I could start this description of the nights events in several different ways, for example, I could say, behind the blue smokey glow of a candle in the early morning I sat down to type something that could only happen in Shanghai, the shine from the laptop my only companion on this hazy Christmas eve or I can take it a step back, say something like, it was 9:30 on Christmas eve when my How Pong Yo Benny asked me if I wanted to go out.
Now, I’m not a man that starts out a good story with, I was at home reading a book last night and so I won’t start this one out like that either - instead, let me tell you about debauchery, charm, charisma and a game of dice all on a Christmas eve.
I go out with my friend to a KTV, shiny lights and girls in short sequined blue skirts with smiles in their eyes and Santa hats on top o’ their crowns. I’m antsy and there is a stick up my ass a mile long - I’m just not in the mood to pay some girls to talk with me, to laugh at my dumb jokes, I’m cocky enough to realize that enough girls do that for free. “Whatever”, I shrug into the cold dark night, cold so damp it hits your bones and starts digging - cold so vibrant and alive you want to invite it out for dinner, take it drinking and put it in a cab when it’s had to much. Cold so dark, so evil that you don’t care if it gets into trouble, just as long as it knows you won’t be there in the pale dark moon to bail it out.
We take the taxi to the KTV on some sort of unpronounceable part of town, I know I’m in for a weird show because as always I’m the token white guy. I’m the freak show, the movie star and the topic of conversation all rolled into one 190 cm package of square jawed harlequin romance.
We go up an elevator and into a room, gaudy, mirrors, smoke drifting up and trying to escape out - Mando pop blasting and bottles of Ballantines scotch half empty, open necked, ready for the end, green tea hovering ever so close, long lines of half watered down glasses snaking around the table, ashtrays lead to ashes lead to corners lead to silken white legs lead to ladies lead to smiles and as I fumble my way in, try to say hello - recognize faces of people I should not have recognized, should not have known and then in a clap and a puff of smoke it begins.
Mei Guo Ren they whsisper behind my blank smile, American I say back, whispering again, then the new girls they enter the room with a smoke clap - ten of them, each of them prettier then the next, short pink dresses, pink the color of grapefruit and proms, pink the color of the inside of the mouth, pink the color of fingernails and toenails and long summer sunsets, short dresses, long dresses all with name tagged badges hanging behind Chinese bosoms, on old fashioned word that springs to mind in new fashioned sense.
I am the wolf in this story, the unwilling or non-understanding Shark that’s been sent to feed and I don’t even understand the god damn rules.
But, like a crustacean at Red Lobster I pick one out of the tank - the girl that says she speaks English, Good-est.
What more can I do but wring myself dry?
I can’t look her in the eyes as I pick her out of the line up - I can’t see how she looks at me as they take her name card and stamp it like a piece of meat, can’t look at her as she looks at me with a smile and licks her lips as if to say, puppy love, who’s the wolf now?
She sits next to me and we make small talk, names are exchanged, mine should be my go to fake one, Billy, but for some reason I say my real name - my only name as if somehow I can use my own name to get by in this weird situation, this encounter seems less real the more I become a character and so I do.
Logan R Brouse I say to her with an outstretched hand and a glean in my dazzling hazel eyes and it’s god damn good to meet you, I say to her with a glass of tea and scotch in my hand as she puts her arm around me and sits in my lap.
Then it’s that easy to get lost in it - to envelope myself into the character of my self.
We karaoke, we laugh, she pours my drinks and I beat her in dice many, many, many, many times over till I get cocky - till I get exaggerated in my actions, each shot a silhouetted romance on a silk screen, all eyes on me, tallest man in the room and the only one with a story to tell.
Somehow the clock goes from 9pm to Midnight and a friend of mine whispers to me, wait till the games start.
They all raise glasses, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen people in the room, saying something about a Merry Christmas and how they hope I’m happy because that will make them happy.
These are not hollow words, in China I’ve learned that people mean what they say here, even the mama san, when she grabs at my gear and aims just a little to short.
Somehow the girls, there are more then I realized, they get me dancing, I’m not drunk but trying to make myself numb as I play by some sort of rules...which aren’t the right ones.
I’m used to Strip Clubs in the states, look but no touch but here, with the girls in pink prom dresses, pink like alligators on La Coste shirts, pink like dark, dark red that’s been drowned in a sea of white, they start dancing and take off my belt, my sweater and I get the rhythm and help with my jacket, my undershirt but they grab for my pants and I stop them, not yet I think to myself as I hang on with one hand on my hips, swatting against a sea of KTV girls, laughing, smiling, eyes that never leave mine, eyes that have seen so many more things then I in good faith could never do justice to on a scrap of paper, eyes that shine back at me, in pairs of dangerous brown hues with smiles that go for miles.
My shirt is off and I thank those same eyes that I go to the gym, that my pecks are peaked and not primeval and we dance as they sit me down, each taking a turn, grabbing my hands and leading them where they may, grabbing me and exploring a American in a way that they had only heard about.
It ends in a short burst of bad music, no sex exchanged, no sex asked for, just a cultural shock to the system - drained out and flushed away in the staircase of the KTV like an old q tip.
Out again in the starless night, the bright sky gods all ashamed to see their unknown brother and I head out with a smile and a nod - a trouble maker back in the blanket of blackness, incognito in the ignition...the cab drives me home and I can finally start my boring story up properly.