if you know what I mean. Thanks for joining in!

Anonymous said...

This is the case with me. I am not young - 54 - but in a good shape and have a decent body for my age. Back home I am squarely in the "gay invisibility" category - and while I do use massage parlors and off boys in bars while visiting - it is the affection and physical contact and not sex per se that i bring back as memories....