Saturday, 20 January 2007

Downwind charmer

'How do you wear after-shave?' Isra asked.

Isra, who has a pretty little face and shapely body, is admired by many men in the area.

Her elder sister Mum, who owns my regular drinking spot in Thon Buri, gets bored with their childish, flirtatious questions - and Aor's own occasional unexplained absences from duty.

'I squirt it under the chin,' I said.

'Can I tell you a secret? Women apply scent in many places, not just there,' she said. 'Under the chin, over the clothes, behind the neck, under the ears, and on the hair.'

'Why on the hair?'

'The hair holds the scent well,' she said. 'But in your case you can't wear it there because you have no hair,' she laughed.

It's true. In Thailand I shave off my hair, to keep away the heat.

'All those other places - those are where women like to get kissed,' I said.

Isra agreed.

'On those nights when you don't find anyone, that seems like a terrible waste of scent,' I said.

She laughed. Isra has an English boyfriend, who visits us in Bangkok every few months. Farang J believes his girlfriend is unfaithful, and has banned her from visiting tourist spots such as Khao San Rd. When they are together, he takes Isra to obscure Esan eateries, where she is unlikely to meet any foreigners.

We swapped advice about applying lotions, body cream, and powder.

After a shower, I put on body powder, then skin cream on my arms and face. Isra does the same.

While I apply cream mainly to my trunk and arms, Isra applies it all over, just as boyfriend Maiyuu and his friends do. They have smaller bodies, so it doesn't take so long.

However, like me, she'll put an extra body powder as the day heats up.

'All that's just natural for a woman,' she said, looking at me.

Okay, I confess. I do the same thing. I even put on powder at the office, in full view of anyone who cares to watch. I don't care.

Thais are lucky in that, no matter how much scent or powder they rub in, the scent does not seem to cling to their skin. Their bodies just seem to absorb it.

When I am work, I try to be sensible with scent all the same. I do not want to overpower the guy next to me...he might think I was gay.

One foreigner in the office appears to have a secret stash of scent which he keeps under his desk. Every time he walks past, he's more fragrant than the last time. When he sits over there, and feels bored, maybe he just gives himself a squirt.

But we are sitting in an air-conditioned space - why does he need to wear so much of the smellies? And why have I never caught him squirting himself?

When I smell so much after-shave on a man, especially that sickly musk scent, one word immediately comes to mind: 'player'. I am not sure which is worse: the gay tag, or being labelled a player, or a stud.

Far from being ashamed of it, most guys cultivate such a reputation. This guy fancies himself as a stud... he sticks out his chest when he walks. He also presses weights, but has funny broken, baby teeth. Someone should tell him that the teeth don't go with the manly image.

I have never witnessed him talking to girls. I am sure he brings to the task as much natural charm as he can muster.

But given the lack of tact, grace and manners with which most men pursue women, I think I'll opt for the gay tag. At least we can still talk to girls. We don't try to chase them, or turn them into caged animals. We just do that to other men.

So, how did the after-shave saga end?

Last night, before going out, I tried squirting it on my head. It stung.

I tried behind the ears, but missed, and caught it on my mouth instead.

I can see the new regime requires practice. I shall have to ask Maiyuu to show me, as he is more dexterous with his hands.

I could even ask for lessons from the graceful Isra. It has been some time since I felt a woman's hands. I bet they are soothing, soft and lovely.

Please, Isra. I want to make a time. Can I come around to your place and play girls?

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