Friday, February 01, 2008

Jerry can't sing when there is no song in his heart

I love Jerry, Jerry is one of the hardest people to describe because he is so non-descriptive. Despite his nondescriptive appearance though, he is one of the easiest emotional reads you will ever come across. When he is upset he visibly shakes and so fourth, emotions just burst out of him. When driving me around Beijing he would often burst into song, really gay, chinese pop songs. He even did it in front of his somewhat 'informal girlfriend' John remarked once that he had 'forgotten about tohm's singing' which is apparently terrible and tone deaf. But in Beijing I similarly had no desire to listen to music at all. I ended up listening to 5 minutes worth, for some reason I just didn't feel like listening to music there. Jerry could, and did, and sang at me, but then his troubles began.
Surely there is nothing more painful than unrequited love. Mayhaps having one’s fingernails split with a chisel, or having a white hot copper funnel forced down your throat, or having hot coals sewn into your skin, or hobbling, or being flayed, or having your legs grated then dipped in citric acid. I don’t know, frankly I’m not willing to try.
But traveling through Asia now, I have expanded my list of standard questions for foreigners in a relatively monocultural society that is none the less suffering from globalization. ‘Where are you from?’ is the common one, but I also come across ‘Will you find a country currently residing in girlfriend? Then you can get married and stay here.’ Varying from ‘do you like Japanese/Chinese girls?’ and so fourth. The frequency with which people try to set me up with a local seems to be inversely proportional to how much I desire to live in a country. Japan, I could live there but only part time = 3 solicitations in 3 months. China, where while being a rich cultural experience and fascinating for me to behold, but provides no ready reason why I would ever choose to live here or indeed return = 3 solicitations a minute.
Awkward though it is to try to come up with sincere and polite responses to these questions it is for one part always empowering to say no to sex in all its various forms. It is also very empowering to say yes to sex in all its various forms though so on the balance I run a deficit here.
And then there’s Jerry.
I have been on the wrong side of the unrequited love situation before,I feel though that my self indulgent emoting may have been justified after all I was coming off long term fairly involved relationships。 By contrast Jerry has been dating his sweetheart Rebecca for a staggering 2 months。
He is visably preoccupied with the inner turmoil he suffers from her not committing her everlasting love to him. He is particularly perplexed by her callous indifference to him after he has ‘proven’ his love to her. This more or less involves the time he bought her 11 roses, which is symbolic of a life and a life or ‘I am yours forever’ he explained to me the complex numerical system of roses in China. 1 means you are unique. 2 means we should be together, 3 means something else and so on.
In Japan, a lot of restaurants have machines out the front that you put your money into and then receive a ticket and some change after pressing a button. Then the chef cooks whatever you pushed on the button and serves it to you. In ‘Shutting out the Sun’ the author points out that it is inconceivable for any romance to occur in Japan without money changing hands, whether it be in Japan’s healthy sex industry or in the form of compensated dates.
China seems to have headed down the same path. I think to myself that buying someone 11 roses actually means nothing at all. Anyone can fucken buy roses. It seems to me that romance actually has to be personal, something that doesn’t lend itself to high context cultures. Instead, things need to have a certain unshakable currency such as roses and driving someone around, reducing a girlfriend to a commodity, though I’m sure that Jerry’s love is sincere, ironically he seems to be one of the most inept for relationships, surpassing even myself.
On the first day Jerry was telling me how he would move into a place with his girlfriend and if they could live together for 2 years then he would really know her and be able to marry her. Two days later he was complaining about how extroverted she was and that his friends said she was no good for marriage.
When Rebecca offered to marry me I was inclined to agree, I worked myself into the trap by carelessly asking conversation making questions like ‘what did you study?’ ‘which part of china are you from?’ ‘have you done much travel?’ and in hindsight the particularly foolish ‘what is your dream for the future?’ something I had gotten used to asking young people in Japan.
At the same dinner Jerry brooded over why she wouldn’t tell him how much she had spent on shoes. He later told me how angry it made him that she ‘kept secrets from him’ the melodrama that preoccupies Jerry’s mind had me imagining Jerry as never quite making it past 3 months unless he latched onto a particularly shy, na├»ve and dependant girl.
Jerry made the mistake of asking my advice when upon discovering that he did not have the exclusive priveledge of driving his girlfriend to places but that she also accepted lifts from work colleagues he decided to throw in the towel in his spectacularly emotional and fickle relationship of 2 months.
I tried to explain that although when you tell someone you love someone it is very nice for them to send it right back at ya, it was infact a state you decided for yourself and not one were you could impose or hurry along the status in someone else. I explained how proposing to a girl was in essence asking them to make a decision in which you might reasonably expect an answer one way or another. But telling someone you love them is a statement of a fact and you had to be relaxed and cool about it otherwise you get creepy. As Jerry was starting to creep me out.
Jerry sets the bar high, is demanding and controlling and it results in me writing blog posts as if I am his girlfriend. I just found it highly funny to see someone butcher a relationship like this as it exposes the universality of human emotion.
For Jerry whether he admits it or not, his behaviour indicates that a relationship is something one can buy, same same in Japan. There just seems to be an absence of the kind of romanticism spawned by France and Italy and chivalry that is the personal touch. Even when I say chivalry I know the knights of old used to try and win jousting tourneys to win a ladies favour, eg love is proportional to the number of spears you can break against another mans shield. Homoerotic perhaps? Anyway when I read of Il Magnifico aka that ugly renaissance man (not in the polymath sense) Lorenzo Di Medici composing sonnets and serenading girls from his window, or the efforts and individual schemes in Shakespearean romance it seems that courting and romance was whilst tacticly similar not something any two couples had the exact same experience over.
Jerry and Rebecca when discussing how great it would be if I found a Chinese girlfriend and stayed to work here and teach English asked me ‘what type of girls I like?’ meaning ‘what race of girls do you like?’ but I chose the literal interpretation and said ‘I like pretty girls, and educated ones.’ Jerry questioned my evasiveness and refused to believe I would date a black girl, despite what I think is the obvious qualifier of ‘pretty’ even after listing examples like Ciara and Beyonce and shit. But in the meantime I thought how true my answer was, attractiveness is one part, but man is the ability to think independently attractive. I never realized it until I realized how embarrassed I would be to show some of the girls I’m meeting lately at a dinner party with my friends.
One side of me pangs for Misaki, the girl had spunk, could engage herself in conversation with my friends and made friends out of just about anyone, she infact probably made me far more welcome at social functions than when I was single, probably because I usually make people uncomfortable by creeping up behind them and frotting.
I also pang for Claire, who to her credit could listen to contrary opinions to hers and debate them on their merits even when I was being a beligerant arsehole.
In Japan the hollowness of prospective relationships is quite obtuse, even misaki when I was looking for a birthday gift sent me a text message saying ‘plada(prada) LV, or Gucci these are all good gifts for me’ which she maintains was just a joke but so representative of the Japanese mainstream I have sincere doubts as to her joviality. This is just slightly scaled back in China, where the pragmatic considerations are long term employment prospects, cars and ability to buy meals (the basics of traditional male escort even in Western traditions) but that’s about where it stops.
I read in Social Intelligence with interest that whilst it is well known that men tend towards visual appeal of a partner whereas women tend to look more for signs of status and success, this is not the primary criterion for either in assessing prospects simply the most different between the genders. For both parties the primary criteria is kindness, it also said that love was a triumvirate of separate brain areas of passion, nurturing and something else that escapes me that allows for love and that whilst relationships can function with a combo of two out of three or even just one, love as we know it takes all three.
For me I have to actually respect my partner in some way to even want to talk to them, but whilst I do believe fundamentally I am kind, it is often the least impression I make at first. Infact my past behaviour is such that my partner has often been the near exclusive recipient of my kinder side. But I like it, kindness that is. Anthropologically the quality relates to our prospect as a child rearer but the book did say it was equal.
Whilst I am glad I dated a class A bitch once in highschool I have to say that kindness holds true for me, but also self respect, independence and all the things that usually come with education.
I think the state of romance is at its worst in a long time, I had a shortlived relationship in highschool, more a game of cat and mouse, and I was a poor stupid mouse, with a lovely girl that took two shots until I lost my frigidity. The first one failed because of an unwelcome middle man. A parasitic leach to the interest a new relationship caused.
The middle man in Asia, is numerous corporations which will lead to my long unanticipated return to Georgism next post, but in Japan for example, christmass is valentines day, valentines day is about chocolate and then there is 'white day' which unfortunately doesn't stand for 'sleep with a white guy day' or rather fortunately judging by some of the deadbeat english teachers I saw there but is all about buying white chocolate exactly a month after valentines day.
Then there's the 'tradition' of the diamond engagement ring. A tradition recently invented by the South Africa Diamond company and all the numerous consumer transactions dating right back to perfume, or probably berry gathering that have managed to wedge themselves between penises and vagina and complicate everything for so long. Conversation remains the major factor for sexual success, unless you literally are dealing with prostitution. So better yet, conversation is what is most important in determining romantic success.
Improve your conversation by following the following process:

1. Make a statement.
2. Ask a question.

When you get good at it, 1 & 2 will be related to eachother. And when you get really good at it 1 & 2 will both relate to what the person you are talking to was talking about. Blogging is btw not a good forum to practice this.
There if you read this post I have saved you thousands of dollars in 'romance' currency. 1 & 2 should get you laid, unless you like me have a habit of saying stupid things like my opener to Misaki.

Misaki: 'do you like Japan?'
tohm: 'no, I like Korea' [tohm walks away]

It is a miracle I managed to get with her, but this is how I usually establish myself as 'unkind'
Next post: 'How Henry George is the best thing that ever happened to sex'

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