In the past I’ve been viewed as somewhat of a womanizer, relying chiefly on wit, charisma, and a benign brand of attractiveness that neither makes nor breaks the deal. Get them talking and they can be gotten...or so the theory goes.
I’m not sure I’ve ever agreed with that assessment, but I’ll concede the point. Admittedly, the evidence is not in my favor: a string of half-hearted romances, office flings, and sophomoric conquests are more than willing to take the stand and honestly, I haven’t the strength to utter an objection.
Still, something’s changed. Since my arrival in Singapore, I haven’t had the taste for the chase. In fairness, during the first few months I was disentangling myself from a botched Stateside relationship and cheating, even when the lines are blurred, is simply not something I do. But it was more than that.
I’ve found that women here are dramatically different in both approach and intent. In essence, the roles seem reversed with females (at least as it pertains to white men) being the aggressors. Just this morning I was eyed hungrily by an attractive local lady, the likes of which would never offer so much as a sideways glance if I were home. I’m not saying this to be self-deprecating. If I can lay claim to a superpower, it would be acute self-awareness. It’s simply truth – here men are ogled and approached with the same lustful frequency as cute, college co-eds at an ecstasy fueled rave.
It’s exhilarating of course becoming a Clooney clone and many take full advantage. From the pasty, sixty-something executive latching on to a impossibly tanned, questionably legal beauty to the happy hour lounge lizard making time with an SPG*, everyone it seems is consumed with “yellow fever”.
I hear the adulterous antidotes. I see the self-satisfied smirks. And I feel lucky, grateful, and even somewhat superior in the knowledge that I’m immune. I have no desire to visit the FFW**, troll the clubs in Clarke Quay, or even return the come hither stares that are far too frequently received. Perhaps it’s because I recognize the illusion and the quiet desperation of my potential counterparts.
Having your way with a woman is a delightful thing to be sure, but only insomuch as it is a balanced affair. When its transactional, contrived, or worse yet, coerced (even indirectly) it loses its appeal completely and for me borders on the immoral, even the criminal. I’m surprised by my strong emotional reaction to the matter, but grateful for the dual lessons this year of romantic people watching has produced.
First, it seems that despite denials, I do long for a healthy relationship with a secure, self-reliant someone special. And second, I now realize that my tendency to bolt does not stem from a desire to leave or arrive, but rather to remain in motion. There’s nothing wrong with running of course, unless it’s endlessly upon a treadmill of ice. Perhaps it’s time to unplug the beast and find a jogging partner who can not only keep up, but push me onward toward a horizon we both desire.
Author note: I realize this post does not do justice to the majority of Singaporean women. During my time here I’ve known and befriended several who are the epitome of style, grace, class and intelligence. My hope is that they will forgive the limited scope of this entry and see it for what it is…a bit of introspection and nothing more.
*SPG - Sarong Party Girl is a derogatory term used in Singapore to describe a local woman who dresses and behaves in a provocative manner, and who exclusively dates white men often indirectly exchanging sexual favors for a variety of gifts.
**FFW - Four Floors of Whores, officially Orchard Towers, is an 18-story office building located on the corner of Claymore Road and Orchard Road. During the day it functions as a retail and office style building, but it is best known as an landmark entertainment complex featuring a variety of bars and clubs where “clients” are able to meet and pick up prostitutes.