Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jane Austen

About twenty years ago, on the advice of a friend, I read the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I've mentioned Pride and Prejudice in this blog before because it became of of my favourite books. Indeed, having finished Pride and Prejudice I went on to read all Jane Austen's other novels in quick succession. She only wrote six novels, and on one level they're very simple because they all just boil down to the story of how the heroine finds her husband. But underneath that simple story they're incredibly complex, and beautifully written too, so that a romantic guy like me finds it impossible not to fall in love with them!

It's interesting to ask how modern gay life maps onto a typical Jane Austen novel like Pride and Prejudice. A lot of gay guys might see themselves as the novel's heroine Elizabeth Bennet, constantly looking for Mr Right and finding that most guys fall short of their ideal. I'd certainly put ex-boyfriend P in that category! I'd hoped to be his Mr Darcy, but I know now that it wasn't to be :-(.

Although all her heroines always found their husband, Jane Austen herself did not marry. I find it easy to believe that like many gay guys, she didn't realise that the perfect husband only exists in the kind of books that she wrote. None the less, that doesn't detract from the fact that her novels were masterpieces.

However, I've always had a problem with her most famous line, which I reckon must be the opening sentence to Pride and Prejudice:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
I guess it speaks for the time in which it was written. Back in 19th century England, saying:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife or a nice boyfriend.
wouldn't have gone down very well!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The rules of playing 'hard to get'

Right at the end of December, I received an email from a guy asking me about the best places to meet other gay guys in London, and also asking about what the dating rules are in the UK. So I sent him a brief reply about the London gay scene, and I also asked him to write a bit more about exactly what his dating query was. The result was the following email:

Dear GB

Why do people play hard to get? I just can't wrap my mind around what seems to be such an unproductive habit. It might be redundant to say that I don't like playing hard to get and that I'm pretty frustrated with people who do. I recently met up with a guy I was introduced to about three months ago, we got along, we were mutually interested but we didn't hook up, although we did swap shirts (it was a pretty interesting party) and felt each other up underneath the dinner table after dessert. We kept in touch and chatted a bit online and all seemed to be cool, but now, having come to London to spend Christmas with some other friends I find him to be playing completely hard to get. I don't get the point. Either he is interested, in which case we hook up, or he's not and we can stop playing telephone tag. In general, wouldn't it be easier and more effective to be upfront, instead of circling round in a total stalemate? Or to put it another way, wouldn't it be better not to play hard to get, but rather to be decisive such as to maximize efficiency of investment in the libidinal economy of close interpersonal encounters?


His last sentence made me giggle so I readily agreed to do a blog post in response.

Just over a week later though, perhaps because I'd posted the title of this post in my Dear GB pending list, the following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I'm a student at Cambridge in my final year and wish for some relationship advice. I had been in a relationship with a guy for the first year and a half of Uni, but then I decided to end the relationship because it wasn't working out. I hate the gay scene in Cambridge, which I find generally shallow and revolves around casual sex and a ghastly gay bar aptly named 'Thrust'. Since splitting up with the guy I mentioned I've quite liked several people, all who seem to like me, which leads to my next problem...

I seem to, whether mostly by intent or by nature, play hard to get to an extreme degree, such that even were a person I absolutely adore to show interest in me I won't ask them out, or only in the final instance. I suppose my tendency evolved from several hurtful episodes I had with other people before I went out with the guy I mentioned above, as a kind of protective mechanism to gauge who was genuinely interested in me. But still, I can't help thinking that I've missed lots of opportunities to form relationships with those who I like, and in particular, I feel that it is happening again more or less as we speak. The problem is, I play hard to get to the extreme of seeming slightly cold to the person I fancy. It's quite strange really, instead of being especially warm to the person I like I retract and shy away from contact with them. So I would like your advice, or the advice of people in this blog, as to whether my protective mechanism is somewhat self-defeating.

I would greatly appreciate a reply, yours,


These two emails from the different readers clearly show two guys on opposite sides of the hard-to-get behavioural trait, so it makes sense to try and answer both emails at the same time. How to go about looking for boyfriends is also quite topical for me at the moment, now that I've split up with ex-boyfriend P, so putting down a few thoughts here should help me sort out my ideas too.

In terms of playing hard to get, I recall a conversation with ex-boyfriend P last year when he suggested that I had no idea how to go about dating. He insisted that in the city where he lives there are "rules", such as not phoning a date back for three days after an enjoyable meeting, even if one is very keen on the other person. I guess the idea is that phoning back too quickly makes one look desperate. Of course, ex-boyfriend P is right that I don't know these rules, but in fact I'm glad that I don't know them. Intuitively I feel that following a set of rules when searching for a long term partner is ridiculous, because every situation is different, so each situation requires it's own response.

I think that the most important thing is to be honest, open and relaxed when looking for boyfriends, or to put it another way, to be cool. Any rules which exist for dating were perhaps invented to try and help inherently uncool people appear to be cool to the people that they're dating. However, it strikes me as being inherently uncool to following any set of dating rules. Similarly, in terms of playing hard-to-get, I'd say that it's also uncool to pretend that one doesn't like someone when one does!

For the reader who was upset because a guy he likes has been playing hard-to-get, I think the best advice is to try and understand what might be causing the other guy to behave like that. Indeed, as in all areas of life when one's interacting with other people, it's always sensible to try and work out what's going through the other peoples' mind. In this case, possible reasons for his behaviour include:
  • The guy has changed his mind and now isn't interested meeting the reader after all
  • The guy is following a pointless set of dating rules
  • The guy is interested in the reader, but is afraid of being hurt
  • The guy is interested in the reader, but has a self-esteem problem so he finds it hard to believe that anyone is really interested in him
  • The guy is dishonest, for example he's currently in a monogamous relationship, so he can only get in touch when his partner is away
This isn't an exhaustive list, however working out what's going on in the other guy's mind should help the reader plan his response. However if a guy never returns one's phone calls or emails, ultimately that's quite rude, so the only sensible course of action is to look elsewhere.

For the reader who has been playing hard-to-get, I think the answer to his question is "yes", his self-protective behaviour is somewhat self-defeating! Although one has to protect oneself to some extent, I don't think it makes sense to pretend that you don't like someone when you do like them. So perhaps a better solution in terms of protecting oneself is to take things very slowly when someone shows an interest? However I also believe that one shouldn't try and love anyone else until one loves oneself, so given that the reader described his own behaviour as extreme, I can't help wondering whether the reader has other issues that need to be addressed. For example, low self-esteem would also cause this behaviour.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on these issues?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thai temptation

On my recent holiday to Thailand, I discovered that Bangkok has "pussy ping pong" shows to entertain straight guys, and that it also has "hard cock shows" which aim to attract a gay male audience. Although I said in my post about the Babylon sauna in Bangkok that I'd managed to resist seeing both types of show, the truth is more complicated. It was true when I wrote that post, but it turned out that I wasn't able to resist for my entire holiday! So I guess I'd better come clean and update everyone on what really happened.

After Bangkok, me and my Thai friend B went down to Phuket. The second evening that we're there, B introduces me to one of his American friends called T, who is living there teaching English as a foreign language.

"Has GB seen a money boy show yet?" asks T.

"Not yet," replies B, "he didn't seem that interested when we were in Bangkok."

"But you've really got to see one of these shows while you're here!" says T, talking directly to me now, "you're on holiday after all :-)."

With both B and T looking at me with expectant smiles on their faces, I can see that resistance is futile. In any case, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't curious to see what these shows are like!

T assures us that he knows the best place with the best show, so a little later that evening I find myself in a bar with B and T being ushered to a table with a good view of a stage.

"That guy who showed us to the table here seems quite cute," I say, looking around, "actually all the staff look quite cute :-)."

"Do you want any of them?" asks T, "They're all available!"

Before I can answer the lights go down and the show begins. It starts with lots of young guys walking almost naked across the stage. They're all dressed as though they're heading for a shower, with something like a towel wrapped round their waists, however it's not a towel but some kind of see-through fabric. Through the fabric, one can see that they've all got at least a semi-erection! Well, that's not a bad start to any show :-).

Although there's no admission charge, it seems to be understood that everyone has to buy at least one drink. So while I'm watching the semi-naked guys on stage, a smart looking young guy called "V" who's dressed in a shirt and tie comes to take our orders. However, it turns out that he's not only a waiter because when he returns with our drinks he sits down on a little stool in front of me.

"You like show?" asks V, looking at me with such a cute smile on his face.

"Sure," I reply, "I've never seen anything like this before!"

Now that I've started talking to him, he reaches out and before I can object, he's started rubbing my knee. I catch his eye and he smiles at me. It's clear that he's trying to get me to be his client!

"Are all the guys in the show gay?" I ask him, trying to make conversation.

"A lot straight," replies V, "not many gay. But me gay :-)."

B and T pay little attention to the fact that there's a money boy trying to chat me up. For a while V carries on gently rubbing my knee and smiling, but he's also glancing around regularly to see what's happening on stage and in the rest of the bar. After a few minutes he seems to spot something over at the bar that needs his attention so he casually gets up and walks away.

The show is varied and quite interesting. One of the acts is a ladyboy singing a song, however other acts involve one or more naked guys who are ready for action! Contact between the naked guys is limited to touching and fondling, which suits me just fine because if I want to see guys get very intimate with each other I'd just buy a hardcore porn DVD. None of the guys get to the point of producing any man juice either, presumably because the idea is to save it for prospective clients!

"So how does this work," I ask T in between two of the acts, "if one wanted to take one of these guys home?"

"You just pay the bar 300 Baht," replies T in a matter of fact voice, "and then what you pay the boy is between the two of you. But I think they're usually happy with 600."

So the total bill for a Thai rent boy is about £18! The next act turns out to be a shower scene, with a particularly cute guy called "A" standing in a cubicle at the edge of the stage and playing with himself, while rubbing himself sensuously and pretending to wash. At the end of the act a smart older looking Thai guy, who I guess must be the bar's owner, wanders through the bar shouting something in Thai.

"What's he saying?" I ask B.

"He's just asking 'Who wants this one'!" replies B, translating for me.

The stage then goes dark while some kind of tarpaulin is laid out, and while it's still dark, a couple of guys come out and place themselves on it. The bar owner moves to near the front of the stage with a small torch, and quickly illuminates the crotch of both guys in turn. When the lights get a bit brighter and the act starts, both guys are naked and slightly soapy, and they spend the next few minutes rubbing themselves, rubbing each other, and playing with all their naughty bits!

"The owner was just checking that the guys had erections before the start, wasn't he!" I ask B quietly, shortly after the act starts.

"Yes of course," says B. "Actually, I reckon a lot of these guys must use Viagra because most of them perform here every day and they have to get erections on demand!"

Throughout the show, V occasionally drops by to rub my knee, or massage my shoulders from behind. Although I have no intention of going home with him, I see no reason to tell him to stop. Even if I did, I'm not sure that he'd take any notice!

The end of the show turns out to be a parade of all the performers and staff in the bar. Just beforehand I see V disappear from the bar area so he can take part. Each guy in turn walks out onto one side of the stage, then over to the other side of the stage, and then off the stage and around the room before getting back on the stage so everyone can take a final look. The guys like V wearing shirts and ties who work as hosts in the bar are all mixed in with the stage performers, who're now all topless but wearing trousers. All of them carry a clear name badge. As the shower performer "A" walks past me on his way back to the stage, I can't help catching his eye. He smiles back at me.

A couple of minutes later, I'm chatting to B and T when A comes and sits down with us, exactly where V had been sitting. No doubt this is because I accidentally caught his eye when he was in the parade just now!

"Hi," I say, "What's your name?"

He continues smiling at me, but starts looking slightly confused, although in an exceptionally cute way.

"Do you speak English?" I ask.

"No sorry," he replies.

I suppose I should have expected that. I smile at him to kind of say "sorry" back to him, and turn away to resume my conversation with B and T. If I just wanted his body I'm sure he'd be great, any two guys who're just interested in the physical side of gay life can no doubt communicate just by touching the relevant bit of each other's bodies and using sign language! But when I go with another guy I always want to be able to chat to him a bit too.

No sooner has A walked away than V sits down to replace him.

"Why not take a boy home tonight?" he asks smiling at me and rubbing my knee again.

"That A, he nice guy :-)," he continues.

"Is he gay?" I ask, but V doesn't answer.

"Or is he Bi?" I ask.

"Yeah, same thing!" replies V.

Suddenly he leans forward and whispers.

"Take me home tonight :-)." Looking at him sitting there with his name badge on, he looks so helpless and adorable!

"Come on GB," pipes up T, "why don't you take this lovely guy home with you tonight. Look at him sitting there, he's GORGEOUS!"

I look at T and shake my head, surprised that he thinks that I'd be interested in a money boy.

"And he REALLY likes you," continues T, and he puts such emphasis on the word REALLY that I almost believe him!

"Yes, of course he looks gorgeous," I say to T quietly, "and of course he likes me. It's his job! I probably find 70% of these guys attractive, but the fact that they're for sale is a complete turn off for me."

"But you're on holiday and this is Thailand. If you like him just take him home, it doesn't cost much, nobody cares!"

I look at V again, quietly sitting there looking completely cute and lovable, and I feel really sorry for him. What kind of life can he have, trying to sell his body every night? Perhaps I should take him home with me, just so he can earn a bit of cash from me?

But thinking about it a bit more, I devise a plan that I feel more comfortable with. I decide to give V a small tip for all the attention that he's given me. Reaching into my pocket I pull out a 100 Baht note and give it to him, before standing up and talking to B.

"Shall we go?" I ask, "it was interesting to see the show but I'm tired now!"

B nods his head in agreement and stands up too, but T wants to stay. As we head to the door I look back to see T talking to V. I can't help wondering whether V will end up with a client for the night after all!

"What do you think of these kind of bars?" I ask B in the car on the way home, "Don't you think they're exploiting the local lads?"

"It's not so bad!" says B, "it's a job and they get paid something each night even if they don't pull a client. No one is forcing them to do it either."

"There's something else too," continues B, "it's good for poor old farang too. After all, without places like that, old farang would never get to have sex!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some Thai Buddhist wisdom




















Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ex-boyfriend P

A few minutes ago, I spoke to the guy that I've been calling boyfriend P for the first time since we agreed the timeout last month. The result is that we've officially split up :-(. So, I guess if I ever refer to him in this blog again, I'll be using the terminology ex-boyfriend P.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Email from a gay guy about being Out in the workplace

Just after Christmas, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I am an avid reader of your blog, and I have a question for you.

What are your thoughts about being out in the workplace? In particular, for investment banking/trading/private equity/hedgies type? I am late 20s, in the private equity industry in North America, and find that it have been pretty difficult in connecting with others at the firm (because I decline to talk about my personal life..)

I would be very grateful if you could talk a bit more about your strategy in your blog. thanks a bunch!


I've written quite a lot about this topic in previous postings, but I know that it's an important subject for many readers so I think it's good to discuss it occasionally. Back in 2007 I answered a 'Dear GB' email from a guy who was starting his banking career, and last year I did a posting about a conversation that I had with a junior gay sales guy who works for the same bank as me. On a related subject, back in 2007 I also did a posting about conversational evasion techniques.

Indeed, when I started my career I was evasive when talking about my personal life with colleagues, no doubt in much the same way that the reader who sent me this email currently is. However I don't think that's necessary any more, after all, all the major banks with investment banking divisions have internal networks for their gay staff. These days I don't hide my sexuality at work but I don't broadcast it either, so I still use the word 'partner' rather than 'boyfriend'. As a result a lot of colleagues including my boss know that I'm gay, and it's no big deal as long as I'm good at my job.

The reader makes a good point, namely that if one is constantly being evasive, it's hard to connect with one's colleagues. But connecting with one's colleagues is very valuable, because that helps teamwork and hence helps one succeed. Hiding one's sexuality is also a drain on one's productivity, because it's something that's always at the back of one's mind so one can't relax. However, as I said in the posting about the conversation that I had with a junior gay sales guy, one needs to be confident about one's sexuality to be out in a banking environment. It's just like being in a school playground where bullies enjoy picking on the weak! So as I said in my post about the confidence mirror, if one is fully confident about one's sexuality one should always get the right reaction if one handles it in the right way. One must act as though being gay is the most natural thing in the world, which of course it is for gay people!

So how should the reader begin the process of being more open with his colleagues? I don't think it's a good idea to suddenly announce one's sexuality. That's a very self-centered thing to do, because it implies that other people are interested in the news. Instead one should look for casual ways to slip the information into conversation. However, I'd recommend doing it on a one-to-one basis, because when it's one-to-many some people may react in particular ways because of the impression that they want to give to the other people present. I also think that telling people who like to gossip is a good thing in this context, because if one tells the right person then everyone else will end up knowing which helps get the job done!

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?

Monday, January 12, 2009

An enjoyable night in Bangkok

"Which of those boys do you like the look of?" B asks, as we're sitting together at one of the gay bars on Silom Road Soi 4 in Bangkok.

Glancing over to the table that B's referring to, there are five Thai guys sitting down, all joking with each other and looking around. Although B calls them 'boys', they're all clearly over 20, but all of them look quite short and slim so 'boys' isn't a bad description. A couple of them are smoking, and I notice that one of the others has a cigarette packet in front of him. While I'm surveying the scene, one of them spots me looking at him and smiles back. He looks quite cute.

"A couple of those guys look quite feminine," I tell B, "and I'm not into that. The others might be OK if it wasn't for the fact that they smoke :-(. I enjoy kissing when I'm being intimate with another guy, but kissing guys who smoke isn't very pleasant!"

"Well none of those guys will do for you then!" says B sounding disappointed, "But in general, I don't think there's much harm in hooking up with guys like that."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, they're clearly all money boys!" explains B.

"Is 'money boy' the same as a 'rent boy'?" I ask.

"Yes, same thing. Some will be upfront about how much they want before going back to your hotel with you. Others will spend the night with you, and then in the morning they'll say things like they've got to go and visit their family or something, but don't have any money for the bus trip! But none of them probably want more than 1000 Baht, so it's a win-win situation. You get a fun night and a nice experience for your holiday which hardly costs you anything by your standards, and they get some money they can live on for a few days plus a cosy night in a comfortable bed!"

I'm not sure that I agree with B's assessment of the benefits of sleeping with Thai rent boys, but I let it pass. We carry on chatting about Bangkok gay life but soon I start to feel tired. The jet lag still seems to be affecting me, so we finish our beers and B walks me back to my hotel.

Five hours later, it's 4am and all of a sudden I'm wide awake. The jet lag is playing tricks on me :-(. It's 9pm back in London so if my body clock was still on London time I'd be going to bed within a couple of hours, however it feels like I won't ever be able to get back to sleep again!

Reluctantly I get up, and head into the lounge area of the small suite of rooms that I've hired and turn on my laptop. I answer a couple of emails, check the latest BBC news, and then a cunning plan hatches in my mind. If I could find a nice guy to visit me in my room for a bit of fun, I might well be able to get to sleep afterwards, because fun can be an excellent sedative :-). On top of that, as I've said before, I find it much easier to sleep when I've got a guy to share my bed with me :-).

I decide to try gay.com rather than gaydar, because gaydar is only popular in a small number of countries worldwide, whereas gay.com seems to be much more widespread. Logging into the gay.com Thailand chat room, I'm surprised to see around 60 guys there, even though it's the middle of the night. But most of them may be asleep so to stand any chance of finding a guy I put a little advert onto the open channel. Soon a couple of guys start chatting to me and one of the guys, who turns out to be called F, seems particularly promising:

F: Hi
GB: Hi
F: you in BKK?

A reasonable question, given that my profile probably still says London UK!

GB: yes, I'm in at hotel in central Bangkok, are you nearby?
F: yes, nearby
F: you got pics for me?

The pics on my online profiles exclude my face, so I tell him the address of a web site where he can find some pics which do show my face. We then chat a bit about what might be on the menu if we do meet up, and then he's got another question for me.

F: you have MSN?
GB: yes, somewhere, but I don't use it much at the moment.
F: we chat MSN?

I start my version of MSN, or "Windows Live Messenger" as it seems to be called these days, and I give him an email address so he can contact me on the system. Soon we've abandoned gay.com in favour of MSN:

F: hi
GB: hi again, this is GB, what's your name?
F: I 'F', nice too meet you
GB: nice to meet you too, F :-)
F: How long you in bkk ?
GB: just two more days
F: i c

Suddenly I get an invitation to start viewing webcam with F. I accept the invitation, but I need to tell him that I can't properly reciprocate.

GB: I don't have a webcam on my laptop here
F: it ok, i have seen your pic
GB: I see you, looks like you're in an office?
F: yes i am

Looking at him on his webcam, he looks just like he does on his profile pics, namely an attractive Thai guy. We chat a bit more, and I get the impression that he's quite keen so I tell him exactly which hotel I'm staying in. Occasionally he smiles at me through his webcam with a really cute smile that completely disarms me, so I start to get quite keen on meeting him too :-).

GB: are you near my hotel?
F: yes
GB: cool
F: you like to meet ?
GB: sure, we could meet, how long would it take you to get here?
F: 15 mt
F: you like me to come?

Yes probably, but I've just got one more question to ask. I always play safe, however I still think it's useful to ask a guy what his HIV status is, because I'm keen to avoid being infected myself. Although a guy's answer is unreliable, both because he could lie and because he might not know the truth, the fact is that the question still acts as a statistical filter. In other words, in any population of gay men, the proportion of guys who are in fact HIV positive even though they say that they're HIV negative will be lower than the proportion of HIV positive guys in population as a whole. Asking about HIV also raises awareness of the issue, which is a good thing too.

GB: do you mind me asking - are you HIV negative?
F: me HIV-
GB: me too
F: i test every 3 month

I tell him my room number but then I realise that there could be a problem

GB: you can't come up in the lifts without a card-key, so I'll have to meet you in the lobby of the hotel here
F: ok
F: and may you pay for my taxi
F: ?
GB: sure, taxis in BKK are cheap, it won't be more than 100 Baht will it?
F: 100 ok
F: but i need your name too ?
GB: my name is GB, why do you need my name?
F: because when they ask i will tell your name
GB: OK, when you arrive, come inside and there's a big christmas tree
GB: I will meet you near the christmas tree
F: ok
F: 15 mt
F: wait me ok
GB: I will take a shower quickly now
F: ok
GB: see you soon F
GB: x
F: see you

As a parting gesture, he sends me one of the MSN big red kisses that leaps out of the screen at me. How sweet :-).

I turn off my laptop and head into the bathroom. Emerging from the shower five minutes later, I'm looking through my clothes to try and find a pair of shorts and a T-shirt to wear when the phone rings.

"This hotel security, is that GB?"

"Yes?" I say, realising now why F needed to know my name.

"There someone here who want to come to your room, what you want me to do?"

"Yes, his name is F," I reply, feeling mildly irritated that a valid guest of mine has been stopped on his way to see me, "can you send him up?"

"OK, I bring him to your room."

"You'll bring him?"

"Yes, I bring him!"

"OK, thanks very much :-)."

Well I guess that makes it easier. I now won't need to lurk around looking suspicious in the lobby!

Within a few minutes there's a knock at the door, and opening it, I see F face-to-face for the first time. In the background there's a stout guy in hotel uniform, who's got a kind but business-like look on his face.

"You got 100 Baht for the taxi?" asks F, smiling at me anxiously.

"Yes of course," I say, a bit taken aback, "hang on and I'll get it."

I'm astounded that F didn't have enough money to pay the taxi driver, and hence needs to ask me for such a trivial sum. 100 Baht is only £2! I assumed that he'd pay, and then I'd pay him back later. Looking in my wallet, the smallest note that I have that's any use if 500 Baht, so I hand that to F who gives it to the stout guy.

"I go and get change," says the stout guy in a very matter-of-fact way, before turning to walk away.

"Well come in :-)," I say to F.

Having closed the door, I turn around to see that F has taken off his shoes and is sitting cross-legged on the sofa, clutching a cushion in front of him. He's wearing one of his cute smiles, which seems to say "please look after me :-)". I walk over to the sofa, smiling back at him, and squeeze in next to him on the sofa. He shifts along the sofa a bit and puts his legs down on the floor, and I put my arm around him.

"Thanks for coming over :-)," I say. "I guess we'll have to wait for that guy to come back with the change!"

"Yes, of course," he replies, and he turns round to give me a peck on the lips.

"Do you live in Bangkok?" I ask, while we're waiting.

"No, I hotel worker, looking for work," he replies, "but very difficult at moment. I was working in Phuket before. Never worked Bangkok. If don't get job soon, I will have to go home."

"Where is home for you?"

"I come from Chiang Mai."

"Oh yes, that's a city up north isn't it?"

"I not from City, but not far away."

Putting the cushion down, he turns to face me a bit more, and with one hand he starts rubbing my chest gently, searching for my nipple.

"Ahhh, so I guess you're from Chiang Mai province?"

"Yes, that right. Where you from?"

"I'm from London, England."

He's still gently rubbing my chest, but now he looks me in the eye and starts leaning forward to kiss me. I lean forward too, but as our lips touch there's a knock at the door.

"Ahhh, excuse me!" I say, "That'll be the guy with the change."

Indeed, when I open the door it's the stout guy from hotel security. He hands me four 100 Baht notes.

"Oh, thanks very much," I say, but once I've closed the door I suddenly feel a bit guilty. I realise that I should have given him one of the notes as a tip! After all, ferrying around the gentleman callers of the hotel guests and the change for their taxis presumably isn't in his job description. Next time, I'll try and remember to do the right thing.

When I turn around to walk back to the sofa, F is wearing one of his cute disarming smiles again.

"Why don't we go into the bedroom?" I say, reaching out my hand for him to stand up as I walk back to the sofa, "We'll be more comfortable in there :-)."

F stands up and I put my arm round his waist as we walk over to the bed. Turning to face each other when we get to the foot of the bed, I lift his T-shirt off over his head. He takes my T-shirt off too, and for a few seconds we just stand there hugging each other. The warmth of his bare-chested body against mine feels so good. Reaching my hands down his back I find the top of his shorts, and instinctively I bring my hand round to the front to loosen them. He puts up no resistance. After a few more hugs and kisses, we're soon both standing there in our underwear, so I nod my head towards the bed. He smiles, and I can tell from the look in his eyes that he's looking forward to getting to know me better.

Disengaging himself from me, he walks round to the side of the bed that's closest to him and gets under the covers. I do the same from the other side. We meet in the middle and immediately we start hugging each other. For a while, we just lie there with our heads on the pillows, kissing and cuddling as we let our hands explore each other's bodies. Reaching down, I realise that he's still got his underwear on, so I playfully rub his erection gently through the fabric. Before too long, we're completely naked, and slowly nature takes its course. It's a comfortable bed anyway, but now with a gorgeous guy underneath the covers with me, it's absolute heaven ...

"I think I'd better take a shower," I say to him shortly afterwards, "do you want one too?"

"Yes, good idea," he replies, with a satisfied tone in his voice.

Carefully I get out of bed, trying to not to let anything drip on the bed covers or carpet, and reaching the safety of the shower I turn the water on and wait for it to heat up. F reaches the bathroom shortly after me, and since it's a big walk-in shower, I beckon to him to come into the shower at the same time as me. By the time he joins me the water has heated up nicely, so we both quickly rinse ourselves before looking for the shower gel. We start by washing each other's backs, but then it seems stupid to stop there so we end up washing each other's chests and equipment too :-). Looking after each other like this feels so natural and comfortable.

"Will you stay for a while," I ask him while we're drying ourselves down, "you're welcome to sleep with me for a few hours if you want?"

"Yes, sleep would be good :-)," he replies, so we both head back to the bedroom and climb into bed again. It's around 5:30am and realising that I may fall into a deep sleep, I set the alarm for 8:30am before wrapping my arms tightly around his clean naked body.

We're still cuddling when the alarm goes off. Exploring his body with my hands, he's hard again and it feels great to hold it in my hand. Unfortunately though, there's not going to be any time to do anything about it because I've got to meet my Thai friend B soon, and I want to eat breakfast beforehand.

"Would you like to have breakfast with me?" I ask, "but we'll need to be quick!"

"Mmmmmmmm," he replies, and with his eyes half closed and an absolutely enormous smile on his face, he stretches his hands slowly out on either side, "still so ... sleeeeeepy!"

I can't resist cuddling him a bit more, but before too long we have to get up. While we're putting on some clothes he accepts my offer of breakfast.

The hotel does a good breakfast buffet, so we sit together and chat a bit about our lives. He seems to please me too, because he offers to fetch me stuff from the buffer.

"You want some fruit?" he asks, having finished what was on his plate.

"Yes sure, that would be nice :-)."

He returns with a plate laden with fruit from the buffet, including a couple of waxy dark red fruits that look a bit like apples.

"What are those?" I ask, pointing at the red fruit.

"Um, not sure in English!" he replies, "Chomphu in Thai," and later I discovered that the English word for them is 'Rose apple'.

"How do you eat them?" I ask, and he picks one up and indicates that one bites straight through the skin to eat it, indeed exactly like an apple.

Back in the room, F goes and sits on the sofa while I turn on my laptop to check my emails before meeting B.

"Let me show you where I working in Phuket," he says once my laptop is switched on.

Indeed, I'm curious to see where he worked, and after a few false starts we manage to bring up the web page of a gay guest house near Phuket. We then manage to find the web site of a big hotel where he also worked as a waiter in one of their expensive restaurants.

"But no work there now :-(," he says sounding sad, returning to sit cross-legged on the sofa. Again he's holding a cushion in front of him while wearing his cute disarming smile.

"Are you going to be OK?" I ask. "Do you have any money?"

"No, I have no money! Trying to find work here."

"Well I'll give you a bit, which will help you for a day or two anyway," I say, wishing I could do more for this lovely guy. Walking over to the sofa, I get a few notes out of my wallet and put them on the table in front of him.

"That's 1000 Baht!" he says sounding amazed.

It's still not quite time to go and meet B, so I quickly do a few more chores while F sits on the sofa. But when it is time to go, F stands up leaving the money on the table.

"Look," I say, picking up the money and forcing it into his hand, "please take this, don't worry, you didn't ask for it but I want to give it to you."

He looks at me with a very grateful smile on his face, and kisses me quickly on the lips before putting the money into his pocket. Walking over to the door together, we kiss each other again, before heading out to face the outside world. Soon we're downstairs in the lobby saying goodbye to each other.

"It's been really good meeting you," I say, "and good luck finding a job!"

"Thanks, I try. Send me an email sometime :-)."

"Will do!"

We don't kiss again in front of everyone in the lobby, and F walks towards the doors and out into Bangkok while I hang around waiting for B.

Looking back at those few hours with F, it was definitely a very enjoyable experience. However, I can't help wondering whether F was a 'money boy' after all. His story about trying to find work may well be true, but other aspects such as knowing that he needed to know my name to come and visit me suggest that he was a professional at meeting foreigners in hotels. If he was a money boy, he was certainly a very very good one, because the way he worked managed to overcome my biggest problem with money boys. I really don't like the idea of handing over cash in return for sex, but allowing me to think I'm gave him the money just to help him out is an excellent solution to that problem. In any case, either way it doesn't matter, and I certainly hope that he's OK and he finds hotel work if he that's what he wants.

One of the things that I've learned while being in Thailand, which is a predominately Buddhist country, is how important 'Now' is. The past has happened and one must let go of it, otherwise one carries it around like baggage. The future is also less important than 'Now' because it hasn't happened yet, and who knows what it has in store for any of us. An appreciation of 'Now' also has some correspondence with 'Freshness of appreciation' in Maslow's work. 'Now' is what matters most, and for those few hours that I spent with F, he was the most important thing to me. Although all my family, friends, boyfriends were still important to me, for those few hours that I was with F it was him who was my most important boyfriend, and I gave him all the love that I could. Now that it's all in the past, writing down what happened in this blog posting is helping me to let go of it too, otherwise I'll be sad because the experience is over and can't be recaptured. Instead, I intend to be happy because it did all happen, in exactly that same way that I'm happy because of all the other good things have happened to me in my life :-).

Friday, January 09, 2009

A couple of dilemmas

I posted a little dilemma that I was facing on Christmas day, but now I'm facing a couple of new dilemmas.

This morning, a lovely email was waiting for me when I checked my inbox:

Hi there,

I've been following your blog for the past few months, you sound fun, and fit! =) While I've read about your policy regarding meeting your readers, I thought I'd just drop you my gaydar screename. Surely I won't be able to guess who you are if you dropped me a line there should you be interested? =) Anyway, my gaydar screename is XXXXXXXX. Good stuff you have on the blog, keep writing!

x


Within a few weeks I may be completely single again, because the timeout with boyfriend P will soon be over and the ultimate conclusion may well be that we split up :-(. However, in my search for a new boyfriend, perhaps it would be all right to contact readers like the one who emailed me today as long as they don't know that I'm GB in the early meetings? Obviously I wouldn't be able to keep it hidden for more than a few meetings, because when I talk about my job and my holiday destinations etc it would obviously match what I've said here in my blog! But if I could keep things hidden to start with, it would overcome some of my major concerns about meeting readers. Needless to say, I had a look at the gaydar profile of the reader who sent me the email, and he's clearly a hot, intelligent guy :-).

The other dilemma that I have concerns my next posting. I really should be writing another 'Dear GB' response, because there are two requests pending, and it's been several weeks since I received the corresponding emails. However, I keep getting requests for another Encounters post, for example in a couple of comments (1, 2) to my last posting. Is it time to give in to these sordid requests?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Babylon

Shortly after arriving in Bangkok last week, my Thai friend B takes me to get a traditional Thai massage at one of the Health Land Spa and Massage centres.

"It's really good for helping you beat jet lag," says B in the taxi on the way, "and it's much cheaper here than in London too!"

Indeed, the charge for a two hour traditional Thai massage at Health Land is only 450 Baht, which is just £9 at current exchange rates.

The next day we do some sightseeing, but by mid-afternoon we've run out of energy.

"How about another massage?" I suggest to B, "perhaps an oil massage this time?"

"OK sure, do you want to go back to Health Land?" replies B. "Health Land is excellent and very professional, but there are other possibilities ..."

"Such as?" I ask, wondering why he's being mildly evasive.

"Such as Babylon!" he replies, looking a bit ashamed of himself for suggesting it.

I'd heard of Babylon because it's Bangkok's famous top quality gay sauna and spa, but since this is my first visit to Bangkok I'd obviously never been there.

"You can get massages at Babylon :-)?" I say enthusiastically. "But are they any good? Or are the masseurs there just rent boys!"

"You westerners have completely the wrong idea about Thai massage!" says B. "Massage is an important part of our culture :-). Just because there's physical contact doesn't mean that there's anything sexual about it. A tiny proportion of the massage parlours here may be involved in the kind of prostitution that you're inferring, but most of the time Thai massage is just massage. Having said that, I don't know whether the masseurs at Babylon are any good because I don't go there!"

"Well, I think we should try, if it's OK with you? Then we can go back to Health Land for an oil massage on another day and compare :-)."

B nods his head and smiles. He can't really complain at the decision because it was his suggestion, so no doubt he's interested to go too! Needless to say, having disappointed my readers here by failing to see either a pussy ping pong or a hard cock show, my primary reason for going is to do some research for a good blog posting. My enthusiasm for going has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the place will be full of good looking horny guys wearing nothing but towels round their waists :-).

We hail a cab and about 20 minutes later, we're making our way up the stairs inside Babylon to the locker rooms on the first floor. It doesn't take us long to get changed and wearing just our towels, we start to explore the complex. Soon we're standing in front of the desk where we can book massages. The spa menu is fixed to the counter in front of the desk and immediately we notice an important message in big bold letters right at the top:
No Sex – no hand jobs
So just like B said, Thai massage is massage and not sex! However on a separate card is the offer of a Babylon sensual massage, and I can't help thinking that since this card is separate and without the "No Sex" message, with that option some kind of sexual contact is probably available.

I choose the Thai oil massage from the 'no sex' menu, and since a masseur is immediately available, it's not long before I'm being taken into a room by an exceptionally cute young Thai guy. Inside the room there are two massage tables separated by a white see-through curtain which splits the room in two.

"Take off towel and lie face down on table please :-)," says the cute young guy smiling at me. Unlike the massages that I've had in the spas of up-market hotels in the past, there's no concern that I might be shy about being completely naked in front of him. But of course, I don't have any such concerns, so I take off my towel and do as instructed!

"Hmmm, sexy!" he whispers at me, playfully pinching my right buttock once I'm lying down. I bet he says that to all the guys!

He covers me with a towel before disappearing for a short while, and while he's gone I can't help wondering whether he's actually the masseur. After all, perhaps he's just the cute guy that they use to take clients into the rooms and prepare them for the arrival of the masseur. Although it is the massage that I want, I confess that I do prefer a massage from a guy that I like the look of, compared to a massage from a guy that I'm not attracted to.

My fears turn out to be unfounded and soon the cute guy returns to start the massage. After about 20 minutes, a muscular guy and another masseur walk in quietly and start to use the other massage table. Peering through the see-through curtain after a few minutes, I see the muscular guy's exceptionally pert buttocks completely exposed above the towel covering his legs.

Towards the end of the massage after I'd turned over to lie on my back, my cute masseur is rubbing the oil into one of my legs and at the top of each stroke his hands keep bumping into my equipment. Some contact down there is probably unavoidable during this kind of therapy, however as I gradually react to the attention, I can't help wondering whether the contact is deliberate. Perhaps the masseurs play a game with each other, and are deemed to have failed if they can't produce erections in their clients, even during a 'no-sex' massage?

While I'm standing to attention, the massage on the other table comes to an end. Although I'm not a shy guy, I can't help wondering how obvious I am given that the other two guys will soon be walking past me, so I peer down the table to take a look. Spotting my movement, the cute masseur give me knowing wink and then moves the towel to make sure that I'm covered up. What a rascal, surely he was indeed touching me down there deliberately! But once covered, my excitement gradually subsides, and within about ten minutes the massage comes to an end.

"You sexy guy :-)," says the cute masseur, looking at my body from head to toe while I'm standing there naked, reaching for my towel.

"Thanks very much :-)," I say, smiling back at him. But I'm still sure that he must say that to all the guys!

Before re-joining B, I take some time to look round the rest of the complex, and it's very impressive. I find all the usual cubicles and dark areas, saunas and steam rooms. There's even one steam room which is pitch black inside, although that strikes me as a bit dangerous. After all, if someone was to succumb to the heat and collapse as a result of staying inside for too long, they could be on the floor for ages and no one would spot them. However, the wandering hands in that steam room can be quite good fun!

In fact Babylon is much more than a sauna and spa. There are a couple of good bars, and even a restaurant that looked like it was serving good quality food. On top of that there's a decent sized outdoor swimming pool.

However the swimming pool can lead to problems because it encourages guys to wear swimming trunks, and so after a dip in the pool some guys will wear a towel too. One of the nice things about this kind of establishment is that when guys are just wearing a towel they're very accessible. So initially, it came as a bit of a shock to me that with some guys, one had to work one's way through two items of clothing before one could make any progress!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Pussy ping pong

"Phat Phong is just along here on the left," says B as we weave our way through the crowds of people, "you've heard of Phat Phong, haven't you?"

"Errr no actually, should I have?" I reply, feeling mildly stupid.

With almost ten days to use up from my holiday allowance for 2008, I'd decided to go and visit my Thai friend B in Bangkok rather than lose the allowance. Although I'd been in transit through Bangkok airport on many occasions, I'd never actually been into Bangkok itself. With the weather in London getting colder every day, it was hard to resist his invitation.

"Phat Phong became famous as a place where American G.I.s could find women during the Vietnam War in the 1960's," explains B. "These days there are just lots of girlie bars with strip shows, let's walk down so you can have a look!"

Although we're both gay, we turn into Phat Phong and almost immediately a young guy shoves a menu in my face which lists various shows that we could go and see. Top of the list is "Pussy ping pong".

"Does that mean what I think it means?" I ask B, not sure that I want to hear the answer.

"Yes probably! A woman sits there and somehow manages to shoot ping pong balls from her pussy into the audience."

"Have you ever seen it?" I ask.

"Yes, once," says B with a grimace on his face, and his whole body shudders. "I don't ever want to see it again either! If you want to go GB, you're quite welcome, but you're on your own. There's also a variation where the woman makes her pussy fire a dart at a balloon and the balloon bursts! I guess they have to work to train the muscles down there somehow, but to be honest I don't really understand."

Walking down Phat Phong and peering into some of the bars from the outside, we see lots of young girls dressed in skimpy bikinis all standing on very high tables, with metal poles by the sides of the tables.

"There's also a gay version!" says B, wondering if I'd be interested. "Hard cock shows and so on."

"But I don't need to go to some pervy show to see guys with hard cocks!" I say with a grin on my face. "Anyway, it all sounds very seedy :-(."

In fact I feel very tired, only having landed in Bangkok airport about six hours beforehand, so the pervy shows can wait for another day. Even though I'm sure that they are very seedy, I might have forced myself to go to both types of shows if I'd been feeling a bit more lively. And needless to say, if I had gone, it would only have been do some research for an interesting posting on this blog!