If you think you recognize someone in this story, you are wrong.
I have changed each enough that if you have a match, well then you don't. See?
I made these changes knowing that anything written would eventually fall into the wrong hands.
Oh yes, I did make this all up! It is fiction, you know.
While this story is not specifically attached to the Jake's Choices Universe, there is much in here that assumes knowledge of life in the Philippines, which I have covered in the Threads #2 and #3 stories in the Universe. Unless you really know the underbelly of life in the Philippines, I recommend you not read this story unless you have already read at least one of those Threads.]
I had been happily married for twenty-two years to a fine woman. She certainly had been attractive when we married.
The fact that time took some of her looks from her certainly wasn't her fault. I still loved her. We had our ups and downs, but what marriage hasn't? We had a nice house in a nice old part of the town, two blocks from the elementary school where our kids had gone. My wife, Cathy, worked as the assistant to the business manager in the district office of our local public school, a job she'd had for many years.
Cathy and I had two kids, Ethan who was in his senior year at St. Johns, and Kim who was in her first year at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Cathy and I were proud to have two great kids. We were certainly paying the bills, but they had flown from the nest. For the first time in two decades, it was just the two of us at the table. I guess it is fair to say we were rediscovering each other. It was a time of adjustment and appreciation. I certainly had a lot to appreciate.
I worked for a technology firm. It seemed to change names every couple of years as it kept on getting sold to new outfits. Luckily, my job had not been messed with throughout the changes. That is it hadn't been until that year, twenty-two years into our marriage.
We lived in a small town and, though my work is high tech, I had been isolated from many of the personnel shifts that frequently occurred in our company. But this last merger had been different. I got the word that remote staff – those of us who were not at corporate headquarters, would be the first to service clients in new remote spots. That was not good news. It did not mean that we were going to relocate with our family. These assignments would be temporary. It did mean that I would be gone a good deal from home right at a time when Cathy and I were 'reconnecting.' I had at least another ten years before I could retire and if I left my company, I thought it was unlikely that I would ever find a position that paid as well as the one I had now.
My first assignment was in the Philippines. We had just acquired a large outfit there and needed to integrate them into our corporate culture and operations. I would be there for at least ninety days. Cathy was not happy, but she knew it was not my choice and we both just accepted it as part of life. We would get through it.
Standing in the security line at our small airport, Cathy told me not to worry and just do my job. Even though I was going to do that anyway, I appreciated her words. Then I was into the security area and Cathy was on the other side of the glass. I had no idea then how different things would be when I did finally return.
I guess I should have been alerted before I ever left my home sweet home. In retrospect, I wonder why I ignored the signs. There clearly were signs. The first sign came when I called Dell about a power cord for my notebook. I had checked the Dell website for information on the cables and transformers I would need for travel to the Philippines. There was no information there.
I called Dell. What I did not know was that their Call Center is in Manila. In case you don't know, Manila is in the Philippines. I explained why I called to the first woman with whom I spoke. Her response to my technical question was: Do you have a girlfriend? Are you going to visit a girlfriend on your trip?
Huh? What does that have to do with power cords? I restated my question and I was transferred to another woman, to whom, for a second time, I explained why I had called. Her first questions: Do you have a girlfriend in the Philippines?
I was tone deaf. All I cared about was the power cord and I treated the rest as noise. I was a fool.
On my way over to the Philippines, I travelled on Philippine Airlines. I was seated among Filipinos, each of whom wanted to know why I was going to their country and if I had a girlfriend there. All I thought was, "what's with that?"
I landed, got to my hotel and the next day went to my first meeting – where I was asked if I had a girlfriend in the Philippines. The same thing happened at my second meeting and the third meeting. Saying I was married back home seemed to somewhat lessen the push to hook me up but didn't kill it entirely. I was getting offers to be introduced to women. I ignored all comers.
By the second week, it was clear to all that I had no girlfriend and was disinterested in having one. I thought I was in the clear. I was mistaken. I was introduced to some gays, thinking that was what I wanted! Oh, dear God, No!
I mean no offense to gay men, but I am not interested. I dared not tell Cathy about any of this. It was a mess. I spent my third weekend in the Philippines just being miserable, wondering how I was going to deal with this. My ability just to get through meetings was being affected by the issue. I was going to be traveling to Cebu on Monday and I could see the same thing happening again there as I tried to get my work done.
I decided that, just to stop all this, I did need a girlfriend, just for appearances. I did not want the word to get back to anyone with whom I was working, that the girl I introduced as my girlfriend was a shill, so I did what any desperate man would do on such an occasion. Using my computer, I found a couple of dating sites for Filipinas. I registered and logged in to one called Asian Kisses.
I did a search for girls in Cebu and found hundreds. The search facility couldn't help me when it came to beauty or intelligence, but it could sort by age, whether they had kids, height, weight, hair and eye color and other more meaningless factors. I ran a sort and sent messages to five women. I made it clear I was only in the Philippines for a few months and was looking for a friend who might accompany me to social events and act as my girlfriend, but that I was married back home and had no intention to divorce my wife.
Of the five messages, I got back four responses, all positive. I was flabbergasted. I made arrangements to meet a pretty Filipina, thirty-years younger than I am, at age twenty-three. Her name was Elen. I flew into Cebu on Sunday afternoon and met Elen in the lobby of my hotel at 5PM that same evening.
Elen was there in the lobby when I came down from my room. She was even prettier than her picture. She stood five feet one inch and in her two inch heels I still towered over her. Her figure was 'all woman', and I was feeling guilty as hell. If Cathy ever got wind if this I was in deep shit.
I greeted Elen and asked her if she would like to eat here at the hotel or at a restaurant that had been recommended to me by the office staff in Makati. Elen said she was happy to try the food at the hotel. We walked a few steps to the restaurant, and we were immediately seated by the maitre de. After being seated, and served drinks, a mango shake for Elen and a San Miguel Pale Lager for me, we went up to the buffet and filled our plates before returning to our table.
Elen: Sir Noah, why you want a girlfriend when you have a wife?
Me: Elen, every time I enter a meeting here everyone wants to know why I do not have a girlfriend here.
Elen: Why is your wife not here?
Me: She has a job at home.
Elen: Are you lonely here?
Me: Yes but that is not why I want a girlfriend. I want to be able to go out in public with you to stop the questions and the attempts to introduce me to other women.
Elen: So you are not interested in me? Am I not pretty enough?
Me: Elen you are very pretty. More pretty than I ever imagined you to be.
Elen: Am I too old for you?
Me: You are not too old for me! I am too old for you!
Elen: You are not too old for me. You are fine. Why you only want to see me in public? What is wrong with me?
Me: There is nothing wrong with you. You seem perfect.
Elen: Thank you. But why you do not really want me? Only want to be with me in public.
Me: Elen I told you that I am married.
Elen: You do not want a Mistress? You not like women?
Me: Oh dear, I love women, I love my wife. What do you mean Mistress?
Elen: Wife without marriage ... Mistress.
Me: I don't know what to say ... are you offering to be my mistress?
Elen: Maybe. You be good to me?
Me: Elen, I think there is a misunderstanding. I am not asking you to be a mistress.
Elen: Why? I am not good enough? Maybe you find someone younger, prettier?
Me: Let's just eat our food and we can talk about this in private. OK?
.... There is more of this story ...