My idea of a really good man is embodied the characters portrayed by Japanese movie star Ken Takakura and the character of Zorro played by French actor Alain Delon.
Real ladies, in my mind, are those from noble families, such as Ms. Feng Chengcheng, Ryoko Nakano and Ms. Yamaguchi Momoe<sup1
I have always held that love occurs only when a hero marries a beauty and a lady weds a good man.
Who knows when it happened, but in China today no one ever talks about the noble dreams of a hero or the grace of a lady. To be a man is something else now, and the title “Ms.” is no longer respectable. (In China, Ms. now often refers to a prostitute)
Years ago, I returned to China and met with a few old friends in an expensive restaurant on my buddy's expense account. When we were through, all the females knew better and rose to leave, leaving us boys alone. The friend who had treated us said, “Let's go find some girls and have fun.” “There are some girls you want to introduce to me?” I said jokingly. Laughter followed.
As we entered a Karaoke parlor, girls lined up along the hallway greeted us in unison, “Welcome.” Some of them looked uneasy. After we were ushered into a room and seated, three girls rigidly stood in front of us. That friend of mine shouted, “Attendants, have your best singers out here, and see if they are not better than this buddy of mine who has just come back from the United States. The United States—you know where that is? Hollywood, you understand?”
At his instruction, one of the girls hurried out the door.
Moments later, an attractive girl came in, bowed, then said, “Good evening, gentlemen. My name is Yue Er. I'll sing you a song first. I hope you'll like it.”
It was really good, and I liked the song. So as she was singing I hummed along. Another girl saw and handed me a microphone, saying, “Sir, please sing with her. It will be marvelous.”
I used to give performances when I was at school, and this was one of my favorite songs. So I obliged and sang along. When we finished I felt excited. We sang a few more songs, and everyone cheered.
The girl named Yue Er flattered me saying, “Sir, you must be a professional. You sang beautifully! See, I am moved to tears.” Before I could say anything, my friend said, “Wow, you're interested in him!” Laughter. Yue Er replied smartly, “You think so? Even if that was so, the gentleman may not be interested in me.” I knew they were putting me on, so I said, “No more of this. Let's go on singing songs.” “Well, well. You've been to the United States, haven't you? But you are still shy” my friend said amusingly. Everyone else burst into laugher.
I have to admit that it was a pleasant evening.
It all changed when I went back to China on another trip some time later.
We still had a party of old friends, but fewer attended this time. Some of them had been laid off, and some were too busy with their businesses. America was no longer mysterious to them. A TV series, “Beijngers in New York,” had opened the eyes of the people in China, and they now knew that the Chinese were having a hard time overseas. When we met we talked less. No one suggested seeing girls anymore. They said that police conduct raids regularly. Not knowing the true situation, I wondered, “What's the big deal? People are only singing and joking around.”
I went back again last year, and things had changed again.
Some of my buddies in Beijing had been thrown into prison, and the few who aren't in jail are national celebrities of sorts. They were always busy! Unless there was business involved, no one bothered to spare a moment.
The friend who had treated me went to southern China and made a fortune in real estate. He invited me to his place to see him.
So this time I was the only one who met him. Years had taken their toll on him: he had thinning hair, a paunch, and had visibly aged—the image of a big boss.
Over dinner, he eyed me and said, “How come you still look so young? Is it because foreign girls are taking better care of you? So America is better?!” Not interested in his gibberish, I asked how his wife and child were doing. “We're divorced, and she has custody of our child,” he told me. His wife was our classmate, and they were madly in love when they were in college. I would have never thought that one day they would part.
He continued, “Let me tell you something. Women are all witches. When you don't have money, they harass you and say you are good for nothing. When you have money, they still bother you and complain that you're not taking good care of the family. They are all shrews.”
I said, “You must have been fooling around. You must have mistresses, a lot of them.”
He sipped his liquor and then said, “To be honest with you, I have. But I am a man. How can a man be a man without a few lovers? What's money for? A man lives to enjoy life. Haven't you heard? 'The other half of man is woman.' A man without woman is not a complete man. A successful man must have many women. Let's go. I'll show you something. ”
I followed him into a local well-known spa.
As we entered the door, the girl behind the reception desk looked up and smiled. “Good evening, Mr. Tan.”
My buddy mumbled something without even looking at her.
He paid the bill and handed me a key card. We were led into a dressing room and undressed, and then walked into a bathroom, naked.
The room was huge and beautiful, filled with Roman style sculptures.
We soaked in a tub for a while before taking a brief shower. When we were done we dried our hair, male attendants standing nearby, toweling our bodies. We put on our gowns and began walking upstairs.
Seeing us, a pleasant-looking woman greeted, “Good evening, Mr. Tan.”
My friend said casually, “Evening. Find me some pretty young girls.”
I was ushered into a VIP room, and my friend was led into another one.
There was a bed, two couches, and a big screen TV in the room. The air-conditioner was on and it was comfortable.
The pleasant-looking woman who led me into the room looked at me and said, “Is this your first time here? I don't recognize you.”
“Yes,” I said. “Does Mr. Tan come here often?”
“Yes, he comes everyday. Would you like to change clothes first? The girls will be here soon.” She finished talking and left the room.
Shortly, my friend walked in the door with a cigarette in his mouth, and said, “How is it going? You don't have this in the United States, do you?”
Well at least I haven't seen this in the United States.
The door opened and five girls in miniskirts walked in. They stood in a row and said in unison, “Welcome. Good evening. Very glad to be of service.”
My friend saw that I was stunned, and laughed. “Do you want to pick one? Pick a pretty one. If you don't like any of them, we'll ask for some other girls. If you want, you can also pick two.”
“What is going on? Aren't we just taking baths? I am not here for sex.” I said, a little perplexed.
“You are so naïve. Did you really live in the United States? Let me pick one out for you. Is number three Okay?”
I asked, “Okay for what?”
“Okay, just go with her. I know you like her type,” My friend interrupted me.
I looked at “number three.” She was only about 20 years old, with long hair. She looked pretty under the light.
Before I could speak, “number three” bowed to me and said, “Greetings! I am very glad to serve you.” The other girls all left.
I followed her through the hallway into another room. It was dimly lit, furnished with a massage bed.
“Number three” put down her purse and said, “Is this your first time? Don't be nervous. A lot of guests like me. Feel my hand. Isn't it soft?” She touched my arm.
Indeed, she had soft hands.
She went on, “Do you want full service?”
I asked, “Is full service full-body massage?”
She rubbed her hand against mine and said, “You are too naughty! Full service also includes you-know-what.”
I understood, and hastily said, “No, no. I only want massage, nothing else.”
“Don't worry about it. It's Mr. Tan's treat. You can do whatever you want with me,” “number three” insisted.
“No, no. Only massage. Otherwise I'm leaving,” I also insisted.
She looked a little disappointed and said, “OK, just massage, then.”
She picked up the phone and reported to the front desk the length and type of service. Then she began working.
Her massage skills were good. I thought that this was a tough job which didn't pay much. To make it more enjoyable, I started chatting with her.
She came from the rural area of Hubei Province. Being the oldest child, she had to start working early to support her brother's schooling. She said, “Actually, I could tell from just one look that you are a good person. When you were picking from the group, I was hoping that you would pick me.”
I don't know if she was that good a masseuse, or that I was really tired, but I fell asleep shortly.
The alarm rang and our time was over. “Number three” said, “Are you sure you don't want other services?”
While getting dressed, I told her, “I really don't need anything else. Thank you for the massage. It felt really good. Also, not every man is a sex addict.”
She walked me back to my room. After quite a while, my friend returned. He looked tired, and I guessed that he had the “full service package.” He turned to me and asked, “Number three was pretty good, wasn't she? I have a good eye.”
I smiled and said nothing.
We walked out of the building and he said he wanted to sing karaoke.
I said, “It's getting late. How come you are so energetic?”
He looked at me and asked, “Don't you have nightlife in the United States? Don't you visit with girls?”
I smiled and said, “Of course there are some activities. However, I am usually busy working during the day, and I go to the gym at night. I have to take care of my own body.”
Suddenly, his cell phone began ringing. He answered the phone with a wide smile. His fawning behavior made me uncomfortable.
“Is it your young lover? Or maybe Mayor X?” I said sarcastically.
I had helped make arrangements when Mayor X had visited the United States. He was a year ahead of us in college. When I left China, he was only a division head.
I didn't really want to go, but my friend was insistent. It just so happened that I had a meeting scheduled with Mayor X the next day. I thought it wouldn't hurt to hang out with him a bit the night before.
We got in my friend's Mercedes and headed for the most luxurious hotel in the city.
While riding in the car, I thought, China has indeed changed. Some people have more money in their hands, but society has degenerated. In this society where money and power are king, it is hard to keep oneself unpolluted. In China, it is only a matter of time before men become corrupt.
A few decades ago, despite the political environment, people still had souls. When a person looses his soul, he becomes like a chicken running around with its head cut off. No one cares about morality, honor, duty, pride, or social order. Everyone only wants instant gratification. They only do what can give them more money. Money is used to measure and decide everything.
The more I thought about it, the more I was glad that I had left China. At least, I can call myself a man with a soul.
Note: Ms. Feng Chengcheng plays a girl in a famous Hong Kong TV series, who has become an icon of purity and devoted to true love
Ryoko Nakano and Ms. Yamaguchi Momoe are both famous Japanese actresses. Chinese people are familiar with their movies and TV series. Their characters also embody chaste love.