Never had old Mr. Me really imagined that I would one day be living with three nude Asian women. Yet that was the case, with older May Linh, younger Lily and strange Hong Kong Maggie in my house by the beach in this warm southeastern Asian country. All three of them had agreed to my contract and that, considering all of what this contract entailed, was in itself a surprise. Yet, I was now counting the days because Maggie, who was justly worried for her own life, was leaving soon.
These two past weeks had been weird. We all knew that Maggie would quickly be gone, we even knew the date of her flight to Paris and we had planned to all go spend a few days in the capital on this occasion. May Linh and Lily had even explained to Maggie how we were used to go to the same hotel where they knew us as Mr. and Mrs. You and their daughter. May Linh and Lily were laughing, imagining what could Maggie be in this case. A cousin maybe?
I had spoken with people I knew at the French embassy and everything was ok for Maggie; she had a long term visa waiting for her and my friend in Paris would be picking her up at Roissy Airport.
“How would I recognize your friend,” Maggie asked.
“He will recognize you,” I said, “just like I did recognize you when I saw you for the first time on the train’s platform.”
“Yes, I remember,” Maggie said, “Mrs. Wan had said you were old but when I first saw you, I thought oh thank you god, he’s not that old” and we all laughed.
I had told May Linh and Lily when they came back from their week off that Maggie would be leaving and I told them the reasons why, that this Cao Cao asshole was after her ass to kill her, because Maggie had brought to light how rotten he was. May Linh and Lily seemed glad with the solution I had found to save her. So, during the two weeks it took for the visa to be ready, we went at home into a strange rhythm.
Maggie was so happy and so sad at the same time, those conflicting emotions affecting her mood. I guess she knew she would probably never, never ever again be living like this, recluse in a remote house by the beach in the middle of the jungle, totally nude all day, totally carefree, sharing a house with three other people that were nothing to her, other than friends maybe now, special friends I guess, and sleeping in the same bed.
Maggie also knew she would soon enough be back into clothes and living with clothes on and closed doors and I told her that she would arrive in Paris in winter and that was anything but pleasant and there would be no more sun, no more ocean but a lot of cold rain.
So Maggie was acting in a somewhat unnatural way, spending for example a lot of time with May Linh and Lily in the garden and with the animals, then coming to swim with me almost every day, then basking in the sun on the beach. Her body had changed quite a bit in only four weeks, she was tanned and stronger, more muscular, less mushy, and there was now something dainty in her steps that she didn’t have when she arrived.
Then again, I guess that once in Paris, she’ll put her high heels back on and she won’t actually be walking with this limber lightness anymore and it will be just a short span of time for the Maggie I knew now to revert to the Maggie she was before, at least as far as her body is concerned. As of her mind, I was pretty sure she wasn’t soon to forget about us.
And she wouldn’t forget the Bundy family either. Maggie had a great sense of humor and, once she got over the bizarreness of how we watched the show every day, with Lily lying down on our laps on her stomach and all three of us scratching and caressing her back, that was May Linh, her butt and thighs, that was me, and her legs and feet, that was Maggie’s, once Maggie was over that, the Bundy’s jokes really made her laugh with us.
“Same shit in Hong Kong,” she would say.
“Same shit everywhere,” I would say.
“May Linh”, Lily would ask, “do you think Jefferson would be a good American husband?” And we would all laugh so hard, god help me so much we were laughing.
And I was on Lily’s butt and thighs and it’s one thing to hear a good woman laugh with an open heart, it’s even more touching when you can actually feel from inside her laughter on the tip of your finger and that was the case with what we called a French finger kiss. Maybe the show made us laugh so much also because, like the Bundy, we were a somewhat dysfunctional family, although it seemed to me that our ‘family’ functioned pretty well.
“So,” Maggie said one day to old Mr. Me as we were watching the show, “I know now who you are. You are a retired Al Bundy who got lucky, with aliens, as you say. That’s why you’re always speaking about Chicago, I know now the truth: you were selling shoes in Chicago!”
All three women cracked up hysterically with laughter and there I was, in my shorts and thongs, French finger kissing Lily and I could feel her joy coming in waves and Lily could feel it too I’m sure, and May Linh and Maggie knew as well. There was a lot of tenderness in those moments together, all four of us, on the couch. Christ almighty, thank you Al Bundy: in the mediocrity that is us all, if we don’t hang ourselves it’s only because we can’t find a rope.
Evenings were different too. We would stay longer at the dinner table, the four of us, and most of the time May Linh would then play her piano and she often chose some joyful tunes and we’d dance; Christ, did I love to dance with Lily and Maggie, it was so strange to dance with a nude woman and being able to feel her without worrying whether it was moral or not and they’d drink wine, even Maggie wasn’t drinking so much vodka anymore but white wine with ice cubes in it like May Linh and Lily did, and I was drinking beer and smoking French joints and we were all a bit tipsy and May Linh was playing and we’d laugh and dance and it was great and it was superb to end the day outside on the front porch watching the ocean and the big sky and listening to the ruckus coming from the jungle.
Knowing that Maggie was leaving affected me as well. I kept ogling her and gazing at her and I seemed to never have enough of seeing her. She understood it and let me enjoy her nudity, never hiding anything. Not that I needed it, she even suggested to me more sex and gamahuching. I knew it was her way to thank me, just like women all around the world agree to sexual favors for their honey’s birthday or Christmas. But Maggie was a little bit clumsy about it and me I was a little bit shy. In fact, there were many emotions involved and we both knew she’d be leaving soon and that we’d probably never see each other again, so there were mixed emotions and we didn’t know quite what to do about this.
Like usual, Lily understood it and took it in her own hands, so to speak, and so she gave Maggie and I several of her massages and never before did Maggie have such abandon and such strong orgasms, at least that’s the way it looked and felt to me, and Lily was making sure the experience would be unforgettable. That too Maggie would probably never have again, the massages I mean, not ever, never that good, not once she leaves from here. So Maggie had good reasons to be sad sometimes.
I thought it was strange. There I was with three women living in the nude with me, all day, and sharing my bed. Yet for the past two years with May Linh and Lily, there was never any argument. I know there is an article – art. 16 – in the contract about that but still, we somehow were never mad or mean or frustrated with each other. And with Maggie here now, it was pretty much the same. No fight, no argument, no screaming, no bitterness. Just respect.
So it got me thinking. With the women I had before, including my exes, there were always reasons to get mad; kids, money, sex, there was always something but what really made me mad was illogic, vanity and ignorance about which there’s nothing you can do. Shit what did I care about cutting coupons in the magazines and the papers?
Here, there was none of that between us. Sure, there were no kid, no worries about money and sex didn’t matter because it wasn’t an issue anymore but I think that what really made this way of life so peaceful was the contract. The terms were clear, fair and square and I was the living proof that a man could actually live with three women, them naked all day on top of it, without any scenes, no pouting, no cries, no slamming doors, no broken glass, no hope squashed in rancor. With a fair contract, pure courtesy prevailed. And out of this courtesy came something that is different than love but a lot more than affection or infatuation.
Indeed, when you think of it, marriages have been arranged for centuries. And those marriages were contracts and then everyone knew by and large and particular what he/she was supposed to do. This had nothing to do with love, it was business in a way, but the stakes were clear. Great and small fortunes, kingdoms and poor households were all the better for it, it seems. Then the sensual question was something totally else and there was always space for it in a well-drawn contract. And when there was none, Emma Bovary invented it anyway. Christ, matchmaking was even a job in its own rights!
In Spain, not that long ago, fathers would encourage their own daughters whom they loved dearly to marry an old rich man and give him children. Thus, within ten years, the old husband would give up the ghost, even faster as his young wife would suck life out of him, then the dear daughter, not even in her thirties most of the time, would be free enough, rich enough, the kids old enough and she could now lead her life as best as she wished. That’s what her Dad and her Mom had done and they were both happy because they both gained from it and every tenet of the contract was loud and clear. In French we have words for those, we call them ‘veuves joyeuses’, happy widows.
In this instance too, the contract is very clear. And why not? In fact, there exist marriage contracts in the occidental world but those contracts deal only with property matters, everything else being left in limbo. Then you end up with Berlusconi’s Bunga bunga or Clinton’s cigar – and Bill and Hillary had a contract! – or all the French presidents’ mistresses and wives or whatnot. Is that better?
Well, in any case, I’m convinced these wonderful few weeks with three beautiful Asian women leaving in the nude with me would have never been possible without a fair and square contract. Even force and brutality cannot replace enlighten consent. And I’m pretty sure that if I would have known this when I was young, I would have written my own contracts and my life would have been totally different then.
Well, anyway, in a few days, we were taking Maggie to the airport and then she’d be gone and there would again be just the three of us, May Linh, Lily and old Mr. Me and I wasn’t quite sure that things would revert exactly the way they were, before Maggie arrived.
Iconography: Abstract by Ellar Wise. Original work : Playing at Dice (1910) by French painter René Schützenberger.