Twenty and Omnipotent. Here I sit, twenty summers young and with more money than I can spend. I’m in Tiger Balm gardens, Singapore. It’s a Friday, October of 1970; I know it’s a Friday because on the following Saturday I had to make a business trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I ran an import/export business involving unprinted silk. (Smells like Banged up Abroad.) When staying in Kuala Lumpur I always stayed in the Heritage Hotel, it was very 1930’s and sophisticated in a Casablanca kind of way. At that time it had two bars, a roof top bar with a small dance floor, and a cocktail bar on the first floor. The first floor bar was full of brass, cut glass, old mahogany, and ceiling fans that gently stirred the expensive colognes, perfumes, and cigar smoke of its patrons. In a corner to the left of the bar stood a baby grand on a raised platform, attractively lit, but looking like a date that had been stood up. It was a bar with no music except for the lyrical cacophony of animated conversation, and occasional laughter.
She walked into the bar and passed within two feet of my eyes and nose leaving in her wake the smell of soap and the sights of America, with the addition of a glance as quickly over as you could say maybe. She was dressed unconventionally by Malaysian standards and stood out like an orchid amongst daffodils. A sophisticated pixie hair style exposing a beautifully proportioned and elegant neck, the most perfect legs of any women I had ever seen that morphed into a bum to die for. Her face was the perfect frame for her sensuous lips. As was fashionable at that time in the west she was wearing a hot pant suit, royal blue with white polka dots, and no bra binding champagne glass breasts. The visual package I found to be erotically captivating, and as well-proportioned as a Donatello, maybe Judith.
She headed to the bar, with not my eyes alone following her. Meandering between the tables and passing by the booths, all full, set off to the right. She moved with the grace and bearing of a dancer. Elegantly placing the objet d’art on a bar stool. Observing her discomfort sitting at the bar with no escort was plain to see, it encouraged the chivalrous side of me latent for so long. The unfortunate woman was agitated, continually scanning the entrance to the bar, for whom?
This combination of sights and scents I found intoxicating, and oddly a little intimidating. I felt like the game keeper contemplating the lady of the manor. I had decided before disengaging from the women I was with, America is the woman I want. Yes twenty year old males are unquestionably predatory in their approach and I make no apologies for that. Flush with hormones and the undeserved confidence of youth, with none of the accumulated baggage maturity and years may convey to the dance America and I we were about to engage in.
Just as I explained the situation to my companion and promised to take her to lunch at Kota Tinggi Waterfalls the following day, my future lover was greeting her date. He stood a ludicrous six inches shorter than her, heavy framed glasses that broadcast his lack of taste, and the facial features of one in a continual state of surprise. He committed the unforgiveable sin of being late, forcing this beautiful women into an uncomfortable situation. I was elated.
Abandoning my companion I vacate our table and approach the bar; my usual drink is poured and placed before me, I sit to his back so she is facing me. Our eyes meet in the mirror at the back of the bar, to my surprise she returned my extended gaze with a subtle frown. This frown was oddly charming, a frown that was foreign to this brow. I turn to my left and face her directly, again the direct gaze accompanied by a delicate frown with the addition of a slightly raised eyebrow, the eyebrow being a request to do something. An appeal for rescue maybe, I took the measure of the man she was with and came to the conclusion he doesn’t appreciate or recognize the treasure he is soon to be without. I am describing the process by which a man can do that which I am about to do.
I finish my single malt, stand up and face this extraordinary woman, I take one step and I’m a foot away from her. “May I have this dance?” “Dance where?” she said, looking around the bar. “Come, I will show you.” I grab her hand and literally haul her away at the same time she utters an apology to her date, he peering over the rim of his beer glass with that ridiculous look of surprise, looking like it belonged this time. It was a beautifully choreographed and coordinated exit. This entire action was completed before unattractive glasses could place his beer back down on the bar. A short elevator ride and we were claiming our table in the roof top bar, she immediately hung her purse on the back of her chair. Wilson Pickett – Sugar sugar was playing, we danced what was left of the song, and sat down to recover from our escape. She immediately began an explanation of the situation I had just disengaged her from. “We shared a cab from the airport and he insisted on paying my half of the fare, I believe he assumed I owed him. That’s how he acted anyway.” “I can’t believe the arrogance of some men.” I replied, thinking at the same time how attractive the American drawl can be. “By the way, my name is James” ”Yes of course, pleased to meet you James and my name is Bobbie” she replied. There was an aura of vulnerability and naiveté about this female that is rare in such attractive women.
One of the things I noticed about women at an early age, they were a lot less inhibited when wearing the cloak of anonymity. This was afforded them when on holiday, from Clacton as a child to Bahrain at nineteen; you could find women on holiday young and mature amenable to outrageous behaviour they would never indulge in, in their home town. A delightful chink in the armour of women’s socially stifled sexuality. The essential rule; allow them to maintain their anonymity.
“Bobbie is your trip to Kuala Lumpur, business or pleasure?” “This is a holiday I promised myself the moment I left my ex.” My heart soared, but like the roller pigeon plummeted in the very same moment. “This is a holiday” A woman on holiday, perfect. “I promised myself the moment I left my ex.” Even at twenty I understood the pitfalls of a rebound relationship, albeit a brief relationship. I instantly decided that this is what I have to work with, I will work with it. Besides I would be leaving in a few days, this conflicted with the gravitational pull towards this woman that at the time I didn’t understand or fully recognize.
Her forte as I predicted was the dance floor, she could move beautifully and sensually with endless enthusiasm. The light in her eye whilst dancing was sharp and unforgettable. This was the time and place she shone. Gyrating yards apart or locked in the embrace of a slow dance was pleasure rising, though at times I felt like an accessory more than a dance partner as she found her zone. I needed to find my zone, and it was coming