rose and elaine.


i was sitting on the can, and it was about midnight. it was a few days after my birthday, my last night in the philippines. i thought i could just go to bed or i could go out and have an adventure. i wanted to do something stupid and dangerous. i wanted to have an awesome night. i decided i'd better do something because i was just gonna go back to the u.s., back to my cold and empty apartment, back to my meaningless job and poor social life. so i put on my jeans and a shirt and i headed downstairs.

the way i pictured it was that i'd go down to the bar and drink by myself and be like bill murray in lost in translation. i'd just be sipping a whiskey on the rocks when a beautiful young scarlett johannson type (even though i'm not the biggest scarlett fan) would be sitting alone, too, and we'd hit it off. hell, i'd even smoke a cigarette. the string quartet on the balcony would play an instrumental taylor swift song as we'd talk quietly about our painfully boring lives. and then we'd go to her room, not have sex, but have a deep and meaningful connection, and i'd put my hand on her foot.

but instead i went down to the shady cellar bar, the ktv room. i sat down at the bar and i ordered a beer. i tried talking to the bartender, but he didn't understand my english so well. he called a girl over, a girl whose english was much better than his. her name was elaine. elaine was from bulacan, a province north of manila, but she had moved to manila to work at a bar. she said that she used to teach english to korean kids. she'd laugh at some things and put her hand on my arm.

she asked if i'd like to sit on the couch, and i agreed. i ordered a bucket of beers while she drank gin and tonics. i had no intention of doing anything with this woman. she said that i should have come to the cellar bar earlier, and why did i wait until my last night to go? i said i didn't know. i wanted to ask if she was a whore, but i felt that might've been a little offensive. there were other girls there, too, young and pretty ones, and they were there to "entertain" the guests.

there was another girl there, and her name was rose. it was rose's birthday. i asked rose how old she was. she said 19, but really, she was 26. elaine was 28. elaine asked if i had a girlfriend, and i said no. she asked me why not, and i said i didn't know. she told me that her ex-boyfriend had cheated on her, and then she said she didn't understand why men had to cheat. she said maybe men are not happy with what they have, so that is the reason they cheat. i said maybe she was right.

rose came and sat down with us, and in my mind, i kind of wanted a threesome, but i knew it would never happen. i was buzzed enough to propose one, but i didn't do it. elaine said that rose was half-german, half-shepherd. i asked rose if she was really half-german (she did look white), but elaine looked at me like i was stupid and said no, that she was just making a joke. i asked rose why she was so white. rose said it was because she wasn't dark.

elaine said she lived only five minutes away from the hotel. i asked if it was dangerous walking home by herself every night. she said no, and that she had many policemen friends. she said that it would be dangerous for me, a foreigner. i asked if it was obvious i was a foreigner. she said that i looked half-filipino, half-american.

they wanted to go out, since it was rose's birthday. they wanted to go to the cowboy grille, which was located in malete. i had no idea where malete was, or how far it was, but a part of me was excited about going to some random bar in the middle of the night with two filipina strangers. i thought about us partying all night at some crazy club, but i also thought about them drugging me, cutting me open, and selling my kidneys on the black market. i went to the bathroom to fully think through both scenarios, and i decided it would be best if i just went to bed. it was after 2 a.m. after all.

i had a good excuse as to why i couldn't go out. i didn't have any pesos to pay the taxi. when they found out i didn't have any pesos, their demeanor completely changed. it was a good feeling, knowing that they were only paying attention to me because they thought i had money. rose joked and asked if they could borrow my credit card for the night. a couple of broke bitches they were. i asked rose how she got home if she didn't have cab fare. she said that she rode the jeepney.

at some point during the night, i asked elaine for her number because i was sure she would give it to me. i think that was part of the whole "entertaining foreigners who look like they might have money" bit. she wrote her number and email down on a small piece of paper, and i pocketed it. in the morning, i threw it into the recycle bin.

that was all i had been needing to do for a long time now.

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