Fig I was living in Vientiane, Laos, Sunday evening I rode my bicycle down to the Mekhong River. I saw Gai and pulled over to stop. I've know Gai for almost a year now. I talked to Gai a little bit, but then this other gal pushed into the group. Gai looked at her kind of disgusted and moved away. The other gal is named "Fig".

Fig talked a lot and seemed wired. She flashed her boob at me.

Eventually I parked my bicycle and walked over to where Gai was sitting. Gai moved away, and Fig came over to talk to me some more.

And I do mean "talk to me". Fig talks a continuous stream, rarely if ever taking a break, rarely waiting for a word from me.

Fig said that she had no money, she was hungry. So I invited her to go eat something with me. Fig had a bicycle. We went a half-block up the street to a restaurant. Apparently she asked for one large order of pork fried rice for both of us.

While we were sitting there, she talking, some kids came around. Fig started yelling at them. It was embarassing. We moved further into the restaurant and she was still yelling at them. Somebody else gave the kids something to eat, and Fig was still yelling at them from her seat - she did not get up to go to the kids and yell at them. Finally the kids went away.

The food came, and we ate. Fig seemed unsure whether to use the fork or the spoon. We ate and were full and there was some left over, so we got it put in a bag to take home.

Fig wanted to go to my home. She was dirty, so I figured she could take a bath. Ha ha. I knew she was a prostitute, and was not planning on buying sex from her. (She's probably got more diseases than a Bangkok hospital.)

We rode our bicycles all the way back to my place. Fig proceeded to take a bath, at my urging.

She kept offering sex for money, which I declined. Eventually I gave her one thousand baht. She was quite excited. She put her bra on, and her pants, and bolted out of the door. She climbed on to her bicycle and rode away without even putting her T-shirt on; just the black bra and short jeans pants.

The next night there was a knock on my door at 1AM. Sure enough, as expected, it was Fig. She came in and started unpacking some trinkets and laying them out. They included a little Buddhist icon, and a cigarette lighter, and some candles, and some flowers.

She also proceeded to talk her way out of her clothes. During this time I got the feeling that Fig really wanted some affection, unlike the night before when it had been all business.

Fig kept fiddling with my stuff. I scolded her several times for fiddling with my computer equipment, which she unplugged. She eventually unplugged all the stuff there; as if she has some kind of paranoia about computers.

She kept chattering constantly.

She picked up the empty case for my glasses. She picked up and moved my telephone and it's charger. It was merely my old phone, a spare now, but she seemed to want to hang on to it and I took it away from her. I was afraid she'd steal it.

She went through my wallet. I saw her take out the money, approximately 50,000 kip, and put a rubber band around it. By this time she was stark naked and her clothes were in a small plastic bag over near the door, so I could not figure out where she put the money.

She wanted to look through my purse, but I would not let her. She kept chattering. I kept saying that I have no money. She kept wanting money. She kept offering sex. She got more and more wired.

Eventually I noticed that she was holding my glasses case underneath her leg. So I reached for it. She pulled it away from me. I reached again, and she hopped up and ran to the door. She grabbed her bag and ran out the door stark naked. By the time I got to the door she was way up the street, running away, still stark naked.

She had been nice enough to drop my glasses case, now empty, before she went out the door. Thank you, Fig.

The first evening she was here she left so quickly that she left her shoes behind when she rode away on the bicycle. The second night there was no bicycle, but again she left her shoes behind. So now I had two pairs of shoes from Fig. They are just cheap plastic flip-flops.

Yeah, Fig is a prostutite. And now she is a thief. The first night I became convinced that Fig is a drug addict. I did not know what drug. The second night I noticed that her chatter mentions "ya ba" (amphetamines) often, but never "heroin". So I think Fig is a ya-ba addict.

Fig has no children; I can tell from her tummy and she admitted it to me the second night.

Tuesday morning I needed to go to the bank because Fig had stolen all my local currency. I prepared my passport and everything else. I also put all of Fig's things in a bag, including both pairs of shoes.

When I opened the door, Fig was sitting outside. She had not knocked on my door; she was just waiting. Naturally she was talking, talking to the neighbors. I handed her the bag with all her stuff in it, got on my bicycle and rode away.

I got some cash and hid it on my person. I went to the market and bought some oranges and bananas and bread. I also bought some ice. I arranged the things so that I had one small plastic bag with one orange, one banana, and one baguette of bread, and another small plastic bag the same. All the rest were in a big plastic bag. When I arrived on my street, as is often my custom I gave one of the small bags to Noi, the nice old lady that lives across the street and is sort of the matriarch of the neighborhood. I gave the other small bag to Fig. Then I went inside my house and locked the door.

A few minutes later Fig knocked on my door and I opened the window to talk to her. I said "No". I said "Last night you stole; No". Actually, she shut up for long enough to hear my answer. Then she started chattering again. Seemed to me she was at the same time denying that she had stolen my money, and showing me what she bought with it. I closed the window and fired up my computer.

A half hour later I looked and she's gone. It looks like my door will remain locked for a while. But I opened my window to let some air in.

An hour later she stuck her head in my window. She asked to come in to take a bath. I said "No". She asked for a drink of water, and I locked the window and got a drink of water for her and unlocked the window and gave her the water. I was afraid she would try to climb in the window. She thanked me and walked away and I locked the window again.

A prostitute I don't mind; I can always say "no". I drug addict I don't mind; I can always say "no". But a thief I can not allow into my house. It's too bad; I like her.

But of course she's probably a theif because she's a drug addict; the two tend to go hand in hand.

A couple of days later I watched the movie "Terminator 2". At the end, the helpful terminator has to die in order to prevent nuclear war. The two humans, Sarah Conner and her son John Conner, cried to see him destroyed. As I saw that, I felt better about my feelings for Fig. In a small way, I tried to love her, and I should not be ashamed of that.

In the American real estate market they have some properties which are "prime" - good location, well made, clean, beautiful. Then they have other properties which are "sub-prime". As for women, I only deal in sub-prime. I don't know why. I guess part of it is that a beautiful wealthy intelligent educated lady doesn't need me. I need a lady who needs me.

A few days later I realized that I had made a social mistake. When a lady comes to my room and takes off her clothes, I should take off my clothes, too. On some level Fig was offering her body, her heart, her mind, her soul, her naked spirit, and, by keeping my clothes on, I turned her down. I was aware that I was not accepting her offer, but I construed her offer as merely professional prostitution. There may have been an emotional and psychological component to it that I did not respond to adequately. I kept wanting to hug her.

The last time I saw Fig she was walking away drinking the glass of water that I gave her. I spent several days hoping she would come back, but she did not.

I got some phone numbers from the people at Church. I prepared my old Nokia 6800 phone. I erased all the pictures and the phone numbers and the messages. I put three phone numbers in there: One for myself in Laos, a second an amphetamine hot line for male addicts, the third an amphetamine hot line for female addicts.

Fig came back. About a month later, in the morning, she came back. Not talking so much this time; she seemed to be a bit cleaned up. I gave her the phone. There goes my Nokia 6800!

I followed the reciprocity system. She took off her shirt, leaving her bra, and I unbuttoned my shirt leaving it on my shoulders. She took off her bra, I took off my shirt. She took off her pants, I took off my pants. She took a shower, I showered with her. It was nice.

But Fig isn't into sex. I don't think any Lao woman enjoys sex. I also found out Fig doesn't do a decent massage.

Anyway, after an hour or so she wanted to leave. She put on her makeup and put on her clothes. I gave her 200,000 Kip; about 800 baht in real money, or US$25. A lot of money for me, but hey, you're only stupid once, right? Well, yeah.

Then, as she was leaving, I took her picture. That's it at the top of this page. In my biased opinion she's prettier in real life than she is in that picture. Of course, not very many ladies come to my apartment and take off their clothes. Hardly any, come to think of it.

I was so crazy about her that I put her picture in as my computer wallpaper, and while working I kept peeking at it.

She came back. She insisted on our going to the market to buy dinner. We had to wait while the spare bicycle was fixed. Then we went to the marker. EXPENSIVE! 30,000 Kip for shellfish; I don't know what kind but they had dark shells shaped like the oil company sign. 16,000 kip for seeds. 5,000 kip for three ears of corn. OUCH! Tomorrow I don't eat.

She proceeded to cook the food Then she fed me and ate.

This is what she did after dinner. After she got this all set up, that is. A cigarette lighter held in one hand. Above the flame a piece of tin foil. On the tin foil a red pill. Whatever the heat made come off the red pill, she sucked up through a rolled up 1000 Kip note into her mouth, which cooled the smoke because her mouth was full of water. You could hear the inhale bubbling through the water in her mouth. She had to stop every once in a while to put more water in there.

I shall inquire from others about what was probably in the pill. Symptoms did not tell me. Afterwards she wahed the dishes and mopped the floor, so it might have been uppers. But she shut up; not talking. She had too much energy for downers, and was too quiet for uppers. I don't know what it was. But I'm sure glad the cops did not knock on my door.

She finally left. I gave her 20,000 kip as she went out the door and she did not argue about it at all.

A clue. As she was geting ready to leave, she spotted a half a box of mosquito coils that I had, and she took it with her. I let her. I thought it was a powerful clue that she has some place to sleep at night, indeed that she probably has some person she lives with, because a homeless lady, even one looking to sleep with some rich farang in a hotel room, would not have any use for mosquito coils. I was sort of surprised that she did not sleep here. So she must have some home to go to, and somebody waiting for her there.

On Saturday morning she showed up at my house looking wasted. Then she went away.

On Saturday evening she came to my house again. She was looking a bit better. She asked if she could sleep here that night. Of couse I said "yes". So she took off all her clothes and took a shower and climbed into my bed next to me. But no sex. Just fell asleep.

Fig Just in case you were wondering what it was like to have this sweet thief naked in bed next to me, here is a picture she asked me to take.

The next morning, Sunday morning, I took Fix with me to church. But she didn't stay long. She met one or two members but it was well before the service when she cut out to "meet a friend".

Fig stayed around for a few days. She would come by my place in the evening, take off all her clothes, take a shower, wash her dirty clothes, bum some money, and then go out again. After all, she had a very expensive drug habit to maintain.

Finaly, on Tuesday evening, I laid it on the line. I played the boss, the husband, the man of the house. She wanted to leave (as usual) but I did not give her permission to leave. I told her not to leave. I ordered her not to leave. In effect I was saying "It's me or the drug, not both."

You have heard people say "Take life one day at a time." Well, during that confrontation we took life one minute at a time. Every minute she delayed leaving was a victory, was a minute longer that she stayed clean. But finally I lost, and she left.

Of course I had to throw her out. I took all of her stuff, which by this time was quite substantial, and put it on my outside doorstep. Then I packed my bag and left to stay in a guest house.

I came back a day or two later and all Fig's stuff was gone. The neighbors said she had taken her things.

Fig precipitated my leaving Laos. After she left and I came back, one of the neighbors said that that another neighbor said that if I have a Lao lady over my place again they will call the police. In Laos it is illegal for a Lao citizen and a non-citizen to share sex.

Well, I had heard that already, but never taken it very seriously. Now I was confronted with it. If I make love to a Lao lady, the neighbors threaten to call the police and send us to jail. Both of us.

Well, I have been raised on romanic movies in the United States: "Gone With The Wind", "Casablanca", "The African Queen", "Roman Holiday", "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "West Side Story", "Breakfast At Tiffanys", and "Titanic". Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, they fall in love. That's what is greatest in life. That's winning.

Lao was a game. I had committed that I could lose (i.e.die) but I would not quit. But here I was in a game where winning is illegal. Meet a lady, love each other, and you go to prison.

At that point there was no point in living in Laos. How can one play the game when it is illegal to win?

So I announced that I was leaving. At least temporarily I would move back to Thailand. I started packing my things and giving stuff away. It would take two trips. I planned a quick trip for Monday and then a second final trip.

Well, who would show up on Sunday? Ha ha, of course: Fig! By then I was in a devil-may-care mood. It didn't much matter what happened since I was leaving anyway. So I gave Fig a key to my apartment and took off for Thailand with Fig living there. I re-arranged my trips slightly so the stuff I REALLY did not want Fig to steal went on the first trip. The stuff waiting for the second trip was expendable. Left Fig living at my place. Take THAT, you neighbors!

Well my one night trip stretched into five nights. By the time I got back Fig was gone. The neighbors had acted together and thrown Fig out and put a different lock on my door. They had even locked up my bicycles so that Fig could not steal them. I had to get a neighbor to let me in.

I was there just long enough to get a tourist visa to Thailand, then left Laos entirely. I never saw Fig again. I miss her. I like her. Dumb ass that I am, I can love her. I want to love her. But not Fig the amphetamine addict.

Good-bye, Laos. There's no point in playing a game where it's illegal to win.