My chiropractor once told me that back pain comes suddenly. Irritated nerves send signals to the brain, but they are ignored until a critical threshold of pain is crossed, and then it’s too late and you get big bad pain and muscle spasms that cause more pain and more muscle spasms.
So it is with love and forgiveness. In loving my dear girlfriend I can see her as a whole person, care for and respect her, and forgive her shortcomings and blind spots. Until a threshold is crossed, then, it’s a cascade of disgust leading to arguments which leads to more disgust.
It was a visit to her family house.
I first met Sarah at Cebu’s biggest disco, the Sunflower. I found her the cutest and most attractive woman in the club. She is 4’5″ and her extremely cute little face confuses the brain perfectly as to her age. Is she 12? 21? The effect has men magnetized to her wherever she goes. Big eyes, small frame, there is no doubt that she is a woman and that she is young and fertile. To see her dance breaks down all defences, and all that men have left is the feeling of a magnet pulling. She gets marriage proposals from strangers. Young, handsome, rich, she gets phone numbers constantly, and the big flirt that she is she laps up the attention like the Pope laps up church donations. She wears special short skirts and fuck me pumps designed to get extra “unwanted” attention. She has the unfortunately out of sync style of only fucking with romance, so she’s only had 3 other lovers, all serious relationships.
I was perfectly drunk, she was perfectly attractive, and magnets did what magnets do. She came home with me, and she never left.
One month later, the neighbors are burning garbage, and we have to get out of the house. The smoldering plastic is unbearable. Time to hang out at her families place.
It’s the poorer part of town, but they have a big compound with several buildings. They are a powerful neighborhood clan – 7 children to her dad and too many children to them to count. Even at 39 and rarely described as handsome, I’m a rock star in the neighborhood. All eyes on every spoonful of fish and rice. That’s fine, but of course I don’t decline the offer of rum and coke.
Then it’s to the salon for karaoke. The fresh air and fresh children were a treat, but thankfully the cute youngsters followed us in. I have a new adopted niece – the little delight instantly cuddled up to me and called me uncle. A face that goes right to primal monkey in me – she is instantly my girl. Sarah gets jealous. Really, not kidding. I try to joke with her. Sarah! Don’t be jealous! After a some small drinks, Sarah “jokes” with her 2 year old niece, slapping her, playfully but too hard for a 2 year old to understand as a joke. Screaming at her, playfully, but too loud for a two year old to understand as playful. I restrain Sarah, quietly chastise her, and tell her to control herself. Sarah is full of vim, pissing out love and smacks from every pore. She has no care for boundaries, and expects others to sort out what is what.
Her brother fancies himself a preacher, and his drunken heart is the heart of a loving man. His warm presence is the question: what is the importance of class? He tells me he wants me to get him a western woman, and that he wants to move to the US and be a doctor or a farmer because he knows he’ll earn good money there. At 35 he has been out of work for several years and did not go to college. He shows me his house and wants comments. Could he attract a western woman with that? The first floor room gives it’s initial impression by the walls. Half thickness concrete bricks are loosely held together with mortar. Other than being properly vertical, the walls show no sign of craftsmanship – big gaps in the mortar, the grey 1/2 thickness bricks being of dubious quality and substance. “How long have you lived here?” “Two years”. There is nothing. Not a piece of furniture, not a lick of paint, no signal of any movement to attend to aesthetics of the place. Upstairs. The floor is made of wood. That at least shows some life – wood panelling is warm. The walls are dead, and even more potently barren. “Yes, if you have a bed it would be good to also have a woman. Where is your bed” Back downstairs, and I see a short wooden bench with a thin blanket. “That’s it”.
Why didn’t he go out to the beach and gather sand and limestone to mix mortar to smooth the walls? Why didn’t he borrow a truck to gather wood to make some furniture? Poverty can’t excuse a lack of labour – the place was barren of any sense of aesthetics. As if he didn’t know any better.
Back to the salon. I’ve spent time in a better looking jail. Ok, but the people are nice. But she’s screaming at her two year old niece, then demanding kisses from her so aggressively that she cries. We all need a drink. I’ve had 10.
My dear Sarah, the little woman for whom my heart hurts for want to give her love, is now an anti-intellectual. She’s great in bed. It just get’s better each time, and the sex is as frequent as it is loud. But there is this whole chunk missing, and I see how important that chunk is. I can’t just love and forgive her her faults, if that chunk will always be missing. I try to explain that it disappoints me that all my proddings can’t get her to read my stickmanbangkok.com reader submissions. I tell her I don’t want to sound impatient, and that I want to care for her and attend to her growing up, but that I want to see some signs of interest on her part in anything of the mind. I fear that it is too late – her upbringing has made anything mental of no consequence to her. A sort of idiot savant.
The signals are cramming my brain. Pain. Being savant, she feels my pain as if it were her own. She tells me she wants me to find a girlfriend that I will really love. That’s a good thing about Filipinas – the seem to really respect that someone needs a mate that they love, and if they don’t feel loved, they will push you to get out and get serious about someone you can love. Jealous, yes, but it comes out practically.
We go home, we sober up, and we make up. But I think some readers here can resonate with the background music of this movie. The thought that screamed it’s way into consciousness was that I must limit myself to college educated women of at least 3 generations of wealth. Money old enough such that the children can appreciate aesthetics and hard work yet not be hypnotized by material status. “I want to be a doctor or a farmer, am I good enough to get a western woman, please bring me a wife”?? Screaming at a two year old for fun. Much infidelity and plenty of wife beating in the family. Gangsters running the neighborhood. Do I love Sarah? Do I forgive her past? Where is the tipping point between acceptance and fostering her growth and choosing my minimums and moving on.
Well, she’s 21. I’m good experience for her, and she is in many ways good and caring for me. What does the reader feel is the way the plot should turn? Hollywood ending of love enduring and leading to personal growth? A sex-in-the-city ending of moving into a new relationship? There is not yet an easy call, but the scales are moving despite my conscious thinking. It happens unconsciously. People fall out of love.
Do other people here feel any tension in their relationships because of class differences?